Evolution and Intelligent Design/Creationism

Casual discussion amongst spiritual friends.

Re: Evolution and Intelligent Design/Creationism

Postby mindfullmom » Sat Aug 08, 2009 11:51 am

mindfullmom wrote:
Which brings up another question: Before animal and human life dominated the earth back when it was mostly say, minerals and bacterias, was karma working then? If so, how?

clw_uk did not write, but I wrote:
The answer to this is very simple, but let me ask you, what is kamma?

Mindfullmom wrote:
Isn't kamma intention?

Tiltbillings wrote:
Yes, which kind of answers the question of when kamma was working.


But who's intention was working? The bacteria's?

The kamma of beings in other realms effecting them? Or is it a collective intention/energy of all beings everywhere in all space and time (since I have trouble seeing any separateness at all)?
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Re: Evolution and Intelligent Design/Creationism

Postby clw_uk » Sat Aug 08, 2009 3:22 pm

appicchato wrote:
clw_uk wrote:To me they can be both, if you scrap something then on some level you deny it


We live in two different worlds Craig...in more ways than one...

Be well...:smile:




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Re: Evolution and Intelligent Design/Creationism

Postby nathan » Fri Aug 14, 2009 4:24 pm

Macavity wrote:
clw_uk wrote:Denying Evolution is delusional


It certainly is. I find it astonishing that anyone could reject something so well-established.

The Short Proof of Evolution:
http://records.viu.ca/~johnstoi/essays/courtenay1.htm
So that's the proof then? More rhetoric? Still waiting for the actual evidence as so far all I have ever seen cited anywhere by anyone is more rhetoric. If that's all it takes for 'proof' to become 'well established' then creationism still has a head start by about four thousand years.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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Re: Evolution and Intelligent Design/Creationism

Postby nathan » Fri Aug 14, 2009 5:37 pm

So I went off looking for the "evidence", again, for, I don't know, maybe the hundredth time and I came across this page:
Evolution is a Fact and a Theory by Laurence Moran
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/evolution-fact.html

Written by a scientist who wisely defined the terms "fact" and "theory" in the context of scientific thought about evolutionary processes. In the light of such definitions of terms I'm quite happy with the whole thing as it demonstrates the very real limits of such knowledge. I think if Christians were willing to do the same thing in regards to their knowledge of God or Buddhists were willing to do the same thing in regards to their knowledge of Self we would soon see that we aren't, any of us, so very far away from being able to share the same world, much of the same evidence and many of our forms of understanding - to everyone's mutual benefit.

For instance consider this quotation from the above:

"Finally, there is an epistemological argument against evolution as fact. Some readers of these newsgroups point out that nothing in science can ever be "proven" and this includes evolution. According to this argument, the probability that evolution is the correct explanation of life as we know it may approach 99.9999...9% but it will never be 100%. Thus evolution cannot be a fact. This kind of argument might be appropriate in a philosophy class (it is essentially correct) but it won't do in the real world. A "fact," as Stephen J. Gould pointed out (see above), means something that is so highly probable that it would be silly not to accept it. This point has also been made by others who contest the nit-picking epistemologists.

The honest scientist, like the philosopher, will tell you that nothing whatever can be or has been proved with fully 100% certainty, not even that you or I exist, nor anyone except himself, since he might be dreaming the whole thing. Thus there is no sharp line between speculation, hypothesis, theory, principle, and fact, but only a difference along a sliding scale, in the degree of probability of the idea. When we say a thing is a fact, then, we only mean that its probability is an extremely high one: so high that we are not bothered by doubt about it and are ready to act accordingly. Now in this use of the term fact, the only proper one, evolution is a fact. For the evidence in favor of it is as voluminous, diverse, and convincing as in the case of any other well established fact of science concerning the existence of things that cannot be directly seen, such as atoms, neutrons, or solar gravitation ....

So enormous, ramifying, and consistent has the evidence for evolution become that if anyone could now disprove it, I should have my conception of the orderliness of the universe so shaken as to lead me to doubt even my own existence. If you like, then, I will grant you that in an absolute sense evolution is not a fact, or rather, that it is no more a fact than that you are hearing or reading these words.

- H. J. Muller, "One Hundred Years Without Darwin Are Enough" School Science and Mathematics 59, 304-305. (1959) reprinted in Evolution versus Creationism op cit."

Here we can see that while the evidence of evolution is more than suitable for the purposes of scientific enquiry it is far from suitable for the purposes of buddhist self inquiry as we are frequently no less certain that this scientist does not actually exist, merely a collection of momentary and transient phenomena exist and the scientist, lacking the necessary technology is actually quite ignorant of the "fact" of his own non-existence as he has not performed the necessary investigation into his own nature and has merely mistaken the superficial appearances of his own being for being something that it actually is not. The superficial appearances that a person has a self are 100% convincing but even a moment of investigation that probes any deeper than the superficialities is sufficient for the arising of evidence that this view is entirely inadequate.

