Purpose and design (Evolution)

by dhw, Friday, April 07, 2017, 17:22 (834 days ago)

We now have three separate threads dealing with the same subject, so once again I will try to summarize the arguments.
David has two dogmatic beliefs:
1) God’s only purpose in creating life was to produce humans, and everything else was related to that purpose.
2) “Everything else” includes the weaverbird’s nest (the most obviously problematical example), which was either preprogrammed 3.8 billion years ago in the first cells or was divinely “dabbled”.

David argues that the vast range of such examples was necessary for the “balance of nature” which provided energy so that life could continue until God achieved his only purpose. I argue that all life depends on energy, and 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?

Initially, David agreed that this made no sense, but offered the hypothesis that maybe God’s powers were limited so he had to “delay” humans. He appears to have rejected this now on the grounds that a God who can create and fine-tune a universe can produce humans “without any difficulty”. Fine. So once again, why design the weaverbird’s nest?

DAVID: ...you keep equating bird's nests with the purpose of producing humans. The only connection, which you well know, is that humans took a long time to appear and as Tony observes constant energy was needed to get there.

Not birds' nests, but this particular nest which you claim is so complicated that only God could have designed it. And it is you who claim that God’s only purpose was to produce humans, and everything else was related to that! 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. A possible explanation is either that he didn’t design it, or that his purpose was not confined to the production of humans. Either of these will remove the dichotomy.

TONY (referring to a similar statement): Ok, let's see if we can sort this statement.
A) God did NOT have to create the endless variety, but he DID need to create sufficient variety to meet the requirements of sustaining a livable ecosystem.
B) The act of making the required resources beautiful, complex, interesting and wondrous is an expression of God's love for his creations.

David: Thank you. With my background I accept A, but am not sure of B

Still with my theist hat on:
A) It is self-evident that if you want life, you have to create a system in which life can live. That does not mean that God himself had to personally design the vast range of life forms, lifestyles and natural wonders to keep life going in order to produce humans. Maybe he invented a mechanism (intelligence) enabling organisms to do their own designing. And maybe – here you agree, Tony – God’s sole purpose was not the production of humans.

B) The resources, which include one complex organism eating another in a system which depends on destruction as much as on creation (99% of species went extinct), may just as easily be an expression of God’s enjoyment of an ever changing spectacle. But no matter how you interpret God’s attitude towards his creations, neither of your comments supports David’s dogmatic belief in humans as God’s sole purpose, and everything else being related to that. And I still don’t know if you think your God personally designed the weaverbird’s nest!

TONY: Balance does not mean or imply stasis. It is not a static thing. Of course things are changing. It's like a top or a tight rope walker. They are constantly in motion, making constant tiny corrections, but the end result is balance.

Balance between what and what? We are talking about Nature and life, which boils down to balance between demand and supply. I do not believe for one second that God said to himself, “I am going to design the weaverbird’s nest in order to ensure that there will be enough energy to balance demand and supply so that life can keep going until I produce humans, who are my only goal.” (Multiply this example by a few million.) THAT is the point at issue here.

dhw: We cannot know your God’s mind, so how with your human thinking can you be absolutely positive that God’s sole purpose was to create humans and he designed everything to relate to that purpose?
DAVID: I am certainly allowed to reach that conclusion.

Of course you are. Everybody is allowed to reach whatever conclusion they like. The point of discussion is to test how reasonable those conclusions are. 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”. That is why I am querying your two dogmas and offering alternatives, which even you agree fit in perfectly with life's history as we know it.

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