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Dawkins on Evolution

 
 
Zetherin
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Sep, 2009 05:38 pm
@richrf,
Mr. Fight the Power wrote:
At no point did I reference importance or merit, as these are merely subjective measures


Sorry, that was my misunderstanding. When you said "arbitrary" for some reason I thought you were making a value judgment. Again, my fault.

Quote:
I could not agree more. At no point did I reference importance or merit, as these are merely subjective measures. Love, justice (to some arguments), empathy (if we ignore behavioral evolution), and tastes (I'm gonna leave out qualia, cause that is another argument altogether) are totally arbitrary, however. These are not statements about the world, rather statements about the mind. If christians wish to alter the statement "God exists" to the statement "I am inclined to believe that God exists", I will have no argument.


Ah, I see. So your contention is solely with those who mistake metaphysical propositions for being on the same grounds as propositions dealing with physicality, those things we can observe, often times scientifically.

Fair enough, but remember there are some who are able to discern between the two types of propositions and know that when they say "God exists" they explicately mean "I believe God exists". That is, they understand that God is experiential, a feeling, an understanding, and they aren't making any sort of scientific proposition.

One of the things that makes this conversation difficult is that there are dozens of notions of "God" and not every one is anthropomorphized like the Christian edition. Furthermore, not every one is envisioned as something separate from, or an addition to, reality. Meaning that not every one who believes in God thinks they're making any sort of proposition comparable to that of a scientific proposition when they state "God exists". There will always be superstitious/mystical minds putting the pieces together as they see fit, and frankly, I don't see anything wrong with this per se. It can be a problem when the individual begins to start mistaking metaphysical, aesthetic, or ethical propositions as any more than arbitrary. Well look at that, I just ended where you began. Looks like we agree.
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Sep, 2009 05:49 pm
@Mr Fight the Power,
Mr. Fight the Power;94324 wrote:
These are not statements about the world, rather statements about the mind.


Ultimately, however, and this is a philosophic rather than a religious observation, you will not be able to draw any absolute distinction between 'the mind' and 'the world'. While on a conventional level the difference between these two realms seems obvious, if you consider it very deeply you will see that they are co-dependent and co-arising. There is no world without the mind, and the mind never exists except for in relationship to the world.

What is happening in this conversation is the presumption that we are 'thinking subjects' who have 'views or opinions' about an 'objective reality'. This is still very much within the Cartesian world-picture of naive realism. However it is only a conventional reality which in itself is a theory of the nature of experience which can be, and has been, 'deconstructed' by any number of philosophical analyses, for example idealist, phenomenologist, Buddhist, Vedantin, and so on and so on.

Within this model there are numerous implicit assumptions, such as, that people really mean something, or are pointing to or indicating some entity or object when they use the word 'God'. And also that theological and religious statements of various kinds amount to hypotheses and representations about beings, objects, or states of affairs within the cognitive realm.

However all of the various schools of philosophical wisdom, eastern and western, ancient and modern, implicitly understand that all such discourse is at best symbolic or metaphorical and operates on a completely different level of representation to ordinary discourse. This level is what is designated by the term 'metaphysic' which is, however, almost always similarly misunderstood and misinterpreted, and then dismissed on the basis of this misintepretation. That is because many of those engaged in the discussion have not adequately prepared themselves and don't understand what is being discussed. So they light upon the obvious misinterpretations offered by dogmatic religionistas who themselves have little or no insight into the real meaning of what they are talking about, and pursue the dialog on that basis. That is mostly what is going on in the dawkins dispute.
Mr Fight the Power
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Sep, 2009 07:29 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;94329 wrote:
Ultimately, however, and this is a philosophic rather than a religious observation, you will not be able to draw any absolute distinction between 'the mind' and 'the world'. While on a conventional level the difference between these two realms seems obvious, if you consider it very deeply you will see that they are co-dependent and co-arising. There is no world without the mind, and the mind never exists except for in relationship to the world.