When it comes to the ultimate origins of life, be it on earth or anywhere, we simply have no conclusive evidence, of any kind. Judeo-christian systems of thought provide a narrative suitable for putting the question to rest just as the Buddha does. The Buddha goes on to say 'put the question aside as it will make you crazy trying to answer it' which is very good advice as it most certainly has not been answered and therefore thinking about it will eventually drive a person mad owing to the lack of conclusive evidence all around. In regards to ultimate origins there is no meaningful distinction between buddhism, christianity, any other religious or philosophical system of thought and contemporary science as none of these actually have a definitive answer to the question of how consciousness or life came to be present within the phenomenal universe. At the same time every system of thought, practice and, to whatever extent, of belief offers a provisional narrative sufficient to put the matter to rest so that the practitioner can dismiss the question and move on to those concerns which in fact can be addressed within the given system of study and practice.

As far as these systems can be studied and applied I have found them all useful and beneficial so long as I am able to note and acknowledge the given range of applicability and the given limitations of the particular field of inquiry and practice and of the accumulated knowledge involved. What causes no end of social conflict is when one system of thought or another begins to be mistakenly applied beyond the range of it's applicability as when christians suggest that they know better than scientists what science is about or when scientists suggest that they know better than christians what christianity is about or when buddhists, despite that fact that they should know better, jump into such sectarian contests despite the fact that they have been instructed by their founder and teachers to avoid this kind of contesting amongst those who are confined to sectarian views regarding being and becoming, the nature of the universe and so on.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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Re: Evolution and Intelligent Design/Creationism

Postby clw_uk » Fri Aug 14, 2009 5:47 pm

So that's the proof then? More rhetoric? Still waiting for the actual evidence as so far all I have ever seen cited anywhere by anyone is more rhetoric. If that's all it takes for 'proof' to become 'well established' then creationism still has a head start by about four thousand years.





Ambulocetus (walking whale) is a transitional species



Image


Here is a good chart i found

Image



found a human chart as well

Image



General information here


Is Evolution a Theory or a Fact?
It is both. But that answer requires looking more deeply at the meanings of the words "theory" and "fact."

In everyday usage, "theory" often refers to a hunch or a speculation. When people say, "I have a theory about why that happened," they are often drawing a conclusion based on fragmentary or inconclusive evidence.

The formal scientific definition of theory is quite different from the everyday meaning of the word. It refers to a comprehensive explanation of some aspect of nature that is supported by a vast body of evidence.

Many scientific theories are so well-established that no new evidence is likely to alter them substantially. For example, no new evidence will demonstrate that the Earth does not orbit around the sun (heliocentric theory), or that living things are not made of cells (cell theory), that matter is not composed of atoms, or that the surface of the Earth is not divided into solid plates that have moved over geological timescales (the theory of plate tectonics). Like these other foundational scientific theories, the theory of evolution is supported by so many observations and confirming experiments that scientists are confident that the basic components of the theory will not be overturned by new evidence. However, like all scientific theories, the theory of evolution is subject to continuing refinement as new areas of science emerge or as new technologies enable observations and experiments that were not possible previously.

One of the most useful properties of scientific theories is that they can be used to make predictions about natural events or phenomena that have not yet been observed. For example, the theory of gravitation predicted the behavior of objects on the moon and other planets long before the activities of spacecraft and astronauts confirmed them. The evolutionary biologists who discovered Tiktaalik predicted that they would find fossils intermediate between fish and limbed terrestrial animals in sediments that were about 375 million years old. Their discovery confirmed the prediction made on the basis of evolutionary theory. In turn, confirmation of a prediction increases confidence in that theory.

In science, a "fact" typically refers to an observation, measurement, or other form of evidence that can be expected to occur the same way under similar circumstances. However, scientists also use the term "fact" to refer to a scientific explanation that has been tested and confirmed so many times that there is no longer a compelling reason to keep testing it or looking for additional examples. In that respect, the past and continuing occurrence of evolution is a scientific fact. Because the evidence supporting it is so strong, scientists no longer question whether biological evolution has occurred and is continuing to occur. Instead, they investigate the mechanisms of evolution, how rapidly evolution can take place, and related questions.



http://nationalacademies.org/evolution/ ... rFact.html


This short video offers strong evidence (as a side note the guy is a Roman Catholic and Scientist)





Image


Chart of speciation

Image


Creationist point? God did it

Evidence for this? Its my belief


Just for comic relief

“ Your mind is likewise blocked. But the right road awaits you still. Cast out your doubts, your fears and your desires, let go of grief and of hope as well, for where these rule , then the mind is their subject." Boetius
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Re: Evolution and Intelligent Design/Creationism

Postby clw_uk » Fri Aug 14, 2009 7:39 pm

The honest scientist, like the philosopher, will tell you that nothing whatever can be or has been proved with fully 100% certainty, not even that you or I exist, nor anyone except himself, since he might be dreaming the whole thing



No one here is claiming to know anything 100% (i assume) the only people who tend to do this are the deeply religious (creationist are one group). What is being said is that Evolution has mountains of strong evidence for it, is a workable theory and best describes nature and reality. Creationism has no evidence, doesnt really explain anything and is actually just personal belief not science and hence belongs in religious studies or philosophy class and not science class where the creationists want it



When it comes to the ultimate origins of life, be it on earth or anywhere, we simply have no conclusive evidence, of any kind. Judeo-christian systems of thought provide a narrative suitable for putting the question to rest just as the Buddha does. The Buddha goes on to say 'put the question aside as it will make you crazy trying to answer it' which is very good advice as it most certainly has not been answered and therefore thinking about it will eventually drive a person mad owing to the lack of conclusive evidence all around.


