Serious question to you on HG

I´m having a discussion with a respected and intelligent forummember on the OG, about randomness in nature.

We are discussing what "random" means and if different interpretations are equally self-evident to all people, no matter the worldview or religious beliefs.

When we say that something is random, it could mean (among a number of things) that it will happen according to a certain probability.

A random event can also be understood as an event that happens without any intent, goal or purpose, not according to a plan. For example, as is claimed is the case with genetic mutations in the DNA-sequence, a part of the evolution that biological beings are subject to.

I am also of the impression that many religious people also thinks that everything that happens on Earth is happening according to Gods plan, and I have even read about many people that both believe in God and Evolution. So that they somehow think that God guides the evolutionary process, including the supposed "random" events of genetic mutations.

I´m not taking any sides here, I just wonder if any of you on HG also feel this way.

 

Because then it seems, that if you believe that God has a plan with everything that happens on Earth, such a thing as a random event, in the sense of "without any intent, goal or purpose, not according to a plan", wouldn´t be a self-evident interpretation of the word that is consistent with your worldview. Actually that definition seems to speak contrary to this particular religious belief above.

 

Do you agree or not?

 

any other thoughts?

 

lol

Oh and thanks to a post by Prof that I just found, I got the source of the statement that it exists  scientists that believe in the theory of evolution, but that God guided evolution. 

http://www.religioustolerance.org/ev_publi.htm

C´mon guys and girls

Fudo,

Hmmm.

If I've read you properly, it seems you are aware that
mutations are not in fact "random" in of themselves.
There is a lot known about mutation - the varieties of mutation, what causes them, probabilities etc. So there are non-random mechanisms that govern mutation.

However, in evolutionary terms, mutations are random with respect to the fitness of an organism. In other words, while mutations are resulting from non-random mechanisms, the mechanisms churning out mutations are blind to the fitness needs of the organism. (Searching for analogy off the top of my head). Sort of like how a gun factory churns out guns - the guns are not manufactured by a random process. But the gun factory has no idea of the effect the gun will have for those who recieve one: a gun might have neutral survival effect (not used), a negative survival effect (used for suicide or death by accident) or positive survival effect (used to defend someone's life - who otherwise would have died).

I don't see anything in there that of necessity denies divine determinism. God could be working everything and know how things will end up.

But, things like the (relative) randomness of the mutation/survival fitness routine are darned puzzling
if God really has a plan that detailed. Why mutation at all? Why deliberately design so many poor animals die? In fact, why evolution? I've seen Christians who believe in evolution point to it as another marvel of God's planning. "Isn't it wonderful how God's plan animals have adapted to their surroundings?"

That attitude betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of what is happening. Animals don't evolve - populations evolve. An alteration of a population's phenotype (physical change) or an instance of speciation (new species) generally signifies the death of the MAJORITY of that species antecedent form. It signifies that, under some life-and-death selection pressure a very lucky few had a certain novel trait that allowed them to survive while the rest of that species died off. It's hardly the "animals happily gaining new traits when they need them" scenario. It's not like they gain new traits to avoid death. Most of them die.

So, if God has micro managed this process he seems either to be incompetent or somehow intrigued by the death of species.

And, still, if God is doing this evolution thing "hands off," and there are random components to how populations evolve, the question still has to be: "why?" Why set the ball rolling on a system so founded on the guaranteed death of so many animal species? What's the point?

Prof.

I am also of the impression that many religious people also thinks that everything that happens on Earth is happening according to Gods plan, and I have even read about many people that both believe in God and Evolution. So that they somehow think that God guides the evolutionary process, including the supposed "random" events of genetic mutations.

My beliefs are this, and they may not be logical but here goes.

I believe in God, I accept evolution as a fact. 

This implies that God set the universe in motion but it also implies that God is an outside bystander in his creation.  Yet I don't think that this is the case.  No proof, only feel.

The truth may be that there is no God , and I am deluding myself for comfort sake.  But everthing thing in my being tells me that God is real.  I know this is a mishmash of info and beliefs.  It is so paradoxical (real word?).

A big question as suggested by Prof is why would God choose such a strange route?  Why not chose the Genesis route and leave plenty of evidence?

To quote Woody Allen on Einstein from Husbands and Wives

"God does not play dice.  No, he only plays hide and seek." 

As a sidebar.  Another thing has puzzled me is does anyone else see how violent the animal kingdom is.  This is not in line with a loving creator.  Wouldn't it make sense to create all species as vegetarians?

I assume since many christians accept evolution they reject the fall of Adam and Eve.  Therefore, the sin fell into the world argument doesn't work for explaining how tooth and nail the animal kingdom is.

Btw the way I am not some tree huggin vegan in case anyone was wondering.

Bludall in 3,2,1...

Wow what a ramble.

 

Wow! thanks both of you for great answers with alot of things to think about.

