Photo by Ken Gortowski
I recently read Darwin’s Doubt by Stephen C. Meyer, and I highly recommend it. I have touched on another aspect of Darwin in my own writings, something that Gerald M. Vershuuren calls “Darwin’s blind spot”.
I previously highlighted an aspect of Darwin’s thinking in Random Thoughts on Evolution that seem to undermine his own theory. Darwin expressed skepticism about the value of his own “inward convictions” (that there is purpose in the world) as quoted from a letter he wrote July 3, 1881, to William Graham who posited that natural laws imply purpose in life, the following:
I cannot see that there is then necessarily any purpose. Would there be purpose if the lowest organisms alone destitute of consciousness existed in the moon? But I have had no practice in abstract reasoning and I may be all astray. Nevertheless you have expressed my inward conviction, though far more vividly and clearly than I could have done, that the Universe is not the result of chance. But then with me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?
The fact that he could not trust his inward convictions follows fairly naturally from his theory that all life has evolved, including mankind, from lower life forms. It strikes me as ironic, however, that Darwin’s skepticism stopped with his inward convictions and did not extend, also, to, the conclusions of his mind.
I do not mean to suggest at all that Darwin was not highly intelligent, a genius in fact. I simply hold out that Darwin’s conclusion about his inward convictions should have also caused him to doubt the processes of his mind as well, including his construct of the evolutionary theory .
My point is this: if Darwin could not trust his inward convictions, being the product of a mind derived from lower life forms, what confidence should Darwin have in the “rational” conclusions of that same mind, it being the derived from irrational, random processes?
Vershuuren takes the analysis further in Darwin’s Blind Spot.