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Walter Benjamin's Concept of Art as Auratic: the Nexus between Modern Art and Technology
by Dr. Emanuel Paparella
2008-11-27 12:09:17
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“Mankind, which in Homer’s time was an object of contemplation for the Olympian gods, now is one for itself. Its self-alienation has reached such a degree that it can experience its own destruction as an aesthetic pleasure of the first order. This is the situation of politics which Fascism is rendering aesthetic. Communism responds by politicizing art.”
           
               --Walter Benjamin (“The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”)


It is hard to envision a philosopher of art that has reflected more deeply than Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) on how the revolutionary changes in modern art have affected our understanding of art itself. Like Adorno, Benjamin was a genial German Marxist philosopher and literary critic. For him the key to the understanding of modern art was modern technology, particularly photography and film.

In his famous essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” Benjamin theorizes the artwork’s loss of aura and how this loss alters the function of art in society. Concomitantly, Benjamin is concerned with the nexus between art and politics. One has to keep in mind that he was writing as Hitler came to power, the times of what Vico dubs “the barbarism of the intellect,” the times of “book burnings” (1933); also that he was a Jew. For his own mental and psychological survival, Benjamin had to keep alive within himself the hope that art somehow could be used in the struggle against Nazism.

Benjamin’s concern in art is less that of providing a working definition of art than in understanding how the function of art has changed under capitalism and its cutting-edge technological innovations. He is particularly interested in understanding how “mechanical reproduction,” that is to say, the ability to copy works of art via purely technical means changes art’s social function. In this regard, the development of photography and film is of primary importance. Photography has the ability to reproduce an unlimited number of accurate copies, and film is that art form based on photography which makes it seem to reproduce the world in time as well as in space.

The above preamble takes us to Benjamin’s main thesis. Basically it is this: the reproducibility of artwork has caused their aura to decline. Why does Benjamin use the term aura? Because he is attempting to capture the reverence that earlier societies, often within religious contexts, had for works of art. To establish this claim Benjamin has recourse to an analogy between the structure of art object and commodities and goods produced for the market. He reminds us that in the first volume of Das Kapital, Karl Marx had distinguished between the ability of a commodity to satisfy a human need (its use value) and its value on the market place (its exchange value), arguing that exchange value had come to predominate under capitalism. Analogously, Benjamin first distinguished the cult value of the artwork (its place within a cult as a unique object often hidden from view) from its exhibition value (its worth as an object accessible to all). Technological reproduction, he argues, makes the cult value of art recede in favor of its exhibition value.

For Benjamin, this simply means that many of the ways philosophers have characterized art are no longer valid. For example, it is no longer possible to regard art as autonomous, art for art’s sake, a realm in which specific social interests have no part, as Kant and others had previously asserted thus creating a dichotomy between the aesthetic and the ethical. So, for Benjamin the burning question is whether or not art can have a positive political function, not excluding that of people joining a revolution against fascism. He remarks that fascists such as Hitler, Mussolini, Marinetti (the Italian originator of Futurism in art) had aestheticized politics with their mass demonstrations and rallies, to wit the movie Triumph of the Will by Leni Riefenstahl, starring none other than Adolph Hitler.

Benjamin therefore proposes as antidote to this propaganistic mind-set, that art be politicized as a weapon in the struggle for social justice. As in Marx, there is a dialectic of sort working in Benjamin’s conception of art: in assessing the impact of technology on art, he sees the reproducibility of art in modern societies as destructive of its aura; but on the other hand the loss of aura makes possible a use of art that was previously unthinkable: art promoting a socialist revolution.

The question than arises: is this nothing but the other side of the same coin? And what in fact happens to art in general, and particularly in the former Soviet Union, when art is so conceived (as propaganda for some form of social scheme)? That would take us too far afield and remains the topic of another important consideration on art’s varied conceptions within our modern technologically driven world.

  
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Emanuel Paparella2008-11-27 15:24:07
A footnote is in order here: Benjamin did not live long enough to see how book burning by the “barbarians of the intellect” and the “thought police” of a state out to bully the rest of the world eventually transforms itself in a nastier monster: people burning by the millions in the midst of a technologically advanced country. I don’t think he would have been greatly surprised but one wonders if he would kept up his hope of art's ability to fight totalitarianism.


