Miscellany (General)

by dhw, Sunday, June 20, 2021, 09:25 (125 days ago) @ David Turell

A.N. Whitehead
DAVID: I've viewed Whitehead as not accepting God but accepting evolution as a sort of God.

WHITEHEAD: "It is as true to say that the World is immanent in God, as that God is immanent in the World.”

dhw: He was a believer, and this quote is closely akin to your panentheism. But he rejected your version of a transcendent, all-knowing God. What you call wishy-washy and namby-pamby if an agnostic dares to challenge your own fixed view.

DAVID: He believed with his view, I with mine, both equal. (dhw's bold)

dhw: So when I propose a God who learns as he goes along (a continuous process of what Whitehead calls “becoming” – hence the term process theology), my theory is equal to yours, and is not to be dismissed as weak, namby-pamby, wishy-washy….

DAVID: I don't accept Whitehead either, but Whitehead doesn't describe an active God as you do.

I'm not sure how active his God is, but why is my active God weak, namby-pamby and wishy-washy, whereas you regard an inactive God as equal to yours?

Even our White matter is different
dhw: The heading of this thread is misleading. Our fellow animals also have white matter, but we just have much more of it.

DAVID: That is a difference, isn't it?

dhw: If you have a million dollars and I have a hundred, does that make your dollars different from mine?

DAVID: But I've got a villa on the Riviera and you are living on the dole.

Our extra white matter has led to our intellectual superiority, as in your analogy. That does not make the dollars or the white matter different. We simply have more of them/it.

Magic embryology
dhw: […] isn’t it amazing how often these researchers find themselves talking in terms of cells conversing and sending messages! All these processes must have had a beginning, and if cells are intelligent, as some prominent scientists believe - and a good friend of mine acknowledges that the odds are 50/50 – they could have developed the original design which, of course, would then have been passed on.

DAVID: 50/50 only because we are on the outside looking in. This is where interpretation is employed.

dhw: If the odds are 50/50 and you reject one of the 50s, I would suggest that is where prejudice is employed.

DAVID: If my study leads to certain conclusions about the 50/50 (which are honest odds, nothing more and not in any way underlying fact), my studied conclusions are prejudiced and yours are?

I do not have a conclusion. That is why I am constantly offering alternative explanations and reiterating the fact that I do not have fixed beliefs. But I do find Shapiro’s theory more convincing than your own, since it explains many of the facets of evolution that your theory signally fails to explain. However, there are still far too many imponderables for me to say categorically, as you do, that one theory is the truth and nothing else is possible.

Human evolution: no time for chance

DAVID: The papers are filled with higher math formulas that I cannot follow and the conclusions seem to come out of thin air. This presentation is not that, but quite clear. Mutational changes seem driven and compressed into less time than current estimated mutation rates allow. And this can be applied to the Cambrian complexity gap in spades. Totally new complex body forms with a full complement of organ systems, including eyes with complex bifocal lenses.

There are no precedents or analogies. Nobody knows how speciation happened, and “current mutation rates” won’t help us to know what happened millions of years ago. However, you and I are agreed that all these organs and organisms – whether human or animal – are too complex to be the result of pure chance, regardless of time. We are therefore left with the same choices we have been left with since we began our discussions over 13 years ago: 1) there is a supermind (God) without a source who is simply there and designed it all; 2) the first cells were possessed with an intelligence that enabled them to rearrange their own structures as and when conditions required or allowed; 3) the source of that intelligence was the sourceless supermind, chance (not to be dismissed in an infinite and eternal universe which produces an infinite number of combinations of materials), or an innate rudimentary intelligence in materials (a form of panpsychism). Although I find cellular intelligence the most likely explanation of evolution itself (see above), the source is an absolute sticking point for me, and I find NONE of the explanations credible. Hence my agnosticism.


We learn to see
DAVID: Just as we learn to walk we learn to see, and obviously we learn to feel, to hear, to taste, etc. Our brain is designed as quite helpful to build up an encyclopedia of recorded knowledge to help us navigate living. This is the blank slate aspect of the newborn brain, I have referred to in the past. What is not blank is our congenital inheritance and our experiences as we develop from infanthood.

I can only add that even newborn babies react differently to their immediate surroundings, so we have no idea oF the extent to which our reactions are governed by our “congenital inheritance”. This is an important factor in our discussions on free will. […]


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