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Very Hot Topic (More than 25 Replies) Atheists and Evolution (Read 2,349 times)
Queshank
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Atheists and Evolution
Aug 23rd, 2016 at 5:15pm
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Okay atheists who are atheists because SCIENCE! (I'm not...I'm an atheist because anthropology, sociology, history and human nature)

If evolution works in the manner I understand it to work, why are we humans the only species on earth with such a highly developed capacity for reason and tool usage?

Why aren't we fighting for space with lizard people?  And bug people?  And fish people?

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Re: Atheists and Evolution
Reply #1 - Aug 24th, 2016 at 6:48pm
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Queshank wrote on Aug 23rd, 2016 at 5:15pm:
Okay atheists who are atheists because SCIENCE! (I'm not...I'm an atheist because anthropology, sociology, history and human nature)

If evolution works in the manner I understand it to work, why are we humans the only species on earth with such a highly developed capacity for reason and tool usage?

Why aren't we fighting for space with lizard people?  And bug people?  And fish people?

Queshank


Perhaps we already have, in the distant past, and we won.

More to the point, who says our reasoning is all that highly developed? The vast majority of the human species believe in the fairy tales of gods, goddess, angels, devils demons and other such nonsense!

Not only that but, we then use these fair tales to justify murdering our fellow human beings on a planetary scale!

This is "reason"?

As for the use of tools, what is so sophisticated about that? Numerous species use tools. Sea otters use stones to open clams. Seagulls and other birds will drop clams from the air to crack open shells.

Beavers build dams to create artificial ponds...

  
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Re: Atheists and Evolution
Reply #2 - Aug 28th, 2016 at 1:30pm
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http://discovermagazine.com/2011/evolution/23-how-we-won-the-hominid-wars

We out-evolved all the other hominids.

Hominids were best placed to take the top jobs.

However,  I think an alien making an objective judgement might say that bacteria,  or insects, ruled the planet.

Or plants. We're outnumbered by them and largely irrelevant to them.
  

Under Capitalism, Man exploits Man.

Under Communism, it's the exact opposite.
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Re: Atheists and Evolution
Reply #3 - Aug 28th, 2016 at 2:51pm
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Limey wrote on Aug 28th, 2016 at 1:30pm:
http://discovermagazine.com/2011/evolution/23-how-we-won-the-hominid-wars

We out-evolved all the other hominids.

Hominids were best placed to take the top jobs.

However,  I think an alien making an objective judgement might say that bacteria,  or insects, ruled the planet.

Or plants. We're outnumbered by them and largely irrelevant to them.


But the above only concerns hominids.

Why do we not see rationality in other species families?
  


To say homo sapiens, is to say Homo religiosus; there is no man without God. ~Frithjof Schuon
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Re: Atheists and Evolution
Reply #4 - Aug 28th, 2016 at 3:02pm
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Big X wrote on Aug 24th, 2016 at 6:48pm:
More to the point, who says our reasoning is all that highly developed? The vast majority of the human species believe in the fairy tales of gods, goddess, angels, devils demons and other such nonsense!


Did you ever think maybe you do not understand why so many people believe the above?

Now, I am not saying the average person understands the metaphysical basis for the above beliefs, yet there is one.

The ultimate, or fundamental basis of everything that exists is consciousness.*  Consciousness runs through everything, from the highest reality to the lowest.  Not all consciousness is the same, of course.  The consciousness of a plant is less fully developed than that of an animal, which is less developed than that of a human, which is less developed than that of a purely spiritual being like an angel, etc.

But the beliefs that all peoples have had at one time or another, that our world is, so to speak, "alive" with all kinds of conscious entities...this idea, is simply an expression of the above metaphysical truth, that consciousness is the 'primordial substance' (as ancient philosophers might call it) of existence.

I have posted it many times, but I might as well post it again.  Here is the metaphysician S.H. Nasr giving his lecture "In the Beginning was Consciousness" at Harvard Divinity School.**:




*By the way, not that one needs quantum physics to prove metaphysics, but for those who do base all of their beliefs in SCIENCE! (as Q so aptly put it) I should put out that scientists working in this field have discovered that the mere effect of observing certain small particles causes these particles to change position.  This observer effect certain says something about the nature of consciousness.  The observing consciousness, seems to have an effect on the material object.

