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Blinded by Science
Discovery Institute ^ | 6/2/03 | Wesley J. Smith

Posted on 06/02/2003 1:46:54 PM PDT by Heartlander

Blinded by Science


Wesley J. Smith
National Review
June 16, 2003


Nature via Nurture: Genes, Experience, & What Makes Us Human, by Matt Ridley HarperCollins, 336 pp., $25.95)

This is a very strange book, and I am not quite sure what the author is attempting to achieve. At the very least it appears that he wants to shore up genetic determinism as the key factor in understanding human nature and individual behavior.

Genetic determinism is rational materialism's substitute for the religious notion of predestination; taking the place of God as puppet master are the genes, whose actions and interactions control who we are, what we think, and how we act. This reductionist view received a body blow recently when the mappers of the human genome found that we have only about 30,000 genes. Because of their understanding of human complexity, the scientists were expecting at least 100,000 -- and that means there are probably too few genes for strict genetic determinism to be true.

Ridley, a science writer and former U.S. editor of The Economist, tries to ride to the rescue. In doing so, he adds a twist that he hopes will overcome our apparent genetic paucity: Yes, he says, our genes decide who we are, what we do and think, and even with whom we fall in love. But, he posits, our molecular masters are not rigidly preset when we are born. Rather, they change continually in reaction to our biological and emotional experiences.

Hence, 30,000 are more than enough for a soft genetic determinism to be true -- which means that the battle between those who believe we are the product of our biology (nature) versus those who believe we are the result of our environment (nurture) can now end in a truce in which both sides win. We are indeed controlled by our genes, but they in turn are influenced by our experiences. Ridley says that the mapping of the genome "has indeed changed everything, not by closing the argument or winning the [nature versus nurture] battle for one side or the other, but by enriching it from both ends till they meet in the middle." To Ridley, the core of our true selves isn't soul, mind, or even body in the macro sense; we are, in essence, merely the expression of our genes at any given moment.

If this is true, then my perception of Nature via Nurture as so much nonsense was the only reaction I could have had, given my original genetic programming, as later modified by my every experience and emotion from my conception, through the womb, childhood, high school, college, practicing law, the death of my father, indeed up to and including the reading of this book. If that is so – if I was forced by my gene expression of the moment to perceive this book as I have -- what have we really learned that can be of any benefit to humankind? We are all slaves to chemistry and there is no escape.

Even aside from such broader issues, Ridley does not make a persuasive case. Maybe it is my legal training, but I found his evidence very thin. He doesn't present proofs so much as resort to wild leaps of logic predicated on questionably relevant social science and facile analogies based on a few animal studies. These are simply not strong enough to be the sturdy weight-supporting pillars that his thesis requires to be credible. Let's look at just one example. He cites studies of monogamous prairie voles to suggest that humans only think they fall in love, when, in reality, what we call love is merely the expression of genes resulting in the release of the chemicals oxytocin and vasopressin. Claiming that he is not going to "start extrapolating anthropomorphically from pair-bonding in voles to love in people," he proceeds to do just that. Citing the vole studies and Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream -- in which a love potion makes Titania fall in love with a man with a donkey's head – Ridley writes:

Who would now wager against me that I could not do something like this to a modern Titania? Admittedly, a drop on the eyelids would not suffice. I would have to give her a general anesthetic while I cannulated her medial amygdala and injected oxytocin into it. I doubt even then that I could make her love a donkey. But I might stand a fair chance of making her feel attracted to the first man she sees upon waking. Would you bet against me?

But shouldn't it take far more than measuring the physical effects of oxytocin on prairie voles to prove that something as complex, maddening, unpredictable, and wonderfully and uniquely human as romantic love can, in reality, be reduced to the mere expression of genes leading to chemical secretions? Not, apparently, to Ridley. "Blindly, automatically, and untaught, we bond with whoever is standing nearest when oxytocin receptors in the medial amygdala get tingled." Gee, if he'd known that, Bill Clinton could have purchased fewer copies of Leaves of Grass.

The most fascinating thing about this book is that Ridley inadvertently makes a splendid argument for intelligent design. At this point, I am sure Ridley's "I am utterly appalled" genes are expressing wildly. He is, after all, a scientific materialist in good standing. Yet, throughout the book, in order to make his arguments understandable, he resorts explicitly to the imagery of the guiding hand. He even gives it a name: the "Genome Organizing Device," or "G.O.D." Ridley claims that the G.O.D is "a skillful chef, whose job is to build a souffle," consisting of the various parts of us and all other life on the planet. Note the language of intentionality in his description of the evolution of the human brain:

To build a brain with instinctive abilities, the Genome Organizing Device lays down separate circuits with suitable internal patterns that allow them to carry out suitable computations, then links them with appropriate inputs from the senses. . . . In the case of the human mind, almost all such instinctive modules are designed to be modified by experience. Some adapt continuously throughout life, some change rapidly with experience then set like cement. A few just develop to their own timetable.