No they dont, the Judeo-christian system posits a maker, a father and an ultimate being who cares. They claim to know how it happened and leave it at that, thus holding back from asking questions and actually finding out how. I agree that thinking about the ultimate begining and speculating about it is no good, hence why i dont see the need for a God theory. If for any reason, as Pierre-Simon, marquis de Laplace said, there is no need for that hypothesis. Saying God did it raises more questions than it answers and leads to the speculation the Buddha warned against hence why there is Theology, can cause fighting (my god did it not yours) and can lead to a lack of effort to actually learn


In regards to ultimate origins there is no meaningful distinction between buddhism, christianity, any other religious or philosophical system of thought and contemporary science as none of these actually have a definitive answer to the question of how consciousness or life came to be present within the phenomenal universe.


I agree with out here (minus consciousness), if only the fundementalist religious group could see that. Then again if we all thought like that there would be no religion at all, at least not theistic ones




At the same time every system of thought, practice and, to whatever extent, of belief offers a provisional narrative sufficient to put the matter to rest so that the practitioner can dismiss the question and move on to those concerns which in fact can be addressed within the given system of study and practice.


Unless science threatens what they believe in (God creating us) in which they either ditch theism, make a compromise or go extreme


when buddhists, despite that fact that they should know better, jump into such sectarian contests despite the fact that they have been instructed by their founder and teachers to avoid this kind of contesting amongst those who are confined to sectarian views regarding being and becoming, the nature of the universe and so on.


I think you misunderstanding the point of this thread, we arent discussing the "ultimate begining" we are simply stating what is reality (or closest to it) as evolution and criticising the Creationist argument because of its dismissal of obvious evidence and its dressing up of religious belief as science. Also the discussion over evolution is nothing to do with the ultimate begining since evolution is just about how you get species and animals changing and adapting over time, not how life began or how the universe began etc. Those are different areas of science
“ Your mind is likewise blocked. But the right road awaits you still. Cast out your doubts, your fears and your desires, let go of grief and of hope as well, for where these rule , then the mind is their subject." Boetius
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Re: Evolution and Intelligent Design/Creationism

Postby clw_uk » Fri Aug 14, 2009 8:15 pm






This is a perfect example of the fallacy of the Creationist camp and sumes up Creationist thinking pretty well


First of all there is a confusion here between Evolution and Abiogenesis. Ben Stein argues that Evolution doesnt say how life began or got here so its a relic and implies it should be replaces. This is a typical creationist mistake or mixing up Abiogenesis and Evolution

Second point
"Intelligent Design" i.e. Creationism is an effort to explain away something we dont yet understand, like the Ancient Greeks explaining lightening coming from Zeus. It doesnt actually explain anything its more of a cop out to explain it

Third point
The "Scientists" have been criticised because of their abandoning of Scientific Values in favour of pushing their own version of reality into the classroom (and so onto others)

Fourth point
There is freedom on enquiry. If there was some evidence for Creationism then science would look at it but there is none. Also Creationism is anti-enquiry because it posits an ultimate answer, Zeus example again

Fith Point
O'Reilly asks "why cant you mention that in Theology a higher power might have been reponsible". Obvious error is that Biology class is for Scientific Biology and Theology is based on Religion and Philosophy. Also Biology class is based on evidence and tests, Theology is based on faith and religious belief

Sixth point
O'Reilly says that when he has Atheists etc on his show, when asked about the begining they answer "we dont know" to which he laughs and obviously thinks he does know (by the tone and his belief as a Roman Catholic). Saying i dont know is truthful, humble and Scientific. Saying that you do know when in fact you dont you just believe you do is untruthful, Self-delusion and unscientific

Seventh point
Stein argues that Evolution (despite not having anything to do with ultimate begining) is a "weak theory". Evolution is an extremely strong theory that has mountains of corroborating evidence, is very useful and best describes nature and reality. His own Theism is the weak theory, having no evidence at all, doesnt explain anything and has to fall back on faith

Eighth point
Stein says it was a brilliant theory in the 19th century and isnt now. Evolution still is a brilliant theory, right up there with gravity IMO

Ninth point
Einstein didnt work out E=MC2 because of a belief in a God, also he wasnt a Theist more of a weak Pantheist. Newton was religious however his Scientific work didnt come to be via his belief but via the Scientific method, his religious belief was a personal extra. Darwin didnt work in the frame work of a God

Tenth point
Stein asks "why cant we have enough freedom to believe in God". No one is taking that away from him (or others). What is being argued is that creationism isnt science but a personal belief. A belief that one is free to have but not one that should be pushed into the science room where it doesnt belong

Eleventh point
O'Reilly argues that because "secularist pinheads" havent worked out how life began and how the ulitmate begining then another theory should be put forward (creationism) despite the fact that the "secularist pinhead" camp of "dont know yet" is more scientific and honest than O'Reilly camp of "we know" because its this way "because I believe so". Also science hasnt been around long enough to answer such a deep and compicated question





On political note, O'reilly seems to dislike the "sepration of church and state" and Secularists despite the fact that America is based upon seperation of church and state and Secularist Values

Lets look at some of the famous founding fathers and their view of religion

The Christian God is a being of terrific character- cruel, vindictive, capricious and unjust

-Thomas Jefferson

To talk of immaterial existences is to talk of nothings. To say that the human soul, angels, god, are immaterial, is to say there are nothing, or that there is no soul, no angels, no god. I cannot reason otherwise...I am satisfied, sufficiently occupied with the things which are, without tormenting or troubling myself about those which may indeed be, but of which we have no evidence

-Thomas Jefferson

Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone upon man

-Thomas Jefferson

During fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been it its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolences in the clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution

-James Madison

Lighthouses are more useful than churches

-Benjamin Franklin

This would be the best of all possible worlds if there were no religion in it

-John Adams

As I understand the Christian religion, it was, and is, a revelation. But how it has happened that millions of fables, tales, legends have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed

-John Adams

I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has produced- the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced.

