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No. 103: Jan-Feb 1996

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I Hiss Therefore I Am

E.R. Moliner, a neurologist, has written a curious yet provocative article for New Scientist. It is really a not-too-subtle attack on the Anthropic Principle, Darwinism, and science's insistence that the universe must be purposeless.

He notes first that most proponents of the Anthropic Principle postulate that, in the beginning (whatever that was!), many different universes may have been created. The only one we observe is the one offering just the right combination of properties for evolving life and, especially, humankind. If this or that physical constant had been a tad different, humans would not have evolved. Even though humans obviously did evolve, it was all purposeless -- just the way atoms and molecules happened to combine.

This outlook fits right in with Darwinism, for almost all Darwinists also see evolution as purposeless. It was blind chance that gave us the capabilities to build aircraft and tunnel into opposite sides of a mountain and meet in the middle. Moliner is highly skeptical that such amazing, "cooperative, adaptive" talents could have come about in an unbiased, purposeless universe.

Suppose, he asks, vipers were philosophically minded. They might look at their marvelously complex fangs with the canals inside, a nearby poison gland, a poison storage reservoir with special ducts leading to the fangs, a fang-erection mechanism, a set of muscles to squeeze the poison reservoir, and a nervous system to control the whole system, and conclude that there must be an Ophidian Principle at work in the universe for vipers to end up with all these neatly interconnected biological components!

Using the foregoing musings for a launch pad, Moliner assails Darwinism head on, employing the "what-good-is half-a-wing" and "complexity" arguments:

"It is easy to visualise how random mutations followed by natural selection could lead to the right curvature of the fangs for better grasping of prey. But what would have been the selective advantage of the rest of the poison system if just one of its components had failed to evolve? To claim that it can be achieved through unbiased evolution is like expecting that nine independent miners can attack the core of Mount Everest from various points at the foot of the Himalayas and meet exactly in the middle without the guidance of a surveyor."

(Moliner, E. Ramon; "'I Hiss Therefore I Am'," New Scientist, p. 48, November 11, 1995)

Comments. We will enjoy reading the inevitable letters to New Scientist from evolutionists. Probably, too, creationists will now be quoting Moliner.

Even so, we see much discussion of "adaptive" or "directed" evolution in the scientific literature these days. See SF#96. This subject is also mentioned frequently in all catalog volumes in the Biology Series (BH, BM, etc.) The volumes in print are described here.

From Science Frontiers #103, JAN-FEB 1996. 1996-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:

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  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

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  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987