Evolution (“accident & luck”) vs. Careful Advanced Planning, according to whom?

A psychiatrist in Toronto, Canada, in defense of swamidass’ fellow secular methodological naturalist and atheist partner in provocation over at PS, Nathan Lents (Human Errors), just said something I find quite curious, in case he is serious in his claim. It had appeared to me that this person who said it promotes ideological evolutionism. Yet this claim establishes at least some kind of important knowledge ‘boundary’ or ‘limit’ that ‘evolutionary’ thinking does not and cannot cross by definition. Perhaps he will come here to try to explain his terms in an effort to help clarify this difficulty.

Dr. Faizal Ali says,

“The truth is that evolution largely proceeds by accident and luck, both good and bad, and rarely if ever arrives at a solution of the sort that would be found by careful advanced planning.” https://betterrightthanhappy.com/nathan-lents-on-our-imperfect-body/

Is Dr. Ali not either aware of or in any way familiar with the sub-fields of evolutionary economics, evolutionary political ‘science’, evolutionary sociology, evolutionary anthropology, and closer to his home field, evolutionary psychology? If not, does he seriously think scholars in those fields believe “evolution” differs substantially from “careful advanced planning”? Haven’t those sub-fields succeeded with subsuming ‘mind’ & ‘agency’ into ‘evolutionary’ approaches by now (much more than 3 generations after Darwin)? At the very least, the questions: “Which evolution?” and “Whose evolution?” should be addressed on the table to minimize misunderstanding, especially regarding this term that is drenched in ideological usage in the Literature.

Which kind of “evolution” largely proceeds by accident/luck, rather than purpose/goal/aim, or carefully advanced planning according to Dr. Ali? Just “evolution” as meant by (mostly) ideological naturalists, using methodological naturalism as a form of anti-supernaturalism in natural-physical sciences. That is the portion of scholarly thought he is referring to, right?

If he just intended that specifically “biological evolution largely proceeds by accident and luck”, then at least the door would be closed on ‘evolution’ being seen as a ‘generalist’ or ‘universalist’ theory acceptable in human-social sciences too. We know that some people exaggerate and misuse the term “evolution” in different ways (e.g. David S. Wilson, Bret Weinstein) outside of natural sciences, that might be best discarded due to the very confusion that Dr. Ali rightfully raises in the quote above, which seems as almost a blip in his otherwise broadly evolutionistic message.

There are indeed limits to usage of ‘evolution’ as a term of ‘knowledge’, obviously yes. Dr. Faizal Ali seems to be pointing to one of the limits here (implication: “careful advanced planning” differs from “evolving”). This could be helpfully clarified further, as part of an ongoing discussion constructively involving agency in science, philosophy, theology/worldview, even if that doesn’t happen here at TSZ.

0

152 thoughts on “Evolution (“accident & luck”) vs. Careful Advanced Planning, according to whom?

  1. colewd:
    DNA. A group of 4 nucleotides that have an almost infinite possible ways to arrange these chemicals are organized well enough to build the diverse set of animals we are observing.This level of sequence organization is something only a mind has been observed to generate.

    Bullshit. No mind has ever been observed to generate that level of sequence organization. Not once. Yet, life forms generate that level of sequence organization time and again without any minds involved. Hell, they had been doing it for eons before there was any minds around.

    Since any life form does it today. No minds involved, Since no minds have ever done it. It seems pretty ridiculous to try and propose something as pathetic as a mind, by comparison to the magnitude of everything that surrounds and supports us, by comparison to everything that minds require just to exist, behind it all.

    colewd:
    This group of organized chemicals existed prior to humans.

    Why, exactly!

    colewd:
    I also think the evidence for the Judaeo Christian God is compelling so we have an answer to where the ability to create this level of organization comes from.

    “It must be a superhuman!” You really don’t see how pathetically anthropocentric this looks?

    1+
  2. Entropy,

    Bullshit. No mind has ever been observed to generate that level of sequence organization. Not once. Yet, life forms generate that level of sequence organization time and again without any minds involved. Hell, they had been doing it for eons before there was any minds around.

    Since any life form does it today. No minds involved, Since no minds have ever done it. It seems pretty ridiculous to try and propose something as pathetic as a mind, by comparison to the magnitude of everything that surrounds and supports us, by comparison to everything that minds require just to exist, behind it all.

