David's theory of evolution: Stephen Talbott's view III (Evolution)

by David Turell @, Sunday, June 28, 2020, 01:15 (90 days ago) @ David Turell

More from his website. He is neutral about intelligent design and compares it to the faith in natural selection by biologists:

https://natureinstitute.org/pub/ic/ic38/id.pdf

For me, the issue isn’t whether a designer acted millions of years ago or a millionth of a second ago. Rather, it’s that the picture being offered is one of a designer working from outside upon a mechanical artifact. But organisms are not machine-like. Their activity is not an outcome of parts assembled by a designing engineer. They are not contrivances periodically requiring service by an outside agent for the sake of evolutionary progress. No, their very life consists of the activity through which they grow and transform their own physical means of acting.

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That mainstream biologists are quarreling with ID theorists over common ground may seem a strange idea. But look again at the quoted paragraph above. As we will see more clearly in what follows, it applies without reservation to conventional evolutionary theory as well as ID. Few biologists are reticent about their conviction that organisms are machine-like and have been “tinkered” with throughout evolutionary history by a designer capable of producing intelligent results — all without any intelligent aid from organisms themselves. The designer they have in mind, of course, is natural selection, which has famously been likened to a blind watchmaker and is almost universally referred to as an agent capable of intelligent activity.

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tell me whether, based on what you know of the physical and chemical laws and regularities of the universe, you can even begin to imagine those laws and regularities being adequate, solely in their own terms and in ever-varying contexts, to direct these molecules every considered step of the way. In imagining this, it is also worth bearing in mind that these molecules, as they diffuse through the thickly populated plasm of the nucleus to carry out their tasks of the moment, encounter numerous opportunities for other legitimate (and illegitimate) business.

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If the problem presented by the profound intelligence immanent at the molecular level hasn’t disrupted our life sciences, then, so far as I can surmise, it is because scientists at their workbenches and theorists in their studies do not concretely picture the biological reality they are talking about, as opposed to its physically and chemically lawful aspects.

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We are looking here at a sustained, almost unimaginably complex choreography in the face of all sorts of unpredictable variation and contingency. At the lowest level the narrative is a trillion-stepped performance that, in the history of all bacteria, could never have been carried out twice with exactly the same sequence of molecular interactions. We are looking, in other words, at a present, effectively striving intelligence — a forming activity. If we don’t really understand it — well, there are many things we do not currently understand, especially if we have preferred not even to acknowledge them. But we still observe what we observe.

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I am not suggesting that we now understand how evolution occurs. I believe we are still almost wholly ignorant. But I do not see what intelligent capacities we can reasonably imagine are required beyond those that now so thoroughly challenge our understanding in the lives of all our fellow creatures. Here’s a way to think about it. Organisms are not collections of things, or parts. Every organism is an activity — the particular sort of activity through which its own, ever-changing parts continually come into existence and pass away. The organism is not a mere product, but is a living way of being. It gives rise to its own material basis. It is this living activity alone of which we can meaningfully say, “It has the capacity for evolution.” Living things are by their very nature powers of origination.

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The task I would recommend for the intelligent design theorist, in other words, is not to confront science with an outside Power that must periodically intervene in order to make up for the world’s “deadness.” Rather, it is to transform this science from within, by overcoming the bias that refuses to acknowledge intelligent activity where we actually see it.

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All this testifies to the fact that the organism’s native intelligence — even, or especially, when observed at the molecular level — is so obvious that no one manages to describe living activities as if it were absent. The problem is that biologists have attributed this intelligence to specific molecules via terms such as “control,” “regulate,” “information,” and “program.”

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To say that “natural selection did it” is just as much a refusal to investigate the actual life of organisms as to say “God did it.”

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“This in no way conflicts with any convictions you may hold regarding a transcendent creative power sustaining the universe. It is merely to say that what we observe on earth is a power of life immanent in the organisms around us. Presumably you believe not only in the transcendence, but also in the immanence of the creative power. Surely whatever we know about this power can only derive from that which is immanent and therefore accessible to us.”

Comment: the above paragraph is his advice to ID He and dhw are twins.


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