Questions on Evolution and the Existence of God and...

by ILoveTTATT 130 Replies latest jw friends

  • jgnat

    I have high hopes that humanity will grow to consider itself one tribe, and the earth as a whole worth protecting. This is in line with our evolutionary training and is self-preserving as well.

    I-L-TTATT, consider the examples of bad design. Going upright has given us a back with an S-curve, vulnerable to problems. Also, our dual-purpose feeding and breathing tube, vulnerable to choking. Darned inefficient and dangerous. An illustration from one of the other evolution threads was telling to me. The giraffe has a nerve running down her neck and back up again, because the nerve was established before the neck elongated.

    I-L-TTATT, I recall a science fiction short story, which I can't find today, where a friendly alien visitor accidentally murders a human. The alien was beginning to have doubts if humans were truly sentient, as they seem to be built badly. The alien's witnessing of a human choking messed with his alien point of view so he tried cutting off the human's leg (a non-fatal action for the alien). The result, disastrous of course.

  • cofty

    There are many complex structures in biology that just seem to me like they were designed; for example, the way that veins and arteries are placed in some animals to resemble a counter-current heat exchanger, instead of them being separate and losing body heat? What process in evolution explains apparent design?

    This is a great question. I don't have time right now but marking for later.

    You would ennjoy reading The Blind Watchmaker.

  • ILoveTTATT

    jgnat... I must say... GOOD ONE... wow...

    The problem with me is that I have never even considered a non-JW source of information about evolution. For some reason the JW explanations made sense (and now I know why: they HIDE information, such as that E.Coli experiment).... plus, reading Dawkins would have been unthinkable about a year ago...

    Now I am free (free-er?) mentally so... I will use all my critical thinking skills to find holes in this theory. So far, lots of holes have been filled very quickly.

  • ILoveTTATT

    How about the following specific things to humanity:

    Why did we develop intelligence? Intelligence is a mutation?

    Why do we have things that are unnecessary for life but make life enjoyable? i.e. color vision, enjoyment of music, the arts, etc?

  • Apognophos

    Intelligence could be defined as a mental model of the workings of our surroundings, and a capacity for learning. This allows us to discover laws about our environment and to visualize, and then build, tools to alter our environment. A few animals have considerable capacity for learning, like elephants, whose brains grow almost as much as ours during our lifetimes. But most animals have developed sophisticated hardcoded intelligence (instinct) instead of the advanced software and plastic (malleable) brains that we developed. For instance, ants and bees have evolved an amazing sort of collective intelligence where each ant or bee is more like a neuron in one of our brains.

    Humans' defining attribute is that we are intelligence specialists. Some animals are speed specialists, or camouflage specialists, or reproduction specialists. Some animals live so short a time that the ability to learn anything would be pointless. We just happen to be the result of another experiment by nature to fill another niche, and we sacrificed a lot to develop intelligence, if you compare our physical abilities with animals; the only other thing I think we have going for us is manual dexterity, so we can make tools, and besides that we pretty much suck in comparison to most animals.

    So your question needs to be rephrased. Rather than asking "Why did we develop intelligence?", you should ask, "How is intelligence useful?" Like many specific biological features, such as the eye, our intelligence was something that was useful when it was much more primitive, and as various animals slowly evolved and branched off in different directions, our ancestors were the ones who got the larger brains. Evolution has so far seen a benefit every step along the way the further it pushes our brain, so it keeps doing it and we keep getting smarter, despite the occasionally awful side effects (neurosis, autism, etc.).


    Your second question is a classic objection by JWs that I used to buy into, but it really doesn't hold up. Color vision had some uses to us or it would have never developed. Telling the purple poisonous berries from the tasty red ones, for instance. Many animals can see much better than us, but they're much stupider than we are; are they enjoying seeing infrared, light polarization, or the tiniest detail or movement in the landscape? Of course not, they're using that vision to hunt and avoid predators. Our vision is fairly weak compared to some species, but it's useful to us.

    Music and the arts serve at least a couple purposes. One is attracting a mate; if singing well works for the birds, why not for humans? To put it more crudely, everyone knows rock stars and actors get lots of action even when they're homely. A second purpose is to alleviate our suffering.

    You see, the more consciously intelligent we've become, the more self-aware we've become. Self-awareness has benefits, but the big drawback is that we are more aware of our own suffering and of those around us. It would be easy to get depressed, so our brains have developed counter-measures. Various activities release pleasure chemicals like endorphins and dopamine. Some of these activities may be incidental or accidental and just stuck around; for instance, why is music pleasant to our ears? Maybe just because; but since we can easily produce sounds that we find enjoyable, this adaptation stuck around. The most primitive tribes seem to have music, so clearly this was something that even a hardscrabble life, living off the land, allowed for, as it requires minimal energy to sing or beat a drum, and is a good way to kill time.

