Back to David's theory of evolution of abstract thought (Evolution)

by dhw, Saturday, July 18, 2020, 10:28 (96 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Are you backing down? Like Nagel (bats) how does a bee see a rose bush. As like you and I with a full understanding of all the parts. A bee has no understanding of all those relationships and cannot correlate leaf biting with later earlier flowering. The 'earlier' is a helpful concept, which brings purpose into the picture. Not for a bee brain.

dhw: Why does a bee have to have a “full understanding” of anything at all? Its only purpose here is to get its food. If it sees that one action causes another which is helpful, that’s enough for the bee!

DAVID: How does a bee brain put together the correlation of two different events over 2.5 weeks in time? As a human you need several observations and then the ability to correlate it.

Bees have memory. The bee bit the leaf of the plant, and 2.5 weeks later it saw that the plant had flowered. Repeated observation confirmed the link. Does that make the bee a philosopher? (See our next exchange.)

dhw: […] if you say that linking concrete cause to concrete effect constitutes abstract thinking, then so be it: in that case, the bee is capable of what you define as abstract thinking. But it does not involve “the same degree of conceptual thought that we use”, and I don’t think even you would claim that a bitten leaf leading to an early flowering constitutes “thinking in terms of universals”.

DAVID: I totally disagree. Bees are never abstract in thought.

But you said that the leaf episode required abstract thinking at the same level of conceptual thought as ours. I regard it as concrete thinking, but if you think it’s abstract, that’s up to you. It’s certainly not at our level, and it’s certainly not “in terms of universals”.

dhw: Why do you think bees and the rest of the non-human world are incapable of multiple, concrete observations?

DAVID: Bees are too busy seeking pollen to spend the time to contemplate the connection in the bite leaf early flowering events. They cannot mentally make the connection.

I thought the whole point was that they could get their pollen through the biting trick. I remain surprised at your belief that bees and the rest of the non-human world are incapable of observing and linking cause and effect, and that your God designed them in such a way that they depended entirely on a 3.8-billion-year-old computer programme for – or private lessons on – leaf-biting plus umpteen billion other strategies and wonders.

DAVID: All of the bush is purpose, and needed for food supply.

dhw: Food supply for what? I agree that if God exists, the whole bush must have been part of his purpose. I do not agree that the whole bush was directly designed for the purpose of providing food for directly designed non-humans until he could directly design the only species he wanted to design, which was us. If, however, you now think that he had another purpose for spending 3.X billion years directly designing all the extinct non-human life forms and natural wonders, please tell us what it was.

DAVID: I'll stick with humans as the prime endpoint. The bush provides the necessary energy for 7.3 billion and burgeoning human population.

End point is not the same as purpose. It may well be that evolution will not produce any organism more intelligent than us. But that has nothing to do with the theory bolded above, and if “all of the bush is purpose”, WHAT is its purpose? 3.X billion years’ worth of non-human bush does not provide food for 7.3 billion humans who do not yet exist!


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