Sand2008-11-27 16:24:08
Although, to my sensibilities, the Nazi burning of books is one of the least of the horrors that Nazism imposed on the world Paparella keeps bringing it up as if it were the peak of the Hitlerian brutalities. In these days of rapid literary reproduction and dissemination the action is, after all, more symbolic than actually destructive since all consumed literature can easily be replaced. But the action, not only of the Naziz but of many national and religious institutions to limit the availability of literature and information is just as reprehensible as the theatrical drama of an actual literary bonfire. An interesting list of books banned throughout history by many institutions (the Catholic Church amongst them) can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_banned_books


Emanuel Paparella2008-11-27 16:36:53
True to form Mr. S. conveniently neglects to mention the innumerable ancient manuscripts saved from the barbarian invasions in Catholic monasteries which preserved Western Civilization as we know it; that does not serve his biased views on the Catholic Church. He prefers half truths and partial truths. Could it be that he has an ax to grind?

On the burning of books, as clearly stated (but somwhow missed by the biased lenses of Mr. S.)book burning and its intolerance and disrespect for free speech eventually leads to people burning; but when one compares the burning of people and books done in the name of religious orthodoxy, as reprehensible as that is, to what was done in three short years by the technologically sophisticated ideologically driven apparatus of the Nazis, the former begins to look like a picnic. That too will be conveniently be overlooked by those out to bash religion.


Emanuel Paparella2008-11-27 16:48:15
http://www.ovimagazine.com/art/2810

Should Mr. S. wish to unburden himself of his obvious ignorance about the Catholic Church he may consider reading the above linked article in Ovi, which he obviously missed or did not grasp (on purpose?) the first time around.


Sand2008-11-27 17:20:41
True to form Mr. Paparella considers that the preservation of ancient manuscripts excuses the many instances of cultural destruction also committed by the church as if a murder and a cultural destructer can be excused by donating to Catholic charities. The Catholic church also burnt people (such as Joan of Arc), and many of the historic documents preserved today came from Islamic sources. But Catholic transgressions in no way excuses Nazi behavior. We have been over this ground before and it is useless to attempt to prompt Paparella to admit to the truth in history since his main efforts are propaganda for religion and I will not attempt to do the impossible.


Sand2008-11-27 17:51:23
Incidentally, I have no idea what delicacies Mr.Paparella consumes on his picnics but his indications make me shudder.


Emanuel Paparella2008-11-27 18:12:55
True to form, Mr. S. ends up attempting to cover up his intellectual destitution by descending to personal insults and discussing footnotes to the text which serve his ideological intellectually dishonest agenda and the granding of the ax most dear to him: the bashing of religion.


Emanuel Paparella2008-11-27 18:14:39
Errata above: "granding" should be grinding.


Sand2008-11-27 18:20:03
Obviously I have tried to indicate accepted history many times and Mr. Paparella sees them as insults because he cannot accept that his church is anything but totally blameless. Nothing I can do about that.


Emanuel Paparella2008-11-27 19:03:38
There is however something you can do about your own misguided approach, for your distorted ideological lenses lead you to a distorted and unfair judgment; in assessing an institution that is 2000 years old, one cannot just point to the negatives; the positive contributions too have to be mentioned, that is to say, the whole truth has to be enunciated, not just selected facts and events, or one comes across as a slanderer, a charlatan and an unreasonable bully out to grind a personal ax. This is especially palpable with people who descend to personal ad hominem arguments.


Sand2008-11-27 19:11:57
I have heard that Hitler was kind to dogs. Somehow, it doesn't help.


Emanuel Paparella2008-11-27 21:17:12
Indeed, dogs are submissive to bullies and control freaks. I doubt that Hitler liked cats.


Emanuel Paparella2008-11-27 21:32:01
" ... what is the basis for any moral complaint about what Hitler did to the Jews if God does not exist? In a godless universe, what one 'animal' does to another 'animal' is ethically irrelevant, and there is no moral basis for anger or outrage against anything. Whatever happens happens, and that is all there is to it." - --John Blanchard, Does God Believe in Atheists?


Sand2008-11-28 05:59:32
As usual, your minimal mental capabilities have misdirected the implications. I wasn't remarking about dogs. I was speaking about Hitler.


