Smart animals (Animals)

by dhw, Tuesday, September 20, 2016, 16:29 (518 days ago) @ David Turell

I am once again telescoping several threads as they all deal with the same subject.

dhw: ...It remains a source of amazement to me that anyone can believe that emotions, intentions, empathy and consciousness began with humans
DAVID: I have a different view in the area of emphasis. De Wall's presentation is true, of course, of animal emotion and cooperation, all of which preceded the appearance of humans. When humans appeared the gap in these characteristics as pertains to humans is huge. We are different in kind. Evolution is a continuum with a giant leap, which could not be expected based on the history of advances up to that point.

So long as you agree that the animals from which we are descended (assuming you still believe in common descent) had emotions, intentions, empathy, consciousness long before we did, as far as I am concerned the question of degree versus kind is a non-issue. You have said you regard human specialness as proof of God's planning or intervention, but since you believe every innovation and natural wonder is proof of God's planning or intervention, why keep harping on about humans?

QUOTES (under “dolphins”): "To be clear, many researchers believe that dolphins are capable of complex communication. It's just that we've been searching for signs of something like language for decades, and the evidence is still lacking."
Herzing says we've known dolphins can exchange sound back and forth without overlap since 1979.”
David's comment: Good try, but most bone fide researchers are unimpressed. Do animals communicate. Of course. Is it anything like our level (?); no way!

Once more: if you define language as human language, then language is unique to humans. If you define language as means of communication (“animal language” is a perfectly acceptable term), then each species has its own language. It is well known that dolphins communicate through a variety of sounds. I doubt if anyone would assume that their language is on anything like our level. So what? They have devised a form of language that is sufficient for their needs. See above for the non-issue of degree (level) versus kind.

David's comment (under “tap dancing”): Stamp your foot to get attention? I don't understand what just-so story would explain why this instinct develops in evolution. Nothing demands this appear.

What “just-so” story are you thinking of? That God taught them how to tap dance? If we regard evolution as a process in which different organisms do things in their own particular way, and if we stop imagining that God has planned everything or that only humans know what they're doing, the whole higgledy-piggledy history of life on earth begins to make sense.

DAVID (under “tree communication”): This article describes how trees react to danger and communicate, and much more:
QUOTES: "There's increasing evidence to show that trees are able to communicate with each other. More than that, trees can learn.”
"It sounds incredible, but when you discover how trees talk to each other, feel pain, nurture each other, even care for their close relatives and organise themselves into communities, it's hard to be sceptical
David's comment: I view these reactions as automatic and amazing. They require some biochemical planning, not as complex as speciation. I'm not sure if God helped or they learned to do it on their own.

Trees are cell communities, just like every other organism, but you view all manifestations of intelligence as being automatic unless they are performed by a cell community with a brain (although paradoxically you believe that consciousness can exist independently of the brain, as in NDEs). On the other hand, your last sentence seems to open the door to autonomous intelligence: how do you learn to do something on your own if you don't know what you're doing? Perhaps you will once again trot out something about God guiding them, which of course is the opposite of “on their own”.

dhw (under “Video”): But now you try to fudge the issue again by replacing guidance with “guidelines”. (Presumably something like: Thou shalt not do what thou canst not do.) Once more, “working things out for themselves” entails autonomous cellular intelligence. Either you agree that this is possible or you don't.

BBELLA: Might not the guidelines be Sheldrake's morphogenic field?

I thought we had all agreed that Sheldrake's morphogenic field preserves forms but does not explain innovation - it comprises what already exists, and is then added to by whatever is new. (That is why I objected to the term “morphogenetic”.)

DAVID: I've never changed my stance. An onboard inventive mechanism is possible, but it will always contain guidelines or guidance. No need to go round and round.

If you want us to stop going round and round, then please state once and for all whether you believe it is or is not possible that your God endowed organisms with autonomous intelligence enabling them to work out their own innovations without any divine preprogramming or divine dabbling, though staying within the bounds of what environmental conditions and their own capabilities allow.

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