Via intelligence? or randomness?
Within this website I explore whether there is a spiritual realm, a supernatural realm, containing God, mind, souls, consciousness with its contents (ideas, emotions, love, reason, etc) — this, from a purely philosophical and unreligious point of view.
In this article, I first assume there is a spiritual realm so as to explore the implications; then I present my conclusions elsewhere.
This naging feeling that an intelligent designer is guiding both: (1) evolution, as well as (2) development and growth of organisms. (But why would an intelligent designer create a world of suffering?)
The role of randomness under conditions of natural selection: that complex structures arise from random mutations or random cell copying errors. Some even say evolution is not random at all, but that natural selection chooses, as if it is a sentient power having purpose and will.
I accept scientific evolution as a proven scientific fact (by "proof" I mean "very likely probabilistically").
With this said, I suspect (according to my hypothesis) there is also intervention by an intelligent designer via "fiddling" with the randomness of wave function collapse of quantum mechanics. (But this leads to extreme difficulties.)
In discussing evolution, proponents use language as if there were a purpose and as if there were a sentient being controlling it. For example, they say, "If you were a turtle and you wanted to pass along such and such a trait to your offspring...", or, "If you were a certain gene, what would your strategy be to propagate to the next generation?"
They admit that using language this way is merely a way of conveniently describing things, and not anything more than that; that it's just a convention of speech.
But I find it odd how this kind of language is so convenient, so fitting, so useful. It's almost as if there really is a teleonomical or teleological aspect to evolution, as if there really is an intelligent designer guiding it somehow, that there really is an agency involved somehow.
Even if the the functioning brain "tricks" us into thinking this, into believing this; we still have to consider the origin and essential nature of this false view, of this false impression. The sum total collection of all the various kinds and categories of consciously experienced sensations; these include only certain things and exclude others. Is this merely because brain circuits only provide for these and not others? If the brain had additional circuits, would we experience new kinds of things? Certainly a dog has a smaller set and different kinds of conscious experiences than a human.
I was thinking about wacky and wasteful decorations and behavior of animals relating to sexual evolution (such as: peacocks' feathers, and elaborate dances) and including social and cultural behaviors of humans.
I think these have various random causes. Sometimes perhaps the decoration demonstrates that the individual would be a good parent of the offspring, but sometimes (often?) it's probably merely linked to a survivable trait by accident.
Natural selection is always for the fitness of the organism to pass on genes, never to pass on the specific sexual decorations and behavior.
And the same is true for any cultural behaviors of humans.
God is the creator of everything good and beautiful. But natural selection, with its competition for limited resources, results in creatures able to consciously experience pain and ugliness. God didn't create this. Perhaps there is no purpose to natural selection except the physical survival of biological organisms over generations.
A God limited in this way is not God. Therefore, there is no God.
Considering the physical survival traits humans have had over the 200,000 years since they appeared:
For most of this time they were hunter-gatherers surrounded by wild animals and the harsh elements, so we should expect the survival traits generated by evolution to favor that kind of lifestyle. But these traits don't match the needs of our modern civilized world. That's why we are so slow to respond to such things as pollution and cutting down all the trees, even though these things kill us.
. . . . .
Some scientists and philosophers are using the analogy of evolution to describe changes in culture from generation to generation. In this view, the memes (units of cultural information) and traditions take on an evolutionary life of their own and persist.
But permanent cultural change can occur by willful intercession. The complexity of it means it's hard to do and sometimes (often) fails.
The ideas and stories empowering culture arise in the originators' minds seemingly at random, much as the contents of a symphony creatively appear in the mind of the composer. Did the composer willfully choose to put in an A-flat chord at that spot knowing how powerful it would seem? Where did the idea to use A-flat come from; from out there somewhere in the creative realm?
People promote their ideas through salesmanship, and timely ideas marketed and advertised will invade and invest the culture; they are contagious.
Consider the semi-utopian idea that humans will one day live sustainably, rather than living beyond their means like we do now, cutting down all the trees and killing all the other animals. After a yet-future global civilization collapse, people in certain parts of the world will get a chance to reestablish civilization on a smaller scale. But can they counteract their innate biological instincts and competitive nature, and so, to form a utopian society? I think it's possible (but unlikely).