    This is your brute fact argument which is fine but does not offer an explanation for origins.

    Why, exactly!

    Courtesy of the God of Abraham Isaac Jacob and Messiah.

    “It must be a superhuman!” You really don’t see how pathetically anthropocentric this looks?

    It’s a logical conclusion based on evidence. I am not sure why you think it is anthropocentric.

    0
  3. colewd: This is your brute fact argument which is fine but does not offer an explanation for origins.

    That doesn’t mean you get to fill in the gaps with whatever bullshit suits your fancy.

    2+
  4. colewd:
    Entropy,

    This is your brute fact argument which is fine but does not offer an explanation for origins.

    Courtesy of the God of Abraham Isaac Jacob and Messiah.

    It’s a logical conclusion based on evidence.I am not sure why you think it is anthropocentric.

    ???Huh? It’s anthropocentric because, without any knowledge of how minds originated, you attribute it to what amounts to a superman in the sense that your god has superhuman skills but ordinary human emotions like being loving, being vengeful, being open to flattery and praise, having normal human motivations, and so on. You even refer to your god as “he”, attributing gender as well.

    As children, we all ask why the sky is blue. A discourse on the optics of Rayleigh scattering would strike us as incomprehensible, and probably as bullshit. But saying that “God wants it that way” satisfies us as children. Even children understand wanting things, and trying to make those things happen. But attributing the blue sky to god’s whim rather than physics is anthropocentric. Most of us outgrow that stage.

    1+
  5. colewd: About 20% of young Jews do and it is a growing group especially in Israel called the Messianic Jewish movement.

    Ok , then it should be 20%of young Jews and Christians’ God has compelling evidence.

    One of the most compelling cases for Jesus life as the Jewish Messiah is the Messianic prophecies in the Tanakh. <

    And yet the large majority of Jews do not agree, maybe that has to do with differing beliefs in the nature of God or something.

    Whats compelling is it is translated and supported by those who do not believe the Messiah has arrived. This testimony is both humorous and telling about the evidence for the coming of Jesus in the Tanakh.

    And yet they persist in their belief.

    Isaiah 53 mentioned in the video is from the prophet Isaiah taken directly from the Tanakh.

    Unfortunately for your argument , your compelling evidence is not even persuasive among the 80% of those whose belief is based on the quite a bit of the same source material.

    Just saying , always keep it vague, details are not your friend when it come to the mind/ designer.

    1+
  6. colewd: This level of sequence organization is something only a mind has been observed to generate.

    Citation please.

    0
  7. newton,

    And yet the large majority of Jews do not agree, maybe that has to do with differing beliefs in the nature of God or something.

    There are differing views among Christians. Human opinion is part of the equation.

    And yet they persist in their belief.

    The percentage of believers in Jesus among believers in the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob is greater than 99%. The game is essentially over.

    Unfortunately for your argument , your compelling evidence is not even persuasive among the 80% of those whose belief is based on the quite a bit of the same source material.

    My experience is once you show them the evidence it is very persuasive.

    Just saying , always keep it vague, details are not your friend when it come to the mind/ designer.

    The details are there in the Jewish Tanakh and the New Testament. There are tools to help understand these books but at the end of the day the message is very clear.

    0
  8. colewd:

    The percentage of believers in Jesus among believers in the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob is greater than 99%.The game is essentially over.

    This is completely false – you are ignoring the 1.8 billion Muslims who believe in Abraham, Isaac and Jacob but do not believe that Jesus is God.

    1+
  9. faded_Glory,

    This is completely false – you are ignoring the 1.8 billion Muslims who believe in Abraham, Isaac and Jacob but do not believe that Jesus is God.

    What do you think they believe?

    0
  10. colewd to faded_Glory,
    What do you think they believe?

    Most of the Muslims I have talked to think of Jesus as but one more of the lesser prophets. Far from a god incarnate. A few others think that Jesus was just some guy, and others that there was no Jesus. They vary, but none thinks that Jesus was “God” incarnate.

    0
  11. Entropy,

    Most of the Muslims I have talked to think of Jesus as but one more of the lesser prophets. Far from a god incarnate. A few others think that Jesus was just some guy, and others that there was no Jesus. They vary, but none thinks that Jesus was “God” incarnate.