-John Adams

And everyone should know of the 1797 Treaty with Tripoli drafted by George Washington himself.

As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion, as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen; and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitian nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of harmony between the two countries.



Shake off all fears of servile prejudices, under which weak mines are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.

-Thomas Jefferson



Metta to all
“ Your mind is likewise blocked. But the right road awaits you still. Cast out your doubts, your fears and your desires, let go of grief and of hope as well, for where these rule , then the mind is their subject." Boetius
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Re: Evolution and Intelligent Design/Creationism

Postby mindfullmom » Fri Aug 14, 2009 11:42 pm

Thank you so much Nathan and clw_uk! :thumbsup:

It will take me days to wade through it all but I'm looking forward to it!
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Re: Evolution and Intelligent Design/Creationism

Postby christopher::: » Mon Aug 24, 2009 1:22 am

From today's NY Times....
:smile:

A Grand Bargain Over Evolution

By ROBERT WRIGHT; August 23, 2009; OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

THE “war” between science and religion is notable for the amount of civil disobedience on both sides. Most scientists and most religious believers refuse to be drafted into the fight. Whether out of a live-and-let-live philosophy, or a belief that religion and science are actually compatible, or a heartfelt indifference to the question, they’re choosing to sit this one out.

Still, the war continues, and it’s not just a sideshow. There are intensely motivated and vocal people on both sides making serious and conflicting claims. There are atheists who go beyond declaring personal disbelief in God and insist that any form of god-talk, any notion of higher purpose, is incompatible with a scientific worldview. And there are religious believers who insist that evolution can’t fully account for the creation of human beings.

I bring good news! These two warring groups have more in common than they realize. And, no, it isn’t just that they’re both wrong. It’s that they’re wrong for the same reason. Oddly, an underestimation of natural selection’s creative power clouds the vision not just of the intensely religious but also of the militantly atheistic.

If both groups were to truly accept that power, the landscape might look different. Believers could scale back their conception of God’s role in creation, and atheists could accept that some notions of “higher purpose” are compatible with scientific materialism. And the two might learn to get along.

The believers who need to hear this sermon aren’t just adherents of “intelligent design,” who deny that natural selection can explain biological complexity in general. There are also believers with smaller reservations about the Darwinian story. They accept that God used evolution to do his creative work (“theistic evolution”), but think that, even so, he had to step in and provide special ingredients at some point.

Perhaps the most commonly cited ingredient is the human moral sense — the sense that there is such a thing as right and wrong, along with some intuitions about which is which. Even some believers who claim to be Darwinians say that the moral sense will forever defy the explanatory power of natural selection and so leave a special place for God in human creation.

This idea goes back to C. S. Lewis, the mid-20th-century Christian writer (and author of “The Chronicles of Narnia”), who influenced many in the current generation of Christian intellectuals. Sure, Lewis said, evolution could have rendered humans capable of nice behavior; we have affiliative impulses — a herding instinct, as he put it — like other animals. But, he added, evolution couldn’t explain why humans would judge nice behavior “good” and mean behavior “bad” — why we intuitively apprehend “the moral law” and feel guilty when we’ve broken it.

The inexplicability of this apprehension, in Lewis’s view, was evidence that the moral law did exist — “out there,” you might say — and was thus evidence that God, too, existed. Since Lewis wrote — and unbeknown to many believers — evolutionary psychologists have developed a plausible account of the moral sense. They say it is in large part natural selection’s way of equipping people to play non-zero-sum games — games that can be win-win if the players cooperate or lose-lose if they don’t.

So, for example, feelings of guilt over betraying a friend are with us because during evolution sustaining friendships brought benefits through the non-zero-sum logic of one hand washing the other (“reciprocal altruism”). Friendless people tend not to thrive.

Indeed, this dynamic of reciprocal altruism, as mediated by natural selection, seems to have inclined us toward belief in some fairly abstract principles, notably the idea that good deeds should be rewarded and bad deeds should be punished. This may seem like jarring news for C. S. Lewis fans, who had hoped that God was the one who wrote moral laws into the charter of the universe, after which he directly inserted awareness of them in the human lineage.

But they may not have to stray quite as far from that scenario as they fear. Maybe they can accept this evolutionary account, and be strict Darwinians, yet hang on to notions of divinely imparted moral purpose. The first step toward this more modern theology is for them to bite the bullet and accept that God did his work remotely — that his role in the creative process ended when he unleashed the algorithm of natural selection (whether by dropping it into the primordial ooze or writing its eventual emergence into the initial conditions of the universe or whatever).

Of course, to say that God trusted natural selection to do the creative work assumes that natural selection, once in motion, would do it; that evolution would yield a species that in essential respects — in spiritually relevant respects, you might say — was like the human species. But this claim, though inherently speculative, turns out to be scientifically plausible.

