Intelligent Design

The selfish gene?: Seems to have been left out of the chromosomes in the liver

Spread the love

Who sucker punched this guy’s selfish genes?

(a 28 year old Ontario power company employee – a complete stranger – is donating part of his liver to help a toddler in Toronto who needs a transplant.)

Oh, and here and here are some other everyday “genuine altruism” stories I happen to know about from Canada, one of them from the Toronto area, involving young guys, who (as a group) are supposed to be selfish, according to feminists. Toronto is not the City of Angels, by the way; readers can likely supply instances from their own communities.

As philosopher David Stove would probably have said, if Dawkins was right about the “selfish gene”, these cases would be much more rare and they would be socially disapproved. Yet we see the opposite; such persons are admired. (In Canada, we don’t pay for organs; the only thing that guy gets is paid time off work while he recovers – most of which he could have got even if he had piled up his truck on an icy road, through the insurance.)

25 Replies to “The selfish gene?: Seems to have been left out of the chromosomes in the liver

  1. 1
    Mats says:

    Denyse, clearly, you don’t know how science works. Don’t you know that altruism is EXACLY what evolution would predict?

  2. 2
    Chris Hyland says:

    One of Dawkins’ main points at the end of the book is that humans, although influenced by our genes are not controlled by them so we are able to act selflessly.

  3. 3
    russ says:

    “One of Dawkins’ main points at the end of the book is that humans, although influenced by our genes are not controlled by them so we are able to act selflessly.”

    Comment by Chris Hyland — September 2, 2006 @ 6:13 pm

    How do we know that in writing his book, Dawkins’ selfish genes are not lulling the rest of us into altruism so that our genes pass on self-destructive behavior which leads to our extinction while his selfish genes survive to reproduce?

  4. 4
    O'Leary says:

    From moderator Denyse: I removed a bunch of posts here from Dawkins fans who are so absolutely sure of their position that they cannot be bothered to spell it out, but merely attacked the blog post. I am sure those posters will not want for a hearing among the Thumbsmen. (One caution post got caught up in it; sorry about that.)

  5. 5
    Karl Pfluger says:

    Denyse O’Leary:
    “…if Dawkins was right about the “selfish gene”, these cases would be much more rare and they would be socially disapproved. Yet we see the opposite; such persons are admired.”

    Hi Denyse,
    Your statement reflects a common misunderstanding of selfish gene theory. The fact that our genes are selfish does not mean that our behaviors must also be selfish. In fact, it is in our genes’ selfish interests to promote unselfish behavior much of the time. The apparent paradox is resolved when you look at specific examples of unselfishness.

    The obvious example is a parent making sacrifices for the sake of a child. The sacrifices are genuinely unselfish: the parent is accepting a burden for the benefit of the child. At the same time, the child shares half of the parent’s genes, so anything the parent does for the benefit of the child also benefits half of his or her own genes. The parent is acting unselfishly, but this genuinely unselfish behavior is caused by selfish genes advancing their own interests.

    Note that this strategy sometimes backfires on the genes. A father who dies while trying and failing to save his drowning daughter has done nothing to benefit his genes in this instance. However, a father’s protective tendencies do, in general, benefit his daughter’s genes, and thereby half of his own genes.

    What about the liver donor? He is sacrificing for the benefit of a complete stranger who is only distantly related to him genetically. In this case some of the benefits to his own genes are not so direct (remember the drowning father). But in general, being generous benefits an individual because it makes others like, trust and admire him. Such an individual is more likely to receive help when he needs it, is more likely to ascend to leadership roles in the community, and more likely to attract a better mate — all to the benefit of his selfish genes. If you think about the small communities that persisted through most of human evolution, this is even more true. Everyone knew everyone else and kept tabs on what they did and didn’t do. A liar or cheat would quickly spoil his reputation, while a mensch would gain the trust of the entire community.

    Dawkins devotes two chapters of The Selfish Gene to explaining how high-level cooperation can emerge from the fundamentally selfish “motives” of the genes. I heartily recommend the entire book, but the chapter “Nice guys finish first” is particularly germane to the topic of this post.

