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Thread: The Evolution Thread

  1. #1

    The Evolution Thread

    I thought about starting this in the astronomy sub-forum but decided here would be a stronger play for the CUF hardcore atheists.

    So I’m reading this book, “Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False,” by Thomas Nagel (Oxford University Press). It has caused an enormous stir in the academic scientific community. Trust me that Nagel is no Hugh Nibley. He is a philosophy and law professor at NYU, and has a towering reputation as an innovative philosopher in secular academia. The “materialist neo-Darwinian conception” in the title refers to the Western scientific consensus that everything can or will ultimately be explained by science, and we humans are, through and through, material or physical, including, most notably, our minds.

    The book is brief, 144 pages, and there is much philosophical mumbo jumbo (Nagel is a philosopher, not a scientist, and, by his own admission, the sole source of his scientific knowledge is books written for a popular audience such as Richard Dawkins’). But Nagel’s message may be summarized as follows: The materialist neo-Darwinian conception, says Nagel, cannot account for the appearance of life, the enormous, actually near infinite variety and complexity of life, consciousness, cognition, or the mind.

    Nagel contends that even accepting evolution as the explanation for everything (and he concedes its widespread success in explaining a great dal), there simply was not enough time to generate the essentially infinite variety and complexity of life. More fundamentally, he identifies a void, a missing link between the big bang and advent of non-life matter, and the emergence of life, then consciousness, cognition, or the mind.

    Specifically: What chemical or physical processes turned dead matter into life? What about evolution explains consciousness (perception of pain, cold, light)? Reasoning? Morality? What evolutionary imperatives produced Shakespeare and Mozart, indeed, the very drive for scientific inquiry? We don’t know. Specifically, nothing about the current materialist neo-Darwinian conception provides any explanation.

    Nagel asserts there is such thing as objective morality, i.e., good and evil. Hitler was evil; Thomas Paine was good. (I too believe this.) Nagel expresses skepticism that a random, contingent, accidental process such as described by the neo-Darwinian conception -- i.e., random genetic mutations in combination with natural selection -- could have produced such natural laws.

    I have linked two reviews of the book. They are yin and yang. One, by famous Notre Dame professor and philosopher Alvin Plantinga and published in the New Republic, is (not surprisingly) quite positive. The other, by H. Allen Orr, a celebrated biologist and professor at the University of Rochester, and published in the New York Review of Books, is overall well balanced but negative (Orr is well known for constructively engaging theists; he has skewered Dawkins and Hitchins).

    One indication of the strength of Mind and Cosmos’ reasoning is that Orr, though overall negatively reviewing the book, concedes: “Brains and neurons obviously have everything to do with consciousness but how such mere objects can give rise to the eerily different phenomenon of subjective experience seems utterly incomprehensible.” (Emphasis original.)

    The book has been extensively reviewed in all of the toney periodicals, mostly negatively. Part of the fun is to read the book in parallel with the reviews. Indeed, I felt compelled to do this as a reality check. One thing Nagel does that raises eyebrows is contend that the “intelligent design” advocates have been unfairly maligned and vilified. Though Nagel does not share their religious convictions, and does not credit the answers they provide – he claims to be an atheist, almost a prerequisite if he is to retain any credibility in his field -- he claims they should be praised for asking the right questions of the materialist neo-Darwinian conception.

    Being as I am intensely suspicious of orthodoxy, I have been perhaps most interested in his identification of an orthodoxy within the scientific community, the materialist neo-Darwinian conception. The strong negative reactions to Nagel’s book seem to look a lot like orthodoxy.

    However, those prosletyzing the materialist neo-Darwinian conception make a convincing argument that our most reliable guide to truth has been empericism and the sciences including reasoning, or senses, and physical measurements, and (essentially as a matter of faith) it seems likely that science will one day provde truthful answers to the questions raised by Nagel.

    What could be more interesting than this stuff?

    http://www.newrepublic.com/article/b...erialism-wrong

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/arch...gination=false

  2. #2
    Sam the Sheepdog LA Ute's Avatar
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    Fascinating, SU. You've persuaded me to read this book. (The part about it being only 144 pages was helpful, too.)