For starters, there are plenty of evolutionary biologists who believe that evolution, given long enough, was likely to create a smart, articulate species — not our species, complete with five fingers, armpits and all the rest — but some social species with roughly our level of intelligence and linguistic complexity.

And what about the chances of a species with a moral sense? Well, a moral sense seems to emerge when you take a smart, articulate species and throw in reciprocal altruism. And evolution has proved creative enough to harness the logic of reciprocal altruism again and again.

Vampire bats share blood with one another, and dolphins swap favors, and so do monkeys. Is it all that unlikely that, even if humans had been wiped out a few million years ago, eventually a species with reciprocal altruism would reach an intellectual and linguistic level at which reciprocal altruism fostered moral intuitions and moral discourse?

There’s already a good candidate for this role — the chimpanzee. Chimps, some primatologists believe, have the rudiments of a sense of justice. They sometimes seem to display moral indignation, “complaining” to other chimps that an ally has failed to fulfill the terms of a reciprocally altruistic relationship. Even now, if chimps are gradually evolving toward greater intelligence, their evolutionary trajectory may be slowly converging on the same moral intuitions that human evolution long ago converged on.

If evolution does tend to eventually “converge” on certain moral intuitions, does that mean there were moral rules “out there” from the beginning, before humans became aware of them — that natural selection didn’t “invent” human moral intuitions so much as “discover” them? That would be good news for any believers who want to preserve as much of the spirit of C. S. Lewis as Darwinism permits.

Something like this has been suggested by the evolutionary psychologist Steven Pinker — who, as a contented atheist, can’t be accused of special pleading. Mr. Pinker has noted how the interplay of evolved intuition and the dynamics of discourse tends to forge agreement on something like the golden rule — that you should treat people as you expect to be treated. He compares this natural apprehension of a moral principle to the depth perception humans have thanks to the evolution of stereo vision. Not all species (not even all two-eyed species) have stereo vision, Mr. Pinker says, but any species that has it is picking up on “real facts about the universe” that were true even before that species evolved — namely, the three-dimensional nature of reality and laws of optics.

Similarly, certain intuitions about reciprocal moral obligation are picking up on real facts about the logic of discourse and about generic social dynamics — on principles that were true even before humans came along and illustrated them. Including, in particular, the non-zero-sum dynamics that are part of our universe.

As Mr. Pinker once put it in conversation with me: “There may be a sense in which some moral statements aren’t just ... artifacts of a particular brain wiring but are part of the reality of the universe, even if you can’t touch them and weigh them.” Comparing these moral truths to mathematical truths, he said that perhaps “they’re really true independent of our existence. I mean, they’re out there and in some sense — it’s very difficult to grasp — but we discover them, we don’t hallucinate them.”

Mr. Pinker’s atheism shows that thinking in these cosmic terms doesn’t lead you inexorably to God. Indeed, the theo-biological scenario outlined above — God initiating natural selection with some confidence that it would lead to a morally rich and reflective species — has some pretty speculative links in its chain.

But the point is just that these speculations are compatible with the standard scientific theory of human creation. If believers accepted them, that would, among other things, end any conflict between religion and the teaching of evolutionary biology. And theology would have done what it’s done before: evolve — adapt its conception of God to advancing knowledge and to sheer logic.

But believers aren’t the only ones who could use some adapting. If there is to be peace between religion and science, some of the more strident atheists will need to make their own concessions to logic. They could acknowledge, first of all, that any god whose creative role ends with the beginning of natural selection is, strictly speaking, logically compatible with Darwinism. (Darwin himself, though not a believer, said as much.) And they might even grant that natural selection’s intrinsic creative power — something they’ve been known to stress in other contexts — adds at least an iota of plausibility to this remotely creative god.

And, god-talk aside, these atheist biologists could try to appreciate something they still seem not to get: talk of “higher purpose” is not just compatible with science, but engrained in it. There is an episode in intellectual history that makes the point. It’s familiar to biologists because it is sometimes used — wrongly, I think — to illustrate the opposite point. Indeed, that use is what led Richard Dawkins, one of the most vocal atheist biologists, to allude to it in the title of one of his books: “The Blind Watchmaker.”

The story involves William Paley, a British theologian who, a few years before Darwin was born, tried to use living creatures as evidence for the existence of a designer. If you’re walking across a field and you find a pocket watch, Paley said, you know it’s in a different category from the rocks lying around it: it’s a product of design, with a complex functionality that doesn’t just happen by accident. Well, he continued, organisms are like pocket watches — too complexly functional to be an accident. So they must have a designer — God.

As Mr. Dawkins pointed out, we can now explain the origin of organisms without positing a god. Yet Mr. Dawkins also conceded something to Paley that gets too little attention: The complex functionality of an organism does demand a special kind of explanation. The reason is that, unlike a rock, an organism has things that look as if they were designed to do something. Digestive tracts seem to exist in order to digest food. The heart seems to exist in order to pump blood.

And, actually, even once you accept that natural selection, not God, is the “designer” — the blind watchmaker, as Mr. Dawkins put it — there is a sense in which these organs do have purposes, purposes that serve the organism’s larger purpose of surviving and spreading its genes. As Daniel Dennett, the Darwinian (and atheist) philosopher, has put it, an organism’s evolutionarily infused purpose is “as real as purpose could ever be.” So in a sense Paley was right not just in saying that organisms must come from a different creative process than rocks but also in saying that this creative process imparts a purpose (however mundane) to organisms.