    Most Muslims should read their own Koran. According to Islam Jesus was a prophet and the Jewish Messiah as foretold in the Tanakh. This is significantly different than the Jewish position. They also believe that Jesus will return.

    0
  12. The argument from design cannot work as a criticism of naturalism because it assumes that naturalism is false and works from there.

    If we take naturalism in the broadest sense to include the thesis that all mental activity is explained in terms of causal loops across brains, bodies, and the environment (however the details may vary — maybe this involves computation, maybe it involves representations, etc.) — then notice that we get very different results whether or not we accept naturalism in the design argument,

    In the standard version, we get the following:

    1. Molecular biology shows that life depends on complex specified information.
    2. We observe that minds can generate complex specified information.,
    3. Therefore, it is probable that biological complex specified information (e.g. the genetic code) was created by an intelligent mind.

    But notice what happens when we change the second premise

    1. Molecular biology shows that life depends on complex specified information.
    2. We observe that embodied brains can generate complex specified information.
    3. Therefore, it is probable that the genetic code was generated by an embodied brain.

    But then there is the objection

    4. Embodied brains require genetic information for their existence, so an embodied brain cannot be the origin of genetic information.

    which is true enough

    But at this point there are two perfectly valid alternatives — either there are natural processes other than embodied brains that can generate complex specific information or there are disembodied minds that can generate complex specific information.

    Our evidence for the former lies in general systems theory and the science of far-from-equilibrium thermodynamics; our evidence of the latter relies on personal experiences indistinguishable from psychotic delusions and dubiously translated myths of Bronze Age goat-herders.

    2+
  13. colewd:
    Entropy,
    Most Muslims should read their own Koran. According to Islam Jesus was a prophet and the Jewish Messiah as foretold in the Tanakh. This is significantly different than the Jewish position. They also believe that Jesus will return.

    Even if so, that’s not God incarnate. Right?

    0
  14. Entropy,

    Even if so, that’s not God incarnate. Right?

    Thats right however the claim that he is the embodiment of the Jewish Messiah prophesied in the old testament is significant.

    0
  15. Kantian Naturalist: The argument from design cannot work as a criticism of naturalism because it assumes that naturalism is false and works from there.

    Naturalism assumes naturalism ONLY and works from there, criticizing everything in its path, ID etc.

    Better still, naturalism combined with first materialistic prohibition:

    “…Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism.

    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door…”– Richard Lewontin

    leaves no room for any other considerations , including logic…
    It’s a tyrannic world view …

    0
  16. colewd:
    Entropy,

    Thats right however the claim that he is the embodiment of the Jewish Messiah prophesied in the old testament is significant.

    Apparently it is as unpersuasive to the Jews as your compelling evidence of the divinity of Jesus since the majority do not accept either claim by other religions about what they should believe.

    1+
  17. J-Mac: leaves no room for any other considerations , including logic…
    It’s a tyrannic world view …

    Do you even know if that quote from Lewontin is a summary of his own views or his way of characterizing someone else’s?

    0
  18. colewd:
    Thats right however the claim that he is the embodiment of the Jewish Messiah prophesied in the old testament is significant.

    Significant? They’re taking that from the Christians, minus the “Jesus-is-God” part. That they decided against the divinity of Jesus, that’s what you should consider significant.

    0
  19. newton,

    Apparently it is as unpersuasive to the Jews as your compelling evidence of the divinity of Jesus since the majority do not accept either claim by other religions about what they should believe.

    You are ignoring the current rate of Messianic Jewish conversions.
    https://youtu.be/BDxh6hun42o

    0
  20. Entropy,

    Significant? They’re taking that from the Christians, minus the “Jesus-is-God” part.

    They are verifying significant evidence for the Christian case and more importantly the Jewish case.

    0
  21. J-Mac: Naturalism assumes naturalism ONLYand works from there, criticizing everything in its path,ID etc.

    Better still, naturalism combined with firstmaterialistic prohibition:

    “…Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism.


    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door…”– Richard Lewontin

    leaves no room forany other considerations , including logic…
    It’s a tyrannic world view …

    Poor baby.

