Evolution - and the Long Overdue Synthesis

by metatron 15 Replies latest jw friends

  • Leolaia

    My own philosophical but non-theological view of God is almost diametrically opposed to the Intelligent Design idea of God. The universe as it is Desgined TM is a harsh, painful, dog-eat-dog place, where creatures are at the mercy of random events to survive, where the Designer TM has made it so that some animals are eaten by their mates and others must live with parasites eating their bodies from within, a universe ruled by a nature that is purely amoral. There is no morality in the natural world; it just is the way it is. If we are to project a Designer TM from that, well then we've got a demiurgical amoral god. I would like to think that the emergence of morality and a conscience -- which is indeed counter to the amoral forces of natural selection to some extent (e.g. caring for the sick and old, which is something we can now afford to do because we no longer are at the mercy of survival but with culture can now build our own institutions to carry out our own sense of morality) -- represents where something transcendent, something God-like, has come into being ... if only fleetingly. I guess that's pretty much a humanist view, but rather than seeing God in "man", I would see God in a system of organizing principles that transcend those governing natural selection and other natural processes. Could not something higher and (from our own subjective moralistic viewpoint) better than nature be God, tho not its "Designer" per se?

    Note that I am only speaking philosophically. Despite the kinship to gnostic ideas, I am not theologically talking about a real divine Creator (since this was based on an extrapolation of observations and assumptions about the natural world), or a personal God per se. But there is something magical if not beautiful about our ability to love and give a damn about others. Yet this does not have to be divorced from nature either. In evolutionary terms, this may be just another level of evolution in which adaptation and selection based on survival (in which organisms are more at the whims of nature and lack control over things) gives way to selection based on a state of affairs no longer so dependent on survival-in-nature. WIth culture guaranteeing an assured food source and institutions enabling the construction of our own rules and systems of organization, we are now able to live in a world we create for ourselves that can follow less and less the beat of nature. But we are also in an inbetween state, however, and thus construct our institutions and affairs along of the lines of the natural world, with our wars and economic/religious/social struggles. At the same time, we can also contemplate and imagine life without these ills (which are ills when viewed morally, but which are no different morally than the genocides and horrors that occur daily in the natural world), and many desire these things as well. So whatever social evolution our culture will take in the future, it seems like we still have a ways to go in living in a system of rules fully transcendent of amoral-cum-immoral forces that we naturally carry with us from our past. And of course we all must still live in the physical world and our culture can crumble at any moment thanks to an asteroid impact or other catastrophe, and leave us more at the whim of nature or survival again.

    But as long as culture endures, I am interested in the role of religion and philosophy in the development of a moral conscience (even among atheists, philosophy is an avenue of talking about moral ideas), which I view as a sphere of cultural concepts and ideals constructed within culture that run counter to the amoral forces of nature, and the conflict between this and the role of religion in enforcing the parts of culture that are competition-based and reflective of selective strategies (such as rules enforcing unequal access to resources, subordinating others, etc.).

    Anyway, much of this is half-thought out and is just my own idle musings, but I thought I'd say it for what it's worth...

  • funkyderek


    the opposition insists that irreproduceable phenomena ( breeding reptiles into birds or monkeys into men) are utterly "random" and the product of molecules bumping into each other.

    Who insists on that exactly? I'm not aware of any evolutionist who believes that evolution is governed by random processes.

    It simply amazes me that things have gone on so long this way with no synthesis or reasonable view in the middle: less than Hairy Thunderer, more than unguided billiard balls.

    Why should there be a synthesis between science and myth?

    Since nonlocal quantum effects have been confirmed ( by the Bell and Aspect experiments), there is nothing wrong with speculation about what might pop into being as the result of distant guidance.

    There's never anything wrong with speculation. But without any evidence, that's all it is.

    We are also exploited by creation myths like the Big Bang - in which all the regulated order of physics emerges from a titanic explosion zillions of years ago. And this is better than Tiamat and Marduk?

