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Science writer: Could evolution have a higher purpose?

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From science writer Robert Wright at New York Times:

That said, one interesting feature of current discourse is a growing openness among some scientifically minded people to the possibility that our world has a purpose that was imparted by an intelligent being. I’m referring to “simulation” scenarios, which hold that our seemingly tangible world is actually a kind of projection emanating from some sort of mind-blowingly powerful computer; and the history of our universe, including evolution on this planet, is the unfolding of a computer algorithm whose author must be pretty bright.

You may scoff, but in 2003 the philosopher Nick Bostrom of Oxford University published a paper laying out reasons to think that we are pretty likely to be living in a simulation. And the simulation hypothesis has gained influential supporters. Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium and America’s de facto astronomer laureate, finds it plausible. The visionary tech entrepreneur Elon Musk says there’s almost no chance that we’re living in “base reality.” The New Yorker reported earlier this year that “two tech billionaires” — it didn’t say whether Musk is one of them — “have gone so far as to secretly engage scientists to work on breaking us out of the simulation.”

I’m guessing that will take awhile, and meanwhile I’d like to note an irony.

When an argument for higher purpose is put this way — that is, when it doesn’t involve the phrase “higher purpose” and, further, is cast more as a technological scenario than a metaphysical one — it is considered intellectually respectable. I don’t mean there aren’t plenty of people who dismiss it. I’m talking about how people dismiss it. The Bostrom paper drew flack, but a lot of it was from people who thought the chances that we’re living in a simulation are way less than 50 percent, not from people who thought the idea was wholly crazy.More.

So the obvious answer is yes, evolution can have a higher purpose but then it must originate in an intelligence capable of purpose. And for some, the idea that space aliens are fooling us all is scientific. Others continue to search for ways to explain away fine-tuning:

Smolin thinks our universe may itself be a product of a kind of evolution: maybe universes can replicate themselves via black holes, so over time — over a lot of time — you get universes whose physical laws are more and more conducive to replication. (So that’s why our universe is so good at black-hole making!) In some variants of Smolin’s theory — such as those developed by the late cosmologist Edward Harrison and the mathematician Louis Crane — intelligent beings can play a role in this replication once their technology reaches a point where they can produce black holes. So through cosmological natural selection you’d get universes whose physical properties were more and more conducive to the evolution of intelligent life. This might explain the much-discussed observation that the physical constants of this universe seem “fine-tuned” to permit the emergence of life.

All of it seems to be invented to explain away a straightforward interpretation of the evidence of fine-tuning of this universe for life.

See also: Copernicus, you are not going to believe who is using your name. Or how.

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7 Replies to “Science writer: Could evolution have a higher purpose?

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    as to:

    “two tech billionaires”,,, “have gone so far as to secretly engage scientists to work on breaking us out of the simulation.”

    Of related interest to the obvious ‘waking up to the real world’ Matrix analogy,,,

    The Matrix-1999 (welcome to the real world)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PKwq7b2i-vc

    Of related interest, to the obvious ‘waking up to the real world’ Matrix analogy, is the following study. A study by researchers who had a bias against Near Death Experiences (NDEs) being real. In their study, they unexpectedly found that the ‘Afterlife’ feels ‘even more real than real,’

    ‘Afterlife’ feels ‘even more real than real,’ researcher says – Wed April 10, 2013
    Excerpt: “If you use this questionnaire … if the memory is real, it’s richer, and if the memory is recent, it’s richer,” he said.
    The coma scientists weren’t expecting what the tests revealed.
    “To our surprise, NDEs were much richer than any imagined event or any real event of these coma survivors,” Laureys reported.
    The memories of these experiences beat all other memories, hands down, for their vivid sense of reality. “The difference was so vast,” he said with a sense of astonishment.
    Even if the patient had the experience a long time ago, its memory was as rich “as though it was yesterday,” Laureys said.
    http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/09/.....periences/

    Memories of Near Death Experiences (NDEs): More Real Than Reality? – Mar. 27, 2013
    Excerpt: University of Liège
    ,,,researchers,, have looked into the memories of NDE with the hypothesis that if the memories of NDE were pure products of the imagination, their phenomenological characteristics (e.g., sensorial, self referential, emotional, etc. details) should be closer to those of imagined memories. Conversely, if the NDE are experienced in a way similar to that of reality, their characteristics would be closer to the memories of real events.
    The researchers compared the responses provided by three groups of patients, each of which had survived (in a different manner) a coma, and a group of healthy volunteers. They studied the memories of NDE and the memories of real events and imagined events with the help of a questionnaire which evaluated the phenomenological characteristics of the memories. The results were surprising. From the perspective being studied, not only were the NDEs not similar to the memories of imagined events, but the phenomenological characteristics inherent to the memories of real events (e.g. memories of sensorial details) are even more numerous in the memories of NDE than in the memories of real events.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....190359.htm

