Re: Evidence for "Big Bang Theory"

John Wilkins (
Wed, 17 May 1995 10:18:24 +1000

In article <>, (Gil
Hardwick) wrote:

: Either way you wish to tackle the beast, from the English capitalist
: (Wedgewood/Darwin family) or from the Marxist working class (Engels)
: perspective, the idea of a theory of evolution was propagated by the
: rising industrial classes in explicit repudiation of the theology of
: the established Church.

True enough, but I think that there was no conspiracy as implied by the
"Wedgewood/Darwin family" parenthesis. That this family was capitalist
industrialist is plain, but the base conditions from which Darwin wrote
don't explain why Wallace, from very different conditions, came up with
substantially the same theory. Moreover, Lamarck wrote well within the
established church, and was from very different times and environment, and
though his is not what we would call a Darwinian theory, it *was* a theory
of evolution.
: And I must add persistently in repudiation of cultural anthropology,
: which is in itself a disinterested observer in the continuing exchange
: as such between these two "rival" narratives on human origins among
: very many others indeed.
: Evolutionary theory, further, is yet articulated in those terms, even
: to the extent of borrowing from the Church itself its own concept of
: linear time, and from cultural anthropology its discursive framework.

I suspect that the historical linearity of Darwin's theory, in
contradistinction to the essentially static scala naturae, is more
proximately influenced via the French Revolution and Rousseau on the one
hand, and the German Naturphilosophen on the other. David Hull has a book
on the reception of Darwin (I forget the title) worth checking out on
this. However, ultimately, the Christian eschatological tradition is the
main source of irreversible linear time, I concur.
: Evolutionary Theory is tautological in the extreme. It yet remains in
: direct counterpoint to the corpus of Judea-Christian theology AND I
: must add to indigenous and agrarian cosmology within the context of
: world industrialist expansion.

I'm not sure what you mean by this, but I strongly disagree that
evolutionary theory is tautologous. This is usually due to a literal
reading of the Spencerian phrase "survival of the fittest", but when it is
fleshed out, the resulting formulations (there are more than one) are
anything *but* tautologies. See Elliot Sober's _The Nature of Selection_
for a good discussion.
: It appears nowhere else in human thought.
: In all cases finally, its supporting data has been presented only *a
: posteriori*; that is, the theory was developed long before sufficient
: data was available to support it, which is quite contrary to all the
: usual criteria for establishing discipline in scientific method.

And here I must totally disagree. The _Origin of Species_ has case after
case of well documented examples, and the unfinished and never published
major work of Darwin (forget the name right now) was an exmaple of almost
obsessive documentation. Moreover, Darwin had developed the theory as a
result or *direct* researches and observation, and was forced to his
position by the incongruity of the data he collected on the voyage of the
Beagle -- somehting he was uniquely in a position to see, at least until
Wallace went to the Malay archipelago. As to the "unscientific" nature of
Darwin's work... I am afraid that rests on effectively Baconian models of
science which as the result of in part anthropohistorical studies of
science have been shown to be mythological. Have a look at Michael
Ghiselin's _The Triumph of Darwinian Method_ for a good discussion of the
scientificity of Darwin's method, especially the mistake Darwin made about
the "roads of Rob Roy", and his determination not to make that
methodological error again.
: Admittedly were it capable of standing alone in any more substantial
: manner than we have experienced historically, I myself would be very
: interested in the idea myself. As it stands, it is simply not worth
: all the resources taken up pursuing it any further.

A personal judgement you are entitled to make. I'm equally entitled to
think you wrong on that matter, but I am pleased to see that you are open
at least to the possibility that evolutionary theory might have something
to contribute.
: >Yes, I've noted this myself. As I posted earlier, I think that much of
: >this ranting and hostility must come from both a competition for resources
: >and from two seemingly incompatible world views operating within a common
: >culture.
: Competition for resources? In the case of evolutionary theorists, most
: clearly claiming _material_ resources against Church estates (most
: noticably in providing salaries to support tenure for academics vis a
: vis the sustenance of priests) albeit as often laundered as taxation
: through State coffers, it has always been so.

Along with any other academic discipline that has developed since the
universities were church properties, ie, since about 1600.
: I do not argue at all for retaining said Church estates. Surely their
: dominance is as oppressive as any other. Only _intellectually_ do I
: continue to argue that assuming a process of human development, say
: along the lines proposed by Dawkins, is not at all incompatible with
: assuming an ultimately divine Creator. Nor is it incompatible with the
: vast corpus of OTHER cosmology and mythology which sustains the other
: populations similarly swallowed up by the advancing tide of mechanised
: industry. It is simply irrelevant.

I agree. It *is* false to claim that any scientific theory that purports
to describe what is, is relevant to the selection of a mythopoeic
cosmology that purports to provide a meaning, just so long as that
cosmology is not inconsistent with the known facts, or that
inconsistencies are due to metaphors and not statements of facts. In this
respect, the theology of Genesis is not inconsistent with evolutionary
theory if one reads Genesis as a statement of monotheistic dominance and
responsibility. If one takes it as a literal history, then that variant of
the JudeoChristian mythos must be rejected by anyone who is familiar with
the facts. (I know I'm setting myself up for a flame on facticity here,
: I find it less a problem, I suggest therefore, were all the others to
: be simply ignored. That they are so actively denied, and scientific
: data on the present situation so systematically repudiated once again
: under the financial sponsorship of the military/industrial sector, as
: we see right here after the manner of Dr Bruce Scott for example, I
: do find a very big problem indeed.
: While this putative distinction between "science" and "religion" is
: being so propagated among institutionalised Westerners, out here in
: the field we have long been experiencing the forced appropriation of
: natural resources by people who individually do not even know how to
: even feed themselves, from just about everybody else!
: Do you see the difficulty yet? Taking the Evolutionary and Big Bang
: Theories both together; weighing up their evidence, analysing their
: discourses, observing the climate of viciousness and hostility in
: which they are pursued, and not least noting their common history and
: sociology, we arrive at a situation where the collective weight of
: evidence demonstrates plainly that we are simply not dealing with one
: another as peers, nor dealing impartially as colleagues in obtaining
: independently observable and verifiable facts; we are joining in a
: monumental resource fraud built upon the most elaborate of theories
: sustained by the most poverty stricken of scientifically admissable
: evidence.

What is surprising here? Competition for resources and vigorous and often
political promotion of views is a fact of life in human society. That a
view is accepted for a variety of reasons, some theoretical and others
cultural, in no way undercuts the intellectual veracity and validity of
the view, even if, as in the case of Spencerism (so-called and misnamed
"social darwinism") the view gets a free ride on the back of a Zeitgeist
that in retrospect (even at the time) we can see to be morally
reprehensible and socially divisive. I completely disagree about the
paucity of evidence for evolution, though. Have a look at the FAQs on the archive at

for some discussions and references on evidence and other common
objections to evolution. [If you are interested, follow the links to the
creationist site for the "opposition" view.]

[Friendly fire between Gil and Yasha deleted]

Sorry to intrude on your conversation... I just had to respond to Gil's
measured comments.


John "Chris" Wilkins, Assoc. Prof. of Recent Runes, Uni of Ediacara
Also: Head of Communication Services, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute
Home Page:
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