Friday, May 01, 2009

Evolutionary Pantheism

Nevertheless, if we develop Darwin’s insight, we can see the emergence of purpose, as of life itself, by small degrees, not from above, but by small increments, from below. The first purpose was the organization of matter in ways complex enough to sustain and replicate itself—the establishment, in other words, of life, or in still other terms, of problems and solutions. With life emerged the first purpose, the first problem, to preserve at least the improbable complexity already reached, and to find new ways of resisting damage and loss. Brian Boyd

There is a line with evolution where you are no longer doing science and enter the realm of religion. The above quote is more theology than science. The author is constructing a modern creation myth. Anthropomorphising evolution as if it has a master plan to create purpose to solve problems is a lot like saying that gravity wants to keep me connected to the planet.

It is essential to keep theology separate from science. There is a tension between the two points of view that makes it more likely to question. Giving the why questions the same answer as the how questions makes the world one dimensional. If evolution becomes the only reality then there is no need to question. Any question that is asked has the answer of evolution and because of this there is no longer any need to think or question.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

You blogentry s wildy incorrect.

"There is a line with evolution where you are no longer doing science and enter the realm of religion."

Incorrect. There is a line where science is unable to comment. To suggest what is not science is religion is a false dichotomy.

It is essential to keep theology separate from science.
Why? Is it because thus far, whenever science and religion have disagreed, religion has lost out? Science is by far the most reliable way to assess reality.

If evolution becomes the only reality then there is no need to question.
Project much? What if "Magic man done it" is the only answer? Where the questing, questioning spirit then? And are you suggesting evolution has the answers to the whole of reality? Or just it's small part?

Any question that is asked has the answer of evolution and because of this there is no longer any need to think or question.
The only answer that prevents inquiry is "God did it".

Cure of Ars said...

"Incorrect. There is a line where science is unable to comment. To suggest what is not science is religion is a false dichotomy."

Do you agree that the author of the quote is anthropomorphic myth making? And is this not religion?

"It is essential to keep theology separate from science. Why? Is it because thus far, whenever science and religion have disagreed, religion has lost out? Science is by far the most reliable way to assess reality."

Science and religion answer different questions. What does science have to say about giving people diseases to study the affects? I agree that Science is by far the most reliable way to assess how the universe works but there is also the question of why. It's not possible for humans not to ask the question why and because of this all humanity does some level of theology. If Evolution is your answer to the why question then why not give humans diseases to study them to faster evolve? If you don't keep them separate bad things happen.

"Project much? What if "Magic man done it" is the only answer? Where the questing, questioning spirit then? And are you suggesting evolution has the answers to the whole of reality? Or just it's small part?"

Straw man much? I don't believe in magic. I would say that evolution is a small pattern that science has been able to see but it is not the whole story.

"The only answer that prevents inquiry is "God did it"."

Nope because then you can ask, why did God do it and you can still ask how did God do it. The Christian world view is what gave birth to modern science. If what you say is true then modern science as we know it would not have come to be.

Evolution is a dead end answer. The is no rational why when viewed from evolution.

anonymous 2 said...

there is a misguided mindset in many amateur apologists that the action of disproving evolution or labeling/concluding that evolution is meaningless/dead end/irrational/whatsoever via their own subjective bias opinion is going be somehow "prove" that the deity they worship exist.

if u want to prove your point u need to work with what u have, going around attempting to prove islam, taoism, evolution or watever u perceive to be a competing idea in the marketplace to be false does not do anything to increase your own faith's credibility.

anonymous 2 said...

to put it simply for u mr cartwight, if u score a D for a maths exam, u need to work on your own grades.

going around lobbying for the examiners to downgrade the grades of those who scored A's and B's is not going to improve your own grades in anyway.

anonymous 2 said...