  6. 6
    SuricouRaven says:

    I should read the book sometime.

    I see the mistake here. Genetics do not code an action for all possible situations a human may be in, but they do code ‘guidelines’ for behavior. Some of them are fairly simple, and some more complicated. One of them is to encourage altuistic behavior – this is why it feels good to help another.

    Intuitatively, that would seem to be something natural selection would act against – giving up valuable resources to another. And, if humans were loners, that would be true. But humans, like most primates, live in groups and are highly social. Altuism there can lend quite an advantage to reproductive success, and to group survival. And – as Dawkins would point out immediately – for his ‘selfish genes’ helping out a close relative is almost as good as helping the posessing individual.

    Genes cant code for an elaborate evaluate-the-family-tree process though. They can only produce a vaguely rewarding emotion triggered by giving, and by recieving thanks.

  7. 7
    Mats says:

    One of Dawkins’ main points at the end of the book is that humans, although influenced by our genes are not controlled by them so we are able to act selflessly.

    So evolution can predict two conflicting behaviours and still pretend that it is testable science.

  8. 8
    Chris Hyland says:

    “So evolution can predict two conflicting behaviours and still pretend that it is testable science.”

    I think it was an observation as opposed to a prediction.

  9. 9
    DaveScot says:

    Some clarification of Dawkins’ book “The Selfish Gene” seems to be in order. His thesis is that genes, in and of themselves, are selfish. They don’t “care” about anything other than making copies of themselves. Hence he explains the abundance of so-called “junk DNA” with no known function – it’s just selfish genes making copies of themselves that serve no useful purpose. That definition of junk DNA is somewhat dated and has lost most of its following but the book itself is dated now too and it was fashionable thinking at the time. He didn’t posit that the selfish behavior of the genes manifests itself in selfish behavior of the person. At the time of writing, and perhaps still today, it was a common belief that organisms use genes as a vehicle to make more copies of the organism. Dawkins’ spin on this was that genes use the organism as a vehicle to make more copies of the genes. It’s not clear from the post that this is how the author understands the book and its title.

    As to the commenter who said that evolutin predicts altruism… of course it does. RM+NS predicts everything. If there were no altruism it would predict that too. NDE doesn’t predict things. It explains things AFTER the fact. It’s safer that way. Otherwise embarrassing situations like the fossil record not supporting gradualism could rise up again. Better to wait until something is observed and THEN predict it. 😆

  10. 10
    Mats says:

    Otherwise embarrassing situations like the fossil record not supporting gradualism could rise up again. Better to wait until something is observed and THEN predict it. 😀

    Sir, clearly you don’t know what The Consensus Of The Scientific Comunnity® says about the fossil record. There is no problem at all with the fossil record and evolution since, whatever the fossil records is, THAT’S what evolution predicts.

    If you believe me not, consider the words of Prof Weinberg:


    “So the creationist prediction of systematic gaps in the fossil record has no value in validating the creationist model, since evolution theory makes precisely the same prediction“.
    – S. Weinberg – “Reviews of Thirty-one Creationist Books – Review of Fossils: Key to the Present”, 1984, p 8

  11. 11
    DaveScot says:

    Mats

    We can have a lot of fun with this. Once in a while when someone says “evolution predicted such and such” I ask where I can find the prediction that predates the observation. Invariably the answer is the sound of crickets chirping.

    Another howler is this.

  12. 12
    O'Leary says:

    From moderator Denyse: Thanks to all who have provided the above useful information and comments on the interesting question of selfish gene theory. This is a most interesting discussion and don’t let me interrupt it. The posts I deleted were not doing that.

