Purpose and design (Evolution)

by dhw, Sunday, April 09, 2017, 09:38 (169 days ago) @ David Turell

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.
DAVID: 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.

I still don’t know how the nest itself supplies energy (unless, I suppose, you eat it) – that’s why it is my prime example – but of course I agree that all forms of life, regardless of which ones hold the balance of nature at any time, both need and supply energy, and energy is required for life to evolve.

DAVID: 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.

All your versions of “help” are dealt with under “Genome complexity”. However, I acknowledge that complexity is a problem and we do not know how far organisms are capable of doing their own designing. But I am obviously far more open than you to the possibility that from bacteria upwards they may have sufficient (God-given?) intelligence to do it themselves.

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).
DAVID: 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.

I am not prepared to make predictions for the next thousand million years. But I suspect the “endpoint” is more likely to be bacteria than humans!

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

Yes, as above, all life provides the energy needed for life to continue and to evolve, and no life can survive without some form of energy. This is self-evident. It is your God’s “sole purpose”, plus everything else being related to it, that I have objected to.

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

Two of the hypotheses (God experimenting to produce a being like himself, and God thinking of humans later on in the course of evolution) do presume his existence. The autonomous inventive intelligence does not presume his existence, but it allows for him to be its inventor, and also allows for him to dabble if he does exist. I prefer all three of these to the concept of a God who designs every life form so that he can put off designing the only life form he wants to design.

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

I have offered you this hypothesis many times, and will now raise my glass to you in celebration of the fact that you have finally agreed it is possible.


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