    "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."
    --Antoine de Saint-Exupery

    "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold."
    --Yeats

    “True, we [lawyers] build no bridges. We raise no towers. We construct no engines. We paint no pictures - unless as amateurs for our own principal amusement. There is little of all that we do which the eye of man can see. But we smooth out difficulties; we relieve stress; we correct mistakes; we take up other men's burdens and by our efforts we make possible the peaceful life of men in a peaceful state.”

    --John W. Davis, founder of Davis Polk & Wardwell

  3. #3
    Malleus Cougarorum Solon's Avatar
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    Very interesting ideas.

    I'm out of my element in the metaphysical world, or in poking around the mysteries of chemicals-becoming-life, but I too am fascinated by the modern (usually Western) idea that science can answer everything, and that (scientific) progress is inevitable. This relationship with "progress" is ambivalent at best. On the one hand, people will jettison their barely used electronics in order to have the most technologically advanced model, since the understanding is that newer must be better, faster, more efficient, etc. On the other hand, eschatological fears often claim that society is getting worse, that morals are decaying, that the world is quickly reaching a doomsday moment (whether religious, economic, political, whatever).

    There are examples in history of progress stalling, of societies taking steps backward technologically. Our faith in reason might best be tempered with a healthy dose of the irrationality of the human experience. As Zorba the Greek says, "The backside of the miller's wife, that's human reason."
    Last edited by Solon; 02-25-2013 at 03:50 AM.

  4. #4
    Thanks for the post, SU. Agree that it is interesting stuff.

    Gotta say though that it's hard for me to give much credence to Nagel on this topic when he's a philosopher and not a scientist in any sense. What is his alternative explanation for consciousness, reasoning, morality, etc.? The materialist neo-Darwinian orthodoxy exists in science because there is nothing better. Let's hear Nagel's testable alternative hypothesis.

    For the record I think most of ethics and morality can really be easily explained on an evolutionary basis.

  5. #5
    I will have to pick up this book, but from SU's review and the linked NYRoB review, this seems like a half-baked argument. It seems that Nagel is resting much of his argument on the fact that there are infinitesimal odds of a world with no life naturally progressing into the world in which we live. While it is true that the odds of creating the current set of lifeforms is virtually zero, that doesn't undermine evolution's explanatory power. The ex ante odds of any set of lifeforms being around after hundreds of millions of years of evolution is infinitesimal--evolution does not claim that our set of organisms is the best set.

    Nagel is making a quasi-creationist move in claiming that if you created an organism out of whole cloth (as God or Darwin), you would be highly unlikely to have the modern world after setting evolution in motion. But as the NYRoBs points out (paraphrasing Dawkins) this is an argument based on personal incredulity. I have often wondered how life came from nothing, and science certainly has no authoritative narrative about how this occurred. But science is moving closer to answering this question. I find his argument with regards to science's ultimate biological explanatory power to be rather weak.

    I won't comment on his cognition arguments as I am under-studied in that area.

  6. #6
    Summon woot.
    “The world is so exquisite with so much love and moral depth, that there is no reason to deceive ourselves with pretty stories for which there's little good evidence. Far better it seems to me, in our vulnerability, is to look death in the eye and to be grateful every day for the brief but magnificent opportunity that life provides.”
    Carl Sagan

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by CardiacCoug View Post
    Thanks for the post, SU. Agree that it is interesting stuff.

    Gotta say though that it's hard for me to give much credence to Nagel on this topic when he's a philosopher and not a scientist in any sense. What is his alternative explanation for consciousness, reasoning, morality, etc.? The materialist neo-Darwinian orthodoxy exists in science because there is nothing better. Let's hear Nagel's testable alternative hypothesis.

    For the record I think most of ethics and morality can really be easily explained on an evolutionary basis.
    Orr, who extensively criticizes the book, addresses your point about Nagel being a non-scientist, and he disagrees with you:

    Scientists shouldn’t be shocked by Nagel’s claim that present science might not be up to cracking the mind-brain problem or that a profoundly different science might lie on the horizon. The history of science is filled with such surprising transformations. Nor should we dismiss Nagel’s claims merely because they originate from outside science, from a philosopher. Much the same thing happened when natural theology—the scientific attempt to discern God’s attributes from His biological handiwork—gave way to Darwinism.
    It was the philosopher David Hume who began to dismantle important aspects of natural theology. In a devastating set of arguments, Hume identified grievous problems with the argument from design (which claims, roughly, that a designer must exist because organisms show intricate design). Hume was not, however, able to offer an alternative account for the apparent design in organisms. Darwin worked in Hume’s wake and finally provided the required missing theory, natural selection. Nagel, consciously or not, now aspires to play the part of Hume in the demise of neo-Darwinism. He has, he believes, identified serious shortcomings in neo-Darwinism. And while he suspects that teleological laws of nature may exist, he recognizes that he hasn’t provided anything like a full theory. He awaits his Darwin.
    I disagree with you as well. It's like saying a judge is unfit to decide a patent dispute or a medical malpractice claim because he's a not a scientist or a doctor. Richard Dawkins most notably but among others has devoted his career to making science understandable to intelligent lay people, for the express purpose of persuading readers to accept the materialist neo-Darwinian conception -- much like a trial lawyer deploys his technical experts and persuasive argument to convince a judge to rule in favor of his client as to a scientific subject matter.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Applejack View Post
    I will have to pick up this book, but from SU's review and the linked NYRoB review, this seems like a half-baked argument. It seems that Nagel is resting much of his argument on the fact that there are infinitesimal odds of a world with no life naturally progressing into the world in which we live. While it is true that the odds of creating the current set of lifeforms is virtually zero, that doesn't undermine evolution's explanatory power. The ex ante odds of any set of lifeforms being around after hundreds of millions of years of evolution is infinitesimal--evolution does not claim that our set of organisms is the best set.

    Nagel is making a quasi-creationist move in claiming that if you created an organism out of whole cloth (as God or Darwin), you would be highly unlikely to have the modern world after setting evolution in motion. But as the NYRoBs points out (paraphrasing Dawkins) this is an argument based on personal incredulity. I have often wondered how life came from nothing, and science certainly has no authoritative narrative about how this occurred. But science is moving closer to answering this question. I find his argument with regards to science's ultimate biological explanatory power to be rather weak.

    I won't comment on his cognition arguments as I am under-studied in that area.
    I think everybody agrees that the cognition arguments are the best ones that raise the most profound questions. I've heard Dawkins claim he can't explain consciousness or cognition (though he's confident that science will one day be able to explain this).

    Nagel does come very close to making a case for God. There's an interesting quote in Plantinga's review from the past where Nagel says essentially he's an atheist because he doesn't like religion, he finds it distasteful (not hard to empathize with him), and doesn't want to be associated with religious arguments. Still, intelligent desiagn purveyors and creationists are loving his book.

  9. #9
    I smell a rat. How can a philosopher make judgements about how quickly biodiversity emerged and whether it was boosted by some supernatural force?

    From my perspective, even if there is no non-natural explanation that survives scrutiny, it's still quite possible there's something more, and we're simply incapable of knowing that "plane". Maybe this guy is just trying to tweak the hardened atheists.

    There's a geological formation from here in Northern Utah called the "Farmington Canyon Complex", which was formed between 2.5 and 2.7 Billion years ago, long before the Wasatch sprung up, before the birth of the rocks in the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

    These rocks were formed without any evidence of plant or animal life, possibly during the Pangea time frame. Because of Lake Bonneville, small rocks from this formation were washed down the shoreline, and across the street from my house is a lot of sand, from a Bonneville shoreline. I go over and collect these rocks when I can find them and give them to old people as a means of persepective.

    I keep one of these small rocks in my office, because whenever I start to think I might be getting old, the rock reminds me this is all literally a "blink of the eye".

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by SeattleUte View Post
    I think everybody agrees that the cognition arguments are the best ones that raise the most profound questions. I've heard Dawkins claim he can't explain consciousness or cognition (though he's confident that science will one day be able to explain this).
    Related to cognition, it looks like we branched from the other primates about 35 million years ago.

    http://planetsave.com/2013/02/23/uni...ther-primates/

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by SeattleUte View Post
    I think everybody agrees that the cognition arguments are the best ones that raise the most profound questions. I've heard Dawkins claim he can't explain consciousness or cognition (though he's confident that science will one day be able to explain this).

