Tim Freke on the Science of Evolving Souls |355|

Discussion in 'Skeptiko Shows' started by Alex, Jul 11, 2017.

  1. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    Evolution, at least according to Darwinism, doesn't work on the premise that "all things improve". Rather, it works because of the interaction of random mutation and environmental selection pressures. If a mutation suits an organism better that what was previously in place, then the environment selects for it, regardless of whether that represents an "improvement".

    Cave fishes don't benefit from having eyes, and they don't have them, the theory being that they once did have them, but then found themselves in an environment which was completely dark. Any mutation that resulted in the loss of eyes wouldn't then have been disadvantageous; in fact would have been beneficial because the fish wouldn't then have to waste energy in the production or maintenance of eyes.

    IOW, in Darwinian evolution, things don't necessarily "improve"; it would be more accurate to say that things become better adapted to their preferred environment. This could result in loss of features as much as gain or refinement of features. So, for instance, the Slowworm is actually a lizard that has lost its legs. Is the Slowworm an improvement on a standard lizard? Not at all; probably more accurate to say that it functions adequately in the environment it prefers, viz subterranean or amongst grass or vegetation (https://allyouneedisbiology.wordpress.com/2015/07/06/apodus-lizards/).

    Actually, this level of evolution (microevolution) is pretty well explained in Darwinian terms, but Darwinism doesn't explain the relative rapidity of the Cambrian or later mammalian explosions, for example. Here I would agree that overall, the tendency has been for organisms to become "improved", albeit that this improvement may only be relative to specific environments. A whale is only "improved" with respect to an aquatic environment, not a terrestrial one, for example.

    But what about complexity? Isn't it true that over time, organisms have tended to become more complex? Haven't they progressed from unicellular to multicellular organisms of increasing sophistication? In general, I think they have. And we shouldn't be hasty in concluding that the giant panda is an example of an organism that has regressed. Its hand is rather remarkable in that it has developed something akin to an opposable thumb: an extra appendage developed from wrist bone that enables it to grip bamboo shoots. It's believed to be a true bear, and if so, then in respect of other bears, it could be argued that it's more advanced rather than less advanced. And it's certainly more sophisticated than are reptiles, which are in turn more sophisticated than invertebrates.

    In a more philosophical vein, I haven't read Freke's book and hence don't fully comprehend what he's saying. But for my money, I tend to think that evolution is indeed the "prime directive" as it were. Everything is (or at any rate all organisms are) striving for more complexity/sophistication, and lying behind this is some force or entity that is the causative agent. I look at the universe from a top-down rather than bottom-up perspective, which latter is the tendency of modern science: which is why, I believe, it has entered a period of stasis in which relatively few new plausible theories are arising, and why it's increasingly becoming fossilised and fanciful in its outlook.
     
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  2. Charlie Primero

    Charlie Primero Member

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    Well said.

    "Improved" is a subjective, human concept.

    In some universes our evolutionary apex is one of these:

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    In other conceptions, it's this:

     
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  3. Andrew9

    Andrew9 Member

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    I did like his emphasis on evolution.
    Not having read his book I am missing some of his ideas I am sure. In the interview he said that heaven has evolved - does he also say that God has evolved? That does not work for me. And how does that mesh with a multiverse? It would make more sense to me to say that our understanding of the spiritual has evolved.
     
  4. Judith

    Judith New

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    This was my reaction as well. I don't agree with his assessment of time, among other things. Having experienced several OBE's, one of the distinguishing characteristics of them was a subjective distortion of time. What I thought took hours, only took minutes when I woke and looked at the clock.
     
  5. Tarquin Rees

    Tarquin Rees Member

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    God, if He exists, must evolve. In act He does in all the Scriptures.

    He decides one day to create humans (or the universe itself) as an end to aid Himself. He learns from it. He adapts. He changes His mind according to requests and prayers from Prophets. He eventually - in Christianity - He evolves a plan to send His son as a sacrifice. He is, in short, dynamic.

    Of course the 'Church God' of the religious fundamentalists is static, He does not change or evolve, He never grows - He's a monolithic entity. That's why atheists rightly say He doesn't exist - they instinctively know a static God is an impossibility. Of course they go off the rails in being unable to conceive of a dynamic God but that's another story.
     
  6. gabriel

    gabriel New

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    A creator of the universe is omniscient and omnipotent unless he chooses to be otherwise. The alternative is a superhero god, a larger than life version of man with some enhanced powers, which is the god of some believers and all atheists.

    The only reasonable conclusion if one believes in a god at all, is that he is essentially unknowable as anything but a creator. That means he may but probably will not submit to exercises in logic. Christians believe God manifested fully as a man, so anything Christ said reflects the will of God. The Christian message contains logical consequence, but puts faith higher than diagnostics. In conclusion, I don't believe God changes his mind because he already knows the outcome. I can accept that divine meaning is more subtle and complete than anything the human mind can wrap itself around, which is why faith is held so highly in scripture.
     
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  7. Steve

    Steve Member

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    I see the possibility that God might not be perfect, but don't see the alternative as you have suggested. God might have to evolve to survive. Tom Campbell believes that it is so, for one. I don't know.
     