But according to my lay understanding, this violates the theory and philosophy of evolution. The hypothesis of natural selection holds that species origination and change are promoted by genetic mutations. Those mutations that change the organism to make it more likely than its unchanged peers to survive long enough to reproduce are likely to be passed down the generations. Eventually, these genetic alterations spread among the entire species and become universal within its genome. It is through this dynamic evolutionary process of modification, the theory holds, that life fills all available niches in nature. It is also the process, although the details are not known, by which the primates now known as homo sapiens became conscious.

The philosophy of Darwinism posits that this evolutionary process is aimless, unintentional, purposeless, and without rhyme or reason. This means it has no biological goal: It just is. Hence, G.O.D. would not want to "build a brain," develop nature via nurture in species, or do any other thing. Yet, throughout the book, Ridley seems able only to describe what he thinks is going on using the language of intention. Could this be because Ridley's theories would require interactions that are so complex and unlikely that they would seem laughable if described as having come together haphazardly, by mere chance?

So what are we to learn from his insights? In terms of how we live our lives, not much beyond what common sense already tells us: Parents matter and should engage with their children; human teenagers enjoy doing what they are good at, and dislike doing what they are bad at; and so on. That much is harmless; but Ridley's deeper point is subversive of human freedom and individual accountability. He denies the existence of free will: Our actions are not causes but effects, "prespecified by, and run by, genes." Indeed, he claims unequivocally, "There is no 'me' inside my brain, there is only an ever-changing set of brain states, a distillation of history, emotion, instinct, experience, and the influence of other people -- not to mention chance."

Ridley asserts this as if it would be a good thing to learn that the complexity and richness of human experience could accurately be reduced to merely the acts of so many slaves obeying the lash of chemical overseers acting under the direction of our experience-influenced gene owners. "Nature versus nurture is dead," Ridley concludes triumphantly. "Long live nature via nurture."

Sorry. Maybe it's my genes, but I just don't buy it.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Miscellaneous; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: crevolist; wesleyjsmith; wesleysmith
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To: BibChr
The Hebrew hendiadys tohu wabohu is not "void" in the sense of vacuum, but indicates something like a pile of Lego's, poured out but not yet fully assembled.

Dan

Thanks, Dan. I guess we didn't need you. He has someone wispering in his ear.


551 posted on 06/09/2003 12:37:35 PM PDT by Dataman
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To: cherry_bomb88
You should read Lewis' "Out of the Silent Planet", "Perelandra", and "That Hideous Strength". Sort of boring as a science fiction tale, but his idea of beating the devil in a fist fight is amusing. Also read the Screwtape Letters. Screwtape is a demon giving advice to his nephew on how to subvert a man away from Christianity.

They're good reads, if you can accept that from one who still disagrees with his premises. Anyway, they won't tax the ability of anyone with a major in literature.

552 posted on 06/09/2003 12:37:40 PM PDT by Ten Megaton Solution
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To: Dataman
Yeah, I've run into that a lot. People have their personal pipelines, a lot easier (and more elusive) than deal with universally-accessible (and assessible) objective data!

Dan
553 posted on 06/09/2003 12:39:21 PM PDT by BibChr ("...behold, they have rejected the word of the LORD, so what wisdom is in them?" [Jer. 8:9])
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To: ALS
"The Hebrew hendiadys tohu wabohu is not "void" in the sense of vacuum, but indicates something like a pile of Lego's, poured out but not yet fully assembled."

I'll be short here. In each cm3 of vacuum there is more energy than there is in all the universe. When folks were developing equations in the late '20s that took into account the wave nature of matter, negative energy solutions came out as answers. They were particles of negative energy, the same charge, moving backwards in time. Most rejected them as sports. Dirac was the first to point out that these would be noticed as positive energy particles, of opposite charge, moving forward in time. These particles are called antiparticles. Dirac envisioned the vacuum as a sea of these, "holes", filled with regular particles. His first calculations were with electrons and positrons, later it would be shown that hadrons and leptons exist as pairs. When they are paired, there is nothing observable, except the properties of the vacuum.

The early considerations were with single particles. Later fields were quantized, to look at systems of particles. The particles arrise out of the fields, in this case the electromagnetic field. Feynman did(1949) that and calculated the the fine structure of spectrum of the hydrogen atom exactly, by including terms, called the self energy, that included the electrons interaction with the vacuum. That's what confirmed the correctness of QED, quantum electrodynamics.