Evidence of this is that women were finally allowed an equal vote; this, after millennia of exclusion. And there is no counter movement to take away their vote. Nothing in the physical biology of men or women caused this; it was purely cultural "evolution". So therefore, cultural "evolution" can supersede physical evolution when there is the will to do so.
The environmental green movement tries to do this and has had some success (but the gains are currently being aggressively thwarted and reversed).
In conclusion, there is hope that we can make the world a better place, but it is not guaranteed. Probably, life in the future will continue to be brutish and painful for many.
I saw some tiny slugs stranded out on the sidewalk after a hard rain, and I saved them. But I wondered if maybe these tiny slugs were unworthy of being saved in comparison with the huge glorious slugs of Washington. Who should decide such things, whether a certain creature or individual is worthy of being saved or not? Certainly in human history there are plenty of examples of people deciding that certain kinds of humans are not worthy.
And we humans also make choices about which animals should survive as we pollute their habitats and eat them for food.
But built-in to the universe is natural selection which, ultimately chooses which survive and which perish. Natural selection doesn't care at all; there is no moral component at all, nor is this a very just or fair system either. It seems like there should be an all-wise benevolent entity who decides such things. But would such a being allow any to perish?
From my biology book: "Overall, natural selection has apparently favored organisms whose mix of membrane lipids ensures an appropriate level of membrane fluidly for their environment."
This is not a proof but, rather, a description; there is no need to mention natural selection at all!
These kinds of descriptive stories are very common when reading about evolution. They seem to think that if you can make up a story that matches the data and that fits in with the theory, then, somehow, this provides evidence that evolution is true.
And thus, there seems to be overwhelming proof for evolution (by "proof" I mean very likely probabilistically). But much of this proof is merely these manufactured unproven stories.
You put some food in the freezer and it becomes rock solid. Then you put it in the refrigerator to thaw out, and a day or two later it is soft. What happened? How did it thaw out? How did it get soft? Did it thaw out slowly via the thermodynamic transfer of heat energy, or did it miraculously in an instant, poof, go from solid to soft, by the intervention of angels?
How can we answer such questions about the past?
All you can do is assume that whatever happened between its current observed condition (soft), and your present observation of a fossilized past or remembering of a past event (putting it in the freezer and noticing it was rock solid); all you can do is assume that natural processes occurred during this interval of time to change it from rock hard to soft.
We can observe things that are old, such as fossils, layers and folding in sedimentary rock formations, ancient light reaching a telescope from distant galaxies, the mere existence of DNA in all its incredible intricacy with the molecular mechanisms to copy it and to build proteins from it.
Those who oppose evolution want to say that you can't have knowledge of the past by looking at things as they are now (but then creationists go on to explain how the things now can be explained by a global flood).
There is no natural way for a design intelligence to magically create the current biological mechanisms of life. It is all too intricate and tangled together in a web of chemical interactions and dependencies. And there is no evidence whatsoever that someone in the past magically created a new species fully developed and dumped it somewhere for it to thrive and flourish.
The only sensible conclusion is evolution.
Therefore, it is valid in science to look for coherent explanations for all the evidence we see of past conditions. Obviously, there are no experiments possible to redo what happened. Redoing and repeating experiments are very useful for science, but this is not an option for the past. Skeptics of evolution claim that not doing repeatable experiments means it's not science and, therefore, evolution is not scientific.
But you can prove that the laws of physics are everywhere and always in operation and so, therefore, it is those laws which converted the past into its present form.
In developing a theory about the past (such as evolution), you can predict what else you might find and what you definitely won't find if these predictions hold true. These are not predictions such as with experiments, but should perhaps be called past-dictions (as opposed to pre-dictions). You are not claiming what will happen but, rather, what you will discover or what you will not discover.
What would conditions have to be like in the past so that, using only the laws of physics, we would see what we see today? And what are the mechanisms that would change things from the way they were in the past to the way they are now?