Sand2008-11-28 06:30:00
And furthermore your remark about a godless universe indicates a very peculiar attitude towards morality. In a godless universe humanity must undertake upon itself a system of social standards for mutual benefit and not indulge in a childish fantasy of morality imposed from outside. Therefore mankind cannot deny responsibility for any of its acts, malevolent or beneficial. That's what maturity means.


Emanuel Paparella2008-11-28 14:39:22
As usual, your distorting ideological lenses of a godless universe and an ax to grind distort the point made about dogs and bullies...Let's try it with a poem. At the end of it consider that Beauty always needs an observer even if Man's stupidity will have done him in. Moreover, light has no age. Food for thought for all the assorted simple-minded atheists of this brave new world.

Prayer To A Godless Universe

We sit in a shiny, fragile world,
A supercomputer of cobwebs
Connecting us all.
The skies and the oceans
Spanned by highways of silk thread,
Whose conductive properties make us sigh in awe.
Whilst below, the solid glass marbles
Fused by Galileo, Aristotle and The Vikings,
Marco Polo, The Romans, Chang Heng,
And the holy glass masters Einstein, Newton and Hawking,
Roll around at our feet.
We use them as shots,
Scoop them up to impress,
And babble about their brilliance.
Our silk roads would dangle and gleam
In the sun if the earth merely sighed,
Our marbles ground back into dust
And our flesh crushed, by a Universe
That cares not about
Our order, rules or pride.
And yet although she doesn’t care,
She is still beautiful.

© Jude Calvert-Toulmin
17th May 2008.


Emanuel Paparella2008-11-28 15:54:53
P.S. On the vaunted morality of atheists, logic 101 will point out that it is a fallacy to declare that because one is an atheist one will ipso facto assume responsibility for the observance of the moral law. In fact, the contrary can be proven historically. The first experiments in a godless state came with the 20th century Soviet Union and the so called People’s Republic of China. They turned out to be highly immoral states. To convince yourself of that fact it would suffice to read the declassified documents which have come to light after the fall of the Soviet Union; those atheists running the state stopped at nothing to achieve their political agenda. Blanchard has it right on target, I am afraid and all the vituperations and argumenti ad hominem of a foul mouth and an empty mind will not change that fact.


Sand2008-11-28 17:33:45
The claim that atheism confers morality is as idiotic as claiming that theism confers morality since history has fully demonstrated that people driven by religion do things fully as horrible as those without it. Decency and respect for human and other life therefor comes from other sources. But it is progress to recognize that there has not been discovered an easy solution. That means we can start searching.


Sand2008-11-28 17:42:24
I agree that beauty requires an observer just as hunger requires a stomach and pain requires a nervous system. I am not sure what that signifies except that human feelings require human beings.


Emanuel Paparella2008-11-28 18:20:30
Philosophy of mind 101: it signifies that mind comes first and then matter (see Berkley); no mind, no matter; and all the implications that observation has for the simple-minded atheistic materialists. As a wise man in Palestine once put it: by their fruits you shall know them.


Sand2008-11-28 18:28:37
Philosophy 102: Solipsism is an amusing exercise for naive minds intent on proving the existence of God but not to be taken seriously since the proof is not acceptable to anybody who can think clearly.


Jack2008-11-28 19:07:25
As to the comment:

"The claim that atheism confers morality is as idiotic as claiming that theism confers morality since history has fully demonstrated that people driven by religion do things fully as horrible as those without it."

I beg to differ. Communism, atheistic by design, has been the greatest social engineering experiment we have ever seen, and it failed miserably. In doing so it killed over 100,000,000 men, women, and children, not to mention the nearly 30 million of it’s subjects that died in aggressive wars and rebellions. The extermination or deportation of the Jews was of racial overtones. China’s staggering number is 65 million, Cambodia 2 million, North Korea, 2 million…and thousands more scattered world-wide.

His belief that Religion was the opium of the people was far less fatal than the poisoned water’s of Communism.

Incidentally, the greatest death toll of in human history came not from religion but from a godless state. Within the Soviet Union (about 5,000,000 dead during 1921-23 and 7,000,000 from 1932-3) and communist China (about 27,000,000 dead from 1959-61), more than all other sovereign countries combined. In total, almost 55,000,000 people died in various communist famines and associated diseases, a little over 10,000,000 of them from democidal famine. This is as though the total population of Turkey, Iran, or Thailand had been completely wiped out. And that something like 35,000,000 people fled communist countries as refugees, as though the countries of Argentina or Columbia had been totally emptied of all their people. This stands as an unparalleled indictment of the utopian pretensions stated by Communism. The Crusades toll seems patheically incomprabale to that of atheism.