There are two morals to the story. One is that it is indeed legitimate, and not at all unscientific, to do what Paley did: inspect a physical system for evidence that it was given some purpose by some higher-order creative process. If scientifically minded theologians want to apply that inspection to the entire system of evolution, they’re free to do so.

The second moral of the story is that, even if evolution does have a “purpose,” imparted by some higher-order creative process, that doesn’t mean there’s anything mystical or immaterial going on. And it doesn’t mean there’s a god. For all we know, there’s some “meta-natural-selection” process — playing out over eons and perhaps over multiple universes — that spawned the algorithm of natural selection, somewhat as natural selection spawned the algorithm contained in genomes.

At the same time, theologians can be excused for positing design of a more intentional sort. After all, they can define their physical system — the system they’re inspecting for evidence of purpose — as broadly as they like. They can include not just the biological evolution that gave us an intelligent species but also the subsequent “cultural evolution” — the evolution of ideas — that this species launched (and that, probably, any comparably intelligent species would launch).

When you define the system this broadly, it takes on a more spiritually suggestive cast. The technological part of cultural evolution has relentlessly expanded social organization, leading us from isolated hunter-gatherer villages all the way to the brink of a truly global society. And the continuing cohesion of this social system (also known as world peace) may depend on people everywhere using their moral equipment with growing wisdom — critically reflecting on their moral intuitions, and on the way they’re naturally deployed, and refining that deployment.

Clearly, this evolutionary narrative could fit into a theology with some classic elements: a divinely imparted purpose that involves a struggle toward the good, a struggle that even leads to a kind of climax of history. Such a theology could actually abet the good, increase the chances of a happy ending. A more evolved religion could do what religion has often done in the past: use an awe-inspiring story to foster social cohesion — except this time on a global scale.

Of course, religion doesn’t have a monopoly on awe and inspiration. The story that science tells, the story of nature, is awesome, and some people get plenty of inspiration from it, without needing the religious kind. What’s more, science has its own role to play in knitting the world together. The scientific enterprise has long been on the frontiers of international community, fostering an inclusive, cosmopolitan ethic — the kind of ethic that any religion worthy of this moment in history must also foster.

William James said that religious belief is “the belief that there is an unseen order, and that our supreme good lies in harmoniously adjusting ourselves thereto.” Science has its own version of the unseen order, the laws of nature. In principle, the two kinds of order can themselves be put into harmony — and in that adjustment, too, may lie a supreme good.

Robert Wright, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, is the author, most recently, of “The Evolution of God.”
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
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Re: Evolution and Intelligent Design/Creationism

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Aug 24, 2009 1:41 am

In other words, for all of what Wright said, one does not need a god thingie to account for existence or evolution. And a god thingie certainly has not a thing to do with science.
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Re: Evolution and Intelligent Design/Creationism

Postby clw_uk » Mon Aug 24, 2009 1:47 am

The believers who need to hear this sermon aren’t just adherents of “intelligent design,” who deny that natural selection can explain biological complexity in general. There are also believers with smaller reservations about the Darwinian story. They accept that God used evolution to do his creative work (“theistic evolution”), but think that, even so, he had to step in and provide special ingredients at some point.



So its a personal religious belief and not science, one again having science and religion operate seperately. The above is no different than if i said that I believe i went back in time and guided evolution to bring about man. It would just be a personal believe that is grafted onto scientific knowledge, something extra (and not needed)


Also the same question comes up, what kind of God would watch/design/guide such a cruel system? Only blind nature could not an intelligent agent



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Re: Evolution and Intelligent Design/Creationism

Postby christopher::: » Mon Aug 24, 2009 2:17 am

So its a personal religious belief and not science, one again having science and religion operate seperately. The above is no different than if i said that I believe i went back in time and guided evolution to bring about man. It would just be a personal believe that is grafted onto scientific knowledge, something extra..


Right.

clw_uk wrote:
Also the same question comes up, what kind of God would watch/design/guide such a cruel system? Only blind nature could not an intelligent agent



That's a subjective view, which some have taken, as i think Wright addressed. There are other ways of thinking about life on earth, other views and "spiritual hypotheses" that individuals can bring to science's story of evolution, the story of our planet's history and how our entire universe came into being.

Those "views" would also be subjective, of course. None of these is the right, true or correct view...

The realm of religion deals with what is a mystery, to science...


Clearly, this evolutionary narrative could fit into a theology with some classic elements: a divinely imparted purpose that involves a struggle toward the good, a struggle that even leads to a kind of climax of history. Such a theology could actually abet the good, increase the chances of a happy ending. A more evolved religion could do what religion has often done in the past: use an awe-inspiring story to foster social cohesion — except this time on a global scale.

Of course, religion doesn’t have a monopoly on awe and inspiration. The story that science tells, the story of nature, is awesome, and some people get plenty of inspiration from it, without needing the religious kind. What’s more, science has its own role to play in knitting the world together.
The scientific enterprise has long been on the frontiers of international community, fostering an inclusive, cosmopolitan ethic — the kind of ethic that any religion worthy of this moment in history must also foster.

