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Author Topic:   Teleological Science?
Quetzal
Member (Idle past 3733 days)
Posts: 3228
Joined: 01-09-2002


Message 1 of 114 (452746)
01-31-2008 9:22 AM


Somewhere buried in the Dover thread (see post 90) randman posted an interesting aside concerning teleology and science:

randman writes:

2. ID is a much broader concept than just biology. It's basically a reassertion of teleology into science. Secular scientists hate the concept but whether it's math or physics or biology, I think the idea is obtaining increasing merit as more facts are discovered and we move away from a strictly materialist understanding of the universe. In fact, if you believe God exists, then you probably believe in teleology because you believe the Creator purposed the universe into existence. It will become increasingly apparent there is a contradiction in maintaining there is no purpose to the universe and so cannot be considered as a valid scientific idea and belief God exists in any form at all, whether the Christian God, a New Age concept of God, or another religion, or Deism or whatever.

Although I don’t think anything would be served by directly addressing the contentions in this quote, it did serve to generate an interesting question in my mind: If teleology were in fact a valid, overlooked concept in the physical and life sciences, what would it look like? I’d like to explore the possibilities in this thread, mostly in the form of thought experiments. Note: I personally do not believe there is any positive evidence in favor of teleology writ large, but if there were, how would we know?

To stimulate further thoughts, here is one possibility I came up with: If it could be shown that the overall gene pool of any population of organisms changed in advance of a change in selection pressures on that population, even if (or especially if) the change temporarily reduced the population’s net fitness locally (i.e., moved the population “down” from a local fitness peak), this would be an indicator that something was going on that had nothing to do with the current understanding of evolution by natural selection. I don’t refer here to one or a collection of neutral alleles that might have arisen through mutation, etc, that are activated or selected for by a change in environment, but rather a change in genotype – or possibly even just phenotype - that anticipated the change in selection pressures. A case then might be built that this showed the possibility of teleology (or “purpose”) in nature.

Any other thoughts, ideas, possibilities?

ABE: Biological Evolution, please.

{Adminnemooseus adds: For the vocabulary impaired (like me):

quote:
teleology (noun)

1. the doctrine that final causes exist.
2. the study of the evidences of design or purpose in nature.
3. such design or purpose.
4. the belief that purpose and design are a part of or are apparent in nature.
5. (in vitalist philosophy) the doctrine that phenomena are guided not only by mechanical forces but that they also move toward certain goals of self-realization.



http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/teleological}

Edited by Quetzal, : preference

Edited by Adminnemooseus, : See above.


Replies to this message:
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 Message 5 by randman, posted 01-31-2008 11:49 AM Quetzal has responded
 Message 16 by RAZD, posted 01-31-2008 9:42 PM Quetzal has responded
 Message 18 by subbie, posted 01-31-2008 10:32 PM Quetzal has responded
 Message 49 by Blue Jay, posted 02-07-2008 6:51 PM Quetzal has responded
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Message 2 of 114 (452757)
01-31-2008 9:44 AM


Thread moved here from the Proposed New Topics forum.
    
LucyTheApe
Inactive Member


Message 3 of 114 (452760)
01-31-2008 10:06 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Quetzal
01-31-2008 9:22 AM


Teleology
Wouldn't this just like debating "Intelligent design"?
This message is a reply to:
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Quetzal
Member (Idle past 3733 days)
Posts: 3228
Joined: 01-09-2002


Message 4 of 114 (452778)
01-31-2008 10:34 AM
Reply to: Message 3 by LucyTheApe
01-31-2008 10:06 AM


Re: Teleology
Possibly. However, most of the "Intelligent Design" discussions seem to devolve rapidly into philosophical discussions or arguments over definitions of things like complexity and information. Could have gone either way, I suppose. Percy seems to have hit on a good compromise: "Is It Science" would allow both proponents and detractors of "Intelligent Design" to indulge in speculation on what and how ID could be considered legitimate science. IOW, I'd like to see a discussion of what would be the evidence for teleology if it in fact existed. Since biology is my area, I went with that as a preference, but this forum probably is even better.
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randman 
Suspended Member (Idle past 2760 days)
Posts: 6367
Joined: 05-26-2005


