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Where then did such species come from? As we shall see below, complexity theorists have provided some astonishing answers to this argument.
Thirdly, creationists argue that design is the most logical explanation for what exists. Dembski, for example, a mathematician, distinguishes between undirected or random natural events and specific events whose occurrence are of such small probability that one must infer a designer. I cannot say I find this argument very convincing. Because something is improbable does not mean it is impossible.
Life is filled with unexpected singularities many of which bear non-linear consequences. It is easy to say that creationists have an easy time of it. They know the answer they are looking for and just shoehorn the evidence into it. If this were not also the case with so many secular theorists, one could dismiss the creationists as anachronisms. The problem is that evolutionary theory itself is still so sketchy that many questions remain; and creationists are formidable at sniffing out the lacunae that remain in modern synthetic theory.
Nothing, it seems, raises the ire of the secular biologist more than having a theist discover an inconsistency, even if it is legitimate. It is, in fact, disconcerting to find out how much creationism weighs on the mind of evolutionary theorists. Discussing the various points of view of creation theory or attempts like those of the Jesuit paleontologist Teilhard de Chardin to marry religion and science are beyond the scope of this essay, but their work is not easily dismissed if for no other reason than its ability to keep secularists from smug overconfidence.
The primary debates among secular biologists today seem to be between four schools of thought; reductionists, pluralists, secular theorists of constrained evolution, and theorists of complexity.
Reductionists are perhaps the most orthodox of Neo-Darwinians in the evolutionary debate. By reductionists I mean those who hold a monistic theory of evolution and believe they have cut through the complex world of microbiology to isolate the most important single factor in determining evolutionary change. I seek simple models of the world If I have to ignore some of the detail, too bad.
Among them are George C.
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Williams, an evolutionary theorist at Stoney Brook and editor of the Quarterly Review of Biology ; Robert Wright, the senior editor at the New Republic and author of many scientific books and articles; the Harvard socio-biologist Edward O. Wilson; Jonathan Weiner, author of, among other things, The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in our Time ;  and, of course, to Richard Dawkins,  claimed by many to be the most important theorist of evolution today.
Though there are certainly differences among these scholars, what unites them is the conviction that the gene is the basic engine of evolution. To these scholars, neo-Darwinism is the genetic micro-evolutionary production of new species. Other factors--climate, geography and so on--are, of course, important, but genetics is the key factor. Perhaps the most outspoken representative of this monistic view is Richard Dawkins, a former anti-war protester and supporter of Eugene McCarthy and presently the Professor of Public Understanding of Science at Oxford.
Dawkins eschews the interdisciplinary, metaphorical, and historical explanations of biology favored by figures like Niles Eldredge and Stephen Jay Gould. His approach is direct and analytical. Complex organisms and mechanisms, he argues, are animated by intrinsic forces that metaphor, analogy, and multidimensional explanations only mask. Indirect language leaves the door open to misunderstanding and misuse of the evidence. However complex a mechanism may be, it is still guided by a single rudder and the task of the scientist is to explain how that rudder guides the whole.
The Selfish Gene was the work that first established the gene in popular literature as the rudder of evolution.
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The work made Dawkins famous; for it elaborated in plain English what G. Once that process is complete, the gene hitches a ride to the offspring and the breeding organism itself is of no further use. If the offspring contains a beneficial allele, and enough of the offspring survive to produce enough fertile offspring to establish a new gene pool or genome, then evolution of a new species occurs.
Evolution is a piecemeal, micro process without dramatic speciation events. Likewise, it is cumulative in the sense that deleterious traits in organisms are weeded out and beneficial traits retained. It is this retentive process that helps the organism create better and better mechanisms of DNA replication.