Jack2008-11-28 19:13:30
As as to:

"the proof [of God's existence] is not acceptable to anybody who can think clearly."

Why, this is the very reason that evolution after 150 years there is still no conclusive proof! You must realize that we've all seen those imaginary human evolution lines where we go from ape to man in a series of drawings. Every school child in public education is constantly taught that man has come like this from apes. And supposedly, they say, there is fossil evidence for this. Every once in a while somebody finds a bone...and out of that bone they tell us they have identified the missing links in this sequence. Supposedly there is fossil evidence.

Well, the fact of the matter is there isn't. And most all of those fossils are hoaxes. The presupposition is that evolution is true. They're trying to make the bones fit the drawings in National Geographic. In a book written by John Ankerberg and John Weldon called Darwin's Leap of Faith it says, "Despite widespread belief to the contrary, the fossil record of mankind is woefully inadequate to justify any belief in evolution. There are no fossils that have convincingly related man to any other species. Most have been conclusively proven false." And as I said, many were outright hoaxes.

Anthropologist Kathleen J. Reichs, editor of Hominoid Origins, cited, "Many authorities who disagree about the interpretations of these many alleged human ancestry discoveries, until accurate dating of the fossils is possible...she writes...reconstruction of hominoid relationships must remain tenuous at best." Now there's an honest anthropologist, an honest evolutionist who says none of the fossils prove anything.


Jack2008-11-28 19:19:19
As mentioned in Creationism in the Classroom; "Twenty-four European scientists met and studied the bones. Ten said they were the bones of an ape; seven said they came from a man; and seven said they were not the bones of a "missing link!" No less an authority than H.G. Wells, the agnostic historian known for his two-volume Outline of History, said they were the bones of an ape. Even Dubois himself finally admitted that the bones were probably from an ape. But the Java Ape-Man has been paraded in museums and high school and college text books the world over as the "missing link" between man and animals, proving evolution!

The Archaeoraptor, which was dubbed a feather dinosaur, was found in China in 1999. It was believed to be proof positive that birds evolved from dinosaurs. In actuality the feathered part and the top part of the fossil were from two different organisms. When National Geographic featured the Archaeoraptor, they included a model of a T. rex covered in feathers. Christopher P. Sloan, the curator of the Smithsonian Institute at the time, said the "...National Geographic has reached an all-time low for engaging in sensationalistic, unsubstantiated tabloid journalism (Nov. 1999)."

Isn't it time for science to admit that a theory and scientific laws are not the same thing!


Sand2008-11-28 19:50:53
Jack, you have my greatest sympathy.


Jack2008-11-28 21:04:53
Sympathy, perhaps even condolences, should go to those who believe that:

"since history has fully demonstrated that people driven by religion do things fully as horrible as those without it."

Are we using the same history of mankind? The history books show no support or evidence of such a statement as the above. Sympathy should be reserved for those who don't believe that Socialism/ Communism has more blood on it's hands than any single social experiment ever [save that of abortion]...and for those who have suffered, and continue to do so presently(i.e. Georgia Republic), unjustly by such an incomparable comparison that it is ridiculous to even be comparing it with Christianity.

And just like the millions destroyed by it, the "beat" goes madly on (Cuba, Venezuela, Russia, China, North Korea...etc). The count continues to swell with no end in sight of the final toll.



Sand2008-11-29 08:57:40
Jack, I feel sympathy for you in two matters. First I am sorry for your total insanity in the matter of evolution. I have no doubts that you are completely convinced that evolution is some kind of fraud that has been accepted by the entire scientific community for some strange and unspoken motive. All modern biological thinking has confirmed and utilizes the principles of evolution and thereby has had tremendous success in understanding and working with evolutionary principles. But your intense desire to upend the entire direction of modern biology bespeaks of something within your personality well beyond mere words or scientific evidence and certainly beyond my capability to influence your thinking. I will not try, but please accept my condolences for your irretrievable and unfortunate condition.