    Why did you truncate the quote, jmac? The last two sentences are quite important for context:

    Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen.

    I’d sure appreciate jmac, or any of the other participating theists, outlining their research program for investigating the aforementioned ‘other considerations’.

    3+
  22. colewd:
    They are verifying significant evidence for the Christian case and more importantly the Jewish case.

    Nope. They’re coping from what they heard Christians say about that and putting it in. That they rejected the “Jesus-is-God” part shows that it’s based on hearsay, not evidence. If it were evidence there would be no Muslims, they’d be Christians.

    Too obvious.

    0
  23. Entropy,

    Nope. They’re coping from what they heard Christians say about that and putting it in. That they rejected the “Jesus-is-God” part is evidence that it’s all based on hearsay, not evidence. If it were evidence there would be no Muslims, they’d be Christians.

    Too obvious.

    Do you understand the origins of Islam and Jesus inclusion in the Koran? According to one source it is mentioned 95 times in the Koran.

    0
  24. colewd:
    Do you understand the origins of Islam and Jesus inclusion in the Koran?According to one source it is mentioned 95 times in the Koran.

    I understand the origins of Islam all right. So, do you believe that God is Allah and that Mohamed is His Prophet?

    As for me, I can see the obvious, and that’s that it’s still added by hearsay. If it was added because of evidence then there would be no Muslims. They’d be Christians.

    0
  25. Entropy:

    As for me, I can see the obvious, and that’s that it’s still added by hearsay. If it was added because of evidence then there would be no Muslims. They’d be Christians.

    And we know this is true just by watching Senate Republicans, serious educated intelligent people whose respect for evidence is … uh, well, never mind.

    1+
  26. colewd:
    newton,

    There are differing views among Christians.Human opinion is part of the equation.

    Of course, though one would hope the one’s basis of divine belief is founded on something beyond subjective human opinion.

    The percentage of believers in Jesus among believers in the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob is greater than 99%.The game is essentially over.

    People who don’t believe in Jesus’s divinity is 2 to 1 to those that do if we are judging by popularity.

    Then why invoke the Judeo Christian God if the Judeo is such a minuscule proportion of the whole?

    If vast majority of scientists accepted something would it be essentially over?

    My experience is once you show them the evidence it is very persuasive.

    Experience is informative , how many people have converted from Judaism when shown the evidence?

    The details are there in the Jewish Tanakh and the New Testament.There are tools to help understand these books but at the end of the day the message is very clear.

    Do they agree with the message and reject their religious belief so easily?

    0
  27. Entropy,

    As for me, I can see the obvious, and that’s that it’s still added by hearsay. If it was added because of evidence then there would be no Muslims. They’d be Christians.

    There is evidence and there are Muslims. There is a problem with your analysis do you know what it is?

    0
  28. newton,

    Then why invoke the Judeo Christian God if the Judeo is such a minuscule proportion of the whole?

    The Christian religion is based on the fundamentals of the Tanakh. Jesus was prophesied by the Tanakh.

    If vast majority of scientists accepted something would it be essentially over?

    . Science gets only some acceptance base on consensus. When they have empirically demonstrated something is when they get consensus.

    Do they agree with the message and reject their religious belief so easily?

    Not sure what you are trying to say here.

    0
  29. Not that anyone here cares, but a lot of Jews regard the term “Judeo-Christian” as really offensive, because it erases the real differences between Judaism and Christianity and treats Judaism as a mere anticipation of Christianity. Also, by lumping Judaism and Christianity together but omitting Islam, the phrase contributes to the erasure of Islam from the history of “Western” civilization. Arguably, Judaism and Islam have more in common, culturally and theologically, then either does with Christianity.

    1+
  30. Kantian Naturalist: Not that anyone here cares, but a lot of Jews regard the term “Judeo-Christian” as really offensive, because it erases the real differences between Judaism and Christianity and treats Judaism as a mere anticipation of Christianity.

    Of course some care, maybe those that argue that the deity of the Jews and the deity of the Christians are not interchangeable , that Jewish interpretation of scriptures is as valid as the Christian.

    Looking at the history of the term, it definitely had political motivations in the seventies. It was usually used attached to morality rather than God.

    0
  31. colewd: Not sure what you are trying to say here.