  8. Tarquin Rees

    Tarquin Rees Member

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    I don't think you grasped the essence of my post. Maybe read "God is No Thing" - or maybe ponder the phrase?

    Anything you can conceive of (including notions of 'God') fall into the group 'Things'. That which is 'No Thing' is what religious traditions in their original essence symbolise as 'God'. When God is made into 'a thing' then He becomes just another created entity.

    I can't speak for Christianity but this is why in Islam the statement of faith is "There is no God..... except God" and why 'idols' can be anything even (perhaps especially) one's own conception of what God is.

    Tl;dr - if you can conceive of God then the thing you are conceiving is not God.
     
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  9. Steve

    Steve Member

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    Nice.
     
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  10. gabriel

    gabriel New

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    I was responding to your insistence that God must "evolve" to exist. Evolve is a human construct that means anything from change to a specific method of biological progress. If you're saying that God is not a thing that exists outside creation looking in - the god of most atheists - I agree, but that shouldn't infer that God evolves to exist. We have no way of telling if a universal progenitor evolves or not, but for evolution to exist as a phenomenon or a concept it must be within the will of the deity, not outside of it.

    Any other interpretation reduces God to a thing, Dawkins Blind Watchmaker or the atheist's self refuting Superman.
     
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  11. Tarquin Rees

    Tarquin Rees Member

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    Depends what you mean by evolve. At one point - I think this is true in virtually all religions - there was God and no creation. Then He created.

    That's what I mean by 'evolve' - in the sense of opposite of 'stasis' as some fundamentalists believe. But even they believe in a God who was ONCE dynamic and responded but no longer does so (though they don't put it like that).
     
  12. gabriel

    gabriel New

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    An omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent deity is the only variety that makes sense to me. The alternative to an all-seeing, all-powerful and all-present God is something less that God because He lacks the essential prerequisites. If he's not all of them a God who created everything has chosen to forego some of the those things. There's no evidence that this is the case. I'm atheistic towards the god of atheists because he doesn't meet the necessary criteria. He wouldn't let bad things happen so can't be all powerful, and variations on that argument which reduce god to a variety of human.
     
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  13. gabriel

    gabriel New

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    You are free to believe anything you want, but within Judeo-Christianity God always was. There was no time when God did not exist. To say God is either static or dynamic is to misunderstand the nature of the deity, which is all things (omnipresence). Anything less, which usually means something more human-like we can get our heads around, is unlikely to be God. For God to be subject to and not the origin of causality, sounds like a human concept.
     
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  14. Steve

    Steve Member

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    Thanks Gabriel.

    I can understand where you're coming from when saying this. I am coming to the conclusion that whatever we may perceive about God is probably way off the mark, and it's just a way of passing the time. Until we die, then we might get some more clues to work on. I suspect our purpose here is about something far simpler, yet far more amazing.

    I would hate for Dawkins to be right. Imagine the smugness!!!
     
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  15. KindaGamey

    KindaGamey Member

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    Haha... what if God is eternal smugness and the scientific realists are just emulating their deity? As above so below!
     
  16. gabriel

    gabriel New

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    I agree that God "surpasses all understanding" (Philippians), which suggests restrictions on what God can and cannot do are misplaced. On the other hand conscience seems to be a hotline to what is and is not God-like. Faith is not blind faith as atheists claim, but the sum total of everything we understand about human existence in the context of a religious world view. That view may not be complete, but if it matches what we understand of human nature and its texts represent a credible reflection of life as we experience it, belief requires a more modest leap than if we had no signposts.

    Humanism, the ethical branch of atheist materialism, comes to similar conclusions about the nature of humanity but frames it in terms of survival instincts, reciprocal altruism and so on, so it's not as though atheists do not recognise the impulse. I find genetic morality less likely than an absolute moral source because like less-than-gods and evolutionary realities, it pushes that source further back. Rupert Sheldrake seems to believe in an evolutionary reality (if I understand him properly), one in which the morality of one era is not the same as the next. I find the idea that mankind has changed sufficiently to require different morals inconsistent with the cultural artefacts of previous eras, which reflect our own concerns in all important details.
     
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  17. Steve

    Steve Member

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    I agree with that whole paragraph.

    What is interesting is that some of us are attracted to the Bible, while others, such as myself, find other signposts which have little or nothing to do with a holy book. Do you believe, as I think Christians are said to do, that non-believers like myself don't get to go to heaven. This seems, to me, to be a primitive sort of idea.
     
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  18. gabriel

    gabriel New

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    Homilies from the pulpit I've heard say all salvation is by the grace of God, including Catholics. I don't accept heaven is the reward for successful completion of an obstacle course.
     
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  19. Andrew9

    Andrew9 Member

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    If there is a multiverse then there are many creations... but, as I see it, only one God, essentially unknowable except though attributes.
    As I see it, it is our understanding which evolves. Hopefully :)
     
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  20. Tarquin Rees

    Tarquin Rees Member

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    Very true.

    "The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao, The name that can be named is not the eternal name"





     
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