The second matter concerns the behavior of the totalitarian regimes which have openly committed frightful atrocities upon their citizens in th name of human progress. Their original thinking, ostensibly based upon Marx’s concepts, was to remove the destructive forces involved in capitalism and substitute a beneficial form of socialism wherein the entire population derived benefits from economic activity rather than a privileged few. Those forces which traditionally supported the unequal distribution of wealth consisted, not only of the royalty and the super rich capitalists but also of the organized forces of religion which saw to it that the general populace accepted being deprived of the benefits of technological advances in the name of some supernatural fantasy. The original motivation of the communist movement was probably genuine in its desire for general redistribution of wealth but human social forces encouraged the most rapacious individuals into control, just as they have under capitalism and the communist regimes declined into thuggery under Stalin and Mao and other communist leaders which may expose something basic about humanity’s capability to promote decent leadership. A decent form of socialism never arose under these conditions and the absolute power conferred on the leaders gave them the opportunity to commit terrible crimes. Considering the total stupidity of the eight years of the American G.W.Bush regime in which the American public not only elected a total incompetent and his supporting horde of crooks to the presidency but re-elected him when his incompetence was fully demonstrated, I sincerely doubt that humanity has the capacity to sensibly self govern, but that is another matter. What is indicated in your submissions is that you believe the totalitarian regime’s horrible behavior is due to a lack of religion. Since history amply demonstrates that religion is equally capable of vicious behavior (see current Iran) all that you have shown is that thuggish non-religious regimes are more efficient in their crimes against the innocent but there is no demonstration that religious regimes are less nasty. Religion was not totally unimportant in communist persecutions but it is obvious that it is better understood in terms of power rather than theology.

Again, I am sure that my post will have no influence whatsoever on your viewpoint, but it is early in the day here and a cup of coffee permits me a bit of free time to present my point of view.
Have a good day.


Emanuel Paparella2008-11-29 09:47:51
And voilà, the issue of atheism and its misguided assumptions and its relation to the ethical life, and its irrational animus toward religion parading as rationality, is all but settled over a cup of coffee in the early morning. In the afternoon, we will say that 2+2=5 while manipulating words and writing a poem and talking of Michelangelo. Indeed, there is a kind of ignorance that is all but invincible and proves even Socrates wrong for saying that knowledge is virtue, because that kind of ignorance has little to do with knowledge but with evil denied, or worse still, evil not even recognized any longer. Taking responsibility for one’s nastiness somehow excuses the nastiness. It does not. Indeed people like Hitler and Stalin, not only took responsibility for what they did, they gloried in it, for they were gods, and Socrates could not have envisioned the likes of monstrosities like them turning rationality upon its head and transforming it into rationalism, mere iron-clad logic eating its own tail and logically explaining what is reprehensible and evil. Rationalistic man has proven that knowledge becomes a very nasty thing indeed when separated from ethics and used for nefarious ends to buttress one’s false assumptions. And the fool said in his heart: there is no God. Kafka in “The Trial”, Camus in “The Stranger” and Dostoyevsky in “The Possessed” all speak of this tragic absurd existential condition of modern man who first says in his heart that there is no God, substitutes his own creations for objects of worship, makes materialism a matter of orthodoxy in the new religion, and then ends up saying what even God cannot say, that 2+2=5 because he is god now and whatever he says over a cup of coffee, goes.


Sand2008-11-29 10:01:36
Ah. Mr.P. it seems whatever exotic substances you imbibe with your coffee turns on that inexhaustible data base which repeats the same tired old nonsense you have been spouting for years. Much sound and fury signifying nothing.


Sand2008-11-29 11:10:42
There is an obvious difference between Jack and Mr. Paparella which is worthwhile examining.

Jack has a mind which displays very strong distortions out of current religious dogma so that his view of the world has been totally taken over by the unreasonable concepts promulgated by the radical theists and it is an unfortunate twist of his mental processes but there is no doubt of his sincerity in the matters he proposes. In that I find him unfortunate and I pity his condition.

Paparella, on the other hand, despite his absolute conformity to religious dogma, has had the advantages of an exposure to a good deal of literature and history which would make one think he might have the raw material to construct a sensible viewpoint. Something strange seems to have happened to that gadget in his head he presumes to be a thinking brain so that he has stored up a series of prepackaged automatic reactions to any considerations of his illogical viewpoint and, like that knee jerk people have when tapped by a rubber hammer, Paparella fires off his automatic references to obsolete ancient philosophers and a few deluded literary personalities whenever confronted by unpleasant realities from accepted history. I have only peripheral understanding of CNS neurology but I suspect that whatever system he has for controlling his bowel movements seems to have inappropriately been put in charge his oral discharges thus resulting in the obvious defecative output.