That interaction occurs, because the vacuum is not silent. According to the law of conservation of energy, energy can neither be created, or destroyed. The uncertainty principle says that the energy of a particle can only be known to a certain precision. That's expressed as hbar ~ E*t, where t is the time of the observation. If the time is short enough and your looking at the vacuum, (actually it's a particle looking at the vacuum) particles of E ~ hbar/t will be seen. Yukawa explain the weak force in this way back in ~1930. His particle was a pi meson. It is echanged between protons and neutrons, that convert back and forth between each other according to which one holds the meson. There's a probability one of them will drop the ball, a neutron will decay and the nucleus decays. Outside the nucleus the neutron only has a 1/2 life of ~12secs.

There's an experiment that was done around ~1950, but I can't remember the guys name. To metal plates are positioned very close to each other. Since all those particles are popping in and out of the vacuum and observer should be able to measure a force. They do, it's called the (?C... effect, sorry CRS). The force and energy are useless though to do work in this universe.

THe interaction with the vacuum is also what gives black holes their black body radiation. That's radiation that emits from anything with a temperature. There's still not a net gain in E from the vacuum though, because when this happens the antiparticles are decreasing the black holes size. It is essentially boiling off. I'll be gone for some time, maybe someone else could add.

554 posted on 06/09/2003 12:39:50 PM PDT by spunkets
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To: Heartlander
Waits patiently for the Zapruder film showing my cousins slither out of a pool of primordial ooze...........
555 posted on 06/09/2003 12:44:47 PM PDT by RomanCatholicProlifer
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To: balrog666
There may be an echo. Did I miss a post of yours? Those things happen. Of course, echos require large volumes of empty space, but I'll get deleted if I say more...
556 posted on 06/09/2003 12:47:16 PM PDT by Ten Megaton Solution
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To: Ten Megaton Solution
Or with a strong faith.....after all, it is said in the Bible, live among the world but be not of it.

I believe in reading all sides and being well studied...how can you "debate" issues intelligently if you are not informed of where the opponents views come from?

557 posted on 06/09/2003 12:50:50 PM PDT by cherry_bomb88 (Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday Mudboy...Happy B-day to u!)
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To: tpaine; Dataman; Phaedrus
Dataman, you too have an overactive, paranoid imagination. Find help.

Hmmmm... tpaine, the idea of dysfunction implies some sort of original purpose, does it not? It's a notion for which evolution can give no adequate accounting. If evolution is purportedly responsible for everything that is, what basis is there for condemnation or criticism of the neural activity of Dataman's brain (or anything else for that matter)?

Cordially,

558 posted on 06/09/2003 12:55:04 PM PDT by Diamond
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To: Ten Megaton Solution
There may be an echo. Did I miss a post of yours? Those things happen. Of course, echos require large volumes of empty space, but I'll get deleted if I say more...

Nah. I was just echoing your excellent little paragraph as a placemarker. Such points need to be made strongly and often.

559 posted on 06/09/2003 1:01:35 PM PDT by balrog666 (When in doubt, tell the truth. - Mark Twain)
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To: general_re
You have one of several potential problems with the notion of evolution as a "living process" . Either you've committed the fallacy of composition - that's a popular one lately - by characterizing the process as living based on the fact that it contains living entities. IBM is composed of living beings, but it's hardly alive in and of itself, if you see what I mean. Or, alternately, you're characterizing it as a "living process" based on the notion that there is some intelligent actor guiding the process - which is, of course, simply begging the question. Or, cynically speaking, dividing evolution and gravity into "living" and "nonliving" processes is purely an arbitrary decision that happens to support the case you want to make. Either way, calling evolution a "living" process, versus the "nonliving" process of gravitational attraction, is wholly unjustified thus far - if you want to make such a distinction, first you ought to start by demonstrating what exactly that distinction is.
560 posted on 06/09/2003 1:01:53 PM PDT by Heartlander (I quit playing tennis because no matter how good I got - I could not beat a wall…)
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To: Ten Megaton Solution
Awareness of time, and of self, leads to concepts of mortality. And hence foolish religions are born to aviod the ugly awareness that only conscious beings can have of their own mortality.

It is much much more than that. People are the only creatures that consider their plight. They are also the creatures that have aesthetic feelings (explain that in light of natural selection!), and the only spiritual creatures (no animal has the capacity to worship). You also need to explain the conscious self in light of materialistic neodarwinism - provide scientific evidence that shows that morality, emotions, and even the self have material causes. I guarantee that you can't do it - therefore, you are making metaphysical faith statements not grounded in empirical science - that is called self-refutation.