    Yes, because the pattern of background radiation is precisely what we would expect to see if the universe arose suddenly from a singularity approx. 15 billion years ago. It's not just a story that was made up to explain things. It is the result of meticulous observations and testing.

    Let's put a name on it: Pantheism - God is everywhere and everything and we're all a part of "Him". It's what Einstein believed, as well as Spinoza and Dyson and countless other thinkers. It is the natural conclusion of Intelligent Design ideas, rather than a quick trip to the Bible. Hello, Awake?!

    It's certainly better than the bible myths but I've never really seen the point of pantheism. Isn't it just renaming the universe "God"?

    And while we're at it, don't "Sagan" me with "extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof". All claims require proof and asking for more "proof" is merely an excuse to deny ideas that are inconvenient. They're proved or not proved.

    And your claim is not proved, and probably not provable. So where do you want to go from here?

    This synthesis of the two opposites is long overdue.

    No it's not. Educated people who still believe in God have long since rejected a literal interpretation of the Genesis creation myth. The overwhelming evidence for evolution combined with their faith in the existence of their god leads them to believe in directed evolution. It is really only fringe fundamentalists in the most backward areas of the world who reject the reality of evolution.

    Personally I don't see the point of such a synthesis as I reject faith as a reason for belief. But it's hardly overdue. It's been quite normal for centuries.

  • Midget-Sasquatch

    I agree with Leolaia's position that the natural world, at best, points to an indifferent "designer". ( Very nicely articulated, by the way Leo). To paraphrase C.S. Lewis: Creatures cause pain by being born, live by inflicting pain, and in pain they mostly die. How do you reconcile this reality with the ideal god of love?

    I think the gnostics were reasonably enlightened in viewing the origins of life as due to an inferior (morally lacking) cause that many people wrongly mistook as God. I also find myself siding with the notion that what we associate with the divine involves transcending the amoral natural order.

  • peacefulpete

    Science has no place for gods, some scientists do. Don't confuse the two. If science wants to know why a blue gas turns green it will do experiments and observations until its discovered that a yellow gas is the catalyst. If science allowed place for gods the answer would likely have been that simply the gods make blue gas turn green. However the scientist who makes room for gods might yet say that the gods made the universe so that blue gases turn green when a yellow gas is introduced. Science has not contributed to this opinion. Scientists with this opinion are a different breed than those who seek proof of gods through science. They believe because it comforts them not because it is evident.

  • Narkissos

    Leolaia, I enjoyed your (too rare) incursion into philosophy.

    The problem imo is that we have to deal, not with one absolute antagonism of "nature" and "culture" but with multiple and relative antagonisms. There is both difference and continuity between "human ethics" and "animal ethology". We can read "love" and "self-sacrifice," just as "cruelty" and "jungle law," into the non-human world. Stepping back a little, much of our "altruism" can be construed as individualised speciism (sp?) -- perish non-human beings, or even entire non-human species, rather than a human individual. And the greatness of human culture is, not only the ability to break free from "animal-like utilitarianism" but also to question humanistic morals.

    We do feel a moral antagonism between nature and culture but if we look closer we can find it also both within nature and within culture. And we cannot identify "God" (even metaphorically) with only one side -- the "good" in nature, in culture or both. Perhaps we could speculatively start back again from Schopenhauer and say that the "Will" to live/be is also, ever, a will to differentiate, running through the successive, superposed, structural configurations (constraints) of physics and biology and the human world of language and symbols and negation and fictions. No outside "designer". No "good" or "bad" principles. No unity except that of difference itself. Still, a world of amazing forms, our own amazement at it (and the "strangeness" it implies) not being the least amazing.

  • Twitch

    Who said God is moral?

    Not I. Thousands of children die of hunger each day. Where is the high road morality of this so called God?

    The idea of intelligent design was comforting as a newly exited dub back in the day, no argument there. Lacking any such resource and interaction such as this board affords was a luxury I didn't have. Slow progression was the plan lest I fall into the abyss, as I was witness to another ex witness fall hard and fast. I preferred to sit on the edge and differentiate shades of black,....lol

    This one's a good chew,.....

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