Planet with a Purpose

If Earth is an organism getting ever more complex, doesn't that mean humans might have been made for a reason?

keithm

11/19/2009 06:53:21 PM

Hmm. Given the way the supposed admission was extracted from Dennett, plus the fact that there is some question as to whether he actually admitted to anything at all, I think Robert Wright should show a little more understanding of how confessions that have been virtually wrung from someone under pressure can differ wildly from views stated freely and in one's own words. Robert Wright clearly has an axe to grind and is less interested in portraying Daniel Dennett's real views than in tricking him into conceding something he really doesn't believe at all. I suspect that Wright will claim that all he did was to talk Dennett through a set of propositions that even Dennett himself hadn't realized he subscribed to. But that is not how I saw it. For me this was not so much an attempt to get at Dennett's real views and to expose a contradiction at the heart of his belief system, as to create a trap for Dennett to walk into. Whether or not he did is so open to question that the whole piece is almost worthless, except perhaps to act as a warning to other would-be interviewees about the wisdom of allowing themselves to be interviewed by Wright.

bonniejocklennon

10/28/2005 12:22:03 PM

No Moon= No earth as we know it and no life as we know it.To suggest that is is a purpose is ludicrous. We're born if lucky we live, if you want to call it that and then we die.No G-d no mystery no Purpose

jacknky

10/28/2004 10:54:16 AM

truly, Yes, that's a fascinating discovery.

trulyalarmed

10/27/2004 04:10:18 PM

hey ya'll guess what? Scientists find prehistoric dwarf human skeleton with puzzling traits on Pacific island: In a breathtaking discovery, scientists working on a remote Indonesian island say they have uncovered the bones of a human dwarf species marooned for eons while modern man rapidly colonized the rest of the planet. One tiny specimen, an adult female measuring about 3 feet tall, is described as "the most extreme" figure to be included in the extended human family. Certainly, she is the shortest. This hobbit-sized creature appears to have lived as recently as 18,000 years ago on the island of Flores, a kind of tropical Lost World populated by giant lizards and miniature elephants. sfgate.com has the story. so much for dening evolution

jacknky

10/27/2004 09:07:07 AM

There's an interesting article in this month's National Geographic on evolution and Darwin. I've only begun to read it but I believe I remember it saying something like the reason the Universe exists is because it can exist. This sounds very Buddhist to me. The Buddha said everything in the world is conditional on something else. Nothing is static and unchanging. Thus, evolution in an ever chabging Universe. Nice post, Rev. I agree totally. It would seem that some Christians feel "oppressed" because the US is not a Christian theocracy.

Livindesert

10/21/2004 08:29:30 PM

You should be free to believe what you want and to be proud about it not to hide it. Repression is what the Soviet Union was about. And also if you actually look at history every group had a opressive group. It just matterd who was in power at the time. Even some Native American tribes practiced ethnic clensing of other tribes.

themarirev

10/15/2004 05:12:44 PM

It never ceases to amaze me how some Christains, after 2000 years of oppressive actions against those who don't agree with their theology are now acting like they are the oppressed. What arrogance! How ironic that the entire reason the pilgrims moved into this country was to escape the oppression of the Church of England. This is however part of spiritual evolution. Jesus said to treat others as you would want to be treated. This is expressed in eastern philosophy as Yin and Yang and the Americanized version is what goes around comes around. From native Americans, to African Americans to Homsexual Americans, Christainity has been a driving force in the oppression of humanity on many levels. Yet when they are told to keep their religion to themselves and not force it on others, they think they deserve special privileges of liberty. Rev

schmibly

10/15/2004 11:40:25 AM

I'd like to recommend the incredibly eye opening writings of Alvin Boyd Kuhn. Especially "Lost Light: An Interpretation of Ancient Scriptures". It exposes the ancient symbolism and lost meanings to not only the stories of the Holy Bible, but also Greek, Egyptian, and other ancient mythologies. It can be found on-line here: http://members.tripod.com/~pc93/lostlght.htm

reynold926

10/14/2004 01:52:54 PM

It seems like Wright is really grasping for straws here. He seems determined to pound that square peg into a round hole. The blind watchmaker analogy doesn't work unless you point out that the watchmaker doesn't know he's a watchmaker, and in fact doesn't know he's making anything at all. Evolution just IS... the way oxygen just IS. Oxygen isn't here for us to breathe. It's here and we HAPPEN to breathe it because we are adapted to an environment with oxygen.