Emanuel Paparella2008-11-29 12:03:49
True to form, eventually Mr. S.'s argumentations ends with the poetics of defecation and foul mouthed vituperations. To resort to that kind of thing publicly and habitually and attempt to sell it as reasoned argumentation, is a confirmation, if indeed there were any doubts about, of one's basic intellectual and scholarly destitution and dishonesty, not to speak of the deranged internal voices which surface from time to time. Pity indeed.


Sand2008-11-29 13:24:07
That Mr. Paparella is dismayed that he like all other living things, must defecate is rather amusing. What is noteworthy, of course, is his unique method of intellectual defecation which is a rather misplaced activity.


Emanuel Paparella2008-11-29 14:47:52
Point confirmed, if we needed a confirmation.


Sand2008-11-29 16:21:26
Delighted to have your agreement.


Emanuel Paparella2008-11-29 16:44:47
I agree indeed with Jung that people project their shadows. Did you not address me as Mr. Asshole recently? If Jung is righ, and I believe he is, that makes you what you go around calling others. I also predict that you will reply to this because it is very important for those kind of people to have the last word, It reassures them.


Sand2008-11-29 17:15:39
Congratulations on your graduation into the category of insulting people as assholes! It's now clearly on the line as to how we feel about each other.You still have a way to go in the matter of human waste products but you are on your way!


Sand2008-11-29 17:17:11
OK. Now it's your opportunity to grab the last word. I dare you.


Emanuel Paparella2008-11-29 19:09:10
Sand 2008-11-29 18:46:07
Of course I'll take the last word since your comprehension of Einstein is totally idiotic. All you have replied with is nonsense and insults. To assume that Einstein's theory was understood by an untutored religious fanatic two thousand years ago is obviously material for Monty Python.


Jack2008-11-29 21:54:58
Sand, your comment: "Since history amply demonstrates that religion is equally capable of vicious behavior"..I would like to see these sources of historical documents or recorded histories where you are getting this (mis-?)information...to presume that Christianity is far worse than the death toll of Communism. It is not even comparable. It astounds me that you say religion is "comparable" to the vicious history that is recorded for posterity. If you are grouping all religions together, you failed in your classification. Christianity is a religion, but all religions are Christianity. The countless millions killed under godless regimes stands as a blatant conviction and witness against it. Are you suggesting we'd all be better off under Socialism?

As for the comment that I am insane, I was not aware that you were a trained clinical physiologist! It appears that name calling reduces the argument to an elementary level of which I will not descend.


Jack2008-11-29 22:05:28
It is not I alone who disregard evolution as being conclusively proven (why do you think it is still called a "theory" after 150 years?)

The most well known in the scientific world today as such influential evolutionists like: Stephen Jay Gould and Edward Wilson of Harvard, Richard Dawkins of England, William Provine of Cornell, and numerous other evolutionary spokesmen are dogmatic atheists. Eminent scientific philosopher and ardent Darwinian atheist Michael Ruse has even acknowledged that evolution is their religion! "Evolution is promoted by its practitioners as more than mere science. Evolution is promulgated as an ideology, a secular religion—a full-fledged alternative to Christianity, with meaning and morality. . . . Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today." ^

^ Ruse, Michael, "Saving Darwinism from the Darwinians," National Post (May 13, 2000), p. B-3.


Jack2008-11-29 22:07:38
Henry Morris, Ph.D. in his book Evolution is Religion -- Not Science, has documented two recent Impact articles from admissions by evolutionists that the idea of particles-to-people evolution does not meet the criteria of a scientific theory. There are no evolutionary transitions that have ever been observed, either during human history or in the fossil record of the past; and the universal law of entropy seems to make it impossible on any significant scale.

Since they also must use hypothesis and placate theories, they too are in the “believing business”. Therefore, they must believe it, just as Christians believe in a Creator. So thier belief is also a faith-based belief, which according to Webster makes it a religion, but instead of worshipping God, they worship the creation or the creature (ie, man and his knowledge). Webster’s 4th definition in my dictionary puts it well. “a cause, principle or belief held to with faith and ardor. The atheistic nature of evolution is not only admitted, but insisted upon, by most of the leaders of evolutionary thought.