What is happening in this conversation is the presumption that we are 'thinking subjects' who have 'views or opinions' about an 'objective reality'. This is still very much within the Cartesian world-picture of naive realism. However it is only a conventional reality which in itself is a theory of the nature of experience which can be, and has been, 'deconstructed' by any number of philosophical analyses, for example idealist, phenomenologist, Buddhist, Vedantin, and so on and so on.

Within this model there are numerous implicit assumptions, such as, that people really mean something, or are pointing to or indicating some entity or object when they use the word 'God'. And also that theological and religious statements of various kinds amount to hypotheses and representations about beings, objects, or states of affairs within the cognitive realm.

However all of the various schools of philosophical wisdom, eastern and western, ancient and modern, implicitly understand that all such discourse is at best symbolic or metaphorical and operates on a completely different level of representation to ordinary discourse. This level is what is designated by the term 'metaphysic' which is, however, almost always similarly misunderstood and misinterpreted, and then dismissed on the basis of this misintepretation. That is because many of those engaged in the discussion have not adequately prepared themselves and don't understand what is being discussed. So they light upon the obvious misinterpretations offered by dogmatic religionistas who themselves have little or no insight into the real meaning of what they are talking about, and pursue the dialog on that basis. That is mostly what is going on in the dawkins dispute.


Went a little too abstract for me a little too quickly.

This Cartesian view is a little necessary, its kind of the way we must think about ourselves due to our little subjective, inside-looking-out viewpoint.

Conceding to your point, what does it alter about our discussion?
richrf
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Sep, 2009 07:38 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;94326 wrote:
Ah, I see. So your contention is solely with those who mistake metaphysical propositions for being on the same grounds as propositions dealing with physicality, those things we can observe, often times scientifically.


There are lots of things that I observe that instrumentation and other people cannot observe. Of course, there are things that others may observe that I do not. We are all different and observe things as we are able to.

What is dubious, is for a person, to claim that he may have experienced all that there is to experience and has observed all that there is to observe. Then what is left to do it life?

Rich
0 Replies
 
rhinogrey
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Sep, 2009 07:51 pm
@Mr Fight the Power,
Mr. Fight the Power;94349 wrote:


This Cartesian view is a little necessary, its kind of the way we must think about ourselves due to our little subjective, inside-looking-out viewpoint.

That's absurd. It's the very opposite--we cannot go on imposing Cartesian delusions on our mind. This is what's necessary to expand consciousness, to gain the sophistication necessary to live in harmony with earth.
Mr Fight the Power
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Sep, 2009 08:48 pm
@rhinogrey,
rhinogrey;94352 wrote:
That's absurd. It's the very opposite--we cannot go on imposing Cartesian delusions on our mind. This is what's necessary to expand consciousness, to gain the sophistication necessary to live in harmony with earth.


That sounds like nonsense. Care to show that it isn't?

Begin by addressing these:

1. How do we impose Cartesian delusions on our minds?

2. How do we cease accepting these Cartesian delusions?

3. What does this do to expand consciousness?

4. How is consciousness expanded in the first place? Give a description of the process.

5. What is a sophisticated consciousness as opposed to an unsophisticated consciousness?

6. Why does a sophisticated consciousness lead us to "live in harmony with the earth"?

7. Why is it preferable to "live in harmony with the earth"?

8. Have you reached this higher consciousness? If so, how? If not, how can you act as if you understand it?

9. How are any of our actions informed if we do not understand ourselves subjectively. "I act" is fundamental to any understanding we have of ourselves as persons.
0 Replies
 
rhinogrey
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Sep, 2009 08:53 pm
@richrf,
Alright give me some time.
0 Replies
 
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Sep, 2009 08:55 pm
@Mr Fight the Power,
Mr. Fight the Power;94349 wrote:
Conceding to your point, what does it alter about our discussion?


