Richard Dawkins as Reluctant Darwinian

first_img TagsadaptationBret WeinsteinChicagoChicago TheatreDarwinian theoryDay of AbsenceEvergreen State CollegeevolutiongenocideGeorge Williamsintellectual dark webmind virusMother Naturenatural selectionNazi erareligionRichard DawkinsRoman CatholicismTravis Pangburnvalues,Trending Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share Evolution Richard Dawkins as Reluctant DarwinianPaul NelsonOctober 29, 2018, 3:33 AM Congratulations to Science Magazine for an Honest Portrayal of Darwin’s Descent of Man Paul NelsonSenior Fellow, Center for Science and CulturePaul A. Nelson is currently a Senior Fellow of the Discovery Institute and Adjunct Professor in the Master of Arts Program in Science & Religion at Biola University. He is a philosopher of biology who has been involved in the intelligent design debate internationally for three decades. His grandfather, Byron C. Nelson (1893-1972), a theologian and author, was an influential mid-20th century dissenter from Darwinian evolution. After Paul received his B.A. in philosophy with a minor in evolutionary biology from the University of Pittsburgh, he entered the University of Chicago, where he received his Ph.D. (1998) in the philosophy of biology and evolutionary theory.Follow PaulProfile Share Requesting a (Partial) Retraction from Darrel Falk and BioLogos Jane Goodall Meets the God Hypothesis Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share I witnessed something last week that I never thought I’d see. Richard Dawkins, pressed to affirm the explanatory power of Darwinian reasoning for human life, backed off, expressing great caution. In fact, he said that talking about human behavior in Darwinian terms was “not helpful” and “not Darwinian.” Pressing Dawkins was evolutionary biologist (and atheist) Bret Weinstein, who, as the evening progressed, out-Darwined Dawkins — if I may coin a neologism — on several fronts. Dawkins, come to discover, turns out to be a rather reluctant Darwinian, at least where human institutions such as religion are concerned.The occasion was a conversation on Tuesday 23 October between Dawkins and Weinstein at the Chicago Theatre, sponsored by the promoter Travis Pangburn. By my rough estimate, about 1500 people attended, a few of whom showed themselves to be Dawkins devotees of an obnoxious sort. At one point, early on, a man sitting in the expensive seats near the front shouted at Weinstein, “Can Richard talk more, please?” (Weinstein had been carefully explaining a complicated biological point, apparently taxing the patience of this audience member, who wanted to hear from his Oxford guru.) Dawkins scolded the interrupter roundly, and as the conversation deepened, the entire audience later voted by applause to forgo the Q & A, to allow Dawkins and Weinstein to continue. Made me proud of my fellow Chicagoans: they wanted thoughtful discussion, not spectacle.Weinstein in CommandWeinstein commanded the evening. Thrust into national prominence last year by the “Day of Absence” controversy at his former school, Evergreen State College, Weinstein has become known as a member of the “Intellectual Dark Web,” a hard-to-classify collection of rebels who manage to offend sensibilities right across the cultural spectrum. By prior agreement, Weinstein and Dawkins started their exchange by first stipulating where they agreed: for example, both affirmed that there is no evidence for supernatural causation in the physical universe. So (for both), insofar as Christianity makes any empirical claims, that religion is — as a factual matter — strictly false.But then the discussants moved on to their areas of disagreement, which occupied most of the time. As Weinstein sketched out the boundary of controversy, with a series of