Worth Reading

Chasing down the logical conclusion of evolutionary thinking leads to:

1. Love exists as a human experience either for no reason (Chance) or because it has served the function of successful reproduction, and for no other reason whatever.

2. Suffering (including the suffering we inflict upon one another) exists as a human experience either for no reason (Chance) or because it has served the function of successful reproduction, and for no other reason whatever.

3. On the face of it, it would appear that since they serve the same function, there might be no moral or ethical difference between the two. If however some factor f exists to cause some moral differentiation between the two, then f exists either for no reason (Chance) or because it has served the same function of successful reproduction.

-ThinkingChristian

Good question —if it’s hard for a Christian to resolve the problem of evil, it’s impossible for an atheist to resolve the same problem.

The Arab-Israeli conflict, is not really a conflict, it is a war – a war of the Arabs against the Jews. In many ways, this conflict has been a conflict between narratives. We who strongly support Israel have done a poor job in formulating a narrative which will combat the story spun by the other side. We can do better. The Durban conferences, the request for UN recognition of a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood, and the general animus in the Middle East and elsewhere toward Israel and toward the Jews, what are they really about? Is the Durban conference and the claim that Israel is a racist nation really about reforming the people of Israel and curing them of their racism? I think their real interest is to situate the Palestinian people within a narrative of victimization. This is their ulterior goal: to see themselves and to have others see them as victims of colonialism, as victims of white supremacy. -Shelby Steele

Wishing a “people-centred” economy into existence is integral to the distributist fantasy. But how does its magical, humane “infrastructure” come into being? Would you have the steelworker who loads the arc furnace at the mill that supplies the metal for the dentist’s drill become more “people-centred”? How? Maybe he is ordered to pause every 30 minutes to read Wendell Berry poems to his co-workers as the furnace melts its batch of scrap? Or perhaps the fellow on the diesel engine line gets a union-mandated break to strum folk music on his banjo? Or maybe the jumbo jet assembly plant can set aside plots of land for organic gardening? These examples are as absurd as distributism. Which is more of an aesthetic, a sensibility, a nostalgia for a bygone era that conveniently ignores pervasive wretchedness, than an economic possibility. And at the heart of distributism is the hidden coercive impulse that would prohibit ordinary folk from behaving and consuming, as pauldanon says, in “frivolous” ways. -Acton

There is a famous if apocryphal tale of a Fleet Street theater critic covering the first night of a new play in the West End of London.

At the end of the evening, he went to a public telephone and dictated his review. The following morning, a furious editor called him and demanded to know why he had neglected to mention that, midway through the Third Act, the theater had caught fire and burned to the ground.

The critic sniffily replied that it was not his business to report fires, but that, if the editor had read more carefully, he would have observed that the review included a passage noting discreetly that the critic had been unable to remain for the final scenes.

That, more or less, is the position of those Americans defending the behavior of the Penn State establishment: It would be unreasonable to expect the college football elite to show facility with an entirely separate discipline such as pedophilia reporting procedures, and, besides, many of those officials who were aware of Jerry Sandusky’s child sex activities did mention it to other officials who promised to look into mentioning it to someone else.

-Mark Steyn

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  • richard williams

    i’m a Christian, i find it sad and not Christ honoring when i see other Christians not doing their homework and attacking evolution based on ignorance. if you would spend a few hours you would see the evolutionists defend the presence of love based on altruism and it’s ability to increase the survival of the group, usually the extended family. a defense of suffering is usually done on the necessity of pain as a warning system. in any case, go actually read what they are saying on the issues and interact with that, not what you imagine the theory to be.

    • Unfortunately you don’t understand the thrust of the argument made here. Your argument from “protecting my progeny to ensure my gene line survives” to “love,” is a complete failure in the real world. Look around you –there are many species that do not care for their young, and yet they seem to have survived just fine. Beyond this, love is not just a deep seated feeling. Stop using the world’s definition of love. It’s not sex, and it’s not deep emotions. Suffering cannot be explained as a warning system, either –for suffering is, by definition, pain beyond what is necessary to warn. There are species that do not suffer, and yet survive, as well.

      Finally, I would point out to you that even in your language you use words that imply design. Suffering, if evolutionary in origin, wasn’t “designed.” Love, if evolutionary in origin, doesn’t have a “purpose.” If evolution is true, then there is no such thing as a “purpose.’ All “purpose,” including your own writings, are simply an illusion. Your entire comment, according to evolutionary theory, is a simple babble of meaningless symbols splattered across a computer screen, because everything, including your comment, came about through time+chance plus nothing.