Faustus5

10/14/2004 01:00:00 PM

Gee, and what the heck does any of this have to do with the substance of the article?

lucilius

10/14/2004 12:51:46 PM

(Cont., III): I would also disagree with schofield's unsupported assertion that it is "certain intellectual atheists and humanists" who are using Muslim-fundamentalist terrorism as an excuse to "remove (Islam's) influence from society." In my experience and considerable reading on the subject, it is Christian fundamentalists who seek to persecute Muslims, while humanists usually stand beside the Muslim minority for mutual defense. But for a religion – fundamentalist Christianity – which controls so many of the levers of power yet constantly blubbers about being the object of majority persecution, it's hardly surprising to yet again hear that black is white and up is down.

lucilius

10/14/2004 12:51:22 PM

(Cont., II): Third, the unwarranted (though natural enough, in the U.S.) assumption that general religiosity equals the accuracy of a particular account of creation – specifically, the version literally based on the Biblical book of Genesis. Not only has much of mainstream Christianity tacitly accepted modern biological knowledge, regarding the Genesis account as allegorical, but schofield's emphasis on religiosity excludes the myriad creation epics of other religions, which are virtually all utterly incompatible with the Christian version. Also, it is a quite normal human trait to hold incompatible ideas, leaving their points of conflict unexamined, so long as those views do not come into direct contact. A mathematician, for example, is undoubtedly a scientist and highly educated – yet it is hard to see how that person's field of expertise could conflict with even the most regressive religious beliefs. High education does not guarantee intellectual consistency, as schofield demonstrates so well.

lucilius

10/14/2004 12:50:14 PM

(Cont.): I suspect that the undoubtedly intelligent schofield is well aware that he is trying to pawn off a false syllogism to "refute" trulyalarmed's statement that people's willfull clinging to ignorance explains the opposition to evolution. Schofield posits that many intelligent and well-educated people, even many scientists, are religious, thus (though this is unspoken, only implied) creationism is a viable opponent to evolution. The problem here is threefold: First, the automatic assumption that religious belief is evenly distributed among various professions and levels of education. It is not. While there are some at all levels and in all jobs who are religious, religious belief declines steadily with decreasing education and in jobs more closely associated with the hard sciences. Second, a very generalized belief is also not addiction to a literal-fundamentalist version of any religion. And that is the specific stripe that gets red-faced and spluttering at the mention of Charles Darwin.

lucilius

10/14/2004 12:49:07 PM

Ah, we can always count on schofield to imagine a torch-wielding atheist hiding under every religious person's bed, a handy-dandy scare tactic to distract attention from the central issues under discussion. Schofield's rant evades, and thus does not dispute, the central point of trulyalarmed's post: that the Bible is a composite book based, in its early chapters, on earlier Babylonian mythology, with its later portions being either sectarian history or polemic; and its specific claims for divinity and rectitude are utterly unprovable. For that matter, even devout believers have argued for centuries about how much of it is to be taken as literal truth, and how much as allegory. And this product of pre-scientific cultures, written to provide moral and spiritual guidance, is to be taken as legitimate basis for modern biology? Puhleeeze.

schmibly

10/13/2004 08:30:06 PM

I think the bigger problem is exactly the opposite: Can religion accept evolution? It's not the Bible that contradicts science. The problem is a literal interpretation of the Bible rather than a spiritual, anagogical interpretation. It is a holy book, isn't it? Galileo was imprisoned for heresy and was forbidden to discuss the theory that the earth is not the center of the universe. Despite what some prominent Evangelical ministers would say, evolution is an accepted fact in the scientific community. The only question is HOW not if.