Your bias is showing when you say "foolish religions" without any science to back that up. Besides, foolish is a value judgment - what part of the brain produces those?

561 posted on 06/09/2003 1:16:40 PM PDT by exmarine
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To: Diamond
Now you've done it!

Hmmmm... tpaine, the idea of dysfunction implies some sort of original purpose, does it not? It's a notion for which evolution can give no adequate accounting.


562 posted on 06/09/2003 1:19:53 PM PDT by Dataman
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To: exmarine
They are also the creatures that have aesthetic feelings (explain that in light of natural selection!),

Which looks healthier, Roseanne Barr or Pamela Anderson?

Symmetry and elegance are indicators of health and fitness. You may note that humans are the only primate with exagerated mammary glands, and that the male of our species is heavily dependent on visual cues to judge reproductive fitness and readiness.

The "spiritual capacity" is principally an outgrowth of consciousness, not vice versa. Men have an ego that cannot comprehend it's own non-existence, and refuses to try. So it invents the concept of "life after death" for self-comfort and convinces the rational part of the mind to buy it.

Morality: that act of self-interest that recognizes the "Golden Rule" as the optimal means of maintaining existence in an organized society, the only sort of existence likely to enhance survival of a individual evolved to be in such societies.

Emotions: Fear, anger, - primordial responses to threats. Survival benefits obvious. Love - a bonding emotion tying parents to offspring and each other to ensure the survival of the offspring.

Self- a recognition mode of time, as stated. Useful to ensure the survival of the individual.

People defeding religion against the encroachments of science shouldn't object to metaphysical argument. Not unless they've earned a medal in Viet Nam for a wounded big toe.

563 posted on 06/09/2003 1:36:05 PM PDT by Ten Megaton Solution
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To: spunkets
Not only was that not short, you failed to mention it was sorta a vacuum. Kinda presumptive to claim the word "void" and "vacuum" interchange without qualifying that to mean "space". If you meant "space", you should have said so, But your onus was on "nothingness". You also skirted or ignored the points being put forth. Your next reply will determine which.
564 posted on 06/09/2003 1:48:53 PM PDT by ALS ("No, I'm NOT a Professor. But I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night!")
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To: Ten Megaton Solution
Which looks healthier, Roseanne Barr or Pamela Anderson?

I don't know - maybe Roseanne is healthier than Pamela - I'm not a doctor. Where does the feeling of beauty come from? Explain it in light of science, not value judgments.

Symmetry and elegance are indicators of health and fitness. You may note that humans are the only primate with exagerated mammary glands, and that the male of our species is heavily dependent on visual cues to judge reproductive fitness and readiness.

What is healthy and fit about a pretty sunset or a piece of artwork in a museum?

The "spiritual capacity" is principally an outgrowth of consciousness, not vice versa. Men have an ego that cannot comprehend it's own non-existence, and refuses to try. So it invents the concept of "life after death" for self-comfort and convinces the rational part of the mind to buy it.

Really - got some empirical scientific data to back up that statement? If you don't, then you are making a faith statement. You are making metaphysical assertions that have no basis in scientific observation. You really need to address this problem.

Morality: that act of self-interest that recognizes the "Golden Rule" as the optimal means of maintaining existence in an organized society, the only sort of existence likely to enhance survival of a individual evolved to be in such societies.

Too simplistic. Moral decisions begin with a "sense of ought". Again, you are making metaphysical statements that are far outside the realm of science. I'm not interested in your "opinion" - I want data.

Emotions: Fear, anger, - primordial responses to threats. Survival benefits obvious. Love - a bonding emotion tying parents to offspring and each other to ensure the survival of the offspring.

Are these chemical reactions in the brain?

People defeding religion against the encroachments of science shouldn't object to metaphysical argument. Not unless they've earned a medal in Viet Nam for a wounded big toe.

I object when a materialistic darwinist makes metaphysical statements since materialistic darwinists claim that all that exists is material and that even our thoughts, emotions, morals are just matter in motion in our brains. You are your brain, in effect. But it is self-refuting becuase they exempt their own ideas, thoughts, etc. from the rules of materialism, and if my ideas are matter in motion, then so are the materialist's. If you are dealing in metaphysics, then you can only state your opinions and you can't provide any scientific evidence. In the metaphysical arena, logical reasoning rules.

565 posted on 06/09/2003 1:52:54 PM PDT by exmarine
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To: RomanCatholicProlifer
Waits patiently for the Zapruder film showing my cousins slither out of a pool of primordial ooze...........

I'm always amused by the anti-evolutionists who ask for a "film" of early events on Earth before they'll believe anything science has to say on the matter (never mind all the *other* ways historical events can be reconstructed from the evidence), and yet who never seem to have a problem with the glaring lack of any home movies of God waving his hands for six days.