  13. 13
    tinabrewer says:

    The Selfish Gene theory sounds to me like an intellectual trick from a nihilist bent, in his bitterness, upon making the world seem even more grotesque and preposterous. He scratches his head and says “Okay. Life is meaningless and absurd. Our consciousness is epiphenomenal baggage. How can I make this even more painful to accept? Oh, I know! Our entire BEING, both physical and mental, exists only to further the ‘interests’ of selfish little microscopic monsters! Hah!” And if I can claim to know about this dirty little secret and act happy anyway, well, then I win the big prize! I have stared at the void and not flinched! (wait, this is starting to sound like self-worship…)

  14. 14
    Karl Pfluger says:

    Tina,

    Far from being an “intellectual trick”, selfish gene theory is a meticulously developed theory which matches the evidence and explains things that were previously a puzzle to evolutionary biologists.

    And yes, while it is true that we are the vehicles our genes use to get themselves into future generations, this does not mean we are beholden to our genes. Our genes give us our brains, our reasoning ability, and our autonomy, but once in possession of these, we are free to deploy them against the interests of our genes if we so choose. This happens, for example, every time someone decides to use a contraceptive.

    Selfish gene theory is an unsettling idea, especially upon first exposure. But I assure you it is compatible with a meaningful and joyful life.

    I urge you to read The Selfish Gene. It’s extremely well-written, a pleasure to read, and still influential 30 years after publication. Even if you disagree with some of it, it will help you understand the power of the idea, and why those of us who accept it can do so without the bitter nihilism you think we must harbor.

  15. 15
    tinabrewer says:

    Karl: I certainly didn’t mean to imply that everyone who believes in the selfish gene theory is a bitter nihilist! I was referring in an exaggerated way to the philosophy of the author, whose sentiments I am familiar with from having read The Blind Watchmaker. I felt so dead at the end of that misadventure that I fear for the life of my soul should I have to read any more of his stuff. Nevertheless, I would like more that your assurances that such an idea is compatible with a joyful life. Could you explain how?

  16. 16
    Hawks says:

    DaveScot wrote: RM+NS predicts everything. If there were no altruism it would predict that too. NDE doesn’t predict things. It explains things AFTER the fact.

    RM+NS does not predict everything. For example, when and if the complete genome of the dingo is sequenced, RM+NS would predict that the sequence would be more similar to a dog than it would to a fish. The opposite would not be predicted.

  17. 17
    DaveScot says:

    Hawks

    Common descent explains quite nicely why dingos and dogs would have a similar genome. RM+NS is not synonymous with common descent.

  18. 18
    Karl Pfluger says:

    tinabrewer wrote:
    “I felt so dead at the end of that misadventure [reading The Blind Watchmaker] that I fear for the life of my soul should I have to read any more of his stuff. Nevertheless, I would like more that your assurances that such an idea is compatible with a joyful life. Could you explain how?”

    Hi Tina,

    How is selfish gene theory compatible with a joyful life? Lots of ways:

    1. The theory is beautiful, elegant, and explains so much that didn’t make sense before. Reading The Selfish Gene was a revelatory experience, like putting on a pair of prescription glasses after years of near-sightedness. It was an intellectual thrill, and the power of the theory remains a continuing source of satisfaction to me 25 years later.

    2. The fact that a grand purpose has not been bestowed on my life from outside does not bother me. I am comfortable with the idea of generating my own meaning in life, and comfortable with the idea that my genes “see” me differently, as a vehicle for propagating them into future generations.

    3. All of the sublime, beautiful and meaningful things in life are still sublime, beautiful, and meaningful, whether or not we happen to be vehicles for our genes.

    4. You wrote, summarizing your take on the theory, that “Our entire BEING, both physical and mental, exists only to further the ‘interests’ of selfish little microscopic monsters!” But our genes are selfish only in a metaphorical sense. They are not villainous homunculi twiddling their little handlebar mustaches. They are simply segments of DNA, some of which get copied more readily into future generations than others. Their activity affects us, like the weather, but it needn’t strip our lives of meaning, nor dictate our behavior, any more than an untimely rainstorm does. And their purposes coincide with ours to a large degree. Many of our great pleasures in life (eating, drinking, living, loving, learning, being loved) are pleasurable precisely because our genes have made them that way.