[ There is a line with evolution where you are no longer doing science and enter the realm of religion. ]

in the days where religion still had monopoly over everything, Galileo Galilei is also technically no longer doing science when he said that the earth orbits the sun instead of the earth being the center of the universe and all the celestial objects obits around it (what the church believes in)

so what the hack are u talking abt?

now religion has invented a new trick: erected a wall of theology n everything within the walls belong to their jurisdiction.

so now when u say anything they say: " ok, now u r crossing over to MINE territory, n u have no say here"

wow, now thats very smart, but do u think ppl actually give a shit abt these feeble tricks?

u think u can define n demarcate what "belongs" to the territory of religion n theology n u have final say of watever idea that u deemed to have ventured into this territory?

i will give that to u when u can prove that the deity that The Church of the Flying Donkey worships does not exist.

an agnostic expert in morality said...

in theory according to cartwight, u cannot do philosophy, u cannot say anything abt morality, becos whenever u say anything abt it u r no longer doing philosophy u r doing "THEOLOGY"

oh, how interesting, becos when i do philosophical studies n i do ethics n morality as a agnostic i am certainly not doing "THEOLOGY"

ergo, i take issue with the church when they do morality in theology, beco clearly morality is under MY TERRITORY, so the next time the church or any religion does morality, they need to consult me first becos i have the final say since it is in my REALM.

all issues on morality falls under my jurisdiction by virtue of it being defined my ME to be in my REALM.

anonymous 2 said...

There is a line with faith where you are no longer doing theology and enter the realm of science.


long ago when the church endorses geocentric model of the world isn't it trying to do SCIENCE, in fact it was trying to do everything n be everything.

the miracle pill that as answer n jurisdiction over everything.

now they are eating a very big humble pie.

a very big one indeed, or else why do they need so many apologists for?

alveolate said...

modernists need a good dose of history.

Galileo was NOT persecuted simply because "he practiced science". he was persecuted for reneging on a deal with the Pope regarding publishing his thesis on heliocentrism (first predicted by an earlier priest, Nicolas Copernicus). Galileo unfortunately decided that he wanted to counter Church teaching BEFORE his hypothesis was proven, directly pitting himself against the Magisterium, which was then obligated to respond. Note: heliocentrism in those heady days of astronomy was not "provable", but only a model to explain the discrepancies observed in the strange movements of certain celestial bodies. eventually mathematics and better observations were sufficient to prove that heliocentrism is true, and the Church did ultimately accept this scientific truth.

if we stick to known facts, we don't have to use churlish rhetoric. so-called "territory" is necessary for a couple of good reasons:

1. science is amoral. it is a set of tools and theories suited for observation of the natural world in great (and ever increasing) detail. as such, good scientists are far better at describing an observation and using that description to predict a future material state, rather than prescribing judgement on the underlying morality issues. case in point: Manhattan Project. scientists did not question the long-term dangers of nuclear weapons; this was delegated to politicians and ethics committees, who attempted to weigh the "evil" of a WMD's existence with the "evil" of communism.

2. the problem of induction. if you know a little about the philosophy of science, you would know that the scientific method is predicated upon the idea that "replicability" of experimental data strengthens the theory it was designed to prove. however, in philosophy, induction does NOT prove any theory beyond reasonable doubt - it only logically increases its possibility somewhat. the classic case is that of black swans. an Australian who has only ever observed black swans may assume that all swans are black; but in fact, the majority of swans on planet Earth are white. ergo, the fact that 1,000,000 replications of an experiment gives more or less the same data does not absolutely preclude the possibility that the 1,000,001st experiment could give a radically different data, unless there is an absolute understanding of what goes on in the experiment (i.e. swans' colouration depend on genetics). now, in matters of theology, we deal with very grand absolutes - science has not even proven beyond reasonable doubt that speciation has occurred at the clade level - can it then claim that evolution is doubtlessly the "source" of life? does evolutionary theory even clearly demarcate what is life? are we still talking about the same thing anymore? evolutionary theory is weakest when asking how it all began: how did the first amino acids "evolve" into cells? if that is so feasible, why do we not observe it today?

claiming more than science has proven is precisely why the Church stepped up against Galileo in the 17th century. we can all be humble and accept that there is great mystery out in the world which we are still only discovering, that we are only miniscule creatures in an immense universe possessing only miniscule knowledge. when science, with its limited observational techniques, attempt to physically "prove" God's non-existence, you can be sure that the Church (and any other reasonable religious entity) will respond by bringing up her many centuries of apologetics. not to apologise, mind you, but to set things straight. is that not what we are all trying to do?