That looks like a pretty blatant double standard.

566 posted on 06/09/2003 2:01:26 PM PDT by Ichneumon
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To: exmarine
and the only spiritual creatures (no animal has the capacity to worship).

You clearly don't have a dog.

567 posted on 06/09/2003 2:03:30 PM PDT by Ichneumon
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To: PatrickHenry
Thank you so very much for your post! Wildly enthusiastic volley hugs!

But it's precisely because all fields of learning have blowhards that we must learn to do our own thinking.

Absolutely! That's why I think it is important, in K-12 public schools, either to purge ideology of all kinds or present opposing points-of-view with encouragement for kids to make their own decisions.

568 posted on 06/09/2003 2:05:59 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: Ten Megaton Solution
"So, where did God come from, anyway? ... to introduce "First Causes", considering your religion sidesteps the issue completely."

God said, "I am", meaning He always was and always will be. His purpose was to give the gift of Life. That's why He created, or caused the universe to exist. See.

" they have no ability to give the Putative Creator a reason for Her Urge."

The Creator came to teach. He gave the reason, to extend the gift of life.

"Men have an ego that cannot comprehend it's own non-existence, and refuses to try. "

I have an ego. I can and have also comprehended my own nonexistence. So this is false.

"So it invents the concept of "life after death" for self-comfort and convinces the rational part of the mind to buy it."

No, I am well aware of my limitations.

"Morality: that act of self-interest that recognizes the "Golden Rule" as the optimal means of maintaining existence in an organized society, the only sort of existence likely to enhance survival of a individual evolved to be in such societies.

Part of what God came to teach and what He was killed for.

"Love - a bonding emotion tying parents to offspring and each other to ensure the survival of the offspring."

The purpose of creation.

569 posted on 06/09/2003 2:10:56 PM PDT by spunkets
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To: ALS
"Not only was that not short, you failed to mention it was sorta a vacuum. Kinda presumptive to claim the word "void" and "vacuum" interchange without qualifying that to mean "space". If you meant "space", you should have said so, But your onus was on "nothingness". You also skirted or ignored the points being put forth. Your next reply will determine which."

Rolls his eyes...

570 posted on 06/09/2003 2:14:25 PM PDT by spunkets
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To: betty boop
Thank you so much for the encouragements! Indeed, I much enjoyed the company this weekend. Wouldn't you know though, I'm going to be out of pocket again Tuesday and Wednesday. Sigh... So much interesting debate to miss.

Yet somehow, arguments based on such concerns get translated into "proof" that I am engaging in the defense of creationist doctrine. To me, that looks like a gross (and possibly willful) misdirection. I wonder why it seems to happen so often.

Indeed, there are many such false presumptions on these threads. Intelligent design supporters are frequently not young earth creationists. And some are neither ID nor YEC, but are also not comfortable with evolution theory for speciation.

571 posted on 06/09/2003 2:18:13 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: ALS
Thank you so much for the kudos! Hugs!
572 posted on 06/09/2003 2:22:00 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: exmarine
People are the only creatures that consider their plight.

I disagree, I've seen plenty of animals "consider their plight" when they are in situations that they understand do not bode well for them.

They are also the creatures that have aesthetic feelings

Again, I disagree. I have seen many animals show that they have clear preferences for certain arrangements of their surroundings which have no functional purpose. For example, a friend's cat will purposely make anything vertical, horizontal -- if you stand something up, like a candlestick, the cat will demonstrate clear annoyance until it is allowed to come over and shove the candlestick until it falls flat, at which time it sits down and purrs. My parrots have very particular preferences about the arrangements of objects in their cages, and even which objects should be ejected entirely.

(explain that in light of natural selection!),

Preference/aversion for certain patterns/colors/sounds/sequences will arise due to evolution "recognizing" that some things signal safety and some signal danger (red=blood=danger is one of the more obvious), and thus over time creatures will develop elaborate "aesthetics" by which certain types of visual or audio cues will elicit pleasure, and some will elicit revulsion. A good example is the sound of fingernails on a blackboard, which some researchers showed is very similar to a danger cry in certain African primates.

Not all esthetics has to be tied so directly to a natural cue, however. Once creatures have developed an instinct to prefer some patterns over others, they have gained the ability to use this mechanism "recreationally" -- experimenting with the creation of different patterns just to see how they tickle the instinctual pleasure/aversion pattern recognition parts of their brains (which orginally arose for more practical purposes).