Message 5 of 114 (452823)
01-31-2008 11:49 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Quetzal
01-31-2008 9:22 AM


some examples
If it could be shown that the overall gene pool of any population of organisms changed in advance of a change in selection pressures on that population

That's exactly what we see actually. Note the following, which I am working on getting accepted as topic so let's not get too much into their details yet.

http://www.phschool.com/science/science_news/articles/reef_relations.html

However, there are other teleological arguments such as some versions of the anthropomorphic principle and Tipler's mathematical "proof" of the Omega point. Wheeler's participatory universe concept (QM) can be understood to be teleological in one sense, ironically since it's non-deterministic in another, in that without conscious observers within the universe, it could not exist according to him.

There are other arguments, of course. I think a line of argument would be to look at the concept of purpose and see if it is reflected in the data.

Do we see similar patterns emerging?

On the thread I started about the phyla appearing and then no more animal phyla for 500 million years, or chordates appearing and no more, creating just one deep lineage, if you accept evo assumptions, per vertebrates, well, and keep in mind this is only if you accept evo dating and assumptions, what we tend to see is some sort of pulse or burst of evolution within certain parameters and then it isn't repeated. Chordates don't evolve again and develop a new strain of vertebrates. Extinct phyla don't come back. Dinosaurs go extinct and don't re-evolve.

One explanation for this non-Darwinian pattern, imo, could be that the purpose for each stage was met or spent, and so the process is in some sense constrained or prescribed within parameters.

If you believe that God, for example, intended and purposed the existence of man, but you accept common descent, it would make sense that certain stages of evolution would not occur again, but that simply those newer forms would evolve further to accomplish the purpose. Even though I am not an evo as I frankly don't see the evidence for it, I do think the pattern that even evos accept indicates a goal-oriented pattern.

In other words, if common descent is true, and we rewound the clock, it is very likely it would turn out exactly or at least very similar to the way it did. That is, imo, evidence of purpose.


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Replies to this message:
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 Message 7 by bluegenes, posted 01-31-2008 1:57 PM randman has responded

  
Quetzal
Member (Idle past 3733 days)
Posts: 3228
Joined: 01-09-2002


Message 6 of 114 (452847)
01-31-2008 1:52 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by randman
01-31-2008 11:49 AM


Re: some examples
Thanks for your reply randman. However, I didn't open this thread for you to simply continue to repeat your nonsense brought out in other threads. Unless you have some actual ideas as to what specific evidence we could use to actually adduce the existence of teleology in nature, I'd appreciate if you would confine your drivel to your own sandbox.

Thanks.


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bluegenes
Member (Idle past 338 days)
Posts: 3119
From: U.K.
Joined: 01-24-2007


Message 7 of 114 (452848)
01-31-2008 1:57 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by randman
01-31-2008 11:49 AM


Desire is not Evidence
randman writes:

One explanation for this non-Darwinian pattern, imo, could be that the purpose for each stage was met or spent, and so the process is in some sense constrained or prescribed within parameters.

There is nothing Darwinian about expecting history to repeat itself under different circumstances. It is you, a non-Darwinist, who expects that, apparently. Then, when you don't see this bizarre occurrence taking place, you take it as evidence of teleology. The pattern of the history of life on earth is very Darwinian. You get the predicted nested hierarchies.

Evolution is about change, not about history repeating itself.

randman writes:

In other words, if common descent is true, and we rewound the clock, it is very likely it would turn out exactly or at least very similar to the way it did. That is, imo, evidence of purpose.

If you started out with the universe exactly as it was 500 million tears ago, and you got that result, it would be evidence of cause and effect, or inevitability, not purpose.

What you're really doing here, and on other threads, is giving us plenty of evidence of your desire for purpose.

