Divine purposes and methods (Evolution)

by dhw, Saturday, December 15, 2018, 12:14 (469 days ago) @ dhw

I have shifted this from “Introducing the brain” as this thread is more appropriate.

DAVID: Flippers and legs are very different and require different muscle attachments for differing motions. Flippers flap. Try that with a leg! The marked change is the issue, not the complexity.

Thank you. Of course fins and legs are different, and of course they serve different functions, but your original point was that all these changes were part of the advance to complexity. My point is that legs did not change into fins for the sake of complexity, but for the sake of coping with a new environment in order to improve chances of survival.

DAVID: The road from single cells to humans is one of constant increasing complexity, a point you cannot deny.

dhw: Of course it is. So is the road from single cells to whales and elephants and the duckbilled platypus. But if he designed all these “necessary changes for survival”, how can you say that survival played little or no role in evolution?

DAVID: Extinctions are bad luck is the point. Jumping into water did not help survival, but endangered it without enormous phenotypic and physiologic changes. Looking for a purposeful explanation ( since God is purposeful) it must be diversity for econiche food supply. From the proper theistic standpoint, it is the most logical explanation.

It is indeed bad luck if organisms are unable to cope with new conditions. That doesn’t help us much in our attempts to understand how organisms do cope, so it's hardly "the point". What entitles you to claim that yours is the “proper” theistic standpoint? You simply refuse to acknowledge the possibility that environmental change may pose a threat to existing organisms, and if they survive, it can only be because their bodies change. I really can’t see why you think the most logical explanation of the baleen whale’s evolution, for example, is that your God extracted its ancestor’s teeth to force it to suction feed when it didn’t need to, and then a few million years later inserted baleens to make it filter-feed when it didn’t need to, and he did this so that it would provide food to keep life going until he could design H. sapiens.

DAVID: And note humans survive better than any other animal on earth with the modifications as they came out of the trees. God did not have the circular reasoning you have invented for Him. Totally irrational.

dhw: So although these modifications enabled humans to survive better than any other animal on earth, they apparently had nothing to do with survival. I’m glad you agree that your argument is totally irrational.

DAVID: You can toss around the word irrationality all you want, but the point is not what you want it to be. Humans would have survived if they stayed as apes and didn't gain all the attributes they have. Survival therefore is not The Issue.

You claim that survival had little or no role to play in evolution. As regards humans, it is perfectly feasible that a particular group of primates came under threat from local conditions and their survival depended on their adaptation to life on the ground. Other apes in other locations were able to stay in the trees – hence the evolutionary split.

DAVID: The dependence on that concept is pure Darwinianism from which you have never recovered. His view of competition is purely theoretical, never proven and you have agreed survival of the fittest is a tautology.

Of course it’s a tautology: those who are best able to survive, survive. Why do you bracket that with competition? See below.


QUOTE: "Interpreted as a theory of species survival, the theory that the fittest species survive is undermined by evidence that while direct competition is observed between individuals, populations and species, there is little evidence that competition has been the driving force in the evolution of large groups such as, for example, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals.

The article is devoted entirely to debunking the theory that competition has been the driving force. Firstly, you have clearly forgotten Margulis’s emphasis on cooperation as a major driving force. Secondly, competition is not a synonym for survivability! Survival depends on the ability to cope with existing environmental conditions. Herbivores do not compete with carnivores to find food – each organism finds its own source, which is why you quite rightly point out that econiches are delicately balanced. If sources die out, the econiche loses its balance and is replaced by another. (But of course that does not mean that your God specially designed every econiche for the sake of providing food until he could specially design us.) Please forget your obsession with Darwin and remember that you are discussing these issues with me. Finally, it is clearly absurd to say that “humans survive better than any other animal on earth with the modifications as they came out of the trees” and then argue that evolutionary change has little or nothing to do with survivability.

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