First to you Prof,

"I don't see anything in there that of necessity denies divine determinism . God could be working everything and know how things will end up. "

you are maybe right. But if Divine determinism (DD) is a fact, can something then also happen "without a plan, purpose or goal"?

That is my question in a nutshell, I think. To me it looks inconsistent.

 

You can also of course, like you do, present strong, convincing arguments for that God is a sadist, enjoying watching the death of animals or just a poor designer. But that seems besides the point, atleast in regard to my question.

 

Another very interesting point you brought up is that random mutations could be understood as "random *with respect to the fitness of an organism.*"

But then again, if DD is correct, isn´t this percieved randomness, just an myopic illusion, because we can´t view things from Gods perspective?

 

 

Hi Cherrypicker and thanks for your reply

"This implies that God set the universe in motion but it also implies that God is an outside bystander in his creation.  Yet I don't think that this is the case.  No proof, only feel."

I´m not sure I got you here. Do you believe that God is an active God, or a passive observer of events on Earth?

 

"Another thing has puzzled me is does anyone else see how violent the animal kingdom is.  This is not in line with a loving creator.  Wouldn't it make sense to create all species as vegetarians?"

As to your sidebar that Prof also expressed with his words "What's the point? ", I have a personal view that I think makes sense to explain this, but I afraid it would be too much of topic here.

 

We don't know why animals suffer or why nature is so "tooth and nail" as you put it. There is a good chapter on the subject in C.S. Lewis's book "The Problem of Pain", but he admits all explanations are speculative. He does, however, go on to say that our definition of "good" most likely does not apply to animals and the natural world because those judgements really don't make sense for non-sentient beings.

You are really getting into very complex theological territory when you start asking questions like "how can God both control a world at all points and allow for randomness" or "why is nature so "ruthless"? or "why do humans suffer and is it related to animal suffering?". In other words, these are the kind of things you can't flesh out in a thread.
I do think we shouldn't confuse the phrase "God is Love" with "God is kindness" or "God is nice".

 On the subject of randomness in genetic mutations I think you are taking it for granted that if God sits outside of time and the universe (as opposed to a pantheistic view of God) he could "cause" a genetic mutation and clearly see its effects for a species over the course of time.  If time is like a line on a sheet of paper and you can see the beginning of the line and the end this is not that difficult to imagine.

   I also think that its possible that randomness can really occur in a controlled system.  The animals can't break the laws of physics so even though how their existence plays out can vary greatly within the system it is still very much controlled.  I think the idea you have tends to be "why make a faulty animal" or "why make the majority of species go extinct" if it is supposed to be "good", but once again you take for granted that your definition of "good" may not apply to nature and also within the context of a temporal world and a temporal universe nothing is going to last forever anyway.  I think people who believe in God and those who don't will both agree that when this universe started it already had an inevitable end.

I´m not sure I got you here. Do you believe that God is an active God, or a passive observer of events on Earth?

I believe that God is active but the data suggests otherwise.  I guess that is why it is called faith.

Cherrypicker,

 It takes just as much faith to take a materialistic view of things.  If all things are random then so is the working of FudyMoo's brain and so his question has no real meaning.  

---Fudo Wrote: you are maybe right. But if Divine determinism (DD) is a fact, can something then also happen "without a plan, purpose or goal"?
That is my question in a nutshell, I think. To me it looks inconsistent.

Maybe one could make the case (and I think some theists have done so) that there is a divine plan, there is randomness in the system, but it's outcome is assured on probabilistic grounds. Just as individual entities in the quantum world are unpredictable, but taken in greater numbers (at which time probability enters) they become the reliable "laws of physics" in the larger domain.

I dunno. Could be?

Prof.

---If time is like a line on a sheet of paper and you can see the beginning of the line and the end this is not that difficult to imagine.

But what is difficult to imagine - or is impossible to truly conceive - is how a "mind" could exist outside of time and space.

----"I think the idea you have tends to be "why make a faulty animal" or "why make the majority of species go extinct" if it is supposed to be "good", but once again you take for granted that your definition of "good" may not apply to nature and also within the context of a temporal world and a temporal universe nothing is going to last forever anyway.

You are, in essence, arguing away the concept of "good" altogether. Is it "good" that my dog should be hit by a car and suffer a protracted death? Personally, I think not. But you seem to be developing the argument that no such judgement of "good" or "not good" can be made in regard to the fate of animals. This is often the problem with theistic apologetics. The apologetic apparently solves a local problem for the theist, but the argument inevitably carries past that problem to create logical problems elsewhere.

---"It takes just as much faith to take a materialistic view of things.

It can take less faith, actually. I acknowledge the raw phenomena of my experience (I see, feel, chairs, trees, dogs, people etc), note the presence of systems that integrate that phenomena (physical laws, for instance) and do not postulate unverifiable, un-provable entities beyond that. Where's the faith?

Cheers,

Prof.

(Not to derail thread...)

