autonomy v. automaticity (Evolution)

by dhw, Saturday, March 17, 2018, 11:49 (521 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: We are back to the same battle. I can only interpret God's intentions from what I see He has produced. The human brain is his paramount achievement, achieved through the use of a guided evolutionary process.

dhw: If God exists, I don’t have a problem with the claim that the human brain is his paramount achievement. I don’t have a problem with the claim that he might have dabbled with evolution in order to guide one twig of its bush to culminate in the brain of Homo sapiens. But I do have a problem with the claim that from the very beginning, this was his sole purpose, and every single innovation, lifestyle and natural wonder was specially designed (either by dabbling or through preprogramming the first cells 3.8 billion years ago) solely in order to produce our brain. I have offered you theistic alternatives (late afterthought, experimentation, free-for-all with possible dabbles) and you have agreed that all of them fit in with the history, but you still insist – I’ll stick to my favourite example out of the many millions – that God personally designed the weaverbird’s nest in order to keep life going for the sake of your brain and mine. THAT is our theistic “battle”.

DAVID: And I'll stick to my point of view. The nest is there as evidence of God's work. It could not have popped up by chance. Look at the boy-scout knots the bird had to figure out to hang the bag-like nest from a ranch. It had to be designed all at once, not bit by bit, or the weight of the eggs would have caused them to be splattered on the ground. Your theory about the bird demands bit by bit.

Of course it didn’t pop up by chance. Every bird builds its nest for a purpose! And every bird’s nest has to support the weight of the eggs. Neither you nor I have the slightest idea why the weaverbird made its nest so complex, but your answer avoids the whole question of why your God should specially pick on the weaverbird and specially teach it to tie specially complicated knots. As with all of nature’s wonders, you cannot imagine organisms working out their own special ways of doing things – they are all specially designed by God, and so the nest of the weaverbird had to have special knots in order to provide energy for life to go on until your God could produce the one thing he wanted to produce, which was the brain of Homo sapiens. It has never made sense, even to you.

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