Evolution Tested, Library of Congress #2019905164 Outskirts Press, copyright and written by CS Stephens,
(Reviewer’s apology for length of review seemingly required.)
Sub-titled “Evolution & Empiricism Viewed through Engineering Standards”, this book presents a treatise resulting from the observed fact that although skepticism of Darwinian claims continue and some highly placed scientists and even a legal judgement support the claims, religions provide mixed reviews and a large number of physicians, dentists, and engineers repute them. Here, after some opening discussion of various claims in the Preface, the author offers a theme adopted by engineers as the Salem Hypothesis, which briefly assumes the existence of more than one type of skepticism – the irrational Pyrrhonian or radical view that refuses to believe anything because even evidence of the highest quality cannot be believed, and two types of scientific skepticism; 1. No one knows anything about anything, and 2. We know only the contents of our own minds. And because both can exist in the same person, empiricism or evidence-based results, are required. He follows with what to expect in the ensuing ten part discussion. Each, subdivided to a varying degree, follows with his application of the Hypothesis to evolution; its claims; aspects of DNA/evolutionary hypotheses; complexity of ‘First Life’ formation; Problematica (little known outside the “evolutionary practitioners” who study creatures “which have nothing in common with either known modern or deep time phyla”); analysis of evolution theory as a unifying concept; specific claims for evolution and treatment of coherent dissent by the evolution community. A Final Analysis recalls: “Darwin presciently outlined the failure zones of his theory. His failure criteria have been met, yet evolutionary theorists press on, regardless”. Further, a Condensed Summary of 12 falsifiers for evolution and five appendices conclude the book; A. discussion of knowledge in general and the essential disciplines of rational thought; B. movement from Aristotelian destructive logic, to the steps required for, and application of, objective thinking; C. examines when probabilities actually are impossibilities; D. “Understanding Life”; E. Validating Aristotle’s First Principles of Thought mathematically.
Discussion: This is one of the more thorough evaluations of a subject I have read. It also is quite literalistic, precisionist and in large part scholastic. In many ways it is reminiscent of PhD theses I’ve read. According to the author, “The first purpose of this investigation is to analyze the purported scientific practice of evolutionary professionals compared to both the Enlightenment definition of Empiricism and the actual practices required of engineering disciplines. The second purpose is to determine whether there is sufficient cause to designate evolution as a pristine, disciplined source of objective knowledge. There will be no references or inferences to design, because this work is solely focused on evolutionary theory and its relationship to objective knowledge and truth. (But design will (be) mentioned – as above – when quoting evolutionists who falsely attack it as a concealed aspirational cause when it is not, rather than proving their own assertions. That’s a Red Herring Fallacy.)” He also states that because “evolution is a milieu of hypotheses” both complementary and contradictory, even interim ones that have expired exist so “It is an interesting task to attempt to organize the personal “theories” of many evolutionary ‘experts’ into reasonable form in order to analyze their content for applicability to the general knowledge base as containing either objective knowledge, or subjective knowledge.” Objective knowledge being defined as “inductive-reductive-hypothetico-deductive-objective-demonstration-falsification. Subjective knowledge – “inductive-extrapolative-hypothetico.” His stated goal – “decision to decide and emphasize that evolutionary pursuit can be shown to be a generator of objective knowledge”. Discussions of varying length ensue apropos all of the above-listed subjects.
From this reviewer’s perspective, two of the more interesting inclusions are the dating of fossils where he quotes Willian Durant, author (with his wife) of the eleven volume The Story of Civilization: “Most history is guessing – the rest is prejudice.” Because it is impossible to link chains of cause and effect in any valid way, his deductions “are sustained more in our minds than in reality and are informed and conditioned by our prejudices, which will tell us NOT what happened, but what we think OUGHT to have happened” and explores the numerous ways of dating fossils and what successively has been learned and concludes. Thus: “There is no hard, material, empirical, contingent fact which grounds any of the many molecular clock hypotheses.” The second subject should be of interest to religious leaders involved in the discussions – Molecular Biology, the composition of DNA, the importance of the function of mRNA as messenger thereby securing the fact that random proteins can NOT be the origins of life. Also, the more recent information that human genome’s nucleotides may play more than a single role.
Summary: The author has provided a thorough, scholarly treatise of a rather esoteric subject that elicits thoughts of PhD theses. Fundamentally it is well done, beautifully referenced and substantiates his conclusions. Most regrettably, however, the author projects a third, unlisted agenda – proposal of a belief that engineering provides a superior quality of investigation to that of other ‘scientists’: “Engineering is completely secular and materialistic; no deities are summoned and no chickens are sacrificed in the process of engineering. Engineering requires disciplined adherence to Enlightenment values: objective knowledge through thorough testing is both required and valued by engineers…” These and other quotations denigrating members of other scientific disciplines and reporting of their activities follow. Granted engineering deals with hard structures; e.g. wood, concrete, steel, while other ‘science’ more usually focus on less ‘concrete biological entities’ Also granted is the existence of rivalry between scientists in other disciplines that occasionally and sadly may degenerate into ugly situations. Injection of such puerile thought/activity does NOT belong it science.
Conclusion: This reviewer believes this book deserves: 5* as an Erudite examination of Empirical data on an esoteric matter for the semantics aficionado; 4* for the religious devotee because once again the ‘spark of life’ has NOT been proven to ignite without a ‘higher power’; 0 – 1* for distasteful material included.
3* 5*Erudite, esoteric treatise descending to 1* for distasteful material included.