    Nagel does come very close to making a case for God. There's an interesting quote in Plantinga's review from the past where Nagel says essentially he's an atheist because he doesn't like religion, he finds it distasteful (not hard to empathize with him), and doesn't want to be associated with religious arguments. Still, intelligent desiagn purveyors and creationists are loving his book.
    I think that science can explain aspects of cognition and that ability will only improve with time. Again, I am not a follower of this field, but even beyond evolutionary psychology, there is much to be learned from fields such as behavioral economics in trying to explain the advantages of certain cognitive traits, if not the way in which those traits arose.

    I have always felt that the most unanswerable question for an avowed Atheist has nothing to do with life. Rather, that question addresses why there is something and not nothing; why (not when, where, how fast, with what result) did the big bang occur?

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Applejack View Post
    I have always felt that the most unanswerable question for an avowed Atheist has nothing to do with life. Rather, that question addresses why there is something and not nothing; why (not when, where, how fast, with what result) did the big bang occur?
    I agree.

  13. #13
    Great thread, SU. This is an interesting concept.

    Quote Originally Posted by CardiacCoug View Post

    For the record I think most of ethics and morality can really be easily explained on an evolutionary basis.
    Many of the experiments showing 'monkeys have morals' agree with you. In fact, chimpanzees have been shown to possess a high degree of innate 'morality' or 'ethics' that extend beyond a simple instinct or learned tribal knowledge.

    I love this video:
    Further tests show that when chimpanzees undergo the same experiment, the chimp who is given the grape for performing the same task for which the other chimp is given a cucumber will actually refrain from eating the grape. The chimpanzee's sense of fairness actually extends out to other beings outside of himself, rather than just internally as with the capucchin.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Applejack View Post
    I think that science can explain aspects of cognition and that ability will only improve with time. Again, I am not a follower of this field, but even beyond evolutionary psychology, there is much to be learned from fields such as behavioral economics in trying to explain the advantages of certain cognitive traits, if not the way in which those traits arose.
    I am interested to know what you have read about how science can explain aspects of cognition. I have a pretty decent understanding of the CNS and what happens within neurons on a molecular and chemical basis, but I have never seen or read anything that can adequately explain how sodium and calcium moving in and out of neurons can create personality, morality, etc.

  15. #15
    Here's one of my favorite TED video, by Laurie Santos, a primate researcher at Yale, who has discovered that humans and new world monkeys share a specific type of thinking error.

    Interesting stuff: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DUd8XA-5HEk

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Virginia Ute View Post
    I am interested to know what you have read about how science can explain aspects of cognition. I have a pretty decent understanding of the CNS and what happens within neurons on a molecular and chemical basis, but I have never seen or read anything that can adequately explain how sodium and calcium moving in and out of neurons can create personality, morality, etc.
    This is not my field by any means, so I'll defer to someone who can more adequately address the topic. But from a completely non-molecular point of view, there is a lot of research as to why certain traits (physical, emotional, social, etc) would be evolutionarily beneficial and therefore have better odds of being passed down.

    As for the molecular correlation, I know next to nothing about real neuroscience. But clearly we can associate the prevalence or absence of certain proteins or hormones with certain personality traits/mental states. Clearly science cannot tell us everything there is to know about cognition (far from it), but it certainly can explain some very basic personality/morality aspects of humankind. I think it's reasonable to suspect that explanatory power will improve significantly within my lifetime.

  17. #17
    Thanks for that. Interesting experiment. They talk about it in super Freakenomics, too.

    One thing she doesn't mention is that monkey prostitution started as a result of this experiment
    Last edited by SavaUte; 02-25-2013 at 12:48 PM.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Applejack View Post
    This is not my field by any means, so I'll defer to someone who can more adequately address the topic. But from a completely non-molecular point of view, there is a lot of research as to why certain traits (physical, emotional, social, etc) would be evolutionarily beneficial and therefore have better odds of being passed down.

    As for the molecular correlation, I know next to nothing about real neuroscience. But clearly we can associate the prevalence or absence of certain proteins or hormones with certain personality traits/mental states. Clearly science cannot tell us everything there is to know about cognition (far from it), but it certainly can explain some very basic personality/morality aspects of humankind. I think it's reasonable to suspect that explanatory power will improve significantly within my lifetime.
    I agree, I think that we have a lot to learn still. I understand how certain traits/mental states are passed down through evolution, and I also understand how certain proteins, hormones, and chemicals give us certain traits, but I just cannot conceptualize (based on my limited knowledge of neuroscience) the bridge between the physical properties of our brains and the being that exists inside of my head. I understand the physiology behind what causes me to be mad, tired, sleepy, etc, but there is still something more to it.