Note that I'm not claiming that I've proven that the esthetic sense *did* arise in exactly this way -- in order to do that a number of careful research studies would have to be performed. But my point is that you were expressing doubt that there would be *any* "reason" for evolution to select for an esthetic sense, and thus I've laid out one plausible survival-based reason that evolution *would* drive such preferences to arise.

and the only spiritual creatures (no animal has the capacity to worship).

I repeat my earlier comment about dogs. And no, I'm not kidding.

You also need to explain the conscious self in light of materialistic neodarwinism - provide scientific evidence that shows that morality, emotions, and even the self have material causes.

That's an easy one -- various drugs, targeted electrical stimulations, and many kinds of physical brain damage (e.g. tumor, chemical damage, gunshot or falling damage, etc.) can directly affect "morality, emotions, and even the self". In short, physical alterations of the brain produce changes in the very things which you consider to be "metaphysical", strongly indicating that they're rooted in the physical after all.

Similarly, PET scans and other types of activation scans of the brain show clearly physical activity occurring in different characteristic parts of the (physical) brain when subjects exercise "morality, emotions, even the self".

I guarantee that you can't do it

You guarantee wrongly.

- therefore, you are making metaphysical faith statements not grounded in empirical science - that is called self-refutation.

On the contrary, it appears your position is the one that's currently lacking in evidence from empirical science (although I've joined this thread late -- if you posted some earlier which I've missed, please let me know).

573 posted on 06/09/2003 2:29:04 PM PDT by Ichneumon
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To: Ichneumon
I have a friendly little Bichon Frise - a smart little doggie that eats, sleeps, chases toys, marks its territory, and likes people. I have never seen it worship anything.
574 posted on 06/09/2003 2:30:21 PM PDT by exmarine
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To: spunkets
just as I figgered
575 posted on 06/09/2003 2:31:05 PM PDT by ALS ("No, I'm NOT a Professor. But I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night!")
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To: Ichneumon
I disagree, I've seen plenty of animals "consider their plight" when they are in situations that they understand do not bode well for them.

I'm not talking about "fight or flight" - I'm talking about "where do I come from?" "Where am I going?" "Why do I exist?" "Do I exist?" "What is real?" If you have any scientific evidence (other than your biased opinion) that animals ask themselves these questions, let's have it. Otherwise, you are outside of the realm of science.

Preference/aversion for certain patterns/colors/sounds/sequences will arise due to evolution "recognizing" that some things signal safety and some signal danger (red=blood=danger is one of the more obvious), and thus over time creatures will develop elaborate "aesthetics" by which certain types of visual or audio cues will elicit pleasure, and some will elicit revulsion. A good example is the sound of fingernails on a blackboard, which some researchers showed is very similar to a danger cry in certain African primates.

Haha. Give me the empirical evidence for this statement. You have none. Another assertion. Do you follow your own rules of science or not?

Not all esthetics has to be tied so directly to a natural cue, however. Once creatures have developed an instinct to prefer some patterns over others, they have gained the ability to use this mechanism "recreationally" -- experimenting with the creation of different patterns just to see how they tickle the instinctual pleasure/aversion pattern recognition parts of their brains (which orginally arose for more practical purposes).

EVIDENCE? Where is it? Either produce evidence for your assertions or admit that they are your opinion and are not grounded in scientific fact.

You guarantee wrongly.

Then let's have the evidence. I don't accept assertions from people who claim to have a monopoly on science. I want data. Give.

576 posted on 06/09/2003 2:35:58 PM PDT by exmarine
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To: logos; betty boop; unspun
Thank you so much for your wonderful post!

The universe was "created," or willed into being by Someone or Some Thing

or

The universe came into existence through some as yet unidentified cataclysmic cosmic accident.

Those are the only available options for the beginning of our universe.

I would like to add that under the various multi-universe theories all that is being accomplished is moving the point at which there was a beginning. IOW, there is always a beginning.

577 posted on 06/09/2003 2:38:09 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: Ichneumon
On the contrary, it appears your position is the one that's currently lacking in evidence from empirical science (although I've joined this thread late -- if you posted some earlier which I've missed, please let me know).

Haha. I'm not the one who uses "empirical science" as my basis in fact. Since neodarwinists do, therefore, when they go outside of empirical science, as you have done here, you are contradicting your own scientific epistemology. Can't you see that?

578 posted on 06/09/2003 2:40:26 PM PDT by exmarine
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To: Dataman
I don't see a paradox. If I told you I wanted to be the best that I could be. You would ask me what I wanted to be best at. Survival of the fittest doesn't imply a goal. Because the definition of that which is most fit changes whenever the environment you are in changes. Blind cave fish are best suited for caves where there is no light but would not do well in a lake with preditors.
579 posted on 06/09/2003 2:42:00 PM PDT by Western Patriot (Jeb Bush for President in 2008)
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To: betty boop
Thank you so much for the heads up to all of your excellent posts on the political exploitation of Darwin's theory and the differences between his and his father's approach!
580 posted on 06/09/2003 2:42:18 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: unspun; All
Thank you so very much for the heads up to all your posts! Kudos and hugs!!!