William James said that religious belief is “the belief that there is an unseen order, and that our supreme good lies in "harmoniously adjusting ourselves thereto.” Science has its own version of the unseen order, the laws of nature. In principle, the two kinds of order can themselves be put into harmony — and in that adjustment, too, may lie a supreme good.


In line with this, my son and i saw a wonderful film on stellar evolution at the Museum of Natural History, on Thursday. Here's an article on it, from Scientific American...

:coffee:

Space Show Takes Viewers on a Stellar Journey
By Saswato R. Das

excerpt:

"During its 23-minute running time, the film seeks to capture the entire history of the universe by focusing on stars. Mordecai-Mark Mac Low and Ben Oppenheimer, resident astrophysicists at AMNH and the co-curators of the show, present a collection of convincing simulations that offer the viewer a state-of-the-art demonstration of astrophysics. "We want people to understand their origins and life-support system," Mac Low says, "and to look at the night sky with a new sense of its depth and variety."

One highlight is a simulation of the interior of the sun, showing its convection and churning magnetic field. The demo came courtesy of Juri Toomre's group at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and required about 14 million hours of supercomputer time spread across four major U.S. supercomputing centers. Hundreds of billions of bytes of data were processed, all of which went into the visualization of the solar interior.

Besides showing how our sun works, the film takes viewers back to the beginning, when, as astronomers understand it, the big bang created the universe some 13 billion years ago. Early on, the universe consisted only of hydrogen, helium and some traces of lithium. With gravity's help, these elements formed the first stars. Some of these early stars were huge, a hundred times as massive as the sun, and lived short, spectacular lives, dying in gigantic explosions known as supernovae.

All the other elements—from carbon to gold and the rest of the periodic table—were created in these cataclysmic stellar deaths. Supernova explosions blew these heavier elements into interstellar space, where they mixed with clouds of primordial hydrogen and helium and were recycled into subsequent generations of stars.

Our sun formed about five billion years ago out of such a cloud. Some of the material settled in a disc around the sun, coalescing into the planets, and eventually the inhabitants of Earth. As the film points out, each of us contains about a teaspoonful of matter made by the first generation of stars..."
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
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Re: Evolution and Intelligent Design/Creationism

Postby christopher::: » Mon Aug 24, 2009 4:27 am

BTW, we have a related discussion going over at ZFI, for anyone interested. Less focus on Creationism, but more in line with this emerging movement in science which presents the evolution of our Universe as an inspiring Cosmic story. Times are tough on our planet. We face major life and death challenges for our species, for all species. Sometimes a good narrative can inspire people to come together and face difficulties, with an optimistic attitude....

Life, Nature, Science & the Universe

:group:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
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Re: Evolution and Intelligent Design/Creationism

Postby clw_uk » Mon Aug 24, 2009 5:03 am

That's a subjective view, which some have taken, as i think Wright addressed.


Not really its a simple point. Evolution is a cruel system built on struggle, if you posit a God then you have to say that God designed a cruel system (and is "himself" cruel, inept etc)

There are other ways of thinking about life on earth, other views and "spiritual hypotheses" that individuals can bring to science's story of evolution, the story of our planet's history and how our entire universe came into being.



Which Science does quite well without the position of "God did it", there is no need of that hypothesis accept for personal need


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Re: Evolution and Intelligent Design/Creationism

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Aug 24, 2009 5:06 am

The emergence of intelligence, I am convinced, tends to unbalance the ecology. In other words, intelligence is the great polluter. It is not until a creature begins to manage its environment that nature is thrown into disorder. Until that occurs, there is a system of checks and balances operating in a logical and understandable manner. Intelligence destroys and modifies the checks and balances even as it tries very diligently to leave them as they were. There is no such thing as an intelligence living harmony with the biosphere. It may think and boast it is doing so, but its mentality gives it an advantage and the compulsion is always there to employ this advantage to its selfish benefit. Thus, while intelligence may be an outstanding survival factor, the factor is short-term, and intelligence turns out to be the great destroyer. -- written by a crazy character in SHAKESPEARE'S PLANET, a sci-fi novel by Clifford Simak, 1976.


See: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/stor ... =112124572

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supervolcano

http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200806/asteroids
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
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Re: Evolution and Intelligent Design/Creationism

Postby clw_uk » Mon Aug 24, 2009 5:08 am

Clearly, this evolutionary narrative could fit into a theology with some classic elements:


Couldnt agree more, the Hitler God of the Old Testament would fit quite well with the cold cruelty of Evolution

a divinely imparted purpose that involves a struggle toward the good, a struggle that even leads to a kind of climax of history
.

This just seems to be white noise


A more evolved religion could do what religion has often done in the past: use an awe-inspiring story to foster social cohesion — except this time on a global scale.


So Theism is a man made construct used for social control?
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Re: Evolution and Intelligent Design/Creationism

Postby christopher::: » Mon Aug 24, 2009 1:27 pm

Religions exist because people seek understanding, inspiration, freedom from fear and suffering, a sense of connectedness to the world and deeper meaning. These are very important human needs.

As mentioned in the God discussion, to talk about God as a designer is an anthropomorphic view. The traditional Christian, Muslim and Hebrew presentations of God are anthropomorphic. God is presented as a human-like being who created things from afar and watches over his creations. My family and ancestors are Jewish. The actions of Hitler were indeed so cruel that all Jews have had to reconsider their beliefs about God, the data did not mesh with views of a Loving God who cares about "his" people.

