Purpose and design (Evolution)

by David Turell @, Saturday, April 08, 2017, 16:07 (110 days ago) @ dhw


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.

Slightly twisted interpretation. Something more: The nest fits into the concept of balance of nature supplying energy for life in evolution. Each eco-niche fills the balance. All I can say about your theistic question is God helped the bird with the design. The bird could not do it on its own.


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

dhw: 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).

My 'if' is a cautionary comment. Frankly I cannot see any further evolution except some minor changes in humans, such as bigger, stronger, which we are seeing now. No major reconstructions like over the last eight million years.

DAVID: No dichotomy. The range of wonders is the balance of nature supplying energy so evolution could continue. All to the purpose of evolving.


dhw: 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.

It seems you do understand my thoughts. The bush supports the energy supply needed.


dhw: 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.

As Tony commented, speciation requires outside intervention. Humans are the result of God's interventions.

dhw: 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've said might be possible and do fit the history. They do not presume God's existence.

dhw: 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.

That is about as close as you can get to me. Good.


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