thefish

10/13/2004 05:18:03 PM

"If a person's religion dictates that they must wear a piece of clothing,..." Key word: DICTATE. I would like to see the day when "religion" doesn't DICTATE to anyone what to wear. Since when does "God" care??? Peace <

schofield

10/13/2004 02:05:35 PM

Cont'd - And please don't try and quote France's lame excuse that this was to avoid sectarian gangs. Why not just try educating the children as to the meaning of these articles of clothing to each respective religion? No. Certain intellectual atheists and humanists are using the current violence by certain Muslims as an excuse to damn all religion and try to remove its influence from society, regardless of "freedom of religion."

schofield

10/13/2004 02:00:45 PM

Dannyuk2 - France's policy banning headscarves, jewish skull caps and "large" crosses isn't an example of religious suppression? If a person's religion dictates that they must wear a piece of clothing, it is not the government's prerogative to deny the right to meet religious requirements, unless they are dangerous (i.e., a religion required carrying a poisonous snake). Sorry, danny, but that is religious suppression plain and simple and just one example.

idbc

10/13/2004 01:24:32 PM

Rabbit IDBC,LOL!! You've never heard of humans being eaten by sharks, bears, lions, worms? "Top of the food chain"....LOL! And that's just on this planet. For the most part it is humans that do the eating.

dannyuk2

10/13/2004 12:43:37 PM

Schofield, Europeans dont supress religion or spirituality we just hold more liberal beliefs on th whole. just because europe is more liberal doesnt mean is any less religious.

schofield

10/13/2004 10:23:20 AM

Cont'd - Sorry, it should have been typed, "purposely." Heaven forbid I make a typo - trulyalarmed obviously takes it as a sign of extreme brain disfunction.

schofield

10/13/2004 10:21:38 AM

Cont'd - Your snide reference to people in America "perposely remaining ignorant" is both misguided and just plain wrong. You obviously prefer Europe, where religious belief and practice is suppressed. Your statement that the "shield of ignorance and superstition be removed," infers that you agree with such ignorant policies. America still has one of the largest populations of literate, educated individuals in the industrialized western nations (remember that even if European countries have higher percentages, their populations are SIGNIFANTLY smaller). Yet, we do a better job of balancing faith and reason that any other country, as evidenced by the fact that such a large percentage of our scientists, doctors and educators still poll as having some sort of religious belief. Somehow, these intelligent individuals find room in their minds for both religion and science - yet you would dismiss their belief outright.

schofield

10/13/2004 10:10:12 AM

trulyalarmed - It is people like you that are the most fanatical. Examine your own argument and you will see how closed minded it is. Typical of an atheist. Since you have convinced yourself that your position is intellectually superior to any differing opinion on the subject of God and religion, you cannot understand how intelligent people still believe in such "myths." Therefore, you have to categorize those who look at the same evidence as you but come to different conclusions as either (1) unintelligent, i.e., incapable of your level of thought or understanding, or "fanatical," most often seeking to dupe or control others or revel in nostalgic ignorance. I submit to you that many intelligent people (scientists, doctors, lawyers, factory workers, etc.) have examined the same evidence with the same skepticism and found reasons to believe. Unfortunately, it is you who revel in ignorance, and more importantly, intolerance.

rabbit-usa

10/12/2004 04:07:43 PM

IDBC,LOL!! You've never heard of humans being eaten by sharks, bears, lions, worms? "Top of the food chain"....LOL! And that's just on this planet.

trulyalarmed

10/12/2004 02:11:35 PM

posted: There is no good or no bad. If a tree falls on my car dose it make a sound? do you mean does it make a sound? or, is the tree giving the car a dose of sound? either way, this statement has nothing to do with evolution- it's philosphical. it's about as asstoote as the charmin commercial with bears wiping their bottom with toilet paper. only in america does a population purposely remain ignorant and superstious while reveling in it. "i'm ignorant people hee hee lok at me! i can't even spell does!"

trulyalarmed

10/12/2004 02:03:13 PM

post: Evolution as a theory is undone by the fact that it is not occurring or cannot be seen to be occurring now or in the last few hundred years. response: creationism is a theory that is based upon a book that is called the bible. it may be a mythological account borrowed from multiple cultures, but has never been proven to be absolute truth-unless it has been ingrained into one's head through years of indoctrination and intimidation by fanatical individuals who cling to something so abhorrantly ridiculous. they do so, because they have no desire to search or expand thought and intelligence. as a result the universe and creation suffers. ignorance is a big black vortex in which many individuals delight in living, breathing and dragging others into. evolution can easily be seen, it requires the shield of ignorance and superstition be removed.