**As an aside, Nasr asserts we are seeing the beginning of a paradigm shift in Western science due to the inability of current science to account for consciousness.
  


To say homo sapiens, is to say Homo religiosus; there is no man without God. ~Frithjof Schuon
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Re: Atheists and Evolution
Reply #5 - Aug 29th, 2016 at 12:27pm
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Frank1 wrote on Aug 28th, 2016 at 3:02pm:
*By the way, not that one needs quantum physics to prove metaphysics, but for those who do base all of their beliefs in SCIENCE! (as Q so aptly put it) I should put out that scientists working in this field have discovered that the mere effect of observing certain small particles causes these particles to change position.  This observer effect certain says something about the nature of consciousness.  The observing consciousness, seems to have an effect on the material object.


Actually it says nothing about the nature of consciousness..

This is a rather common misconception that an observer's consciousness can affect a quantum processes. It's a misunderstanding of the wave function and of instrumentation used to measure quantum processes.

Sorry.. The universe does not allow for your brand of hocus pocus..
  
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Re: Atheists and Evolution
Reply #6 - Aug 29th, 2016 at 9:02pm
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Queshank wrote on Aug 23rd, 2016 at 5:15pm:
If evolution works in the manner I understand it to work, why are we humans the only species on earth with such a highly developed capacity for reason and tool usage?


Short answer: there's no particularly good reason.

Long answer: the popular conception of evolution is a steady progress of complexity and intelligence from ocean thermal vent to Stephen Hawking.  But that's not really the case.

Relatively speaking, humans are large, complex animals.  Through Earth's history, quite a few large, complex animals have come into existence.  But they don't tend to stick around long: the climate changes, a catastrophe hits, or a new competitor appears. They tend to die off after a few million years or so.

The extinction of the dinosaurs ~65 million years ago is the most famous mass die-off, but it was not the only one or the biggest one.  The survivors of the extinction were small, generalists mammals and small, generalist dinosaurs that we now call birds.

The animals that tend to survive these die-offs are smaller, less complex, more adaptable to a range of environments, and capable of eating almost everything.  After the die-offs, these generalists evolve into more specialized animals, exploiting the environmental niches left behind after the die-off.  And the cycle starts over again.  This cycle of specialization-dieoff-specialization probably stopped a few species from achieving high intelligence.  (Intelligence is specialization.)

Why humans, then?  Again, no one actually knows.  One theory is that human intelligence is like the peacock's feathers: it evolved as a way to show off for mating purposes.  (Also worth noting: human males have, by far, the biggest penises in the primate order, both absolutely and relative to size.)  But generally, sexual selection tends to cause rapid evolution in one sex of the species, not both.  The peahen is pretty ordinary.

Is it just a mutation?  Probably not, since there are so many components of human intelligence: self-awareness, symbolic reasoning, stereoscopic vision, the sense that the "I" is located behind the eyes, the capacity for rational thought, musicality, tool making, and on and on.

Some are pretty convinced that intelligence is a rare, terrible mistake.  There are aspects of this thought in the Garden of Eden and Pandora's Box myths.  In modern times, The Last Messiah argues that human intelligence over-evolved, like a deer whose horns had evolved to be too heavy to carry.  But that doesn't answer the question how.

None of that answers your question, because, of course, we don't have an answer.
  

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Re: Atheists and Evolution
Reply #7 - Aug 30th, 2016 at 12:30pm
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Big X wrote on Aug 24th, 2016 at 6:48pm:
Perhaps we already have, in the distant past, and we won.


Interesting theory.  A bit lacking in specifics however Smiley

Have you ever read Harry Harrison's "West of Eden" series?  In it he constructs an alternative history in which reptiles develop intelligence and humans are pushed to the fringes of the frontiers ... the cold climates where the reptiles can't easily survive, and the battle between the two species.  I must admit this came to mind as I was thinking about this very question the other day.

Quote:
More to the point, who says our reasoning is all that highly developed? The vast majority of the human species believe in the fairy tales of gods, goddess, angels, devils demons and other such nonsense!


Do dogs have religion?  If so, what god does your dog worship?  You perhaps?