propositions he knew Dawkins could not accept, it became clear that Dawkins was unwilling to extend the reach of natural selection to such matters as the persistence of organized religion.Two DawkinsMoreover, Weinstein argued that there were “two Dawkins,” at odds internally with each other. One Dawkins endowed natural selection with unparalleled explanatory power, but hesitated to extend that mode of explanation to historical realities such as human genocide (e.g., the Nazi era in Germany, or the 1994 Rwandan massacres), or religious behavior. In those spheres, the “other Dawkins,” as Weinstein put it, invoked cultural processes, and entities such as memes — but in an inconsistent or contradictory fashion, where memes floated free of their biological basis.Why is it, Weinstein challenged Dawkins, that Roman Catholicism persists, and by standard Darwinian metrics (such as population growth), appears highly successful, when so many aspects of Catholic doctrine and practice look frankly crazy to both of us, and very costly to fitness? “Well, Catholicism is a mind virus,” replied Dawkins — a meme replicating itself from brain to brain without regard to its truth or falsehood. But that is simply telling one’s Catholic interlocutor, answered Weinstein, that he or she is mentally ill, to which Dawkins said (eliciting much audience laughter), “But they are mentally ill.”That won’t do, replied Weinstein. Why not say, instead, that Catholicism is what — in proper Darwinian terms — it appears to be, namely, an adaptation. If Darwinian principles are correct, Weinstein insisted, religions should not flourish globally, or even exist, unless they conferred some genuine selective advantage on their followers. Follow the logic.Dawkins wouldn’t have it. His ongoing discomfort at Weinstein’s “religion is an adaptation” line of argument was palpable, perhaps because — I’ll speculate — it savored far too much of sociobiology, or evolutionary psychology, both of which risk strenuous condemnation in today’s cultural climate.“The Values We Hold Dear”But Weinstein does not care if he offends cultural officialdom, as his 2017 contrary-to-PC stance at Evergreen made plain. We need to know, he urged Dawkins, if we humans are hardwired with behavioral programs that, when triggered, might cause mass genocide. We need to know because only by “rebelling against our replicators” (i.e., inherited genetic programs) can we sustain “the values we hold dear.”The values we hold dear? Like what? Fairness, kindness, mercy, objectivity, truth…oh, wait a minute, those are my values. Dawkins and Weinstein are borrowing them, but without anything resembling a sound Darwinian justification. Neither Dawkins, nor Weinstein, can give a thoroughly Darwinian account of what matters most to them, because (as their shared hero, the late evolutionary theoretician George Williams said bluntly), “Mother Nature is a wicked old witch,” and she doesn’t give a damn about our values, or whether you, or I, or anyone we love, lives or dies. A supernova that snuffed all life on this planet tomorrow would be just fine with Mother Nature, the icy-hearted bitch. Such things happen.But that is a conversation for another time. The unstated admission price on Tuesday night was “Let’s play Darwin,” and I played along. When one leaves the Chicago Theatre, however, reality returns. (Thank God for that.)Photo credit: Paul Nelson. “A Summary of the Evidence for Intelligent Design”: The Study Guide Recommended Origin of Life: Brian Miller Distills a Debate Between Dave Farina and James Tour A Physician Describes How Behe Changed His MindLife’s Origin — A “Mystery” Made AccessibleCodes Are Not Products of PhysicsIxnay on the Ambriancay PlosionexhayDesign Triangulation: My Thanksgiving Gift to Alllast_img read more