fiona5

10/12/2004 10:56:26 AM

This message is for Crystalclearone. Your message, that begins with the note on porpoises, is very offensive, and defies the entire purpose of having this message board in which to debate. If your idea of intellectual debate is to swear at people and debase ideas than you are posting on the wrong site. Why don't you read the guidlines for posting messages, in which, it clearly states that swearing and offensive remarks are not allowed. This site is for all types of people of various ages, and backgrounds, please keep that in mind the next time you post.

Crystalclearone

10/12/2004 04:20:17 AM

I love Porpoises. My planet has Porpoises in the Sea. Robert Wrong injects utilitarian reduction into devolution, suggesting the highest purpose of life in evolution is to FUCK our genes into another generation. Your unconscious agenda is for war on the multi-generational multi-dimensional family under the disguise of divorcing the nuclear family into fodder for hatred toward different others. My Porpoise is to piss in your pool of delusional ego.

Donaldito

10/11/2004 11:16:17 PM

This guy is the biggest crybaby I've ever come across. He plays semantic games to try and convince us Dennett agrees with him. He doesn't. That's it. Bottom line. Shut up.

Livindesert

10/11/2004 10:49:22 PM

There is no good or no bad. If a tree falls on my car dose it make a sound?

Livindesert

10/11/2004 10:46:19 PM

You recycle a bottle it is a good thing you recycle. If nature recycles a cute little impala it is only our perception of what is good and what is not.

idbc

10/11/2004 09:12:22 PM

Did the goddess purposly design nature where the survival of the fittest is the operating system ? I love watching nature shows that show predator and prey and thank Gaia everytime a pride of lionesses hunts down a little baby impala, rip it to bloody shreds and share it with their cubs.

idbc

10/11/2004 09:02:53 PM

That is all very pretty rabbit, but the last time I checked, for better or for worse, humans are at the top of the food chain. If nature were so "intelligent" why are so many species extinct ? I mean the ones not killed off by the speicies that is not superior to any other species ?

rabbit-usa

10/11/2004 03:41:57 PM

Excellent point, willsea: "God IS Nature and that Nature has Intelligence to reform/evolve itself. This Power is not some distant being "out there" Spot on. So, no one species is a pinnacle of evolution, nor is Creation a static form, Goddess forbid. What a horror that would be!

sagenav

10/11/2004 01:23:43 PM

bravo88 doesn't believe in evolution because he can't see it??? But believes in a god that he can't see? How does that work?

costrel

10/11/2004 12:57:55 PM

Evolution is "purposeless"? I would argue that it at least has one purpose -- to ensure survival.

Cusidh

10/11/2004 11:03:34 AM

Anyway, while I tend to agree with the assertion the author of this article is trying to prove, (namely, that the process of evolution *could* be viewed as a mechanism through which the Divine works: (this is by no means contradictory to my religion's view of the Goddess, ) ..but this guy does a terrible job of trying to make his point, and he hasn't proven what he so triumphally claims to have... particularly with regards to the fact that he's insistently miscontruing what someone else is saying, and claiming he believes something he does not, and ignoring his clarifications of his own position. That's not logic, that's just a kind of desperation. All you can really do, if this question concerns you, is study what was made, rather than trying to force the world to fit a medieval worldview.

Cusidh

10/11/2004 10:36:19 AM

Not enough in some heads, it seems. You do realize, of course, that we can't fight disease or protect crops from blight without an understanding of evolution? What you gonna do, pray the diseases out of evolving to adapt to our medicines? They won't play by those rules. Dangerous, dangerous attitude you got there, Barblee. Not sure you're aware how much.

barblee

10/11/2004 10:33:11 AM

Too much going on in man's head, not enough in his heart.

barblee

10/11/2004 10:31:56 AM

Evolution has nothing to do with this earth or us. We are created in God's image, His creation, this earth is His creation and if we are going to survive as a nation and world we must connect to Him. He is Omnipotent and it should humble us. He gives us our breath each day. When man comes to that realization, then maybe he has a chance.

