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Author Topic:   Can Evolution explain this? (Re: The biological evolution of religious belief)
SalineSage05
Inactive Member


Message 1 of 91 (160635)
11-17-2004 5:21 PM


I have a question concerning evolution and God. I was hoping I could start a new thread on this topic. The question is as follows:

If the theory of non-theistic biological evolution were true along with the big bang theory then why does humankind have a tendancy to worship some sort of higher power(s)?
Hypothetically speaking in an evolutionary world that contained absoloutely no light then the creatures there would have not developed eyes. Correct? Furthermore, the creatures wouldn't even know the difference between light and dark. They would not even be able to grasp the concept of light and dark because in thier little expieremental world they have no light and dark sensory organs. Correct? Now, in the history of mankind it is fairly safe to say that 98% of every man and woman that has ever lived on earth has believed in somesort of higher power. It is an overwhelming majority. The argument I am making is that if there is no creator(s)as some suggest then why would man even sense or long for a creator. According to evolution as I understand it this couldn't happen since there never was a creator. There seems to be an internal error in the theory of evolution.


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AdminNosy
Administrator
Posts: 4754
From: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Joined: 11-11-2003


Message 2 of 91 (160683)
11-17-2004 6:58 PM


Thread moved here from the Proposed New Topics forum.
  
jar
Member
Posts: 30935
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004


Message 3 of 91 (160695)
11-17-2004 7:16 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by SalineSage05
11-17-2004 5:21 PM


Some of your assumptions may be wrong.
Hypothetically speaking in an evolutionary world that contained absoloutely no light then the creatures there would have not developed eyes. Correct?

Not at all.

The changes that happen are totally random. They are not directed or moving towards some goal or solution. They chance of eyes developing in a world with no light is exactly the same as in a world with light.

According to evolution as I understand it this couldn't happen since there never was a creator.

Actually, the Theory of Evolution has no position at all on the existence or non-existence of a GOD.


Aslan is not a Tame Lion
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Percy
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Posts: 18369
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 4.9


Message 4 of 91 (160696)
11-17-2004 7:18 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by SalineSage05
11-17-2004 5:21 PM


You're equating the biological theory of evolution with the psychology of religious beliefs. Doesn't seem vaild to me.

The basis and origin of religious belief lies in the inexplicable natural world. We were at the caprice and whim of natural forces throughout our evolution. Lightning or floods or unfortunate events were assigned a cause, a great and powerful unseen being.

--Percy


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Immoros
Inactive Member


Message 5 of 91 (160707)
11-17-2004 7:36 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by jar
11-17-2004 7:16 PM


Re: Some of your assumptions may be wrong.
This an interesting idea; more interesting than either of you are giving him credit for. I honestly don't think it can really hold up as a "disproof" of evolution, or even a proof of a higher being by appealing to the theory of evolution, since the ending argument is bound to be that faith evolved to help intelligent beings cope and survive. With that said, however, I'd like to defend one of his premises.

Hypothetically speaking, I must say that the original poster was closer to correct than your response, jar. You're moving in the right direction, but remember, the random changes that happen are not the development of organs. They are very slight random mutations. If these random mutations happen to make an organism slightly more likely to survive, then they will be more likely to persist, and so on and so forth. Examining how evolution explains the development of eyes, this is quite clear; simple organs (such as the "eye spots" observed in some primitive creatures) slowly developing into more complicated ones (such as our own eyes).

The thing is, if there was no light, the random mutations slowly giving rise to a complicated organ like an eye would /not/ be beneficial. Even if an organism started with an "eye spot," a slight mutation making this eye spot more effective would have absolutely no effect on the chances the organism has of surviving. Some might even say the mutation would decrease its chances of surviving a tiny amount, since the organism would now be devoting precious energy towards the development and maintenance of a useless organ. So,in a world with no light, the chances of eyes, an extraordinarily complicated organ, would be essentially nil.

This is not to say that useless organs haven't been discovered, although many vestigial organs are only thought to be useless until their original/actual purpose is discovered. However, it is unlikely that you would find a vestigial organ even close to as complicated as an eye. This would be like finding fully developed legs evolved in a fish that never leaves the water. Technically, it's possible, but in a world with no land, the chances of legs developing are not even close to the same as the chances in a world with land.