VT Foodbank’s Farmers to Families food box program continues through August

first_imgVermont Foodbank This July and August, Farmers to Families food boxes containing fresh produce, dairy products, and chicken will be available at multiple daily food distributions throughout the state.To keep wait times to a minimum, reservations will be required for the distributions. To register and see the dates and locations, please visit is external) or call 2-1-1 if you do not have access to the internet or are uncomfortable using it.Registration for each site closes by 4pm the day prior, please ensure you sign up before then.You are welcome to pick up food for other families who are not able to make it to the pickup site, just be sure to include those shares in your reservation.The Foodbank is taking all measures possible to ensure we can be there to help people access food during this challenging time. If you or someone you know is in need of help getting food, we can help. The following list will help you access food and programs that best fit your needs.3SquaresVT(link is external) – Has your household lost pay? Have your childcare expenses increased? 3SquaresVT is here for you and your family. You could be eligible to receive a 3SquaresVT benefit or increase the benefit you already receive. We can help you apply. Visit our 3SquaresVT page, email [email protected](link sends e-mail), call 1-855-855-6181 or text VFBSNAP to 85511 School Meals: Most districts will still be providing meals to students during this closure. If your family’s financial situation changes you can apply or re-apply for free school meals at any time during the school year, even if you have not qualified in the past! Contact your school for an application. Find a food shelf(link is external) – The Vermont Foodbank partners with 215 food shelves, meal sites, senior centers, homeless shelters and out of school programs across the state. Find a site close to you through our food shelf listings(link is external). Meal Programs for Older Vermonters: People age 60 and older are especially encouraged to stay at home in order to protect themselves from COVID-19, but staying well-nourished is also critical for your health. To help, you may be able to pick up meals to go or have meals delivered to your home. For more information about meals for older adults, please call the Helpline at 1-800-642-5119.If you have further questions, please call the Vermont Foodbank at 1-800-585-2265.For up-to-date information on The Foodbank’s response to the coronavirus, please visit our Main COVID-19 Update Page(link is external). If you are able to help, please visit our How You Can Help page(link is external).Source: Vermont Foodbank 7.1.2020 CSFP(link is external) – The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) is a federal nutrition program which offers free monthly nutrition information and nutritious foods to income-eligible older adults. Temporary Expanded foods list (COVID-19): is external)center_img Apply to WIC: is external) WIC(link is external): Vermont WIC is open and most services are being done by phone appointment(link is external) to align with social distancing efforts. We have also temporarily expanded our food list(link is external) to add options for some hard to find items. Check the expanded food list to see what has been added. Please visit our website or text VTWIC to 855-11 to apply. To connect with WIC in your area, visit is external). We will continue to provide breastfeeding support, nutrition education, and community referrals. If you are pregnant, postpartum, breastfeeding, a caregiver or parent with a child under five you may be eligible for WIC.Vermont WIC website links:Home page: is external) Local WIC clinic page: is external) VeggieVanGo(link is external) – We are working closely with our school and hospital partners to ensure that we can still provide food in communities during closures in ways that doesn’t promote the spread of virus. Please contact the site of your local VeggieVanGo for details about VeggieVanGo in your local community.Additional Community Resources2-1-1(link is external) – The Vermont 2-1-1 database contains detailed descriptions of programs and services available to Vermonters that are provided by local community groups, social service and health-related agencies, government organizations, and others.last_img read more

The legal year ahead in construction

first_imgGet your free guest access  SIGN UP TODAY Subscribe to Building today and you will benefit from:Unlimited access to all stories including expert analysis and comment from industry leadersOur league tables, cost models and economics dataOur online archive of over 10,000 articlesBuilding magazine digital editionsBuilding magazine print editionsPrinted/digital supplementsSubscribe now for unlimited access.View our subscription options and join our community Stay at the forefront of thought leadership with news and analysis from award-winning journalists. Enjoy company features, CEO interviews, architectural reviews, technical project know-how and the latest innovations.Limited access to industry news as it happensBreaking, daily and weekly e-newsletters To continue enjoying, sign up for free guest accessExisting subscriber? LOGIN Subscribe now for unlimited accesslast_img read more

Miller’s return gives the Indians bullpen options

first_img Tim Whelan Related TopicsAndrew MillerClevelandCleveland IndiansMLB CLEVELAND– On Friday, the Cleveland Indians announced that they activated LHP Andrew Miller from the 60-day Disabled List. The Indians designated RHP Zach McAllister for assignment.The Indians have had their issues with the bullpen throughout the season. But right before the trade deadline, the Indians acquired LHP Brad Hand and RHP Adam Cimber from the San Diego Padres. Since the beginning of June, the Indians bullpen has slowly worked its way back to being one the baseball’s top bullpen.Manager Terry Francona will have to figure out how to utilize his bullpen. This is most certainly a good problem to have. The Indians already have one of the top pitching rotations in baseball.On most nights, you should expect to get a good five to six innings from your starters. The biggest key for Francona to figure out is who he wants to use in the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings.Hand was the closer in the Padres and has already closed a couple games for the Indians. With closer Cody Allen trying to work out some of his mechanics, Francona has used both Allen and Hand in different spots. With Andrew Miller returning, Francona should continue to try different methods in figuring out where everyone fits. The Indians are 10 games ahead in first place in AL Central, and as a result, can afford to mess around with the bullpen for the time being in preparation of October baseball.last_img read more