    I also find it interesting that even an atheist (not referring specifically to you AJ, as I don't really know where you stand) still has to exercise a great deal of faith and hope in something (science) as they construct their perception of the world.

    Anyway, that rant probably made little to no sense...I definitely feel a little out of my league with some of y'all on here when it comes to being able to eloquently convey my thoughts on these kinds of things.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Virginia Ute View Post
    I agree, I think that we have a lot to learn still. I understand how certain traits/mental states are passed down through evolution, and I also understand how certain proteins, hormones, and chemicals give us certain traits, but I just cannot conceptualize (based on my limited knowledge of neuroscience) the bridge between the physical properties of our brains and the being that exists inside of my head. I understand the physiology behind what causes me to be mad, tired, sleepy, etc, but there is still something more to it.

    I also find it interesting that even an atheist (not referring specifically to you AJ, as I don't really know where you stand) still has to exercise a great deal of faith and hope in something (science) as they construct their perception of the world.

    Anyway, that rant probably made little to no sense...I definitely feel a little out of my league with some of y'all on here when it comes to being able to eloquently convey my thoughts on these kinds of things.
    I think we largely agree. There certainly seems to be something larger than the random firing of synapses going on in my head. I think the real debate is whether science will one day be able to tell us what that is, or not. Nagel seems to be saying no. While he may be right, his reasoning doesn't convince me. If you look at the last 50 years of biological science, it is clear that science can tell us much, much more about the origins of life than anything else out there. Where science hasn't begun to say anything is on the question of why things exist at all. So far at least, religion and philosophy are more interested in that question than science is.

  20. #20
    ITT: the Anthropic Principle in action.
    2014 utahby5 World Cup Bracket Predictor Challenge Champion. No one who speaks German could be an evil man.

  21. #21
    Sam the Sheepdog LA Ute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Applejack View Post
    Nagel seems to be saying no. While he may be right, his reasoning doesn't convince me. If you look at the last 50 years of biological science, it is clear that science can tell us much, much more about the origins of life than anything else out there.
    I agree. I'm no scientist, but I think it is unwise to "never" about most questions about the capabilities of science.

    Where science hasn't begun to say anything is on the question of why things exist at all. So far at least, religion and philosophy are more interested in that question than science is.
    True. I think most scientists would agree with you too.

    "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."
    --Antoine de Saint-Exupery

    "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold."
    --Yeats

    “True, we [lawyers] build no bridges. We raise no towers. We construct no engines. We paint no pictures - unless as amateurs for our own principal amusement. There is little of all that we do which the eye of man can see. But we smooth out difficulties; we relieve stress; we correct mistakes; we take up other men's burdens and by our efforts we make possible the peaceful life of men in a peaceful state.”

    --John W. Davis, founder of Davis Polk & Wardwell

  22. #22
    Sam the Sheepdog LA Ute's Avatar
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    The Evolution Thread

    [Note: This post and the thread by this name began in the Institute of Religion subforum, but we moved it here and merged with a thread by another name that SU had begun. Just in case anyone is confused.]

    I'm posting this in the Institute of Religion subforum because it fits here, kinda sorta. I find evolution and the related science fascinating. To me there is no doubt that species evolve, but as a believer, I think mankind is here because God wants us here and arranged for us to be here. I'm just not sure of the specifics of how he did that. My personal belief is that we did not descend from apes, but I recognize that I could be wrong and I am willing to be surprised by new information.

    Anyway, that's just a preamble. I don't want this to be a thread about a religious-scientific debate. I hope it will be about the science and what is being discovered.

    Here's a start. This Atlantic article caught my eye:

    The Neanderthals May Have Died Out Because of ... Bunnies?

