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Monday, September 19, 2011

Colebatch: Evolution Needs to Evolve

Hal G.P. Colebatch makes it known that he doesn't necessarily believe in a young earth or even that we came from Adam and Eve. But he raises matters that even the most evangelical of materialists would have difficulty and struggle to provide an explanation...

"If a monkey was born capable not only of gathering nuts and bananas but also of building cathedrals, writing Hamlet or flying to the moon, we would see it as a major objection to the pure theory of evolution. We might even be tempted to believe that a God had intervened somewhere along the line.

But Man is born capable of doing these things and has done them. The fact speaks for itself. Further, as far as paleontology can tell us, Cro-Magnon Man, the earliest form of Homo sapiens, had brains as good as modern men -- Cro-Magnon Man simply knew less. We know from cave paintings that 16,000 years ago at least Man had highly developed art.

Why? Art is useless for survival. There is no reason why evolution should have produced it. It is possible to be reminded of Gandalf's cryptic comment in The Lord of the Rings: "Something else is at work." (About Neanderthal Man we can only make guesses from a few ambiguous hints -- in at least one Neanderthal burial, for example, a dead body was found to have been buried bedecked with flowers. Why did the dead Neanderthal's fellow-tribesmen take time off from hunting and gathering food to do that? Further, there were different types of Neanderthal Man and the more we discover about them the more complex the picture becomes.)

The unique quality of the human brain is one of the things which evolution, and Professor Dawkins, fails to explain. Humanity is special, and evolution can give no reason for it. Shall we perhaps be so unkind as to paraphrase Professor Dawkins, and call anyone who believes these things to be fully explained -- with that explanation being perhaps that they are the result of blind chance -- "ignorant, stupid or insane"?"


Alex B said...

Yet there are well documented instances of animals creating art, which somewhat undermines your point

JD Curtis said...

Creating art?

I have heard of, for example, elephants splashing paint around on a canvas, but are there instances of them doing so without humans introducing them to the concept?

Alex B said...

Have you seen the chimp who can produce abstract, yet clearly representative, paintings?

Your argument is bished.

JD Curtis said...

No. Do you have a link?

-FJ said...

I take issue with the contention that "Art is useless for survival."

For art involves an application for "falsification" and falsification can be extremely useful to survival. As Nietzsche noted in his "Gay Science"

111 - Origin of the Logical. Where has logic originated in men's heads? Undoubtedly out of the illogical, the domain of which must originally have been immense. But numberless beings who reasoned otherwise than we do at present, perished; albeit that they may have come nearer to truth than we! Whoever, for example, could not discern the "like" often enough with regard to food, and with regard to animals dangerous to him, whoever, therefore, deduced too slowly, or was too circumspect in his deductions, had smaller probability of survival than he who in all similar cases immediately divined the equality. The preponderating inclination, however, to deal with the similar as the equal - an illogical inclination, for there is no thing equal in itself - first created the whole basis of logic. It was just so (in order that the conception of substance should originate, this being indispensable to logic, although in the strictest sense nothing actual corresponds to it) that for a long period the changing process in things had to be overlooked, and remain unperceived; the beings not seeing correctly had an advantage over those who saw everything "in flux." In itself every high degree of circumspection in conclusions, every skeptical inclination, is a great danger to life. No living being might have been preserved unless the contrary inclination - to affirm rather than suspend judgment, to mistake and fabricate rather than wait, to assent rather than deny, to decide rather than be in the right - had been cultivated with extra ordinary assiduity. The course of logical thought and reasoning in our modern brain corresponds to a process and struggle of impulses, which singly and in themselves are all very illogical and unjust; we experience usually only the result of the struggle so rapidly and secretly does this primitive mechanism now operate in us.

"Science" therefore, is an "art-full" falsification useful to human survival. And THAT is ALL it is.

Nietzsche, "Will to Power"

493 (1885) - Truth is the kind of error without which a certain species of life could not live. The value for life is ultimately decisive.

512 (1885) - Logic is bound to the condition: assume there are identical cases. In fact, to make possible logical thinking and inferences, this condition must first be treated fictitously as fulfilled. That is: the will to logical truth can be carried through only after a fundamental falsification of all events is assumed. From which it follows that a drive rules here that is capable of employing both means, firstly falsification, then the implementation of its own point of view: logic does not spring from will to truth.

Alex B said...

It's easily googled, but here's something about it for you - http://garima_goel.instablogs.com/entry/picture-painting-chimp-earns-fame-but-not-freedom/

Stormbringer said...

Don't mind Alex, he makes stuff up. And there's a far cry between the art of humans and "art" by animals. But this is a red herring, because the fact still remains that evolution cannot account for art (especially music), the complexity of the human brain (or even the complexity of DNA itself) or ultimately, the origin of life.

GentleSkeptic said...

I would simply caution against the assumption that every single by-product of evolution must be "useful" for survival. Large brains, while giving us an advantage, also create major birthing problems. Fish in underground caves lose their sight, even though they still have eyes. I think we can all agree that homosexual tendencies aren't "useful" in terms of propagating the species, and yet there they are, in all kinds of animals. (It's important to note as well that animals with homosexual tendencies are still able to reproduce.) Nature is full of poor "designs" in surviving creatures.

When we look at cave paintings now, we see "art" and conclude that it must have been "useless." But we don't know that the painters conceived of art the way we do. What we do know is that at some point the human brain became self aware, which augmented its awareness of the rest world, and that humans began to attempt to represent the world with what we now refer to as "art." If anything, it makes more sense to view primitive art as early religion, an attempt to reflect and revere the natural world.

Art, music, culture; these are natural byproducts of an evolving brain.

JD Curtis said...

AB and SB, if you would like to have a mediated dialog, just email me and we'll see if we can set it up.