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arachnophilia
Member (Idle past 84 days)
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004


Message 6 of 91 (160717)
11-17-2004 7:50 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by jar
11-17-2004 7:16 PM


Re: Some of your assumptions may be wrong.
The changes that happen are totally random. They are not directed or moving towards some goal or solution. They chance of eyes developing in a world with no light is exactly the same as in a world with light.

eh, no, i don't think that's the case. it's not that there has to be some advantage in having eyes. there just has not be any disadvantage compared to not having eyes. this would be the case in total darkness, neither option would have any more advantage over the other.

however, a stimulating factor (such as electromagnetic radiation) would have to increase the advantages in having eyes of some sort over not having eyes, if only slightly and only in some creatures. and if being able to see is good for catching prey, then it's good for not becoming it as well, increasing the disadvantage in not having eyes. that would help, over time, to increase the percentage of things with eyes, right?

so i would not say the probability is exactly the same at all.

but i could imagine you could make the opposite case too.

This message has been edited by Arachnophilia, 11-17-2004 07:52 PM


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jar
Member
Posts: 30935
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004


Message 7 of 91 (160719)
11-17-2004 7:55 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by arachnophilia
11-17-2004 7:50 PM


Re: Some of your assumptions may be wrong.
however, a stimulating factor (such as electromagnetic radiation) would have to increase the advantages in having eyes of some sort over not having eyes, if only slightly. that would help, over time, to increase the percentage of things with eyes, right?

That moves over into the filtering part of the TOE. A vision like function whether sight or heat or electromagnetic sense might well give one critter an advantage when run through the filter, but I still say the probability of something occurring initially is independent of the potential use.

Eyes might well develop even in a world without light.


Aslan is not a Tame Lion
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arachnophilia
Member (Idle past 84 days)
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004


Message 8 of 91 (160720)
11-17-2004 7:56 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by SalineSage05
11-17-2004 5:21 PM


It is an overwhelming majority. The argument I am making is that if there is no creator(s)as some suggest then why would man even sense or long for a creator. According to evolution as I understand it this couldn't happen since there never was a creator.

you should read "the origin of conciousness in the breakdown of the bichameral mind" by julian jaynes. he suggests a very good (evolutionary) origin for belief in god. there may have been an advantage in religion. he suggests it as something like a memory device.


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arachnophilia
Member (Idle past 84 days)
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004


Message 9 of 91 (160721)
11-17-2004 7:57 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by jar
11-17-2004 7:55 PM


Re: Some of your assumptions may be wrong.
yes yes, agreed.

curious puzzle, this one.


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Coragyps
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Posts: 5381
From: Snyder, Texas, USA
Joined: 11-12-2002
Member Rating: 7.9


Message 10 of 91 (160731)
11-17-2004 8:17 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by SalineSage05
11-17-2004 5:21 PM


Interesting topic! I'm not terribly sure that you can get to your conclusion from your premises, but it's thought-provoking all the same.

Can it be established, do you think, that belief in the supernatural actually has any reproductive or survival benefits? (I know Mormons outbreed your standard freethinker in the US today, but let's look at a bigger picture...) If not, perhaps religion is one of Gould's "spandrels" - something that arose as a byproduct of evolution, if you like, but that has no necessary function in perpetuating the species.

Then, it might be that religion/belief in gods is one among several ways of organizing the tribe - the extended family that hunts or farms together - so that they are more unified and thus cooperate better. Grandpa, after all, is just a man. But if great-great-great-grandpa was a real, live wolf, and is somehow still alive out there in the night, and gives our band advice on where the deer are... That unifies our bunch, separates us from that degenerate bunch of fox-people over there, and may even help explain why there are 2000 Christian denominations in the US today.

And my guess is that 98% is a little on the high side.


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Ben!
Member (Idle past 1728 days)
Posts: 1154
From: San Diego, CA
Joined: 10-14-2004


Message 11 of 91 (160756)
11-17-2004 9:10 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by Coragyps
11-17-2004 8:17 PM


I agree it's an interesting topic. And I agree that it could be "spandrel," or even derivative (i.e. arising from some system that WAS selected for, but itself not contributing to the survival of the species).

My overwhelming belief is that it is derivative. No animals are religious (I'm serious! And no MANTIS jokes ), and (from what I've read AND INTERPRETED) higher cognition (< 100,000 yrs old) is much more recent than our social structure.

But then again, this question also shows the bad side of evolutionary theory. It's open-ended, just like Creationism. There's so many ways to spin sparse data points like these (compare spinning evolution to interpreting the bible to referring to an all-powerful creator). So, ... just, I am mindful of my own speculation.