    Excerpt:

    The bulky-browed primates, the scientists speculate, were unable to adapt their hunting skills to small game. And that was not a small thing, because big game are just that: big. Hunting larger animals -- chasing them, felling them, hauling them home -- expends considerable resources of time and energy. Small game, on the other hand, is less demanding of hunters. It might take more cunning to catch a rabbit, but it generally takes less physical energy. And this discrepancy might have made an important evolutionary difference, the thinking goes, particularly as large animals reduced in numbers. "We suggest," the authors write, "that hunters that could shift focus to rabbits and other smaller residual fauna, once larger-bodied species decreased in numbers, would have been able to persist." Neanderthals, on the other hand, "may have been less capable of prey-shifting."


    The evolutionary status of Neanderthals, it's worth noting, remains a subject of debate among paleontologists: Were they a distinct species, or simply a less-evolved version of humans? Should we call them, properly, Homo neanderthalensis, or is it more accurate to classify them as Homo sapiens neanderthalensis, a subspecies of Homo sapiens? (Fa and his colleagues break down the distinction as "Neanderthal" versus "Anatomically Modern Human," or AMH.) These are taxonomic niceties, though. What's clear is that humanity, Darwinistically speaking, won. We became what we are, and Neanderthals stayed stuck in their evolutionary moment.
    Interesting stuff.
    Last edited by LA Ute; 04-17-2013 at 04:56 PM.

    "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."
    --Antoine de Saint-Exupery

    "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold."
    --Yeats

    “True, we [lawyers] build no bridges. We raise no towers. We construct no engines. We paint no pictures - unless as amateurs for our own principal amusement. There is little of all that we do which the eye of man can see. But we smooth out difficulties; we relieve stress; we correct mistakes; we take up other men's burdens and by our efforts we make possible the peaceful life of men in a peaceful state.”

    --John W. Davis, founder of Davis Polk & Wardwell

  23. #23
    We need woot.
    “The world is so exquisite with so much love and moral depth, that there is no reason to deceive ourselves with pretty stories for which there's little good evidence. Far better it seems to me, in our vulnerability, is to look death in the eye and to be grateful every day for the brief but magnificent opportunity that life provides.”
    Carl Sagan

  24. #24
    Sam the Sheepdog LA Ute's Avatar
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    More grist for the mill:

    Is extinction really such a bad thing?

    IT'S not something that you would expect London's Natural History Museum to extol, but its new exhibition says extinction may not be so bad after all.


    "Extinction, like death, is a natural part of life," declares a sage epigraph at the start of this thoughtful exhibition. "Extinction isn't necessarily the end of the world, it could be just the beginning..."


    The exhibition aims to make visitors question their ideas on extinction. Is it any worse when caused by humans than by meteorites or volcanic eruptions? Should conservation be our watchword, or should some organisms go extinct?

    "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."
    --Antoine de Saint-Exupery

    "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold."
    --Yeats

    “True, we [lawyers] build no bridges. We raise no towers. We construct no engines. We paint no pictures - unless as amateurs for our own principal amusement. There is little of all that we do which the eye of man can see. But we smooth out difficulties; we relieve stress; we correct mistakes; we take up other men's burdens and by our efforts we make possible the peaceful life of men in a peaceful state.”

    --John W. Davis, founder of Davis Polk & Wardwell

  25. #25

    That's about where I am

    Quote Originally Posted by LA Ute View Post
    My personal belief is that we did not descend from apes, but I recognize that I could be wrong and I am willing to be surprised by new information.
    I'm more open to the idea of the evolution of man than I was growing up. Like you, I believe in God and that our existence did not happen independent of him. So, he ultimately directed it, but why could he not have used evolution over the course of millions or even billions of years to do it? What looks like chaos or chance to us could be a formula perfectly executed by a timeless, omniscient being -- grand designs well beyond our spiritual or scientific comprehension. In fact, it's a pretty safe bet that that's the case.

    So, I hold out evolution to be a plausible idea. Concurrently, while I believe there was a literal Adam, I start to think it likely that the Biblical account of Adam and Eve is an overly simplified metaphor to explain a process that would take volumes and volumes of books to describe and explain. Instead, God gave us a 10-page pamphlet and said "This should be good for now. Just go with it until I give you more." Then again, if it went down just as Genesis says, that's fine, too.

    So, somehow I'm able to calm the dissonance that occurs between Darwin and Genesis. I believe both. The truth of man's existence could be a hybrid or some other process altogether that no one has even dreamed up yet. I can't wait to find out the truth. It will be fascinating. If it started with apes, I'm fine with that. If it came from lumps of clay and ribs, that's fine, too.