    5. Many people feel that if selfish genes are responsible for our love for our children, our appreciation of beauty, or our curiosity, that it somehow cheapens these things or makes them less genuine. But consider that we eat because our bodies need energy. Is our pleasure in eating a magnificent meal compromised because of that? Or consider sexual attraction. Does the fact that it exists in order to encourage us to create babies mean that lust is not genuine?

    6. The fact that my genes created me “for their own purposes” does not mean I am beholden to them. They gave me intelligence for their own reasons, but I can now turn that intelligence back on them and decide rationally whether it’s in my interests to follow their dictates or to defy them. I am not my genes, and my interests do not completely coincide with theirs.

    I’m sorry to hear that you found The Blind Watchmaker depressing. Could you explain why, exactly?

  19. 19
    Karl Pfluger says:

    Moderators,

    I submitted a comment which I suspect is stuck in the spam filter (perhaps because it contains the word “lust”).

    Could you please fish it out for me?

    Thanks,
    Karl

  20. 20
    tinabrewer says:

    Karl: Hi. I guess I am more an more coming to the conclusion, from discussion which I have engaged in here at UD, that there really is no possibility to “connect” with those of a materialist worldview on issues such as meaning. For me, my personal experience of life is that the transcendent, the non-material, is everything. I see the day-to-day experiences of my life, with their small and large challenges, as a type of spiritual schooling, in which the circumstances of my life place pressures upon my weaknesses and demand the activation of my strengths so that, ultimately, I might become refined enough spiritually to no longer need to incarnate in the flesh. All of these pressures are non-random. They are karma.

    You speak of physical pleasures a lot on the issue of a joyful life (eating a great meal, sexual activity, etc.) For me, these activities are intrinsically joyful, but I do not confuse them with the transcendent values of the spirit from which real joy springs. THey are material values, useful for the maintainance and propagation of the physical body, and as such, they are wonderful and important. (And no, the idea that the needs of my physical body derive from the building blocks called genes does not bother me at all. ) But when the physical body dies, they no longer have any meaning or usefulness. Furthermore, since spirit is of a higher vibration than matter, and therefore more powerful, it goes without saying that the spirit MUST lead in all things if there is to be order. If we indulge in physical pleasures in order to increase joy without the leadership of our governing essence, chaos will soon result.

    You say in point #3 that “all of the sublime, beautiful and meaningful things in life are still sublime, beautiful and meaningful whether or not we happen to be vehicles for our genes”. I don’t doubt that someone who is of a materialist worldview can appreciate the sublimity and beauty of things. But for me, the INNER life, the INNER meaning, is paramount. If I attend a performance of Handel’s Messiah, for example, it is absolutely NOT the same thing to hear the phrase “the mighty God , the everlasting father, the Prince of Peace” if my worldview is that this is a bunch of outdated gibberish versus if in the depth of my being I have conviction that Christ is the incarnate son of God, and the Prince of Peace. Period. Its like you reading The Blind Watchmaker. You believe that stuff, and so in your innermost being, you resonate with it. It strikes a chord in you which vibrates at the same rate! Therefore, to you it seems beautiful. While I am certain that you could sit right next to me and listen to Handel’s Messiah, and find the melodies wonderful, etc. you would not be able to experience the deep inner “vibrating chord” which is associated with the WORD of the piece. This is just one trivial example. The trancendent either exists or it does not. To someone, like me, for whom meaning derives from a constant inner orientation to the transcendent, a reductionist and materialist framework is utterly useless and uninteresting. Depressing? I only find it depressing when I consider that other human beings exist who take pleasure in their own inability to experience the non-material, and who actually actively seek out every new intellectual delusion which can more and more firmly convince them that there is nothing else but matter.

  21. 21
    Hawks says:

    DaveScot wrote: “Common descent explains quite nicely why dingos and dogs would have a similar genome. RM+NS is not synonymous with common descent. ”

    You are, of course, right. My mistake. Let’s do another example.

