Divine purposes and methods (Evolution)

by dhw, Saturday, December 29, 2018, 12:14 (22 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: The starting point of this discussion was your claim that “there is little real evidence that survival plays any role in evolution”. All the developments I listed (fins, baleens, camouflage, migration, webs etc.), plus millions of others, constitute evolution, and you believe your God designed them all for the purpose of survival, so if you now wish to withdraw your original claim, we can end this part of the discussion.

DAVID: We know something drives evolution. I've always said survival doesn't. My above quote was simply referencing to that point, but was not clear to you, and I should have stated it more directly.

Thank you. I think we now agree that survival has a vital role to play in evolution, but the means of survival – all the innovations, lifestyles and natural wonders – are created by an unknown something. Hypotheses include 1) direct design by a god or gods; 2) design by cellular intelligence which may or may not have been designed by a god or gods; 3) random mutations followed by refinements and natural selection in a process which may or may not have been started by a god or gods; 4) an atheistic form of panpsychism, with intelligence evolving from bottom up as opposed to the top-down intelligence of a god or gods. I hope that’s a fair summary of the options.

DAVID: Again you ignore the evidence bacteria present. There was never a need for them to complexify into multicellular forms. Does necessity drive evolution? No!

dhw: I have made the same point over and over again: we do not know why multicellularity occurred, but once it had, the innovations which constitute evolution were either necessary for survival or improved organisms’ chances of survival, as you have now agreed. Again you ignore the fact that evolution was not a straight line from simple to complex, and the great bush does not suggest that your God’s only purpose was to create us.

DAVID: Why do you persist in ignoring God's chosen method? What you describe is how He did it. I'm simply using the facts of history and we are here as the present end point of evolution. And later:
DAVID: You are simply questioning God's chosen method with your own psychoanalysis of God's mind. I say He chose to do it this way because that is what the facts are.

If God exists, of course evolution was his chosen method, but the question is: method to do what? You continually assume that you know his purpose (us) and you know his method (direct creation through preprogramming and/or dabbling). Neither of these are facts. I agree that we are here (as are many other life forms) and are currently the most intelligent and powerful species, but not even you can explain why, if he is in full control and we are his sole purpose, he chose to specially design 3.5+ billion years’ worth of innovations, econiches, lifestyles and natural wonders so that organisms could go on eating one another until he could specially design us. So maybe he did NOT set out only to produce H. sapiens. Maybe he set out to produce what the facts tell us he did produce, whether directly or indirectly: the great higgledy-piggledy bush of life. Maybe he wasn’t in full control and kept experimenting to see what would happen, or to see if he could somehow produce a self-aware being who would think about him and have a relationship with him (your own bit of psychoanalysis). And maybe his method was not direct creation of each branch (a hypothesis, not a fact) but creation of a mechanism enabling organisms to create their own branches (also a hypothesis and not a fact). There are multiple hypotheses to be extrapolated from the “facts”, and although of course you can say that God chose to achieve what you think was his purpose by what you think was his method, your saying it does not turn it into a fact.

dhw: I have never questioned your right to quote whichever scientists you like, and to interpret their findings as you wish. However, I do question your right to dismiss my own criticisms of your conclusions on the grounds that I have had no scientific training, and would point out that scientists who disagree with you have had just as much scientific training as you have.

DAVID: [...] You have simply found a very few scientists who support your a priori view, while I view their verbiage as hyperbole about known biochemical facts in regard to reactions.

Firstly, I am not just talking about cellular intelligence! What percentage of scientists believe that there is a God whose sole purpose was to create H. sapiens, but who specially designed every innovation etc. before specially designing H. sapiens, and who specially changed legs into fins before sending whales into the water? Secondly, cellular intelligence is no more an a priori view than your own insistence that despite a 50/50 chance of “my” scientists being right, you are right. Their conclusions are based on a lifetime’s study of cellular behaviour, not on an a priori view. Thirdly, just to clarify,I offer this option as an alternative hypothesis to your own and to Darwin’s, to explain how evolution might work. It is not a fixed belief, but I think it merits very serious consideration.

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