Well - only that these are deep waters indeed. Both in philosophical, and religious or spiritual terms, questions about the origins of human life, the nature of creation, and so on, are very deep questions with many imponderables. The whole tone of the Dawkins polemic is to impatiently wave away anything he deems 'religious' as delusion. But as been said ad infinitum in this thread, and by many other critics, it might actually be the case that in regards to religion, he really doesn't understand the topic at all. He, as much as creationist fundamentalists, mistakes metaphors for hypotheses, myths for history, and so misinterprets the whole nature of the subject that he is pontificating about. He says in many places that 'God must be infinitely complex' which illustrates immediately that he knows nothing of all traditional theologies, which invariably and always describe God as utterly simple. (This is what I mean when I say 'deep waters'.)

I think this is actually starting to get through to Dawkins, as evidenced by this paragraph in his essay:

Quote:
Now, there is a certain class of sophisticated modern theologian who will say something like this: "Good heavens, of course we are not so naive or simplistic as to care whether God exists. Existence is such a 19th-century preoccupation! It doesn't matter whether God exists in a scientific sense. What matters is whether he exists for you or for me. If God is real for you, who cares whether science has made him redundant? Such arrogance! Such elitism."


This is his first inkling that the very question of the nature of the existence of God is actually a question in its own right. But even in this, he still doesn't show any evidence of understanding what it really means. Instead he resorts to his usual sarcasm. If you actually read the Karen Armstrong essay you will see the point that he has missed all throughout this debate (or debacle). I won't try and restate it again here.
0 Replies
 
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Oct, 2009 11:28 pm
@richrf,
If anyone is still following this thread, I have discovered a great essay on it by a writer called Ted Dace, from which I excerpt the first few paras:

Quote:
On a winter night not long ago in Montana's Bitterroot Valley, 200 people gathered at the junior high gym for a school board meeting. The star attraction, a minister named Curtis Brickley, wowed the audience with his multimedia extravaganza purporting to demonstrate that life on Earth could only have been crafted by an "intelligent designer." According to Jenny Johnson, writing for the Ravalli Republic, Brickley "questioned the process of natural selection at the molecular level," as well as "amino acids organizing into proteins with significant biological consequences, without the presence of a designer."

Creationism is a protest against the deification of DNA, both as engine of species formation and living template in whose image we are cast. Its dispute isn't so much against particular findings of science as the general idea that "Darwinism" is all there is and all we are. The good reverend Brickley doesn't deny that from a natural standpoint the body's exquisitely integrated, multi-level, self-regulating, patterned dynamics rest on nothing more than the proper assemblage of amino acids on the basis of linear sequences of nucleic acids. He merely notes that such a skimpy setup might need a helping hand to flesh it out. Though the creationism debate is generally framed in stark terms - God versus Darwin, religion versus science, superstition versus reason - the enemy camps are actually drawn from the same underlying philosophy. The dominant school of biology, known as neo-Darwinism, harbors a "mechanistic" ideology that weakens the case for evolution and leaves the field clear for the return of God, Master Mechanic, to the science classroom.

In the age of Newton, when the cosmic machine whirred and hummed with God-given efficiency, the apex of mechanical achievement was the miniaturized timepiece, a tribute to the power of human intelligence to impose form and order onto dumb matter, much as divine intelligence would have generated living creatures from water and sand. When theologian William Paley likened the organism to a watch, his intention wasn't so much to diminish the glory of living things but to augment that of the Almighty, now portrayed as not only a loving father but a skilled mechanic laboring to realize pre-envisioned plans.

The chief innovation on this model offered by neo-Darwinism is to ditch the mechanic but keep the mechanism. If the machines crafted by our own terrestrial genius can run on auto-pilot, why not the universe? Even if the stars and galaxies are indeed the handiwork of a deity, once we know the program, we have no use for the programmer. In the logic circuits of the celestial apparatus, divinity doesn't compute. God turns out to be the ghost in his own machine.


From The False Dilemma between Neo-Darwinism and Intelligent Design:The Hopeless and the Pointless: What Would Darwin Say? - by Ted Dace

my bolds. Great line, eh? And a very good essay overall.
0 Replies
 
Shostakovich phil
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 06:04 pm
@richrf,
richrf;89975 wrote:
Hi all,

Richard Dawkins ran a piece in the Weekend Wall Street Journal, here is some of my critique on the article. His quotes are in italics.