Quote:
Not only that but, we then use these fair tales to justify murdering our fellow human beings on a planetary scale!

This is "reason"?

As for the use of tools, what is so sophisticated about that? Numerous species use tools. Sea otters use stones to open clams. Seagulls and other birds will drop clams from the air to crack open shells.

Beavers build dams to create artificial ponds...



Let's compare a dam built by beavers and the computer you used to type this out... Wink

Queshank
« Last Edit: Aug 30th, 2016 at 12:39pm by Queshank »  

Morality is doing what is right, regardless of what you are told.

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Queshank
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Re: Atheists and Evolution
Reply #8 - Aug 30th, 2016 at 12:33pm
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Limey wrote on Aug 28th, 2016 at 1:30pm:
http://discovermagazine.com/2011/evolution/23-how-we-won-the-hominid-wars

We out-evolved all the other hominids.

Hominids were best placed to take the top jobs.

However,  I think an alien making an objective judgement might say that bacteria,  or insects, ruled the planet.

Or plants. We're outnumbered by them and largely irrelevant to them.


Oh sure.  No argument here.

Are you suggesting that plants have developed a technology we simply don't understand? Smiley

Queshank
  

Morality is doing what is right, regardless of what you are told.

Religion is doing what you are told, regardless of what is right.
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Queshank
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Re: Atheists and Evolution
Reply #9 - Aug 30th, 2016 at 12:37pm
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Running Deer wrote on Aug 29th, 2016 at 9:02pm:
Short answer: there's no particularly good reason.

Long answer: the popular conception of evolution is a steady progress of complexity and intelligence from ocean thermal vent to Stephen Hawking.  But that's not really the case.

Relatively speaking, humans are large, complex animals.  Through Earth's history, quite a few large, complex animals have come into existence.  But they don't tend to stick around long: the climate changes, a catastrophe hits, or a new competitor appears. They tend to die off after a few million years or so.

The extinction of the dinosaurs ~65 million years ago is the most famous mass die-off, but it was not the only one or the biggest one.  The survivors of the extinction were small, generalists mammals and small, generalist dinosaurs that we now call birds.

The animals that tend to survive these die-offs are smaller, less complex, more adaptable to a range of environments, and capable of eating almost everything.  After the die-offs, these generalists evolve into more specialized animals, exploiting the environmental niches left behind after the die-off.  And the cycle starts over again.  This cycle of specialization-dieoff-specialization probably stopped a few species from achieving high intelligence.  (Intelligence is specialization.)

Why humans, then?  Again, no one actually knows.  One theory is that human intelligence is like the peacock's feathers: it evolved as a way to show off for mating purposes.  (Also worth noting: human males have, by far, the biggest penises in the primate order, both absolutely and relative to size.)  But generally, sexual selection tends to cause rapid evolution in one sex of the species, not both.  The peahen is pretty ordinary.

Is it just a mutation?  Probably not, since there are so many components of human intelligence: self-awareness, symbolic reasoning, stereoscopic vision, the sense that the "I" is located behind the eyes, the capacity for rational thought, musicality, tool making, and on and on.

Some are pretty convinced that intelligence is a rare, terrible mistake.  There are aspects of this thought in the Garden of Eden and Pandora's Box myths.  In modern times, The Last Messiah argues that human intelligence over-evolved, like a deer whose horns had evolved to be too heavy to carry.  But that doesn't answer the question how.

None of that answers your question, because, of course, we don't have an answer.


I'm actually surprised nobody pointed out that anthropology, sociology and the study of history and human nature are sciences of a sort Smiley

I've been puzzling about questions like this for a bit now RD.  It seems that we atheists have inadequate answers to questions like this and to the fact that the Big Bang theory seems awfully damn similar to the creation myth of most religions. 

This is the reason why religion persists.  Because we don't have these answers and likely never will. 

I have zero idea why.  I'm not proposing the solution.  I just think it helps to highlight these problems because I'm quite disturbed by how many atheists ignore them completely.

It seems like the difference between atheists and theists can be boiled down to this:  Atheists have no problem with there being no answers to certain questions.  Theists demand answers and if no answer is forthcoming they'll fill in the blank.

Queshank

  

Morality is doing what is right, regardless of what you are told.

Religion is doing what you are told, regardless of what is right.
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