Jack2008-11-29 22:30:39
Has the theory of evolution passed the scientific theory test?..that is, is it observable, repeatable and measurable, and falsifiable, and therefore true? Evolution has failed miserably to do this, which by necessity, restricts it as a theory.... And the definition of a theory (which evolution remains under) does no favors for those who believe it. Webster uses the words: suppositions, hypothesis, acceptable, conclusions, abstract thought, guess [my favorite]. These terms are subjective if nothing else. Isn't science in the classroom to teach objective facts, not hope-so's but know-so's? Objective learning should always be favored, and rightly so, over theories are that subjective. Subjective means subject to error. Objective means who can object?


Sand2008-11-29 23:25:31
Sorry, Jack. I admit I got out of line with my comment to you and I apologize. But the mechanics of evolution are obviously one of the fundamental tools of modern biology. Be careful with that word "theory". There are many scientific concepts labeled as theory which are solidly accepted within scientific practice. In science a theory is not necessarily an unsupported proposal. The many historical discoveries about the origin and development of life on Earth fit exceedingly well within Darwin's concept and history is not kind to the preservation of fossils so there are necessarily gaps. You must realize that science is an ongoing development and all viewpoints are always up for revision when facts contradicting those viewpoints are brought to light. So far evolution has held up well under those conditions and the overwhelming number of scientists engaged in biological work accept it.


Jack2008-11-29 23:59:59
Thank you Sand, no offense taken & I hope that I have offended no one. As I say, I respect your opinion & honor your intelligence on many topics that this site covers. It is only that Darwin himself found that he nagging doubts about his own theory. For example, he says in the sixth chapter of his Origin of the Species, "Long before having arrived at this part of my work, a crowd of difficulties will have occurred to the reader. Some of them are so grave that to this day I can never reflect on them without being staggered." In his chapter on instinct he conceded such simple instincts as bees making a beehive could be sufficient to overthrow my whole theory. And to think he said that "The eye could evolve by natural selection seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest possible degree." In his chapter on imperfections in the geological record he complained that the complete lack of fossil intermediates in all geological records was perhaps, quote, "the most obvious and gravest objection which can be urged against my theory." The father of the theory is honest enough to see it's difficulties in providing absolute proof.


Jack2008-11-30 00:08:39
Concerning the fossil record, Stephen J. Gould, Harvard said, "The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontologists,...we view our data as so bad that we never see the very process we profess to study." Natural History, V.86. David B. Kitts, Univ of Okl., "Despite the promise that paleontology provides a means of 'seeing' evolution it has presented some nasty difficulties for evolutionists,..." Evolution, V.28, p.467.
 
Experimental? Repeatable? Theodosius Dobzhansky, "These evolutionary happenings are unique, unrepeatable, and irreversible. ....the applicability of the experimental method to the study of such unique historical processes is severely restricted before all else by the time intervals involved, which far exceed the lifetime of any human experimenter." American Scientist, Vol.45, p.388.
 
On Falsifiability, Colin Patterson of the British Museum of Natural History commented that evolution is "...unique and unrepeatable, like the history of England. This part of the theory [evolution has occurred] is therefore a historical theory, about unique events, and unique events are, by definition, not a part of science, for they are unrepeatable and not subject to test." (Evolution, p.45)


Jack2008-11-30 00:26:19
In "La génération spontanée est une chimère" ("Spontaneous generation is a dream") said Louis Pasteur. Pasteur's (and others) that empirical results were summarized in the phrase, Omne vivum ex vivo or Omne vivum ex ovo), which is Latin for “all of life [is] from an egg”. This begs the question, who laid the egg in the first place. It must have took a life form already living to do this! Eggs don’t lay themselves. This is sometimes called the "law of biogenesis" and shows that modern organisms do not spontaneously arise in nature from non-life.