Anonymous said...

stripped of it's inherent pretensions, your post had nothing to add to the discussion which is in essence the right for any party to comment on anything in religion and the right of any party(including the religious) to comment on anything on science, what u are attempting to do is to evade this point and pursue some trivial distractions.

your pretensions to be well learned n full of historical authority is lame & laughable.

it is apparent that neither u or the blog owner had any defence to justify the church going around poking their nose into science n at the same time erecting a firewall of immunity by claiming a "territory".

your apologist tricks are not new or creative, trying to erect a straw man in the form of a modernist is bad taste n pointless, i am not a modernist n u can quit trying.


historical facts are not open to interpretation, but motivations of it's casts are, your attempts to pursue a distraction is commendable but your execution is poor, i am not going to follow your smoke screen n squabble with you over historical facts simply becos under your pretensions of a history student of sorts i can see very well that u are not one, u have no background in history n you r merely vomiting the church's version of the history that was indoctrinated into you.

there is no reason why the church's interpretation of what happened in history should enjoy a privileged status over any other.

any person of average intellect can comprehend that science is a great threat to church monopoly, the church had to respond, they did n they lost.

the church had no choice but to accept the truth, so your point to put the church in good light as if they "humbly accepted an idea that ran contrary to the one they held" is plain pretentious n dishonest or u are really mighty gullible n naive.

claiming that the church is trying to prevent science from claiming more that it could prove is kindergarten reasoning, it is now apparent that u do not make a good history student with such amateurish lack of perception into the finer points in history regarding the relationship between the different casts.

it is not new to me that science had limitations and i had never said that there isn't, it is not true that science had been trying to physically prove god to be non-existent(as i know nobody in mainstream sciences are trying to do so), u are not telling me anything i do not already know and you are not making any new point that i had not discussed with the blog owner before, if u are interested please read all my exchanges with the blog owner b4 u come to me with your cocktail of mishmash arguments, if not stay relevant to the main point.

if u want to harp on scientist working on the manhatten project, scientist have no power to choose the methods n delivery of war n diplomacy, they can only choose to be involved or not to, to penalise ppl for decisions outside their jurisdiction is argument out of desperation.

"scientists did not question the long-term dangers of nuclear weapons; " your own lack of historical knowledge is extremely glaring,
Einstein & Bertrand Russell (an agnostic english philosopher) wrote the Russell–Einstein Manifesto n it was was issued in London on July 9, 1955 by Bertrand Russell in the midst of the Cold War. It highlighted the dangers posed by nuclear weapons and called for world leaders to seek peaceful resolutions to international conflict. The signatories included eleven pre-eminent intellectuals and scientists.

the philosophers, academics, scientist n agnostics were concerned on the nuclear issue n did something, where were the church n religious at this point of time?? impotent.

Anonymous said...

the same mistake amateur apologists make is to try to prove competing ideas to be wrong n believe that by doing so they are proving their own idea to be correct, proving evolution(or any other religion for that matter) to be wrong does not do anything for the church, if u get a D for your maths exams, lobbying for the exam authority to downgrade those who get As n Bs does not improve your grades in any way, as your grades remain D.

evolution is not the dealmaker for any agnostic or atheist i know of, so if u think it does anything for u, u are barking at the wrong tree. an atheist does not have to believe in evolution in the first place, if u believe otherwise u make one assumption too many n u might be severely lacking in the logic department in addition to your lack historical perception.

Anonymous said...

[ directly pitting himself against the Magisterium, which was then obligated to respond ]

so the church responded, with what kind of justification? could the church prove their own model to be correct?

no. meaning to say the church went into a disagreement with another party with something they themselves could not prove n be sure that is correct in the first place.

can it show some humility? no. then again of cos it is understandable, why is there any need or value for humility for ppl who believe that their backer is the greatest entity that has ever came to being?