That's an understandable desire, and one shared by many. But I think you're desperately cheating in order to convince either yourself or others or both of this evidence.

As for the O.P., and what teleology would look like, it's possible that if we're talking about intent and intelligence that isn't biological, we might not be able to recognize it, especially as we have no idea of its purpose. It could be staring us in the face, but just look like nature to us.

The intelligence concerned could have a taste for universes that can do processes like abiogenesis and biological evolution by mutation and natural selection.

Now, there's a God that could exist.;)


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randman 
Suspended Member (Idle past 2760 days)
Posts: 6367
Joined: 05-26-2005


Message 8 of 114 (452860)
01-31-2008 2:40 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by Quetzal
01-31-2008 1:52 PM


Re: some examples
what nonsense?....couple of points...

1. Saying I am repeating nonsense is rude. Why do that?

2. Please specify the areas in my post that you feel are non-factual. Handwaiving whole arguments and facts as "nonsense" doesn't seem to be backing up your argument with facts.


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randman 
Suspended Member (Idle past 2760 days)
Posts: 6367
Joined: 05-26-2005


Message 9 of 114 (452861)
01-31-2008 2:44 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by bluegenes
01-31-2008 1:57 PM


Re: Desire is not Evidence
There is nothing Darwinian about expecting history to repeat itself under different circumstances.

That's a micharacterization of my argument. Exact repitition per se is not what I am claiming. I am just assuming, for sake of argument, uniformatarianism as accurate so we can discuss the data within that light to further discussion.

As to the rest of your post, strong opinion is a fine thing, but I don't see a lot of evidentiary explanation or data within your post to comment on. If you think that's incorrect, perhaps you could draw my attention to the areas you think are substantiated by facts?


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Cold Foreign Object 
Suspended Member (Idle past 908 days)
Posts: 3417
Joined: 11-21-2003


Message 10 of 114 (452865)
01-31-2008 3:01 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by randman
01-31-2008 2:40 PM


Re: some examples
1. Saying I am repeating nonsense is rude. Why do that?

Yes it was rude. In fact the entire OP is rude slapping you in the face. The evolutionists are angry persons.

Ray


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Message 11 of 114 (452866)
01-31-2008 3:03 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by Quetzal
01-31-2008 1:52 PM


Re: some examples
Randman never seems to bring out the best in any of us. Next time you might consider posting your concerns, which I share, over at Windsor castle.


--Percy
EvC Forum Director

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Message 12 of 114 (452867)
01-31-2008 3:16 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by randman
01-31-2008 2:40 PM


Re: some examples
Hi Randman,

Interesting response from the thread's originator, given that he's one of our more mild-mannered members. You're reaping what you've sowed in other threads. Apparently people's frustration with you doesn't reset to zero when you change threads. I've cautioned people several times now about not letting you goad them into Forum Guidelines violations, so while it is disappointing to see it happen, it should come as no surprise to you.

Your post probably seems completely inoccuous to those unfamiliar with you, but everyone else can recognize the storm clouds on the horizon.

Did you ever see the movie Good Will Hunting (Robin Williams, Matt Damon)? You have the same gift as the main character, the ability to outrage even the most mild-mannered people.

You know, I've probably issued more than 10 cautions over the past couple days, and not one concerned anyone other than you.

Best of luck in this thread. Please make an effort to bring out the best in people, it'll be returned I promise you.


--Percy
EvC Forum Director

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Quetzal
Member (Idle past 3733 days)
Posts: 3228
Joined: 01-09-2002


Message 13 of 114 (452906)
01-31-2008 6:29 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by randman
01-31-2008 2:40 PM


Re: some examples
Alright rand, we'll try it your way. However, after all the years of our interaction on this board, I don't hold out much hope for anything resembling a productive dialogue.

Three "requests":

1. You don't bring up any scientific papers in which you seize on a particular word or phrase that you believe supports some kind of anti-evolution or pro-ID position or conclusion that is clearly contradictory to what the authors intended or believe. An example is your as-yet-unpromoted topic. This has been one of your favorite tactics in the past, and I simply refuse to go around that mulberry bush again.