    Here are a few quotes testifying to that ‘more real than real’ effect within NDEs:

    A Doctor’s Near Death Experience Inspires a New Life – video
    Quote: “It’s not like a dream. It’s like the world we are living in is a dream and it’s kind of like waking up from that.”
    Dr. Magrisso
    http://www.nbcchicago.com/on-a.....31791.html

    Medical Miracles – Dr. Mary Neal’s Near Death Experience – video (More real than real quote at 37:49 minute mark)
    https://youtu.be/WCNjmWP2JjU?t=2269

    “More real than anything I’ve experienced since. When I came back of course I had 34 operations, and was in the hospital for 13 months. That was real but heaven is more real than that. The emotions and the feelings. The reality of being with people who had preceded me in death.”
    – Don Piper – “90 Minutes in Heaven,” 10 Years Later – video (2:54 minute mark)
    https://youtu.be/3LyZoNlKnMM?t=173

    Exactly how is it possible for reality to become ‘even more real than real?’

    I hold that this ‘even more real than real’ effect within NDEs is completely inexplicable on materialistic premises, whereas on Theism, where the Mind of God is held to be the primary ‘reality’, I hold that this ‘even more real than real’ finding for NDEs is to be expected.
    This ‘even more real than real’ expectation on Theism is obvious since the closer one gets to God then the closer one gets to the very definition of ‘reality’ itself within Theism.

    Whereas on Atheistic materialism, exactly how are material particles suppose to become ‘even more real than real’?

    ,,, It is important to note that in order to even properly define reality in the first place, as WJM has made clear in the past here on UD, mind absolutely must be considered primary.

    “In any philosophy of reality that is not ultimately self-defeating or internally contradictory, mind – unlabeled as anything else, matter or spiritual – must be primary. What is “matter” and what is “conceptual” and what is “spiritual” can only be organized from mind. Mind controls what is perceived, how it is perceived, and how those percepts are labeled and organized. Mind must be postulated as the unobserved observer, the uncaused cause simply to avoid a self-negating, self-conflicting worldview. It is the necessary postulate of all necessary postulates, because nothing else can come first. To say anything else comes first requires mind to consider and argue that case and then believe it to be true, demonstrating that without mind, you could not believe that mind is not primary in the first place.”
    – William J. Murray

    WJM is in excellent company:

    “No, I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.”
    Max Planck (1858–1947), the originator of quantum theory, The Observer, London, January 25, 1931

    “Consciousness cannot be accounted for in physical terms. For consciousness is absolutely fundamental. It cannot be accounted for in terms of anything else.”
    Schroedinger, Erwin. 1984. “General Scientific and Popular Papers,” in Collected Papers, Vol. 4. Vienna: Austrian Academy of Sciences. Friedr. Vieweg & Sohn, Braunschweig/Wiesbaden. p. 334.

    Of note: Planck used the term ‘Matrix’ long before computer simulations were ever conceived of:

    “As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.”
    Max Planck – The main originator of Quantum Theory – Das Wesen der Materie [The Nature of Matter], speech at Florence, Italy (1944) (from Archiv zur Geschichte der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Abt. Va, Rep. 11 Planck, Nr. 1797)

  2. 2
    Silver Asiatic says:

    That said, one interesting feature of current discourse is a growing openness among some scientifically minded people to the possibility that our world has a purpose that was imparted by an intelligent being.

    It’s ok when he says it in the NY Times.

    But when we say it, it’s called ID Creationism, right?

  3. 3
  4. 4
    Dionisio says:

    During the interview, I was trying to steer Hamilton toward philosophical topics, and at one point he went further than I had expected.

    He said, “I’m also quite open to the view that there is some kind of ultimate good which is of a religious nature — that we just have to look beyond what the evolutionary theory tells us and accept promptings of what ultimate good is, coming from some other source.”

    That’s an unusual thing for a great evolutionary biologist to say, but the most unusual part was still to come.

    But that interview never got published?
    Those statements were not printed out?
    Until now?

    Hmm…

    Are the recent biology-related research discoveries heating up the discussion?
    Are people about to realize that we have been fooled for too many years by the pseudoscientific narrative associated with the Neo-Darwinian just-so stories?
    Maybe that’s why we don’t see politely dissenting interlocutors in the threads “Mystery at the heart of life” and “A third way of evolution?”

  5. 5
    Dionisio says:

    Perhaps a purpose of the Neo-Darwinian narrative was to make the materialist atheistic worldview appear rational? To make it look kind of scientific?

  6. 6
    Dionisio says:

    Anyway, at the end of the day, opinions don’t make a dent in absolute truth.
    Nothing that somebody may say can affect the ultimate reality at all.
    It’s written.

  7. 7
    Dionisio says:

    The Ultimate Reality is completely independent of anybody’s opinion.

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