autonomy v. automaticity (Evolution)

by dhw, Friday, March 23, 2018, 13:08 (701 days ago) @ David Turell

I am combining threads again, as the subject is the same.

Dhw: (To David, under “termites”): You always focus on the chemical processes by which organisms perceive things, but it is behaviour that denotes intelligence. Termites, like ants, can solve all sorts of problems. They build whole cities which are so complex that you – with your eagle eye for design – could not possibly attribute them to anything but intelligence. But they are tiny creatures compared to ourselves, and your “large organisms chauvinism”(Shapiro) dictates that tiny creatures can’t be intelligent, so God has to give them “guidelines” (i.e. preprogramme them or do a dabble). And yet at the same time you say that one can’t tell from the outside whether these living creatures are robots or thinking beings. I wonder what size they need to be before you give them the benefit of the doubt!

MATT: You didn’t take it far enough dhw!
If ants and termites don’t express intelligence, then the only explanation left is that they evolved that ability by chance. Termite mounds specifically are a marvel in regards to their design. The cooling system alone is a feat of wonder!

Welcome back, Matt! Long time no hear!
My point, of course, is that they DO express intelligence, and I leave open the question of how that intelligence originated (chance, God, atheistic panpsychism are the three options I can offer). If, as David thinks, ants and termites are mere robots – i.e. automatons that have no autonomous intelligence of their own - then I would say the only explanation for their complex design is a God who does it for them, which is no doubt the reason why David insists they are automatons! This is part of an ongoing discussion concerning the extent to which evolution has been governed by autonomous organismal intelligence interacting with ever changing conditions. The robot theory (only God could have created a termite mound or the weaverbird’s nest) is essential for David’s hypothesis that his God controlled the whole of evolution in order to produce the brain of Homo sapiens. As you will see below, both parts of the hypothesis fluctuate.

DAVID: (under “bacterial intelligence”) Another non-religious thought is God created a such a strong driving force to produce life on Earth with bacteria that viruses also appeared and in each group nasty ones popped up, that then had to be controlled. Raises the issue of whether God is under total control or just well-intended? I have no way of knowing.
dhw: So your God may have purposefully added bad viruses and bacteria, or he may have lost control, or he may have deliberately sacrificed control to let evolution take its own course (you left out that alternative). Evidence is not clear. You are prepared to consider the possibility that he did not HAVE total control, and yet you are not prepared to consider the possibility that he did not WANT total control.

DAVID: Since He had to be sure humans evolved, He maintained full guidance.

Why have you changed “control” to “guidance”? In the first quote, you have no way of telling whether God has total control, but the moment I raise the spectre of him deliberately sacrificing control, you scurry back to full control. So now we have the astonishing hypothesis that your God deliberately created bad bacteria and viruses in order to be sure that humans evolved.

DAVID: Stop the contortion that the human brain was God's only purpose. It was His primary purpose. […]

dhw: […] Please tell us what other purpose(s) your God might have had in personally designing the weaverbird’s nest and the billion or so other natural wonders and lifestyles which you believe he either preprogrammed or dabbled.

DAVID: You've taken me back to the bush of life and balance of nature to supply the energy for life to continue through 3.8 billion years of God's method of evolution, as you knew I would.

Life continues so long as life continues, regardless of which organisms and what “balance” exist at any given time. So are you now agreeing that the bush of life is a purpose in itself, i.e. your God actually wanted a vast variety of organisms that come and go, creating an ever changing “balance”, and the weaverbird’s nest (plus a billion more wonders) had nothing to do with what you believe to have been his “primary” purpose of producing your brain and mine?

dhw: Meanwhile, I would still like to know if you think non-weavers autonomously worked out how to build their inferior, egg-endangering nests, or your God gave them instructions.
DAVID: I don't have a clue. The nests are easy to build by simply gathering and laying down twigs in a circle. Probably a simple instinct. No knot tying.

Tell a mindless robot to build a nest. The first nests required intelligence. (Once they had been built, no doubt the skill would have been passed on.) However, your cluelessness raises the whole question of when organisms autonomously work out their own lifestyles and natural wonders, and when your God – if he exists - had to preprogramme them or personally intervene. Now that you are clueless, perhaps you will accept that lots of organisms MAY have had the autonomous intelligence to work out how to create nests, or dams, or cities, or camouflage, or symbiotic relationships, or various other forms of protection and survival without any divine instructions.

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