But the history of our Universe involves the creation of stars and billions of galaxies. Death and suffering arose along with sentient life, a very fragile creation. Without pain, an organism's reaction, there is no suffering. Why suffering exists is indeed a mystery and if God were an allpowerful being we'd expect "he" could have configured the Universe differently. Or maybe there was just no other way for compassion, wisdom and kindness to come into being, without that suffering... Without sentience there would be no love, no joy, as well as no hatred and cruelty. Without suffering, perhaps there are things we could not learn.

The Universe is quite paradoxical, at times, and extremely mysterious.

Also there exists in most religions less anthropomorphic mystical teachings and views, where God is conceptualized more as a mystery, a creative power or "source" without a single conscious awareness or center. This is God as more like the Tao, like a Mysterious Cosmic Presence or Spirit (as taught in Kabbalah). In that view, the Universe is moving towards an awakening of sorts, of a spiritual consciousness, and pain is part of the process... The Buddha's teachings on dharma are in line with that, imo. There is no God behind the suffering, and there is a way to rise beyond it. Buddha's teachings fit the data better then the anthropomorphic views, i think...

Anyway, as Wright is saying, as long as we conceptualize God as presented in ancient texts, in anthropomorphic terms, we are dealing with a conception which doesn't match with what science presents. This is where literal religious conceptions have limitations. But there are schools of thought in science, such as the Deep Ecology movement, and these efforts by scientists to tell "The Great Story" of Cosmic Evolution which fits nicely with these less anthropomorphic conceptions, with the more mystical teachings.

Religions, like everything else in our Universe, will need to adapt and evolve, to survive.

A related article:

BEYOND ANTHROPOCENTRISM

by John Seed; from THINKING LIKE A MOUNTAIN - TOWARDS A COUNCIL OF ALL BEINGS by John Seed, Joanna Macy, Arne Naess & Pat Fleming, New Society Publishers, Philadelphia, 1988
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
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Re: Evolution and Intelligent Design/Creationism

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Aug 24, 2009 2:26 pm

christopher::: wrote:
Also there exists in most religions less anthropomorphic mystical teachings and views, where God is conceptualized more as a mystery, a creative power or "source" without a single conscious awareness or center.


Which is what the anthropomorphic god/non-antropomorphic godhead comes down to, a big mystery that explains nothing. We are still left with suffering, we are still left with a universe that could, and likely will, wipe us out. There is no thought behind this. It is just impersonal functioning. We try to layer an anthropomorphic god/non-antropomorphic godhead onto this to comfort ourselves, to pretend for awhile that we are other than what we are.

Of all the religious teachers, it was only the Buddha who put us into a proper perspective, which is one that does not need a mysterious god/godhead that explains nothing, a mysterious god/godhead that only offers a pretend solace in face of the radical change that is our very nature.

In that view, the Universe is moving towards an awakening of sorts, of a spiritual consciousness, and pain is part of the process...


That is a fantasy, which still explains nothing.

There is no God behind the suffering, and there is a way to rise beyond it. Buddha's teachings fit the data better then the anthropomorphic views, i think...


The non-antropomorphic notions do not fit, either. Explaining nothing they beg the same questions, and custardy platitudes may serves to distract us, but the reality is something else.

But there are schools of thought in science, such as the Deep Ecology movement, and these efforts by scientists to tell "The Great Story" of Cosmic Evolution which fits nicely with these less anthropomorphic conceptions, with the more mystical teachings.


Fortunately the Buddha's teachings are not mystical and do not try to layer upon reality stuff that is not there and makes no sense.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Evolution and Intelligent Design/Creationism

Postby christopher::: » Mon Aug 24, 2009 2:58 pm

Hi Tilt. Such certainty you have in your views and perceptions! If you were to insert a few "imo" "the Buddhist view" "i believe" or "from a Theravadan Buddhist perspective" into your comments there would be nothing for us to argue about.

:namaste:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
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Re: Evolution and Intelligent Design/Creationism

Postby clw_uk » Mon Aug 24, 2009 3:01 pm

Hey Chris


As mentioned in the God discussion, to talk about God as a designer is an anthropomorphic view.


If there is a God that is the "source" or "ground of being" etc then on some level it "designed" or created the universe and if its all knowing it knew how it would end up



The actions of Hitler were indeed so cruel that all Jews have had to reconsider their beliefs about God, the data did not mesh with views of a Loving God who cares about "his" people.


It doesnt mesh with any kind of God accept maybe and indifferent Diestic one


But the history of our Universe involves the creation of stars and billions of galaxies. Death and suffering arose along with sentient life, a very fragile creation. Without pain, an organism's reaction, there is no suffering.


If you leave your reasoning here then you doing quite well without the God hypothesis



Or maybe there was just no other way for compassion, wisdom and kindness to come into being, without that suffering... Without sentience there would be no love, no joy, as well as no hatred and cruelty. Without suffering, perhaps there are things we could not learn.


So God is limited and cant create or anything it wants


Also there exists in most religions less anthropomorphic mystical teachings and views, where God is conceptualized more as a mystery, a creative power or "source" without a single conscious awareness or center. This is God as more like the Tao, like a Mysterious Cosmic Presence or Spirit (as taught in Kabbalah).


Why do you belive this? Why is this useful to you?


There is no God behind the suffering


Just take this a little bit further....


metta
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