  • richard williams

    re:
    Unfortunately you don’t understand the thrust of the argument made here.

    i understand your argument just fine, the problem is that it isn’t actually directed at what evolutionists are talking about, but rather at a false notion of what ET says. go read the justification of altruism from some of the leading edge new atheists like dawkins or dennett.

    again. ET is not “time+chance plus nothing” first the element of selection is missing. please critize the real theory, not your mockery of it. i have never seen any ET that leaves out selection, that is a critical element, period. second, you are falling prey to nothing-butism, a false claim made by philosophers on behalf of science that ET is nothing but. hogwash. science NEVER makes sufficiency claims, it is always probabilistic, you are falsely claiming more for ET than it does.

    but again, i’d love to learn more, please tell me where i am wrong. you are most definitely wrong to leave selection out of ET. whether out of ignorance or deliberately, ET is no time+chance. and certainly not a claim of nothing else.

    • RE: “ET is not “time+chance plus nothing” first the element of selection is missing.”

      “Selection,” which evolutionists like to say is the “magic pixy dust” that makes everything else work, is very problematic. There are only two possible ways of looking at this. If evolution “selects,” for survival, then evolution is goal directed. To say that evolution “selects for survival,” is to say surviving is better than not surviving. But why should surviving be better than not? There is nothing within ET that can answer this simple question. Evolution, by definition, can’t be goal directed –so we can safely leave this option out.

      So, go the other direction –using the word “select,” is just convenient language for saying, “the most able to survive actually do survive.” But this reduces to a tautology –and a nonsensical tautology, at that.

      The heart of the problem is that those who believe in ET as an explanation for everything are using value laden language while denying values exist. Once you remove this value laden language, then selection doesn’t exist –ET comes down to time+chance+nothing.

  • richard williams

    RE: “ET is not “time+chance plus nothing” first the element of selection is missing.”

    your response:
    But why should surviving be better than not? There is nothing within ET that can answer this simple question. Evolution, by definition, can’t be goal directed

    better is a moral term, not a scientific one. evolution, by definition, is goal directed, towards a population that is more fit over time to its environment.

    re:
    who believe in ET as an explanation for everything

    again with the nothingbutism. ET offers an explanation for the diversity of life, it will not wash your car.

    so your justification for eliminating half of what ET actually says: mutation+selection=population with varying alleles which represent increasing fitness in this environment and transmorgifying it into a philosophical statement:time + chance mutation + nothing = everything is because you don’t like selection, because it is too hard for you to understand?

    re:
    is to say surviving is better than not surviving.

    better is an expression of human value and therefore a moral term, i suspect it has no meaning for the bacteria in a petri dish. surviving to reproduce and thus contribute and increasing % of your genes to the population is a statement of what is, a description, not a prescription as you seem to want to make it.

    in any case, attack ET for what is really says: mutation+selection, over time, change population genetics. not this straw man of chance+time=everything

    if you don’t like selection and think its a tautology you still don’t have the right to leave it out of someone else’s equation as if it doesn’t exist and deceive people into thinking that ET teaches what it does not. look at is honestly, does ET have selection involved or not?

    • RE: “better is a moral term, not a scientific one. evolution, by definition, is goal directed, towards a population that is more fit over time to its environment. “

      How can something which is random have a goal? This is an absolute logical contradiction.

      RE: “if you don’t like selection and think its a tautology you still don’t have the right to leave it out of someone else’s equation as if it doesn’t exist and deceive people into thinking that ET teaches what it does not. look at is honestly, does ET have selection involved or not?”

      Let’s back up. ET claims the system is composed of time+chance+selection. Selection is really a code word for “goal directedness,” where the goal is survival. So ET, according to you, is actually time+chance+a goal. Do you see the problem yet? If there is a goal, then there is no chance. Goal oriented chance is not chance.

      Your answer to this is here:

      “surviving to reproduce and thus contribute and increasing % of your genes to the population is a statement of what is, a description, not a prescription as you seem to want to make it.”

      But you just told me that evolution is goal directed –the goal is survival. To say that this goal is simply a description rather than a prescription doesn’t resolve the problem in any way. It’s like saying “the ball is red because all the other colors in white light are absorbed by the material the ball is made of.” it’s a tautology, and nothing more –a bit of scientific sounding nonsense that doesn’t answer the question of why the ball is red.

      To summarize: if you’re claiming that survival is better than nonsurvival, then you have a moral value, a goal, which must come from someplace. If you’re claiming survival is no better than nonsurvival, that there is no goal, then true love is no better than needless suffering. Which solution would you prefer?

      Now, as to your constant accusation that I’m misrepresenting ET’s argument –this is how discussion is done –by examining the premises given, and attacking one of them to show either a logical disconnect or contradiction in the flow of the argument, or to show how the premises don’t support the conclusion. Stating that you must accept your opponents premises as they stand is not discussion, it’s letting your opponent determine the ground rules –and you will always lose if you do that. To attack their premises is not to construct a “straw man,” nor is it dishonest.