Dawkins has little patience with those who see a more complicated and multifaceted evolutionary engine. Most of his sarcasm, however, is reserved for those who see a higher purpose in man or who deny the inherent predatory nature of genetic warfare by raising the issue of altruism. Altruism may seem to contradict genetic predation, but according to Dawkins it always has a self-interested motive. He is especially impatient with those who subscribe to the idea of a great Designer. The magnificence of the universe and everything in it, he argues, really has little mystery. Given enough time and the narrow constraints imposed by genetic warfare, life was, in a sense, built into the material of the primordial bang.
Because the sun and the earth are at least an unfathomable 4. Eventually, according to Dawkins, DNA would emerge from the primordial chemical soup that followed the Big Bang and then life would begin. Indeed, once DNA emerged out of the originary ooze, nothing was going to keep it from becoming more and more efficient at survival. Organisms evolve differently and in the ways that suit their particular needs. And needs can come in the form of brains, speed, agility, immunity, morphological complexity and so on. In short, evolution is progressive, but progress is measured differently for each species.
It is, in this metaphor, absurd to say that one branch has progressed more than another. This accounts for the fact that so many species He never tires, indeed, he seems to positively thrive on iconoclastic debunking of religion and slamming seemingly altruistic acts as deviously selfish methods that in reality only advance the interests of the gene.
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Spreading this kind of iconoclasm about seems to truly elate Dawkins. Solving mystery, says Dawkins, is as satisfying, more satisfying really, than living in its presence. For Dawkins, it is insufferable to have people living in the cave. Everyone must be brought to see the truth. Genetic warfare and the natural selection that results explain all we need to know. According to Dawkins, even his own passion for proselytizing the gene is genetically determined. According to Dawkins, humans have developed certain attributes--big brains, perseverance, persistence, goal seeking, for example—that were once helpful in hunting deer and bear and can now be put to use writing books, seeking money, and overpopulating.
This ability to control and direct attributes, however, seems to leave room for something that is consciously rather than genetically determined. And indeed, when cornered, Dawkins, avers that though he is a socio-biologist,  any one-to one determinism that implies that complex wholes like humans are merely the sum of their parts is too simple. According to Dawkins, a meme can be a catch-phrase, a tune, a mode of dress, an idea or any number of other cultural entities. And if memes play a role in mating patterns--if sexual selection is affected by advertising, music, dress, the car one drives or even by the way one wears a baseball cap--they become as biologically significant as genes.
Perhaps in Homo sapiens the backwards baseball cap is an ingenious design by the male chromosomes to attract females and allow the wearers to dominate the human genome. Developing a scientific epidemiology of something as ephemeral as the meme, however, seems daunting to say the least.
And this is a shame for, as the world shrinks, the activity of homogenizing memes seems to be accelerating; and it would be nice to know who to blame for this emerging uniformity. By conceding that cultural constructs can to some extent oversee reality, the idea of memes seemed to confirm what opponents of socio-biology had been saying all along. Biological determinism as set out by E. The meme may, however, constitute a last minute reprieve; for if biology had been superceded by culture then gender roles are mere memes imposed by that culture.
Erase offending memes and gender differences evaporate. There is, in short, very little politically neutral or unsituated ground in biological matters. Meme theory, however interesting from a cultural point of view departs from genetic determinism and has little support among most reductionists. Evolutionary psychology, an outgrowth of socio-biology, argues that gender differences are a natural result of different male and female physiology.
Since passing on their genes is relatively simple for males, males are, in every known society, far more promiscuous, polygamous, and adventurous than females. They have, in short, glutted the market and made sperm cheap and easy to find. It is much more complicated, on the other hand, for females to pass on their genes. Sperm may be cheap, but eggs are few, far between, and must be carefully protected before and after fertilization.
A less risky life is a necessity. Moreover, since there is no problem locating sperm, polyandry and promiscuity are infrequent among females. Indeed, for females, sexual active males are important only at the outset. The challenge is to keep them around afterwards for protection and opening jars. It may have been Dawkins who first suggested the idea of memes, but it is Daniel C. Dennett who most developed it. There is a similarity between Dennett and Dawkins that goes beyond their friendship.