2. There is to be no reference to phyla, the Cambrian so-called "explosion", or Haeckel - or for that matter evolutionist conspiracies.

3. QM is explicitly off-topic.

On the other hand, if you would like to propose a potential research methodology or observation that could indicate teleology, as per the example I gave in the OP - and which I gave you due credit for - then that would be outstanding.

Ball's in your court.


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randman 
Suspended Member (Idle past 2760 days)
Posts: 6367
Joined: 05-26-2005


Message 14 of 114 (452915)
01-31-2008 6:48 PM
Reply to: Message 13 by Quetzal
01-31-2008 6:29 PM


let's talk straight here
You don't bring up any scientific papers in which you seize on a particular word or phrase that you believe supports some kind of anti-evolution or pro-ID position or conclusion that is clearly contradictory to what the authors intended or believe.

Based on this, one cannot use a fact an evo presents and consider it within an ID paradigm. That's unacceptable. I think you need to distinquish between conclusions based on a certain paradigm and facts or data. For example, here we clearly have some evos stating the theoritical common metazoan ancestor was much more complex genetically than people realized. They also clearly say genetic sequences for complex even human nerve systems are found in a simple species with no complex nerve system. Those are statements they consider factual although the gene sequences existing in a certain format is all we can is a hard fact. Everything else is an intepretation, but nevertheless, they consider the evidence supports their views.

Now, why should I not be able to discuss their findings within a teleological or ID paradigm? I am not misrepresenting them and suggesting they are IDers or anything. If you are saying it's improper to involve the papers and findings of evos in discussion, that seems quite bizarre to me.

Let's go a little further in thinking about the thread topic. Presumably you want people to talk of possible ways or facts that could be interpreted to suggest teleology, right?

However, you seem to want to deny any arguments from an ID perspective. There seems to be disconnect here. Of course, creationist and IDers are going to present creationist and ID arguments. If you think those arguments are nonsense and shouldn't be allowed a priori, what are you doing here?

QM and the anthropomorphic principle are quoted by scientists who are either Iders or favor teleology. You asked what sorts of things would suggest teleology, so how can you take what some evidence of what some very distinquished scientists think support teleology off the table? It doesn't make sense.

Now, Haeckel? I suppose there isn't any conceivable reason where haeckel is applicable to this thread.

Phyla, nested heirarchies, the Cambrian explosion? Of course they are ideas that will probably be brought up as they are areas IDers and teleologists so to speak would normally bring up.

On the other hand, if you would like to propose a potential research methodology or observation that could indicate teleology

I think I already did. For example, I would suggest more genetic testing to see if your idea, which I was just saying is already being done, of whether simple organisms developed greater complexity and evolution, if you accept common descent, occured via a "massive loss of genes" rather than adding genes. That's already being done, but you called it nonsense.

Secondly, I think considering anthropomorphic and QM principles, theory and experiments can shed a lot of light and is doing so.

Thirdly, I think though I did not mention this, that there might be some aspects within mathematics that indicate teleology. Tipler and Barrow appear to think so with some of their writings.


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Admin
Director
Posts: 12557
From: EvC Forum
Joined: 06-14-2002


Message 15 of 114 (452948)
01-31-2008 9:06 PM
Reply to: Message 14 by randman
01-31-2008 6:48 PM


Re: let's talk straight here
randman writes:

Now, why should I not be able to discuss their findings within a teleological or ID paradigm?

Let me take a stab at answering this. The reason why you wouldn't introduce this topic from a rejected thread proposal into a thread on a different topic is because you have only the best of intentions. The many warnings you've received in just your short time back has led you to realize that your good intentions could only become apparent to others by scrupulously following the rules.

But apparently that's not the case, so here's your first 24 hour suspension. I don't expect it'll be the last, so I'll mention that each subsequent suspension will be longer.


--Percy
EvC Forum Director

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