1) He begins the article with: Evolution is the universe's greatest work.

This is the crux of his whole article. All he has done is substituted the word Universe for God. That is basically it. So you don't have to read any further if this doesn't interest you.

This is what I've always understood about Dawkins. He is the High Priest of Evolution. He has plenty of admirers however. I do not accept evolutionary theory because it has never been proven, despite what its adherents would like to believe, and for that matter it becomes a religion grounded on faith, just like any other religion. Humanity has made a religion out of God, and Jesus, and Mohammed, and Art, and Music, Architecture, and Physics, and Cooking and yes ... the greatest religion of them all: The Religion of SCIENCE ... and Evolution ... all with their own special High Priests. I don't care to read Dawkins. I've heard him speak. It would be a pain in the ass to have to read what this Idiot has to write because I don't have an eraser big enough to last through all the rubbing out I'd have to do to get rid of everything I'd find fault with.
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 08:29 pm
@Shostakovich phil,
Shostakovich;96086 wrote:
I do not accept evolutionary theory because it has never been proven
It's been proven no less convincingly than thermodynamics, organic chemistry, and volcanic geology. You can feel free to reject all science if you'd like, but if you're rejecting evolution in particular then you're being completely arbitrary.
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 08:58 pm
@richrf,
Evolution successfully explains the evolution of species but is often invoked to explain philosophical questions about the meaning of existence and the origins of life itself where it actually has little or nothing to say. This is largely due to the religious and cultural circumstances sorrounding its discovery.
0 Replies
 
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 09:10 pm
@richrf,
The extrascientific invocations of evolution are not a reflection on the theory and science of evolution proper, though.
0 Replies
 
Shostakovich phil
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 09:44 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes;96128 wrote:
It's been proven no less convincingly than thermodynamics, organic chemistry, and volcanic geology. You can feel free to reject all science if you'd like, but if you're rejecting evolution in particular then you're being completely arbitrary.


Where the hell did I ever say I reject all science? Quit dreaming. And no, evolution has not been proven as convincingly as thermodynamics, etc; you're way off the mark. No one has yet even offered a convincing definition of what evolution means, including Darwin; the theory continues to go through modifications. The only thing proven is that random mutations and natural selection happen. That's as far as it goes. Everything else falls into speculation and wild speculation at that. Evolutionists are always quick to denounce everyone who criticizes their dear and cherished theory; yet there is no explanation as to the underlying mechanism that propells the evolutionary process. This is a deeper mystery that goes beyond chance variations, natural selection etc.; and this deeper mystery has not yet nor will it or can it ever be explained by scientists. Furthermore, the archaelogical evidence, while there is an abundance of it, states only that organisms have moved from simpler forms to more complex forms ... no one can doubt the evidence, unless they turn a blind eye to what archaelogists have discovered. It's all the missing links that haven't been explained away, and on a timescale of 4.6 billion years, how do we account for the relatively furocious pace at which evolution (supposedly) has given rise to intelligent life? Reduce this 4.6 billion timescale down to a 24 hour day and we have creatures who barely resemble human beings turning into Homo Sapiens only seconds before the end of the day. This means there must be a dynamic underlying motivating force pushing the process; otherwise, how do you account for such a gigantic leap? This is something the archaelogical record has never been able to explain, nor is this seldom even mentioned by scientists. Why? Is it because it might put their theory in a bad light, or it might tell them something they don't want to think about? It's precisely these more difficult questions that I at least want answers to, and without these answers why should I accept a theory for which their isn't adequate proof? Sorry ... just because everyone else believes it isn't good enough for me. Tell me what the underlying mechanism is that accounts for the gigantic leaps forward ... if you can. I won't waste my time waiting for a response that makes any rational sense. You're not capapable anymore than Richard Dawkins, the High Priest of the religion of Evolution -which is for Scientifically minded superior thinking (in their own mind) beings, their substitute Diety. Just go on worshipping your Diety. Don't try and push the stupid beast off on me. I'd rather makes friends with Frankenstein's monster.
Dave Allen
 
  1  
Reply Fri 9 Oct, 2009 12:27 pm
@richrf,
Quote:
This means there must be a dynamic underlying motivating force pushing the process; otherwise, how do you account for such a gigantic leap?