    Lets take a bacteria resistant to an antibiotic (lets say it is resistent to penicillin and that it has a beta-lactamase gene). Lets grow this bacterium until one of its descendants is no longer penicillin-resistant, but is otherwise, for all intents and purposes, the same as its ancestor. RM+NS would predict two things:
    1. A mutation has, most likely, happened in the beta-lactamase gene (we would not predict that any mutations responsible will have happened in a gene that is responsible for glucose-metabolism).
    2. In an environment rich in penicillin, the penicillin-sensitive bacteria will be out-competed by the penicillin-resistant bacteria (and not the other way around).

    In other words, RM+NS would not predict everything.

    Could these predictions be wrong? Of course. If nothing else, more factors than random mutations and natural selection can come into play (but that is not a failure of RM+NS as a prediction tool – that’s the failure of choosing a suitable model to perform your predictions).

  22. 22
    Karl Pfluger says:

    tinabrewer wrote:
    “For me, my personal experience of life is that the transcendent, the non-material, is everything.”

    Then I can certainly understand why re-examining your convictions regarding the non-material would be distressing. I went through that same transition myself, and it was painful, at least in the short term. But the long-term rewards of “following the evidence, wherever it leads” (to coin a phrase :-)) have outweighed the short-term distress.

    “I see the day-to-day experiences of my life, with their small and large challenges, as a type of spiritual schooling, in which the circumstances of my life place pressures upon my weaknesses and demand the activation of my strengths so that, ultimately, I might become refined enough spiritually to no longer need to incarnate in the flesh. All of these pressures are non-random. They are karma.”

    This image of life as a spiritual classroom is certainly appealing, but how do you know it is true?

    “You speak of physical pleasures a lot on the issue of a joyful life (eating a great meal, sexual activity, etc.)”

    Only to emphasize the fact that we consider these pleasures genuine, despite their physical origins. In the same way, love, morality, our sense of beauty, and other “transcendent values” all remain genuine even if they were created by our “selfish” genes for their own purposes.

    “Furthermore, since spirit is of a higher vibration than matter, and therefore more powerful, it goes without saying that the spirit MUST lead in all things if there is to be order.”

    Again, how do you know this?

    “If I attend a performance of Handel’s Messiah, for example, it is absolutely NOT the same thing to hear the phrase “the mighty God , the everlasting father, the Prince of Peace” if my worldview is that this is a bunch of outdated gibberish versus if in the depth of my being I have conviction that Christ is the incarnate son of God, and the Prince of Peace.”

    True, but you might be surprised at how powerful the experience is even for a non-believer. I may not accept that Christ is the son of God, but I can certainly understand the longing for a Messiah, and Handel’s joy in thinking he had found one.

    The resonance you speak of remains for non-believers. It simply occurs in different settings than for the believer.

    “The trancendent either exists or it does not.”

    True, and if it does not, I certainly don’t want to pretend that it does.

    “To someone, like me, for whom meaning derives from a constant inner orientation to the transcendent, a reductionist and materialist framework is utterly useless and uninteresting. Depressing? I only find it depressing when I consider that other human beings exist who take pleasure in their own inability to experience the non-material, and who actually actively seek out every new intellectual delusion which can more and more firmly convince them that there is nothing else but matter.”

    It is not our “inability to experience the non-material” that we take pleasure in, but rather our search for the truth. And we are not seeking out “every new intellectual delusion” to convince ourselves that matter and energy are all that exist. To the contrary, I would be delighted to find out that the transcendent exists. I’m just not willing to relax my standards of evidence to “help” this belief along.