      Evolution always reduces to time+chance+nothing else. There’s no other way to construct the system. “Selection” is a filter, filters require goals, and goals are not allowed.

  • richard williams

    re:
    “the most able to survive actually do survive.”

    no, in general over time population genetics will be shaped by those who survive TO REPRODUCE.
    survival itself is not the point, survival to reproduce is the issue, thus it is not a simple tautology, but rather a description like F=ma.

    • 2 == 2 is a tautology, no matter how it’s expressed. Adding the words “to reproduce,” only furthers the problem –why is reproducing better than not reproducing?

  • richard williams

    re:
    If there is a goal, then there is no chance.

    have you ever used monte carlo programming methods? how about genetic algorithms?
    both are good examples of chance or randomness on one side of a filter and order, purpose, apparent goal directed behavior on the other side. often such systems are described as exhibiting emergent properties, however i think of it as a difference in explanatory levels. the first level is the survival of individuals, the higher one is the changing population genetics over time.

    • “have you ever used monte carlo programming methods? how about genetic algorithms?”

      When you use one of these, what is the purpose? To reach a certain goal, correct? If there is a goal, then there is a filter for determining when the program gets the right answer, and hence there is more than chance involved. The second point I would make here is that you are assuming there is no underlying order that makes such systems work –that underlying the order you see as a result of such a system there is pure disorder, and hence order may come from disorder. This is clearly not true, either. The programming language you build the system in is ordered. The environment you build in which genetic algorithms operate is ordered.

      Your assumption of underlying chaos is false.

      “the first level is the survival of individuals, the higher one is the changing population genetics over time.”

      So what you are claiming is that there are no goals, but rather than order simply “emerges” from disorder because of some unknown property of all things. No-one has actually ever been able to find a truly emergent system (a system where order emerges from complete chaos, with no existing order in the original system). No-one has truly found a fully chaotic system which to put into motion and watch to see if order results. Computers can’t generate true random numbers –something I learned in my first month of coding. rand() is an approximation, not the real thing.

      And even if you could find a truly fully random system to observe, and order did suddenly appear, it would not rule out the existence of an outside source injecting the order you see as a result.

      “Emergent,” is just a fancy way of saying, “here there be dragons.”

      “The universe is well ordered, chaos is all there was, so order must somehow come from chaos. Let’s call this property the emergent property.” This entire line of thinking assumes the evolutionary viewpoint, and hence begs the question, rather than answering it.

  • richard williams

    re:
    When you use one of these, what is the purpose? To reach a certain goal, correct? If there is a goal, then there is a filter for determining when the program gets the right answer, and hence there is more than chance involved.

    you are making a category error, the error of confusing the levels of the discussion.

    if i stimulate a dart board in a monte carlo methods, these darts are random. they have only one “purpose”-> reaching the board. if i program 2 random digits between 0 and 1, they are really chance numbers, they have no goal, no purpose. if i setup the dart board so that pi emerges over time this is a different category, a different level in the discussion. the darts are not aware of pi, anymore than the members of a population are aware of evolving over time. you and i are aware of the higher order, pi being calculated closer over time, population fitness evolving over time.

    but to force your understanding of goals-calculating pi, to the level of the darts, is nonsense. the darts are random, the filter is the dart board, the emergent order is calculating pi. just as ET is mutation over time selected for survival yielding population evolution, the creatures strive simply to live and reproduce, they are unaware of any higher goals or order that might be emerging from their activity. to throw out selection because you imagine goals at the level of the darts is foolish, at best, for you are no longer criticizing ET for what it is, but what you wish it to be. if you are truly seeking the truth as you titled another posting, you would interact with what people are actually saying, not your truncating of it.

    • “you are making a category error, the error of confusing the levels of the discussion… if i program 2 random digits between 0 and 1, they are really chance numbers.”

      No, I am not… You are attempting to simulate randomness from a non-random system –which simply isn’t possible. You cannot get complete randomness from a computer program. That is the first point.

      “they are really chance numbers, they have no goal, no purpose… the filter is the dart board”

      As long as you have a filter, then you do not have random chance. Random inputs passed through a non-random filter will still produce order. But where did the non-random filter come from in the first place? Evolution can’t have it both ways –the system cannot be totally random chance, and yet have a non-random filter. It’s a logical contradiction to say, “I have random inputs to a non-random filter, so my system is completely random.” It’s nonsense, no matter how you phrase it.

      But I’m to the point of repeating myself because you don’t understand the fundamental argument.