It's not such a great leap in and of itself. The brain is the central processor of the nervous system, if you like, and there's little physical difference between human brains and those of other great apes aside from size and blood supply.

The difference between the central processing of a monocellular organism and a fish is a far more dramatic "leap".
0 Replies
 
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Fri 9 Oct, 2009 12:46 pm
@Shostakovich phil,
Shostakovich;96140 wrote:
Where the hell did I ever say I reject all science?
I didn't say that you had. What I said was that based on your criteria to reject evolution, you would have to reject all of science to avoid being arbitrary.

Shostakovich;96140 wrote:
And no, evolution has not been proven as convincingly as thermodynamics, etc; you're way off the mark.
Thermodynamics is also a theory, and it's been established by microscale research in closed systems. Even the "laws" of thermodynamics in open systems have been questioned.

Shostakovich;96140 wrote:
No one has yet even offered a convincing definition of what evolution means, including Darwin
Darwin? You mean that guy who was born 200 years ago and who died before they had discovered inheritance or genes?

The most parsimonious definition of evolution is change in population allele frequency as a function of time. Plain and simple. There are all sorts of ramifications of that, but it all comes down to the frequency of certain alleles in populations and how these frequencies change over time.

Shostakovich;96140 wrote:
It's all the missing links that haven't been explained away
When you look up at the constellation Orion you can imagine the figure of the hunter, even though you're only looking at around 10 or 12 dots. Nothing needs to be explained away. We know that chimps, gorillas, and hominids 'triverged' around 7 or 8 million years ago. We don't know everything that happened in between then and now, but we know enough to put together a credible, evidence-based explanation.

Shostakovich;96140 wrote:
You're not capapable anymore than Richard Dawkins, the High Priest of the religion of Evolution -which is for Scientifically minded superior thinking (in their own mind) beings, their substitute Diety. Just go on worshipping your Diety. Don't try and push the stupid beast off on me. I'd rather makes friends with Frankenstein's monster.
I'm no fan of Dawkins, who happens not to be particularly noteworthy among scientists.

But I happen to know a lot more about evolution than you do. I don't evaluate or reevaluate god based on my experience doing evolutionary biology research. Oh, and being a scientist, I'm willing to reevaluate and even throw out everything I think I know -- just as soon as someone provides a scientific reason why I should.
Shostakovich phil
 
  1  
Reply Fri 9 Oct, 2009 11:30 pm
@Aedes,
Quote: "But I happen to know a lot more about evolution than you do. I don't evaluate or reevaluate god based on my experience doing evolutionary biology research. Oh, and being a scientist, I'm willing to reevaluate and even throw out everything I think I know -- just as soon as someone provides a scientific reason why I should."