  23. 23
    tinabrewer says:

    Hi, Karl. First off, I don’t find the process of “reexamining my convictions” to be painful at all. I consider it essential to living a spiritually awake life. In fact, I never call anything a “conviction” unless it is something I have made personal through experience. Sometimes that experience is and INNER experience, sometimes it is outward. Nevertheless, my beliefs/convictions about the transcendent nature of spiritual reality are never sealed off from new experiences, which I expect to continue to broaden my framework as I develop…

    In this regard, you write that you have reexamined your own convictions out of a desire to follow the evidence wherever it leads. Was this a ‘positive’ choice, in the sense that you have actually found evidence that nothing transcendent exists? Or was in a negative, in the sense that you just haven’t found any evidence that the transcendent exists? I seriously doubt it was the former, since even the most convinced of atheists will admit that no positive evidence for the non-existence of God or spirit exists, so I will work, for now, from the assumption that your dismissal of spiritual reality derives from a lack of positive evidence FOR such reality…Now, this brings up the question, of course, of what constitutes evidence, and what constitutes a valid form of investigation.

    In general, when we wish to investigate a given phenomena, we use the tools which are suited to the nature of that subject. If we wish to view microscopic life, we use a microscope, not a telescope. Why would this be any different with regard to the spirit? If the spirit and the spiritual world exist, then it only makes sense that we should use OUR SPIRIT to investigate it, and not science, which can only deal with the material world. Rejecting spirituality because there is no scientific evidence of it would be like declaring that microbes don’t exist because we cannot see them with a telescope. If you are going to reject the transcendent because your standards of evidence are entirely governed by the very limited scope of scientific enquiry, then I think you should at least not confuse this narrowing of standards with the “pursuit of truth”.

    you wrote “the resonance you speak of remains for non-believers. It simply occurs in different settings than for the believer” I couldn’t agree more. That is because resonance is a LAW of creation, both materially and non-materially. Lets stick with the example of Handel’s Messiah. You say that you can “certainly understand the longing for a Messiah, and Handel’s joy in thinking that he had found one.” This vibration is not at all similar to conviction. It is of a completely different, more detached essence. You know better, and feel a kind of parental/superior sympathy for the unfulfillable longings of an ignorant child, much as we might feel when we see our children straining to see Santa flying away off the roof. We KNOW (have conviction) that Santa is a lie, but we benevolently enjoy the ecstasy and yearning in our children while knowing this yearning is ultimately empty. (We also know that sooner or later our children will figure out the truth about santa)

    You write that you don’t want to “pretend” that the transcendent exists if it doesn’t. I don’t want to pretend either. I want to EXPERIENCE. I have had many personal experiences of even trivial kinds of transcendence, such as ESP and precognition. THey are incredible when they happen, but they are just a tiny fragment or the greater reality which exists out there, and don’t even begin to approach the significance of the “highest things” which a human spirit can experience inwardly. But they are visceral and close to our day-to-day lives, so let me give you one example: When I first moved in to my house, I would have a very intense panic-attack type physiological response whenever I walked up and down the staircase leading to the upstairs. This never happened on the other staircase (to the basement). It happened every time. It always started at about the third stair up, and I found myself CONstantly commenting on how terribly frightening these particular stairs were. (They are very ordinary stairs) Then, about three months into living there, I began to get the same panicky response whenever I would look down the stairs from above. One day, I was going about my chores upstairs, walked onto the landing and sure enough had a panic response. This time, however, I did the unusual. I stopped, looked down the stairs, and consciously said to the non-material whomever/whatever “Thank you for this warning. I will make every effort to be exceedingly careful on these stairs from now on. I will hold the baby on my opposite side so that I can hold the handrail EVERY TIME I go up and down. THanks again!” Interestingly, three days later, I got up with the baby early in the morning and began my descent of the stairs. The lights to the stairwell had burned out the previous night, so I had to descend in darkness. I was clutching the railing with all my might, and when I got toward the bottom-my foot slipped, skidded down two more stairs ahead of my other foot, and I fell, twisting madly and painfully breaking my big toe. However, I did not drop the baby, and was able to hold her on the front of my body to prevent her getting injured at all. Ever since then, the stairs are completely normal, and I never get any kind of panicky feeling around them.