The law of biogenesis is not to be confused with Ernst Haeckel's Biogenetic Law. Incidentally, no cellular life has ever been observed to arise from non-living matter. The construction of viable viruses capable of infection and evolution from abiotic material has been reported; however, considerable debate still exists regarding if viruses are actually alive. Various other experiments into the possibility and potential mechanisms of abiogenesis have also been reported but remain unproven. Humans can not create life, period! And evolution does not explain where the physical universe comes from, only addressing evolving (already) exisiting life. Even if life came from space, then where did this life come from? There must somewhere be a beginning of life and an end as well (Law of Entrophy...energy gets used up!).


Sand2008-11-30 02:21:28
There is an interesting article in the December 2008 issue of The Scientific American titled "Triple Helix" in which biologists are on the edge of creating a new form of life with a radical modification of DNA. They are not there yet but getting close.


Jack2008-11-30 03:05:37
We are not playing horseshoes or handgrenades, so close doesn't count. It is like being a "little pregnant"...either you are or you are not.


wow2008-11-30 08:01:58
if you don't watch your words, you might get them thrown back in your face... to bad people fireback so quick without a thought.


Sand2008-11-30 08:34:24
Close, Jack, does count and counts very well indeed. Science is an ongoing project and proximity to success indicates success is not only possible but probably inevitable the way things move today. Unlike theology, which keeps nattering around the same imponderables, science deals with accumulative knowledge and although the individual steps forward may be many and small, the massive movement of understanding is always forward and the participants are, in general, united and global.


wow2008-11-30 08:50:27
Mr P sounds a lot like Mr J, wouldn't you say so Mr S ? ;)


Sand2008-11-30 09:57:03
Although Paparella and Jack both adhere to a good deal of theological dogma and general religious outlook Paparella is generally less aware of science and scientific outlook. Paparella continuously rejects intelligent analysis as something unnatural and unGodly and is basically dishonest and manipulative in his arguments with very little real contemplative thought behind his posts. I see Jack as genuinely honest and in his effort to incorporate his religious orientation into his understanding of science and the world in general. He is aware of many of the shortcomings of present knowledge but uses them to attempt to destroy the total scientific paradigm which is unfortunate. I respect Jack although I see him as very wrong in his outlook. I do not respect Paparella who is a mere salesman of misunderstood obsolete and inferior intellectual goods.


"Alessandra" P2008-11-30 13:24:17
Who the hell is "wow"?


Emanuel Paparella2008-11-30 16:31:01
Statement worthy of a Torquemada. He too respected those who paid due respect to his authority and "repented" of politically incorrect intellectual stnces; but he still burned their books. Those who did not repent and pay sycophantic tribute, were of course burned themselves. Indeed, it is a type; it is the authoritarian totalitarian personality and finds its niche in various institutions, some religious others atheistic.


Sand2008-11-30 17:10:22
Once again you have gone off the deep end, Paparella. You have labeled me a grand inquisitor, something worthy of the Catholic church. Then a monstrous bully for pointing out accepted historical facts. And now you claim I am some sort of authority. I wonder what I have done to make you cower before this imaginary image of me that you have cooked up. I certainly claim no more authority that the plain facts I have indicated and which you continually squirm not to confront.


Emanuel Paparella2008-11-30 18:01:37
The operative word in that revealing statement which confirms my assumption is "squirm" which is what people do when they are being tortured by a Grand Inquisitor out to impose his distorted view of reality on the rest of the world.


Sand2008-11-30 18:20:26
People squirm when they desperately attempt to avoid facing the truth.


Emanuel Paparella2008-11-30 19:11:55
And of course the Grand Inquisitor has the truth incarnated in his instruments of torture by which he brings it out.


Sand2008-11-30 19:38:19
I’m terribly sorry, Paparella, but the analogy of torture simply is not functional in a discussion involving a mere exchange of viewpoints. I have no red-hot pincers or iron maidens or beds and ropes to stretch your frame, merely concepts to stretch your imagination which you might find painful and mentally disturbing since your mind has become petrified in the presence of ancient and obsolete ideas. The old concept of growing pains must come as a discomfort but in the field of dynamic ideas and modern insights these things must be bravely endured on the road to maturity. It is not I who is inflicting these ideas which pummel you but the real world which you seem to have deserted for most of your life to cower in the shadows of a closed mind.


Emanuel Paparella2008-12-01 23:04:23
Is that what the visiting voices have persuaded you of? And you, as an "enlightened" man believe them? Pity.


Tee2021-08-01 17:01:36
This exchange is epic, and I wonder if anyone has changed their mind in the last 12-ish years?


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