    It someone is easily converted, it may be stem more from lack of faith in the first place rather than the compelling nature of the evidence.

    0
  32. newton,

    Pretty close to my estimate.

    Except for the cultural issues acceptance of Jesus as the Jewish Messiah is a minor change to orthodox Judaism. The growing group is called Messianic Jews who practice all other aspects of Judaism.

    0
  33. colewd: Science gets only some acceptance base on consensus. When they have empirically demonstrated something is when they get consensus.

    So religion( design) does not need to demonstrate anything to have acceptance?

    0
  34. newton,

    So religion( design) does not need to demonstrate anything to have acceptance?

    The God of Abraham Isaac Jacob and Messiah is accepted by 60% of the world for a variety of reasons including evidence.

    0
  35. colewd:
    newton,

    The God of Abraham Isaac Jacob and Messiah is accepted by 60% of the world for a variety of reasons including evidence.

    Phrasing’s a bit flowery. Do you claim 60% of the World population are practising Christians? Seems a bit high.

    0
  36. Alan Fox,

    Phrasing’s a bit flowery. Do you claim 60% of the World population are practising Christians? Seems a bit high.

    Muslims and Messianic Jews are included.

    0
  37. colewd:
    newton,

    Except for the cultural issues acceptance of Jesus as the Jewish Messiah is a minor change to orthodox Judaism.

    “Judaism sees Christian claims that Jesus is the textual messiah of the Hebrew Bible as being based on mistranslations, with the idea that Jesus did not fulfill any of the Jewish Messiah qualifications.”

    Shraga Simmons is an Orthodox Jewish rabbi

    Does not sound minor to me

    The growing group is called Messianic Jews who practice all other aspects of Judaism.

    And not necessarily converts from Judaism.And are rejected by Orthodox Jews as offensive, the fact remain Jews have a retention rate of 75%

    0
  38. Alan Fox: Phrasing’s a bit flowery. Do you claim 60% of the World population are practising Christians? Seems a bit high.

    My poetic nature, no 32% of the world population is Christian, that leaves 2/3 not followers of Jesus. If popularity is the criteria

    0
  39. newton: Of course some care, maybe those that argue that the deity of the Jews and the deity of the Christians are not interchangeable , that Jewish interpretation of scriptures is as valid as the Christian.

    Thank you for saying so.

    Looking at the history of the term, it definitely had political motivations in the seventies. It was usually used attached to morality rather than God.

    To some extent, yes. The term was also used, at one point, by Nazis. They hoped to leverage German anti-semitism into a rejection of Christianity so that Nazi Germany could return to Teutonic myths. Nietzsche uses the phrase in his critique of Christianity, too.

    But from my perspective I’m more concerned about how it contributes to erasure of Judaism (by treating it as a mere precursor to Christianity) and of Islam (by not mentioning a major world religion that has as much in common with Judaism as Christianity does).

    0
  40. colewd: Muslims and Messianic Jews are included.

    Unless the deity includes the divinity of Jesus, not Christian. Belief in the resurrection is required. Strange you would count Islamic doctrine a comparable to Christian dogma .

    0
  41. colewd:
    Entropy,
    There is evidence and there are Muslims. There is a problem with your analysis do you know what it is?

    That I have no issue looking at it the way it is, unlike you who wants it to mean what you want it to mean.

    When Islam started Christianity was already popular. They had to have heard about it. That Islam added its reinterpretation of those claims would be evidence that they were aware of Christian claims. But evidence that the Christian claims were right? That’s just wishful thinking.

    0
  42. J-Mac: Does it matter?

    It matters if it’s his opinion, but it also matters if he is presenting someone else’s position. To argue effectively against any position, it is first necessary to correctly and faithfully represent the position you disagree with. Otherwise, you are tilting at strawmen.

    And we see the importance of this here regularly. To argue against biological evolutionary theory, it is incumbent on those who disagree to present evolutionary theory fairly, accurately, and fully. Representing evolution while carefully pretending no selection is involved fools nobody, for example. Ignoring the sheer Deep Time involved is equally silly. Making no mention of nested hierarchies misses the point, apparently deliberately. Dismissing models that fit real-world observations with impressive fidelity should be done for carefully considered reasons, which is rarely seen here.

    So yes, it matters.

    3+

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.