Continuing with Bennett’s treatment of evolution from The Dramatic Universe, as short quote on the probability issue re Darwinian evolution, almost at the same time as Fred Hoyle’s book on the subject with a similar argument.
Bennett was one of the original critics of Darwin (post DNA discoveries) in the last two generations. It is significant for those who defend Gurdjieff to note his clever way to shunting the controversy onto Ouspensky and Bennett.
It ought to be obvious he is not a Darwinist, but he was too cagey to speak directly on the question.
So, a word for the fall guys here.
Note that Andrew Cohen, that shit head, does the same thing, and shunts the critique off onto others (Ken Wilbur, who is tightlipped himself)
We can proceed soon to the system that Bennett constructs here, for all its extravagance. It is a classic portrait of teleological evolution in the bad hybrid of naturalistic Samkhya, garbled Shophenhauer, and much else, that Bennett uses. It is useful to go through this, in order to critique it!
But his reasoning on evolution is good, a generation before people like Denton, et al.
In general, the critique of Darwinism should be balanced with a critique of New Age evolutionism which is even more confused than Darwnism
Please note that men of higher consciousness, even enlightened Buddhas, don’t understand the dynamics of evolutioin any better than reductionist scientists, who have never found the key.
When we further consider the development of human culture on the
assumption that it has been due to blind chance-that is the processes
of random variation and natural selection-another enormous improba-
bility confronts us. Blum’s cumulative probability for (a) the origin of
life (b) the evolution of the Biosphere and (c) the development of human
culture is 10- 18 or a million, million, million to one against the occur-
rence. Even this extremely small likelihood is, according to our calcula-
tions, far too optimistic, for it does not give due weight to the hazards
of the pre-biological stages of synthesis, where the likelihood of degener-
ation increases with each added element of order.
We can now test numerically the argument that however improbable
the present situation may be, there have been enough chances to make
it conceivable. If we assume only 100 steps in the accidental synthesis
of a self-reproducing protein the odds against its occurring by accident
are I: 100! The remaining steps may be 10- 15 as suggested by Blum.
This makes a cumulative probability of less than one in 10100. The
total mass of the earth’s atmosphere is estimated at 1021 grams equiva-
lent to 1040 simple molecules of nitrogen, methane or ammonia. Assum-
ing chemical transformations occurring throughout the atmosphere and
reactions occurring at the rate of a million a second, there would be
some 1023 reactions in a thousand million years. The total number of
reactions theoretically possible is 1063 against the 1085 required to
produce one viable self-reproducing protein molecule. This gives a
likelihood of one in a hundred thousand million million, which makes
the process inconceivably improbable. If it is suggested that surface
catalysts could both accelerate the process and protect the reactants
from disintegration: we must reduce the number of molecules to those
able to be in contact with suitable metallic or oxide surfaces. The
figure of 1040 falls dramatically to 1015 and the probability remains far
too low to allow random reactions to be regarded as a conceivable
mechanism for the arising of life. *
This is not to say that random reactions could not produce polymers
of high molecular weight: but that such polymers would be only one
stage in the whole process. In later stages, the disintegrative influences
of random energy discharges would be more and more likely to break
the entire structure down and long before a viable self-synthesizing
molecule was obtained, the regressive trend would swallow up any
When we turn our attention to the evolution as distinct from the
origin of life, we have to think in terms of far smaller numbers of units:
in this case organisms capable of sexual reproduction. Against the num-
ber of elements of order, i.e., 109 according to Blum, we have a
maximum of 1010 generations with an average successful mutation of
one in a million: so here the odds against the success of random variation
and natural selection are at least a hundred thousand to one. But, as
we saw, a large proportion of successful mutations disappear, so that
the true odds run into hundreds of millions. Up to now, we have
considered only a single line of evolution. If we take into account the
delicate adjustment of different kinds of organism to each other in the
Biosphere, the odds become astronomical. t
The development of culture by random processes and natural selec-
tion is a far-fetched notion that need not detain us. At the very least,
it can be regarded as extremely improbable that the present state of
human culture could have been reached by a sequence of undirected
and purposeless steps.
The conclusion that we are bound to draw from all these considera-
tions, is that the fortuitous origin and evolution of life and humanculture
on the earth must be rejected as contrary to thewell-established laws
of probability and thermodynamics.