    I apologize for the long-winded nature of this example, but it is just one trivial example of the type of thing which happens all the time to lots of people. I know that it is possible to completely rationalize away these experiences. You could say “Lots of people are afraid of stairs. Maybe you fell down stairs as a kid, and these reminded you of that etc. etc.” None of that is true, however, and everything about this experience was striking and unique. Additionally, there was an undeniable karmic component which I was only able to experience PERSONALLY in my innermost self, but which I will share with you for the purpose of answering your question “how do you know?” For about the 5 months leading up to the stair incident, I had been preoccupied by negative thoughts about the demands of taking care of my new baby. She had a sleep disorder which resulted in nearly a solid year of basically no real sleep for me, and my selfish nature was fighting with my maternal instinct to provide loving and constant care. I often indulged in thoughts of “I just want to leave and go sleep somewhere. I can’t handle this anymore” etc. These negative type of thoughts are unworthy and unhelpful (if understandable) and I knew (again, going according to the ‘life is a spiritual school’ model) that my weakness of selfishness was being prodded into activity so that I might overcome it, or at least improve it! I am certain that the stair incident was my karma’s way of illustrating for me the absolute demand that I place my child’s protection over my own interests. My selfish and dismissive thoughts were literally building an event which was getting ready to strike me with full force. Luckily, I was at least struggling with myself, instead of just completely giving myself over to negative thoughts. I would often sit and pray “Give me the strength to overcome this weakness. Help me to live in thankfulness for the gift of this child.” (along these lines, whatever) SO, although the bad %&^$# was about to hit the fan, the good was also: thus the warning intuitions I recieved. That I obeyed these intuitions, which were so strong as to rise to the level of a physiological response, was only the result of the fact that I believe in the absolute interpenetration of the non-material with the material. I know it, and experiences like these happen all of the time, constantly reconfirming it.

  24. 24
    ofro says:

    tinabrewer:
    Thanks for the pointer to this a bit quieter spot. As I pointed out before, my brain functions best if it can deal with concrete issues and can make connections between an observation and what is already in my “database” of experiences or knowledge I have come to accept as firm. On one hand, I am amazed about the different ways the human mind appears to function in different individuals, and perhaps even a bit envious of individuals who are comfortable thinking and expressing themselves in the different ways the human is capable of dealing with its environment. We view (justifiably so) our special status as species among all the animals based on our enhanced capability of thinking with a conscious awareness, of logically analyze situations and of recognizing moral principles.

    On the other hand, as a scientist I also see that as great evidence in favor of the “maturity” of the human species. With that I understand a species that has been around for long enough and had the opportunity to expand into a large population, so that it gradually diversify genetically (i.e. genotypically) and anatomically/physiologically (i.e. phenotypically). This diversification is visible on the species level in the form of the different regionally evolved racial features, but also on the sup-population level in the form of the many “talents”, i.e. features that an individual excels over others in the same clan. Aren’t we lucky that we are not all identical in our way of thinking and reacting to our environment? Just imagine a population of only mathematically-inclined people, or only musicians, or people with excellent manual dexterity.

    The same, I think applies, to an individual’s approach to the “material” or “rational”, since each of us has a different method in dealing with past experiences, conscious and unconscious. What makes humans so special, too, is our ability to communicate our experiences with other humans. That is why I am glad to hear your opinions and those other folks who are patiently (and politely) laying out their points of view on either side of the issue, be it technical or philosophical. I don’t expect to “convert” you or avocationist to my way of thinking, I just to make you aware of it. In the same way, I am far removed from accepting ID as a viable paradigm of evolution, but I have learned a few things since I learned about this blog site.

  25. 25
    tinabrewer says:

    ofro: I appreciate what you are saying about differences in talents, etc., and I agree that this is evidence of a “mature” species. I also am convinced that behaviors which a species finds helpful and necessary eventually come to predominate in that species through an evolutionary process. I just feel emphatically that this organic “way” of the universe is the result of intelligent agency which is clear and detectable. In other words NOT random and unguided in the Darwinian sense. Again, the ID tent is a really big one, and truly many of us are ardent evolutionists! Anyway, thanks for indulging me; I am happy to hear that you find your discussions here worthwhile and engaging.

Leave a Reply