WillSea

10/11/2004 08:58:23 AM

what has changed in the last two centuries is not the evolution of life-forms, but the Evolution of Consciousness. We have become more aware of ourselves and what is obvious now is that further evolution is required if humanity is going to survive. The idea of an outside agency directing evolution and it's all-or-nothing counterpart in atheism are both wrong in my view. God IS Nature and that Nature has Intelligence to reform/evolve itself. This Power is not some distant being "out there" but is integral to all matter, all life, all energy and it drives itself by that conscious nature, always seeking harmony, even in death and rebirth in life-forms.

LairdsChapel

10/10/2004 09:16:08 PM

"The feeling remains that God is on the journey, too." - St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)

Kimrdhbsms

10/09/2004 10:02:28 PM

Nemo said, "The work of Dawkins, by claiming that natural selection shows random mutation but non-random natural selection (hence directionality?) completely finesses the correct use of the terms, making the debate pointless. " I'm not sure what you mean here, but about ten years ago, when I took a class in theoretical physics, we learned that the latest hyposthesis is that the mutations are not random, but are skewed in the direction of increasing complexity. If you are interested, i can give you references on this, but they're ten years old, since I haven't had time to follow up since the class.

nnmns

10/09/2004 07:35:20 PM

Some (maybe all; I'm no expert) of the systems in our body provide evidence for evolution versus a benign, capable creator. E.g. our immune system. It protects us from many things well but it also attacks us (reaction to bites & poison ivy, rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile diabetes, etc. etc.). It makes evolutionary sense because our immune system typically starts seriously attacking us later in life after we've done a lot of our reproducing. But to think it was designed that way by a creator that cares for us is bizarre.

jkevinm

10/09/2004 07:25:38 PM

Bravo 88, And I am amazed that anyone can believe anything else. I say again to you, and to all who deny god his godhood, why is your veiw of a creator so terribly limited. Are you so afraid of what you don't understand, that you can not allow for the possibility of a truly omniscient and omnipotent creator. Is your God so limited that evolution is beyond his ability? My God is capable of all those things, and miracles too.

nnmns

10/09/2004 07:25:06 PM

Bravo88, you need to study a little biology, or read a newspaper. Evolution is happening all around you and, in fact, inside you. Germs are evolving to survive drugs that used to kill them, weeds evolve to survive herbacides. The next flu you get will have evolved, let's hope not in a real deadly way. You can believe what you want about as many gods as you want because they exist in your mind, but there is real evidence for evolution.

Bravo88

10/09/2004 05:49:47 PM

Neither a, b, or c is a convincing case for "evolution"; the idea that a fishlike creature or any creature evolved into man. Evolution as a theory is undone by the fact that it is not occurring or cannot be seen to be occurring now or in the last few hundred years. The way I see it; evolution is simply a theory for denying that GOD exists and that we're the pinnacle of creation and that we can do as we wish with all the other creatures on earth.

ElGabilon

10/09/2004 01:56:46 PM

Yes dear webbers the Universe (not only earth) has a purpose which is something similiar to what humans experience. Birth...Life...Death. The concept of the "big bang" is valid. At that moment the universe begins, grows, and eventually dies through the process of becoming once again compressed to the size of a grapefruit, wherein it begins all over again in a never ending process. One might say that this process is God experiencing itself. Life plays a part in that it is the means by which the Universe obtains data to observe itself.

nemonemini

10/09/2004 12:21:37 AM

The debate over directionality is confused by the assumption of natural selection by both Wright and Dennett. This has confused the whole discussion. Natural selection is by definition non-directional, in a teleological sense. The work of Dawkins, by claiming that natural selection shows random mutation but non-random natural selection (hence directionality?) completely finesses the correct use of the terms, making the debate pointless. Directionality means some independent macro process or other factor beyond natural selection. For a view of directional evolution cf. http://eonix.8m.com/ and http://eonix.8m.com/nonzero.htm

nnmns

10/08/2004 11:21:22 PM

mmg, it IS a good idea for a book and Steven Jay Gould wrote it; I tried to paraphrase part of it and should have attributed it. See "Full House: The Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin". $11.20 at Amazon.

