Evolution of Everything – by Matt Ridley

Here is the Econtalk interview with Matt Ridley.

  1. For a book based entirely on Evolution, Ridley never gets around to discuss the concept. He also never clarifies Creation (in his understanding), that he thinks is incompatible with Evolution (in his understanding). Ridley is wrong on many topics and, in this book, In fact, Evolution has always been about atheism vs. theism. There is no practical value whatsoever to the theory of Evolution (if you don’t confuse Genetics with Evolution). Ironically, Mendel (a monk!) contributed real value to Biology while Darwin contributed only a confused philosophical argument.
  2. Ridley builds an army of straw men, and then proceeds to kill them by various methods with great satisfaction and to the amusement of the informed reader. The following is an incomplete list of half baked arguments and omissions in the book.
  3. There’s no mentioning of Devolution as if it never happens. Especially in society and culture, there’s many examples of Devolution like Ancient Rome, Communism etc. In nature, is the chicken superior to the dinosaur? What about the ape to the proto-ape?
  4. Evolution is the mythology of the atheists held dearly by the Brits because it’s their guy who did it. But think about it: does it really make any sense? See here and here why not.
  5. Changing attitudes are not unidirectional: homosexuality was acceptable in Greek Antiquity and then it wasn’t, and now it is acceptable once again. Recent war horrors are not evolutions of the recent morality of those societies but reminiscent of some ancient times.
  6. Emergent is not random. Maybe ideas don’t come from kings and such, but citizens still put their best effort and Intelligence into bettering their life. It’s still Intelligent Design at work. Language is design too – ex: we borrow words from other languages not randomly, but purposefully to express the same necessary concepts.
  7. “Living fossils” and “Vestigial” – just because you don’t understand, doesn’t mean it doesn’t serve a purpose. The human eye is a bad design? Doctors used to pull out appendices and tonsils for no reason, but now we think they serve a purpose.
  8. “…we’re dealing with an evolutionary system, not a designed system” – can it be both? How about the evolution of the automobile?
  9. Does “morality” have any meaning in a random universe as atheists imagine?
  10. “…religion being used to justify truly awful crimes” – what about beautiful women? Wasn’t Troy destroyed for a beautiful woman? Weren’t millions killed by communism in the name of the working class and atheism? What about the crimes of eugenics (tied to Darwinism)? The official reason for a crime means nothing.
  11. “…we can do better with reason [than with religion]” – do atheist own “reason”? Is there one single “reason”? And if so, how come reasonable people disagree all the time? See here why Reason is individual.
  12. Ridley claims that Fascism and Communism are religions of the state and a form of Intelligent Design, worshiping a political leader just as religions worship God. Free trade on the other hand is supposed to be atheistic Evolution at work. At best, Religion and Political views are not neatly aligned. As [indeed] state religions, Fascism and Communism have aligned with atheism while being hostile to other religions. In turn, believers have resisted the new, fake gods brought by these doctrines. Free trade has flourished for centuries in all Abrahamic Religion civilizations. Clearly, the “evolution” of trade has not been random, blind, mindless, and purposeless as per the atheistic definition. Instead, it was done by intelligent individuals doing their best to control (design) their lives and the future of their children.
  13. Free will is supposed to be an illusion and the best argument for this thesis is the research by M. Gazazaniga into split brain behavior. People have known about reflex responses for a while, and the split brain research has shown that these patients respond automatically to some stimulus while building the mental justification afterward. Ok, so the mix of free will and automatic response is not what was thought before. Does this mean we do not have a trace of free will? No, the bar to demonstrate that free will is an illusion is way higher if not impossible; akin to “never say never”.
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