    Other activities release these chemicals for specific beneficial reasons. Exercising releases endorphins. Positive outcomes, such as building something or discovering how to get some food, release dopamine. These pleasure drug pathways may have evolved by chance, by random variation, but they stuck around because they motivated our ancestors to be active mentally and physically, to explore, build and experiment. This is one specific example of part of what we call "intelligence", just to show you how it all serves a utilitarian purpose. Nature doesn't love us, but if it didn't throw us a bone once in a while (music, good food, sex), we would have all thrown ourselves off a cliff a long time ago.

  • Billy the Ex-Bethelite
    Billy the Ex-Bethelite

    "Please let me know what I should read to enlighten me."

    Raised as JWs, we were trained that any questions we would ever have are answered in a WT Corporation publication. In reality, we were only allowed to ask those questions that were printed on the bottom of the pages of those publications. Here we thought we had ALL the answers, when we had considered very few questions, most of which had answers like, "God did it!", and "Very soon now." If we strayed and began to ask questions like "Why did Jehovah create thousands of unique species of blood-sucking mosquitoes?", we were told that such questions were a waste of time that should be spent preaching, because WT didn't have a published answer to such a question... or thousands of other valid questions.

    Now that we have come to know... and love... TTATT, there is not a new set of colorful brochures and paperback books from WatchTTATT Corporation that have all the complete answers to every question. There is no "TTATT Bible", a carefully written manuscript that accurately records all the history of life back to the first proteins. And by the nature of carbon based life form materials, we don't preserve particularly well after we perish.

    At least for me, it started to make sense that there would be a lot of unknowns about how and where life began. And since I don't believe in a creator (at least not in the "jehovahesque" biblical sense), I could accept that the best answers I could expect would be from whatever recent discoveries were made by science and not from the latest brochure from WT or any other religion.

    Although I still have a lot of unanswered questions, at least I don't have to blindly accept stories about illness being caused because a naked lady ate an apple from a talking snake, and I don't have to argue that evolution of life over billions of years is impossible, yet defend a story about how all the species of animals in the world today evolved from a very few species that could fit in a floating wooden box about 4000 years ago.

    A little something about the human brain:

  • cofty

    There isnt agreement on what the selection pressure was for our big brains. It may have been sexual selection, or language or any one of a number of hypotheses. We do know that bipedal walking came first which would have freed up our hands for collecting more food making the high cost of our big brains possible.

    Our colour vision is well understood. We actually have poorer colour vision than other mammals. Ours is tri-colour while many species have four colour vision.

    It is an essential tool to locate ripe fruit and leaves for example. The precise gene duplications and subsequent mutations that led to colour vision are known in detail.

  • ILoveTTATT

    we sacrificed a lot to develop intelligence, if you compare our physical abilities with animals; the only other thing I think we have going for us is manual dexterity, so we can make tools, and besides that we pretty much suck in comparison to most animals.

    I actually remember this being said by my biology prof in High School! We really do suck in comparison to many animals... a human baby without its parents left alone in the woods (may that never happen!) would die pretty quickly. A baby horse... I don't know much about horses, but I am damn sure it would survive!

  • ILoveTTATT

    You would ennjoy reading The Blind Watchmaker.

    I am enjoying reading it!! Thanks!

    Various activities release pleasure chemicals like endorphins and dopamine.

    But, as far as I know, many animals have the "dopamine-motivation" system. I have guinea pigs as pets, and I know that they enjoy certain types of music... they even try to "sing along"!

    @Billy: I think you hit it in the nail! Of course, there's not going to be answers for everything... yet! But there might be answers in the future!

    For example, I have only skimmed through the Creation book, and some of the WT 's creationist literature. In it, the Miller-Ulrey experiment is mentioned, and they mention the fact that the resulting mixture is racemic. Now, before, for me, it was like THAT'S IT!! No more thinking on this needed! Racemic mixture hahahahah! Solve THAT one evolutionists!

    True, it is still a problem in solving the "abiogenesis" puzzle, but science did not just "stand there" and quietly concede to creationists... no... they have made theories to resolve the issue....

    That's the difference between me now and me before... I actually finish considering the entire body of evidence... and that's what I intend to do...

  • KateWild

    3. Has actual evolution, i.e. the changes accumulating sufficiently to make ANOTHER species, been observed? If so, where? I would think that the smaller the species/the faster time to reproduce, the better chances to actually observe this.


    I have read about this in "The Greatest Show on Earth" by Richard Dawkins. The Silver fox experiment, The foxes were tamed, and they evolved into dogs with different colour fur and shaped noses, but I haven't seen the data yet. I just have Dawkin's word for it, it seems believeable to me.

    Kate xx

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