Purpose and design (Evolution)

by dhw, Saturday, April 08, 2017, 13:22 (51 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: the fact that life has continued does not mean that humans were God’s only goal. I don’t see how the nest provides energy (that’s why it’s my prime example), but why design it anyway if all he wanted was humans?
DAVID: So it can live its lifestyle. And: The design of the nest fits the weaverbird into its eco-niche, nothing more.

So your God did not say to himself: “I’ll design the weaverbird’s nest in order to provide energy to keep life going until I choose to produce humans.” He said: “I’ll design the nest so that the weaverbird can fit into its eco-niche and live its own lifestyle. Nothing more.” Thank you. Now the only open theistic question is whether God designed the nest or the bird designed it (see also my response to your cephalopod post).

DAVID: Humans are the current endpoint of evolution. If nothing else appears, they are the goal.

At last we now have an “if”. “Current endpoint” is a slightly odd expression, since endpoint = completion (and in any case it is not synonymous with goal). I would not like to predict what life will look like in even a million years’ time, let alone a thousand million. For all we know, there might be nothing left except bacteria, so bacteria would the endpoint. (I doubt if you would say they were the goal.) And whatever it is will be your God’s will if he exists, or the outcome of the impersonal workings of Nature.

dhw: Energy was and is needed for all forms of life, with or without humans, and the fact that God took a long time to achieve his one goal, though he could have done so “without any difficulty”, does not explain why he specially designed the weaverbird’s nest and the huge range of other wonders. That is the dichotomy.
DAVID: No dichotomy. The range of wonders is the balance of nature supplying energy so evolution could continue. All to the purpose of evolving.

Yes, the purpose would be evolution, which certainly makes sense, since evolution is what we have – the coming and going of a vast range of organisms, the majority of which have no link whatsoever with God’s apparently “sole purpose” of producing humans. I'm happy to see that your next comment continues this far more logical approach.

dhw: You vacillate from admitting that your hypothesis makes no sense to offering an explanation which you then reject (God’s limitations), and then to repeating the same hypothesis with the same irreconcilable arguments that your God preprogrammed or dabbled millions of complex designs extant and extinct before fulfilling his one and only purpose, which he could have achieved “without any difficulty”.

DAVID: My vacillation was during a period of your questioning my thoughts about God and how He handled the process of evolution. I explored, not vacillated, several avenues of thought. I've now concluded that God chose a lengthy evolutionary process. There was no delay. He had no difficulty. He created the bush of life which supplies the balance of nature to have energy for life to continue to evolve over such a long period of time. It makes perfect sense to me.

I am delighted to have helped you reach a new theistic conclusion, and with a slight rewording I think it does make perfect sense, so long as we stick to the limits you have imposed on your own framework. (I hear alarm bells, but I will persist!) Your God created a system whereby life continued to evolve into a huge bush of forms over a long period of time. I will even take your above hypothesis one step further. The evolving bush led to the arrival of humans. Nothing more, and the above dichotomy disappears.

DAVID: All of your proposals fit the history, but I don't accept them as probable, only possibilities. I've been through a somewhat convoluted process, but I've made my choices. Can you make any choices?

Again I am delighted that you have now chosen to accept the possibility that my proposals might be correct, i.e. that humans were not God’s only purpose, and that “everything else” was not specially designed to serve that one and only purpose. That is all I have ever asked for in this discussion. (I hear the alarm bells again!)

Can I make choices? Definitely not on the macro-level – i.e. the existence of God. But I can certainly express preferences on other subjects. For instance, with my theist’s hat on, I prefer the hypothesis that he deliberately created a system that would lead to the vast variety of life forms and wonders that mark life’s history – not for the sake of producing humans, but for their own sake. I find the vast variety (including those that are extinct) absolutely fascinating. Why shouldn’t he? However I accept the possibility that your God may have intervened at times, and that humans (who I agree have very special levels of consciousness) may be the result of one such intervention.

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