mightymountaingorilla

10/08/2004 11:06:59 PM

good idea nnmns! I really think that makes an interesting idea...maybe for a book? I would reccomend a book called "The Selfish Gene"--you might like it. But, unfortunately, I would like to politely disagree. I think that, as in all cases, there tends to be the least of the creatures on the highest level and the most of the creatures at the bottom (a veritable pyramid). Sure, viruses and bacteria tend to have the upper-hand population wise. But, this apparent simplicity is just part of the web of life--and that was (in the past) always getting more and more complex. Nowadays, it's getting simpler because of human influence, but it is still complex.

nnmns

10/08/2004 08:45:11 PM

Life is not getting more complex. Most of life is basically what it was billions of years ago, single-celled organisms. But through evolution the most complex life at one eon is likely to be more complex than the most complex life some eons earlier. That's just life exploring the possibilities of life. The edges are farther out, but most of the life on earth is not far out, it's quite close to early life.

Livindesert

10/08/2004 06:09:09 PM

me throwing a rock has purpose but to the spot it lands on it dose not. If a tree fall in the forest can it do algebra?

mightymountaingorilla

10/08/2004 05:14:38 PM

Does direction imply purpose? Hmmmm....good question. counterexample: An asteroid or meteor has a direction--it goes in one direction, obeys the laws of physics, gets bigger or smaller accordingly, etc. But, does that mean that the asteroid has a PURPOSE? What if it hit Earth and wiped out all life? Was that it's purpose, or was that just a random chain of events that was coincidentally occurring and resulted in the asteroid that formed 5 billion years ago to hit Earth? The fact is, it's the same with evolution. It's not driven by a purpose to make more intelligent creatures. It is a natural phenomena (that takes place on living and nonliving entities) that makes sense. It's "goal" is to make creatures the best suited for their environment and to survive to pass on genes. Humans result because our brains make us survive better. Just like if primates went extinct, some other organism could evolve to replace us as the dominant creature of the planet.

mandelbrot

10/08/2004 04:41:20 PM

No reputable participants in this discussion claim we "poofed" out of anything - unless of course you are refrerring to those who embrace beliefs with all of the explanatory power of "And God said let there be light..." (a true "poof" if there ever was one). Only someone unable or unwilling to grasp explanations with more nuance and complexity would think his idelogical opponents hold similarly ridiculous views...

thefish

10/08/2004 04:23:49 PM

I find it hard to believe that people believe we "poofed" out of thin air. If so, how come we still don't? Peace <

rbethell

10/08/2004 02:38:12 PM

Bravo: the reason that "anyone can believe in those beliefs" is because there is a preponderence of evidence to suggest that: a.) The universe is extremely ancient; b.) That the general pattern of simpler to more complex life can be observed in the Earth's strata (i.e. only rust in the Canadian shield, dinosauria in the Burgess shales.) c.) That the general pattern of simpler to more complex life can be observed in animal functionality in Zoology (in sponges, for example, the nascent diversification of cells that is taken further in jellyfish.)

Bravo88

10/08/2004 02:30:10 PM

Wow, I am amazed that I made it through that whole article; not because it was hard to understand but because I find some of the ideas expressed to be repugnant. Needless to say, I do not believe in either evolution or in natural selection. I am amazed that anyone can believe in those beliefs.

lucilius

10/08/2004 01:58:02 PM

In his eagerness to plug his book by trumping Dennett, Wright gleefully leaps to conclusions that are not inherent in Dennett’s statement. He asserts – and claims Dennett's very general agreement – that to the extent that evolution has comparable properties to an organism’s maturation possibility of intelligent design becomes more plausible. But that is not to say that the analogy is a consistently good one, or that “possible plausibility” means there’s even a substantial chance. He continues grasping at rhetorical straws in his analogy which depends on imagining that modern telecommunications are in any way genetically programmed and predetermined for development. This makes the entirely unwarranted assumption that our current telecommunications system is the only possible such development. By the way: Great posts, mandelbrot!

ajstone

10/08/2004 01:51:54 PM

Apologies for the crappy html formatting in the previous post.

