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Sep 27

Aesthetics and Evolution

Science is often more artistic than many people, both within and outside of the humanities would believe. Physicists and mathematicians in particular look for "elegance" as a key factor in deciding a theories worth. In many ways, this is just an extension of Ockham’s razor: the simpler explanation for the same phenomenon is best. Elegance generally evokes images of clean, simple lines, and so dovetails with Ockham rather nicely.

This sense of aesthetics is a good thing and ties in with human cognition very closely–I doubt that we could purge ourselves of this even if we wanted–but it does get oddly distorted in some debates. For your consideration I present an article on evolution and intelligent design and how some prominent advocates of Darwinism may have gotten in a rhetorical jam over their critiques of, for instance, the eyeball and the panda’s thumb. This is from Touchstone Magazine’s special edition on Darwism and Intelligent Design from this summer.

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