  26. #26
    Sam the Sheepdog LA Ute's Avatar
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    I do love the idea that Neanderthals died out because they couldn't catch rabbits. My dog can't catch them either, but I think her species is safe as long as humans are around.

    "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."
    --Antoine de Saint-Exupery

    "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold."
    --Yeats

    “True, we [lawyers] build no bridges. We raise no towers. We construct no engines. We paint no pictures - unless as amateurs for our own principal amusement. There is little of all that we do which the eye of man can see. But we smooth out difficulties; we relieve stress; we correct mistakes; we take up other men's burdens and by our efforts we make possible the peaceful life of men in a peaceful state.”

    --John W. Davis, founder of Davis Polk & Wardwell

  27. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by FountainOfUte View Post
    I'm more open to the idea of the evolution of man than I was growing up. Like you, I believe in God and that our existence did not happen independent of him. So, he ultimately directed it, but why could he not have used evolution over the course of millions or even billions of years to do it? What looks like chaos or chance to us could be a formula perfectly executed by a timeless, omniscient being -- grand designs well beyond our spiritual or scientific comprehension. In fact, it's a pretty safe bet that that's the case.

    So, I hold out evolution to be a plausible idea. Concurrently, while I believe there was a literal Adam, I start to think it likely that the Biblical account of Adam and Eve is an overly simplified metaphor to explain a process that would take volumes and volumes of books to describe and explain. Instead, God gave us a 10-page pamphlet and said "This should be good for now. Just go with it until I give you more." Then again, if it went down just as Genesis says, that's fine, too.

    So, somehow I'm able to calm the dissonance that occurs between Darwin and Genesis. I believe both. The truth of man's existence could be a hybrid or some other process altogether that no one has even dreamed up yet. I can't wait to find out the truth. It will be fascinating. If it started with apes, I'm fine with that. If it came from lumps of clay and ribs, that's fine, too.

    What he said.

  28. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by LA Ute View Post
    I'm posting this in the Institute of Religion subforum because it fits here, kinda sorta. I find evolution and the related science fascinating. To me there is no doubt that species evolve, but as a believer, I think mankind is here because God wants us here and arranged for us to be here. I'm just not sure of the specifics of how he did that. My personal belief is that we did not descend from apes, but I recognize that I could be wrong and I am willing to be surprised by new information.

    Anyway, that's just a preamble. I don't want this to be a thread about a religious-scientific debate. I hope it will be about the science and what is being discovered.

    Here's a start. This Atlantic article caught my eye:

    The Neanderthals May Have Died Out Because of ... Bunnies?

    Excerpt:



    Interesting stuff.
    I essentially agree with this, with the exception that I think it's much more likely that God used evolution as his tool for creating man, as well as for everything else. It just seems like there's too much science out there. That said, as with everything else with a theological twist, I'm not going to claim definitively that it was one or the other, because God can do it however he wants.

  29. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by DU Ute View Post
    What he said.
    I agree with you about what he said

  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by LA Ute View Post
    I'm posting this in the Institute of Religion subforum because it fits here, kinda sorta. I find evolution and the related science fascinating. To me there is no doubt that species evolve, but as a believer, I think mankind is here because God wants us here and arranged for us to be here. I'm just not sure of the specifics of how he did that. My personal belief is that we did not descend from apes, but I recognize that I could be wrong and I am willing to be surprised by new information.

    Anyway, that's just a preamble. I don't want this to be a thread about a religious-scientific debate. I hope it will be about the science and what is being discovered.

    Here's a start. This Atlantic article caught my eye:

    The Neanderthals May Have Died Out Because of ... Bunnies?

    Excerpt:



    Interesting stuff.

    i saw an interesting article a week or so ago about how dogs evolved from wolves, in a very short period of time (biologically speaking, perhaps less than 10,000 years). The primary biological adaptation was that dogs became capable of digesting and living off of carbohydrates, particularly wheat and potato. Wolves can only digest meat. The chicken and egg question is how the biological adaptation interacted with domestication. I wish I could find the link to that article.

    Technically, of course, people did not evolve from apes; each evolved from a common ancestor, and their lineages split 5 million years ago or more, IIRC.
    Last edited by concerned; 03-06-2013 at 02:49 PM.

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