ajstone

10/08/2004 01:50:56 PM

Swell. Even though I can sign on to just about everything Robert Wright has written, I can't help but think that intelligent-design crowd is going to jump on his invocation of a "higher purpose"--no matter how neutrally he attempts to define it--and misrepresent it in the same way they misrepresented Gould's "rewind the tape" analogy in Wonderful Life. I know that I can't blame Wright for the nefarious uses to which his work may be put by others, but, geez! Announcing that you have forced a noted Darwinian atheist to grudgingly concede that evolution may be evidence of some sort of design is pretty low-hanging fruit for the pseudo-scientists who hawk Genesis as a biology text. Wright's argument would have been just as compelling--as I found it to be in NonZero--if he had just layed it out, rather than engaging a purposeless mano-a-mano with Dennett.

bunsinspace

10/08/2004 08:58:15 AM

BS"D Purpose? Yeah. We're supposed to be the extension of Earth that can protect it from astronomical catasrophes and temporal anomalies. Instead, we may simply be parasites and responsible for both.

rbethell

10/08/2004 08:41:01 AM

mandelbrot writes: The article is an example of a very old and very bad trick Less so than you'd assert. The article does little more than make a case for the Anthropic Principle, a concept that is not without some evidence. It is certainly not as weak a notion as you are implying.

rbethell

10/08/2004 08:37:59 AM

Of course the Earth is becoming more complex. You're thinking too small, Fromoz. There isn't a single extinction event in the Earth's one billion year history of multi-cellular life that caused anything more than slight blip on the radar. Even the tremendous Permian/Triassic extinction that absolutely dwarfs anything we could hope to witness caused little other than a slight realignment in the direction of life. The Earth IS getting more complex, as time passes. And there isn't a serious biologist on the face of the planet who will tell you otherwise. It is whether we continue to play a role in that that is at issue. Not whether it happens or not.

fromoz

10/07/2004 11:19:44 PM

With an increasinly high rate of extinctions the Earth isn't becoming more complex. Global warming is spiraling out of control and taking with it an increasingly higher rate of extinctions. The World is now like a giant jig-saw puzzle with millions of pieces missing. There's nothing spiritual about a soiled and spoiled planet becoming even more poisonous to most forms of life.

harrysaber

10/07/2004 06:08:32 PM

Natural selection is a process that is built on underlying chemical laws (the direction that chemical reactions take as governed by free energy, etc.), which in turn are built on underlying physical laws (first, second and third laws of thermodynamics). The apparent order in natural selection, which Robert Wright corrrectly observes, may now be applicable to entire plantary environments, arise from the fact that the fundamental laws are "ordered", in the sense that phenomena is subject to ordered pphysical laws in the first place. There is no point in asking about the seeming "directionality" of natural selection, at whatever level (atomic, microscopic, genetic, organisms, societies) without first asking where the fundamental universal order - the laws of physics themselves - came from. The rest is all "details."

mandelbrot

10/07/2004 04:00:59 PM

The article is an example of a very old and very bad trick: First, get your opponent to assent to a vague proposition consistent with both your belief systems – here the claim that life on earth may be subject to the influences of a "high level process" called natural selection. Second, write an article concerning your exchange that is verbose enough to conveniently obscure your bold leap from vagaries such as "high level process" and "natural selection" to your own preferred specifics likes "a Divine Being’s Will" and "divine purpose." Dennett would not dispute that people can have their own subjective interpretation of what the complexity of the world means about a divine being - he has simply shown, over a long career nowhere near the point of recantation, that you don't need divine beings for the world to be complex and thus the world being complex is not proof of the divine...

mandelbrot

10/07/2004 04:00:06 PM

Saying that "Dennett might object" to this characterization of his argument is an understatement. The attempt to turn honest observations of a complex and incompletely understood world into proof of the existence of a divine being who created that world is exactly the phenomena Dennett has criticized and debunked for decades. Dennett has not been suddenly convinced by new evidence or a new argument as the author insinuates – he's just been forthright enough about his own argument and evidence to allow someone with an agenda to misrepresent his opinion. By the author's own admissions (just vague as Dennett's), Robert Wright could be characterized as admitting life on earth is evidence of a non-divine, mechanistic process called "natural selection" - maybe that article could be titled "A Believer Loses Faith"...