On the subject of origins, I invite any who are willing to post their view to this compilation: Freeper Views on Origins

581 posted on 06/09/2003 2:47:11 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: Alamo-Girl
I would like to add that under the various multi-universe theories all that is being accomplished is moving the point at which there was a beginning. IOW, there is always a beginning.

Reminiscent of "ancient astronauts." ;-)    (astro-naught)

582 posted on 06/09/2003 3:02:33 PM PDT by unspun ("Do everything in love.")
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To: unspun
LOLOL! Thanks for your post!

One of the most profound discoveries of science is that there was a beginning, which of course is the first phrase in the Bible - and is a great difficulty to metaphysical naturalism.

I wonder if it was to counter the obvious theological importance of that discovery - that the multi-verse theories were proposed. At any rate, even under a multi-verse, there must be a beginning.

Robert Jastrow's book God and the Astronomers underlined the significance:

Interview with Jastrow

JASTROW: Oh yes, the metaphor there was that we know now that the universe had a beginning, and that all things that exist in this universe—life, planets, stars—can be traced back to that beginning, and it's a curiously theological result to come out of science. The image that I had in my mind as I wrote about this was a group of scientists and astronomers who are climbing up a range of mountain peaks and they come to the highest peak and the very top, and there they meet a band of theologians who have been sitting for centuries waiting for them.


583 posted on 06/09/2003 3:17:58 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: exmarine
Since neodarwinists do, therefore, when they go outside of empirical science, as you have done here, you are contradicting your own scientific epistemology. Can't you see that?

So? How many times do you have be told that science is not built upon philosophy?

584 posted on 06/09/2003 3:20:18 PM PDT by balrog666 (When in doubt, tell the truth. - Mark Twain)
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To: Alamo-Girl
I would like to add that under the various multi-universe theories all that is being accomplished is moving the point at which there was a beginning. IOW, there is always a beginning.

Unless, of course, time doesn't mean what we assume it does.

585 posted on 06/09/2003 3:32:19 PM PDT by js1138
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To: js1138
Should read: By the same reasoning, the same goes for God, unless, of course, time doesn't mean what we assume it does.


586 posted on 06/09/2003 3:33:36 PM PDT by js1138
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To: Diamond; Dataman
Dataman said:

"I was in fact a naive believer (of sorts, I suppose) in Evolution for some 3 decades before looking into its claims. When I "woke up", I was quite angry at being lied to by "society"."

Socialists lie, [about society] granted. They have a reason.
There is no reason [for society] to lie for a theory. You imagine [that society has] one.
Dataman, you too have an overactive, paranoid imagination. Find help.

Diamond:
Hmmmm... tpaine, the idea of dysfunction implies some sort of original purpose, does it not? It's a notion for which evolution can give no adequate accounting. If evolution is purportedly responsible for everything that is, what basis is there for condemnation or criticism of the neural activity of Dataman's brain (or anything else for that matter)?

You have your own 'disfunction' diamond me boyo..
No one here is claiming evolution can give an adequate accounting for the relative unfitness of your or datamans brain.. These malfunctions/sicknesses happen. No disgrace to it.. Just be aware that nature will take its course, and the flaws you two share will affect your lines reproductive capablities, at some point..

Life is not fair fellas.

587 posted on 06/09/2003 5:17:43 PM PDT by tpaine (Really, I'm trying to be a 'decent human being', but me flesh is weak.)
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To: PatrickHenry
Dead forum placemarker.
588 posted on 06/09/2003 5:44:11 PM PDT by balrog666 (When in doubt, tell the truth. - Mark Twain)
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To: tpaine; Diamond
Dataman said:

"I was in fact a naive believer (of sorts, I suppose) in Evolution for some 3 decades before looking into its claims. When I "woke up", I was quite angry at being lied to by "society"."

Socialists lie, [about society] granted. They have a reason.

There is no reason [for society] to lie for a theory. You imagine [that society has] one.

Dataman, you too have an overactive, paranoid imagination. Find help.

Dataman said none of the above. Help with cutting and pasting.

589 posted on 06/09/2003 5:56:27 PM PDT by Dataman
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To: Dataman
Whatever. - With three virtual clones harping on the same points, who said what when gets garbled.