Obviously. Anyone would do the same. But all this doesn't address the central point I made with the 24 hour day comparison. The changes are gigantic just the same, during the last few seconds, compared to the 23+ hours before the appearance of anything that you can say constitutes intelligent life. But I'm looking at things from a philosophical point of view, and the question of 'why' the process has taken place hasn't been answered. The theory provides a scientific explanation of 'what' happened, or 'how' it happened ... but that is not the same as explaining 'why.' There has to be an underlying mechanism and random mutations and natural selection only explain what and how, not Why. This is where the scientific method comes up short, however science does not have the same objectives as philosophy and I'm one of those who tries not to confound the aims of either. The biggest questions of all are: Why is there space, time, matter, and thinking beings in the universe. There are those who think science is the best way to find the answers to these questions. I disagree and do not think that scientists should even concern themselves with such questions ... because they are fundamentally open only to philosophical speculation. Even mathematicians give up when confronted with onamlies like the 'singularity' at the beginning of time. And then I'm convinced that only Immanuel Kant showed the right way for philosophers to approach and deal with these questions that lie outside the bounds of science. Hence, when evolutionists beat on their chests and say the theory is an adequate explanation of everything then all I can do is respond with questions like: How does it explain the existence of space, time, and matter ... with a priori certainty ... and principles like those demanded by Kant ... that are universal, and objectively valid ... meaning principles that are not simply arbitrary, but necessary? To such a question I have yet to find someone who can provide an answer ... all I receive back are terse comments from which I can only gather that the respondent has no grasp of the enormity of the questions or the difficulty involved in answering them ... and a terse answer is also a simple statement like: such questions defy human reason ... can never be answered ... etc.; and from all my reading of Kant, Kant would likely see the advances in cosmology as paving the way towards a possible solution to such questions in line with his critical demands for metaphysics. The questions are 'metaphysical' not 'scientific' in nature. But this does not mean that philosophical speculation can't be guided by scientific findings. I ground my dismissal of evolutionary theory on the fact that it does not answer the question regarding 'why.' It has not provided a rational explanation for the motivating force behind it. If we say there is no 'why' there's nothing more to be said. I believe there is a 'why' for the question of 'why do space, time, matter, and thinking beings exist,' and this question is for speculative philosophers, not scientists. Hence, for scientists, dismissing the question of why is rational (the question goes beyond the scope of science). For philosophers, dismissing the question of why, is not rational, for philosophy admits of no such limitations as those imposed upon science. Having said all that, I will also say I have enormous respect for what cosmologists, astronomers, mathematicians and scientists in general have been able to tell us about the past 4.6 billion years of Earth history, and the 15 billion year or so history of the universe. Speculative philosophers need to pay serious attention to these advances, before they can present anything in the way of a science of metaphysics in line with Kant's critical demands for such ... and one that would not contradict, but rather, correspond to these findings. How could philosophy do this? Only by presenting principles like those demanded by Kant ... that are a priori, universal, and objectively valid. Only in this regard could they said to hold any import. The alternative to answers to questions like those I'm intrigued by aren't worth thinking about ... they amount to such conjectures as: the universe is the result of a freak quantum vacuum fluctuation ... etc.; and it is not mindless conjectures such as this that I'm interested in. I think the universe exists for a reason ... and reason is the best instrument we have with which to find the answer to why it exists. In this pursuit I've always held out a balanced respect for science and its achievements while knowing fully well its limitations, so don't think that I've dismissed evolutionary theory without having giving the whole matter a great deal of hard thinking, or arbitrarily, or without other reasons that I don't have the time to explain.
Kielicious
 
  1  
Reply Fri 9 Oct, 2009 11:57 pm
@Shostakovich phil,
In my opinion (for what its worth) you should try making paragraphs instead of one gigantic wall of text.
Shostakovich phil
 
  1  
Reply Sat 10 Oct, 2009 12:23 am
@Kielicious,
Kielicious;96467 wrote:
In my opinion (for what its worth) you should try making paragraphs instead of one gigantic wall of text.


That's from typing too fast. I'm using all fingers. Forgot all those paragraph splits. I'll slow down next time. Thanks for pointing it out.
0 Replies
 
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Sat 10 Oct, 2009 01:12 am
@richrf,
I'm with Keilicious as far as the style recommendation goes.

I am sympathetic with your viewpoint. A couple of books I am reading which I think you would find relevant:

Life's Solution, Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe, Simon Conway Morris. Rather technical - he is after all a Professor of Paleontology - Christian, but not creationist. He presents a very strong case for what I would understand as a teleological view of evoution (horror! heresy!)

At Home in the Universe Stuart Kauffman. I have not fully taken this book in yet but it is very interesting and quite outside the 'creation vs evolution' dichotomy. But then, he's from California. They do things differently there.

Also you might find this essay interesting -Thomas Aquinas vs the Intelligent Designers- a look at how creationism does not actually represent mainstream theology, and a careful consideration of the philosophical meaning of 'creation'.

Cheers
0 Replies
 
 

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