Wednesday Madness: Darwin undermined math

Apologies for not getting this out on Monday.

Nick Matzke at the National Center for Science Education has indexed one of the most bizarre claims levvied against evolutionary science. He was reading a book by Wiker and Witt, two antievolutionists affiliated with the Discovery Institute, and near the end, they concocted the most amazing argument ever seen – That Charles Darwin undermined the foundation of mathematics.

Strange though it may seem to neo-Darwinists, Darwin’s assumption that the terms species and variety are merely given for convenience’s sake is part of a larger materialist and reductionist program that undercuts the natural foundation of counting and distorts the natural origin of mathematics. To put it more bluntly, in assuming that “species” are not real, Darwinism and the larger reductionist program burn away the original ties that bound the meaning of mathematics to the world and instead leave it stranded on a solipsistic island of the human imagination.

(Wiker and Witt, 2006, A Meaningful World: How the Arts and Sciences Reveal the Genius of Nature, Intervarsity Press, Downer’s Grove, IL, pp. 236-237. Bolds added.)

At first glance, you might think that these two people are nuts. But the borders between the realm of insanity and genius are thin, and at second glance, it is plain to see that they may very well have struck upon an idea of such sheer genius and gusto that they have yet to imagine the full implications. Let me explain.

The concept of species is a fuzzy one, frought with many difficulties, and thus there are several definitions. The biological definition of species holds that organisms are the same species if they can successfully interbreed. The morphological definition holds that similarity in appearance is the proper way to group living things. The mate-recognition definition holds that if you think you can have sex with it, you’re the same species, and the phylogenetic/evolutionary/Darwinian definition of species considers common ancestry important with divergence separating each taxa.

Wiker and Witt, however, realize that there is another definition of species not recognized by prejudiced “scientists.” Cdesign Proponentsists know this as the “typological” definition of species – that the properties of organisms are fixed, well defined, and if any two organisms share the same fixed characteristics, then they are the same species. This solves the problem of the multiple definitions employed by the reality-based community, and it makes species members easily countable.

Darwin, based upon the inconvenience of scientific study of objective reality, concluded that “species” were not a fixed type, that they change over time. Wiker and Witt rightfully recognized that this made it impossible to count members of a species with certainty anymore. Further research over the past almost 150 years at liberal bastions of irrationality, aka universities, have backed up Darwin’s assault on fixed types. The ruling dogma of today is that species lines are blurry, and that nature doesn’t conform to the “arbitrary” lines drawn by humans. W & W knew this is where the assault on math began.

Without definite immutable boundaries to be drawn between groups, there can be no such thing as math. W/W demonstrated this above: “in assuming that “species” are not real, Darwinism and the larger reductionist program burn away the original ties that bound the meaning of mathematics to the world and instead leave it stranded on a solipsistic island of the human imagination.” It “unercuts the natural foundation of counting,” and thus, math itself. Darwin declared war on mathematics.
Following the confusing nature of the definition of species, methodological naturalists, aka “scientists,” have attacked every basic type known to exist. Nowhere can we see the effect of this than in the Periodic Table of the Elements, one of the most recognizable symbols of science.

The hegemony begins.

You see, as W & W know, elements come in only two basic types: metal, and non-metal. Because of inconvenient “data,” and “research,” chemists couldn’t classify certain elements as either metal or non-metal. It either is, or isn’t, but they instead invented an entirely new and vacuous category known as metalloids. Chemists have discovered invented further ambiguities amongst metals and non-metals in an attempt to explain this, such as electron orbital theory, electronegativity, and, well, electrons. Physicists have continued the heresy by declaring that the mythical particles known as protons and neutrons do not have a fixed mass. Now we can no longer count atoms or subatomic particles. Math suffers again.
It's his fault!Decimal temperature values between degrees have been inserted, shades of gray other than white and black were admitted into art, and worthless terms such as “indecent” have been worked between “morally permissible” and “immoral.” Such is the deadly legacy wrought by the one Charles Robert Darwin.

In a contemporay example, we can see that this anti-math agenda has leaked into the public and scientific discourse yet again. With the announcement of a new definition of planets, the International Astronomical Union has revealed their true colors. They have admitted that they no longer believe that the category known as “planet” is a true type anymore. Now we are plagued with fuzzy definitions once more: Planets, Planemos, Extrasolar Planets, Dwarf Planets, Moons, Satellites, and one particularly bad astronomer seems to think that there are no lines to be drawn at all! Now it is impossible to confidently count the number of planets in the heavens!

There is only one true definition of “planet,” and that is that they are stars that “wander” through the heavens. Stars!

You see, W-squared knew when they wrote about Darwin’s assault on math that the problem was far more pervasive than they admitted. There is a whole-scale assault on mathematics going on across the sciences. It all started with Darwin and his war on counting.
Either that or Wiker and Witt are complete ignoramuses. Let’s teach the controversy on that. Let the kids decide.

This Monday Madness was brought to you by “Two-Buck Chuck.”

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Karl Haro von Mogel

Karl Haro von Mogel serves as BFI’s Director of Science and Media and as Co-Executive Editor of the Biofortified Blog. He has a PhD in Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics from UW-Madison with a minor in Life Sciences Communication. He is currently a Postdoctoral Scholar researching citrus genetics at UC Riverside.