sesser

10/07/2004 03:33:53 PM

As Robert Wright's article and Dennett interview imply, it is not necessarily inconsistent with naturalism (and evolutionary science in particular) for there to be a kind of active purpose at work in the fundamental fabric of the universe. In fact, biological phenomena even including human consciousness are more intelligible under this scenario then under a strictly mechanistic materialistic version of scientific naturalism. With regard to religion, this vision can be consistent with forms of theism such as those traditionally known as deism, pantheism, and panentheism.

theodicey

10/07/2004 01:08:47 PM

It seems to me that the kind of "functionality" that evolution on this planet exhibits is exactly the kind that one could predict for social animals composed of selfish genes, occupying the human ecological niche. the global internet is a solution to a physical environment that imposes certain costs on communication and travel. economic and political organization is a solution to the uneven distribution of resources. and environmental stewardship is necessary to human survival. we'll see if global communications allows that message to overcome the intrinsically selfish appeal of trade. i don't see any reason to assume an unspecified higher purpose when lower-level explanations apparently suffice. but then, i'm just a scientist, not a philosopher like dennett.

tomw2

10/07/2004 11:20:54 AM

It's my understanding that mutations are caused by the effect of radiation/particles from outer space that cause a change in the DNA of a developing organism. The mutation is what gives rise to natural selection - either the mutation is successful at enhancing survival or it is not. Arguing about whether or not natural selection has a purpose is an argument at the wrong level. The argument should be about whether or not mutations have a direction. Are these 'beams from outer space' that give rise to mutations intentional or random? From our point of view they appear random. From the point of view of an omniscient being, they could be very purposeful. So the real question is whether or not the universe is acting with intent. TW

Roo938

10/02/2004 11:28:02 AM

What if God and the universe were one and the same? What if everything was connected and we were all part of a living, evolving, thinking, being? What if God was still growing? What if the purpose of humanity is to love each other, and by loving, learn , and by learning, grow? What if the whole purpose is learning and growth?

smflores

10/01/2004 07:56:40 PM

What is going on in this world, lately? Either you are a believer or you're not. I found this article so ridiculous, that I couldn't even finish it. All we read lately, is articles about God being real. Well, why don't they take all that research money and donate it to chartities. Like funding the Red Cross for all the victims of these horrible huricaines? Get a life, and quit wasting your time. God is God. Believe it or not. It's your decision. And no matter how much research you do, it is and will always remain the same.

olubo

10/01/2004 09:59:15 AM

I still believe that life on earth is just 1 big, out of control science project and that G-d is now saying "Oh my G-d, why did I do that?"

Aquari

09/30/2004 11:57:16 PM

However, as Scott Adams in "God's Debris" has pointed out, that does not imply that "God" still exists. The creation stories of several cultures suggest that the world was created from the corpse of a dead deity ...

john073052

09/30/2004 01:11:36 PM

If one defines "God" as the being, means, or process by which the "Universe" was created, then if one assumes the "Universe" exists and was created in a "big bang", then "God" must have existed prior to or at the instant of the "big bang". However, as Scott Adams in "God's Debris" has pointed out, that does not imply that "God" still exists. So, again "something exists" and most rational beings would assume that means the "Universe" exists. Thus this would imply the meaning of life is "to be". However, knowing the meaning is "to be" does not tell us if there is any "purpose" to life, indeed the existentialists would say any "purpose" in life is what you "choose" to make your "purpose". This article is interesting because it implies that the "rules" of the Universe imply a "purpose" to life other that what we "choose".

godot9

09/30/2004 10:58:27 AM

The Planet has a purpose because if it didn't, it would simply be the reverse of the way it began, the natural rise and fall of its complexity. For mankind (a small portion of the overall complex universe), the purpose is re-generation. To prevent humans from being consumed by animals and nature, man becomes the mediator/manager to organize humans to extend life beyond what would be an expected outcome if unmanaged. If managed well, civility and humane-ness result; if not, death & destruction.

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