If you disagree with my comment that you too have an overactive, paranoid imagination regarding evolutionary theory, make your counterpoint.
590 posted on 06/09/2003 6:15:30 PM PDT by tpaine (Really, I'm trying to be a 'decent human being', but me flesh is weak.)
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To: tpaine
If you disagree with my comment that you too have an overactive, paranoid imagination regarding evolutionary theory, make your counterpoint.

Me? Disagree with your ad hominem fallacies? How droll!

591 posted on 06/09/2003 6:24:36 PM PDT by Dataman
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To: Dataman
You can't rebut the "fallacies" because there are none.. - And you won't even try.
592 posted on 06/09/2003 6:34:09 PM PDT by tpaine (Really, I'm trying to be a 'decent human being', but me flesh is weak.)
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To: tpaine
If you disagree with my comment that you too have an overactive, paranoid imagination regarding evolutionary theory, make your counterpoint.

LackingDataMan posting a real point - BWAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHA!

593 posted on 06/09/2003 6:35:07 PM PDT by balrog666 (When in doubt, tell the truth. - Mark Twain)
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To: cherry_bomb88; spunkets
no significantly new species or evolutions in the last few hundred years...

What about the Nylon-eating bacteria

594 posted on 06/09/2003 6:35:16 PM PDT by Virginia-American
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To: Heartlander
Amazing! A crevo thread that hasn't been pulled.
595 posted on 06/09/2003 7:14:45 PM PDT by <1/1,000,000th%
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To: Alamo-Girl; betty boop
bb: Yet somehow, arguments based on such concerns get translated into "proof" that I am engaging in the defense of creationist doctrine. To me, that looks like a gross (and possibly willful) misdirection. I wonder why it seems to happen so often.

AG: Indeed, there are many such false presumptions on these threads. Intelligent design supporters are frequently not young earth creationists. And some are neither ID nor YEC, but are also not comfortable with evolution theory for speciation.

(me): Seems clear to me there is at least in part an intentional (sometimes subconsciously intentional as Dallas Willard might just say) corruption of words here, often I think, by fundamentalist Christians, but also by those antagonistic to Christianity. Someone who believes the universe is created, by the face value of the word (as well as Merriam-Webster) is a creationist. I think we should work to maintain straigtforward meanings of words, lest meaning suffers "incredibly."

(As for me, if I find a theory of evolution fully formed and substantiated enough to be worth my confidence, I think I will be a evolutionist creationist. ;-` Annnnd, I tend to lean, albeit, very apperceptively-go-lightly toward the hypothesis I mentioned in the post referring to Ez. 28, which is one reason AG, why I was so interested in what you 'first' related about kabbalah stuff vis-a-vis the creation and evolution. If you'd like to summarize that some week, I'd be interested, though I find post-classic mystic judaic philosophy to be, well, pretty much what you find it to be, I think. ;-` Dead Sea Scrolls type stuff is significantly more interesting, eh? Thank you very much again for your tenderhearted patience with that set of subjects.)

596 posted on 06/09/2003 7:26:48 PM PDT by unspun ("Do everything in love.")
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To: <1/1,000,000th%
Dear Admin Moderator:

Abuse!

Wanton sarcasm!
597 posted on 06/09/2003 7:33:23 PM PDT by unspun ("Do everything in love.")
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To: Alamo-Girl
Some religions, versions of Hinduism or some American Indian religions, hold that the universe has existed forever, no beginning at all.
598 posted on 06/09/2003 8:24:21 PM PDT by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch is der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
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To: js1138
Thank you for your post, js1138!

I said: I would like to add that under the various multi-universe theories all that is being accomplished is moving the point at which there was a beginning. IOW, there is always a beginning.

You said: By the same reasoning, the same goes for God, unless, of course, time doesn't mean what we assume it does.

Bingo, js1138 – time does not mean what we commonly assume that it means! Time is geometric. Therefore, as long as we look at that which is physical, there is always a beginning.

The only way to get perspective on time is to understand the mathematical constructs of dimensions – or more directly, the spiritual realm and God – i.e. that which is non-temporal, non-spatial and non-corporeal.

599 posted on 06/09/2003 8:49:13 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: Doctor Stochastic
Thanks for the insight on the other religions! Indeed, even Einstein resisted the idea of a beginning by offering a cosmological constant which he later disavowed as having been kluged.

For Lurkers: the term cosmological constant is used to describe what is necessary to achieve critical density of Omega at 1. The going theory is dark energy, to account for some 70% of the mass of this universe. However, dark energy does not show up in local space, i.e. the laboratory. This gives even more weight to string theory (multiple dimensions) to account for the observed mass of the universe (among other things.)

For more information: Beyond Cosmological Parameters - Tegmark (ps)

600 posted on 06/09/2003 9:21:56 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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