Our origins? Evolutionary chance or purposeful design?

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Our origins? Evolutionary chance or purposeful design?

Post by Take5 » Tue Sep 25, 2018 8:09 pm

This is the topic for discussion at our Enquiring Minds group - this Thursday morning, so I haven't given you a lot of time.

Checking online most, if not all, of the results, lead to religious sources. IME, atheists consider this a non-subject, we've already decided that Intelligent Design is a nonsense - so what is there to be discussed?

However, one of our members is a creationist and wishes to pontificate on his favourite topic.

I'd appreciate your thoughts - especially any humorous responses - it's going to be an hour and a half wasted, IMO, so I'd at least like a little light-heartedness in there.

Thanks in advance.

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Post by brimstoneSalad » Wed Sep 26, 2018 11:18 pm

It could be worth talking about how intelligence actually works.

Cognitively, learning is a process of random behavior that is reinforced and becomes conditioned. We learn to walk by flailing our limbs until something is more useful than not. Most behaviors aren't just unmodified instinct (fixed action patterns), but are honed based on learned experience, this is true for complex animals (which includes many insects; basically things more sophisticated than a dust mite) and humans.

So, intelligence itself is a process of cognitive evolution. And you could call evolution as a whole something like intelligent in the most general sense of distributed computing (if that's the god they're looking for, I guess that's fine, some pantheists feel that way).
The notion that evolution is chance is kind of disingenuous, though. It's a selective pressure. It's about as much chance as a baby learning how to walk. There's a little bit of random in there (success could be measured in days or months) but the question of inevitability is pretty obvious. When creationists talk about chance they want to imply that it might not or even would likely not have happened, and that's just dishonest. When it comes to evolution of biological life, it's more of a race to an inevitable end. It's plausible perhaps that our cousins would be where we are today instead of us, but very much implausible that nobody would be here.

Looking back in hind sight and imagining it could only be us doing that reflection, and that it was either homo-sapiens or bust, is just the height of arrogance. So is figuring you're so special because you had the good luck to win; like the same that happened when your mother's egg was fertilized by one of millions of sperm.
It's neither being special nor being a statistical anomaly. It just is what it is, and that's OK. Even good if we take the initiative to make the most out of it. :)

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