But, as is, the fact of religion doesn't cause an "internal error" to evolution theory. That much is for sure.

Ben


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Ben!
Member (Idle past 1728 days)
Posts: 1154
From: San Diego, CA
Joined: 10-14-2004


Message 12 of 91 (160760)
11-17-2004 9:17 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by jar
11-17-2004 7:55 PM


Re: Some of your assumptions may be wrong.
At the fear of continuing an off-topic thread, and of disagreeing with jar (who I respect as one of the most level-headed and fair people on this board)...

I completely agree that the 'start' of an eye could arise (unless the 'start' of an eye is on a system that is highly unlikely to develop in the given environment). However...

claiming that an eye could develop in a non-adaptive environment is, to me, EXACTLY the same as a creo claiming that ambiogenesis is impossible, since the number of combinations necessary for a single cell to arise DE NOVO is so huge.

Without selective pressure, an eye would have to RANDOMLY develop at each step of the way. AND THERE'S A LOT OF STEPS. So... sorry to nit jar... think of me as a 'new guy who is testing his knowledge to see if he understands this stuff properly.'

Ben


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Philip
Member (Idle past 2829 days)
Posts: 656
From: Albertville, AL, USA
Joined: 03-10-2002


Message 13 of 91 (160775)
11-17-2004 10:07 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by SalineSage05
11-17-2004 5:21 PM


Metaphysics/Spirituality
I appreciate all the thoughtful replies.

This question brings up another to me:

Can random-mutation(s) (however minor or major) ever even produce metaphysical phenomena (e.g., apperception, mind, being, spirit, psyche, God-consciousness, etc.)?

I know I've got 3 pounds of neuronal cells (more or less) sitting on a stiff neck that many neuro-biologists speculate are the real me. Yet, the whole while I'm cognizant of another greater I-AM (i.e., based on the observed data, apperceived data, faith, habit, and non-scientific groanings).

It is inexcuseable for me to deny redemptive events that have ocurred, too, for which I feel thankful (without trying to allude to Thanksgiving).

In sum, if my puny neo-cortex really evolved; how could it be so metaphysically encumbered with things like singing hymns, making melodies, writing songs and poems, drawing paintings (like the one to the left), architecture, charity, FoxPro programming, etc.) ?

It suggests (to me) I'm more metaphysical than physical and that those 3 pounds of neuronal cells are a 'Cartesian bridge' between the mind and the brain. (Forgive the evolutionarily incorrect grammar)


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jar
Member
Posts: 30935
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004


Message 14 of 91 (160783)
11-17-2004 10:27 PM
Reply to: Message 12 by Ben!
11-17-2004 9:17 PM


Never, ever, hesitate to disagree.
That's the only way I can ever learn anything. If I have any advantage or knowledge to pass on here it is only because I've been wrong more often and made more mistakes than most of the members here.

Let me start with the eye but I'll try to get to the issue of GOD by the end of the message.

The key point that I wanted to make is that mutations are simply random. They happen. They are not driven by outside forces or conditions. They are not directed, not from worse to better, from less to more or inferior to superior.

The difference comes with the filter.

And now back to the concept of God.

There are two issues there IMHO. First, GOD either exists or does not exist. If he exists, then he will exist regardless of what we believe.

The second part of the God issue relates to theology and religion. The existence of GOD and the existence of religion are two different questions. Why do we believe in dieties?

IMHO, the growth of religion is pretty simple. As others have mentioned, the world is full of many things we cannot explain. This was particularly true in the past, but still true today. In the past, many things were assigned to dieties. It was a way to explain the unexplainable.

As we learn more we assign less and less to dieties. That is a normal progression.

Yet it still has no relation to the existence or non-existence of GOD. GOD exists, or does not exist.

So religion, faith, becomes clearer, simpler, less confronted. Theology, religion, are a matter of belief. It is not science, not logic, not provable. It's faith.

But regardles, GOD exists, or does not exist. That is beyond our belief system.


Aslan is not a Tame Lion
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lfen
Member (Idle past 2784 days)
Posts: 2189
From: Oregon
Joined: 06-24-2004


Message 15 of 91 (160799)
11-17-2004 11:14 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by jar
11-17-2004 7:55 PM


Re: Some of your assumptions may be wrong.
What about the various "cave" species that have lost sight? I remember there is one and maybe more than one blind cave fish, and there might be some other creatures that lost sight.

lfen


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