From The Spirit´s Book:

7. Is the first cause of the formation of things to be found in the essential properties of matter?"

If such were the case, what would be the cause of those properties? There must always be a first cause."


To attribute the first formation of things to the essential properties of matter, would be to take the effect for the cause, for those properties are themselves an effect, which must have a cause.


8. What is to be thought of the opinion that attributes the first formation of things to a fortuitous combination of matter, in other words, to chance?


"Another absurdity! Who that is possessed of common sense can regard chance as an intelligent agent? And, besides, what is chance? Nothing."


The harmony which regulates the mechanism of the universe can only result from combinations adopted in view of predetermined ends, and thus, by its very nature, reveals the existence of an Intelligent Power. To attribute the first formation of things to chance is nonsense for chance cannot produce the results of intelligence. If chance could be intelligent, it would cease to be chance.

As to your sidebar that Prof also expressed with his words "What's the point? ", I have a personal view that I think makes sense to explain this, but I afraid it would be too much of topic here.

I would love to read about it.  I hope you decide to share your  view sometime.

Ridge,

Prof summed up what I think about materialism and fatih.

I believe in God and part of evolution. There are 2 kinds of evolution. One is macro evolution and if I am not mistaken this includes all the crap that Darwin was talking about. The other is micro and it involves adapting to the enviroment. Like when kameleons change colors. Or you tame a wild animal. It all goes about survival and adapting to a situation. Darwin just states we all came from monkeys for no apparent reason we just evolved. I might have gotten macro and micro mixed up if so I am sorry.

My thing is he said fish, snakes, and other reptiles and birds come from dinosaurs and now the dinosaurs are extinct but we have reptiles and birds. Humans supposedly come from monkeys so why are there still monkeys. Are this people that are waiting to evolve no. When they die they are still monkeys. So when does the evolution take place.

"But what is difficult to imagine - or is impossible to truly conceive - is how a "mind" could exist outside of time and space"

Really? When I read Shakespeare I don't have a hard time imagining a man named Shakespeare writing it.  The same goes with books, painting and music.  All of these things were created by people I may never see in the flesh but I can imagine it.  

 As far as nature being "cruel" you can take three positions I think.  You can A. believe that their is a God but he is a cosmic sadist and enjoys the suffering of his creatures B. there is a God and he is good and love so when we see suffering and see it as bad we have to acknowledge that it is either a consequence of something like free will or our definition of what is good is skewed by our limited view or C. there is no God and all judgements of good and evil and especially the evil of suffering are purely inconsequential and without basis for judgement (if the whole thing is rotten how would you know if you are a part of the rotteness).

   As far as faith goes when I say the materialistic view I mean the idea that you can believe in a random universe with no source and a random, accidental start of life without having been there to see either.  What you ignore is that you are a part of that universe yet you have majically stepped out of it just enough to understand its essential nature.  You say everything is accidental and random except for your particular thought that everything is accidental and random.  That is, in fact concrete and worth heeding.

Donna,

---"From The Spirit´s Book:
7. Is the first cause of the formation of things to be found in the essential properties of matter?"

It's quite possible that the clue to the cause of matter may be discernable within the properties of matter. This "what caused all we see" question is one of those questions that, after it recieves and answer, is merely pushed back ad infinitum. For instance, not a couple hundred years ago everyone would be asking where planets, suns, us, the universe came from. Now our knowledge of cosmology and particle physics allow us possible insight into the formation of our universe. One central hypothesis (or theory) being of course The Big Bang. In that theory, the infinitely small, dense, hot singularity from which we sprang literally "created" the universe and it's laws, and the singularity itself represented a state of affairs in which pretty much all the laws of today do not apply. So our universe came into existence - was "caused" - via the expansion of that singularity. All that is deduced from the properties we see within the current universe. But one might want to move the question back yet again and ask not what caused the universe but what caused the singularity. Answer: we don't know. All speculation is just that: speculation.

---"If such were the case, what would be the cause of those properties? There must always be a first cause."

This is invalid as applied against the creation of our universe. Because causal effects seem to be a pervasive property of our universe does not mean that you can extrapolate the qualities of our universe beyond our universe. Causality may not be how things "work" beyond our universe. Physicists who work with this stuff understand this; armchair philosophers often don't. For instance, the singularity at the heart of the Big Band Theory doesn't conform to the physical laws we know. As well, the behaviour of quantum objects (particles in superposition, quantum particles appearing out of "nowhere" etc.) apparently challenges causality and introduces a-causality into the fundamental fabric of the universe (an area of debate).

----To attribute the first formation of things to the essential properties of matter, would be to take the effect for the cause, for those properties are themselves an effect, which must have a cause.

Tell the author to consult a physicist.

----8. What is to be thought of the opinion that attributes the first formation of things to a fortuitous combination of matter, in other words, to chance?

We do not know enough about the physics before the beginning of our universe to opine whether it was chance or not. It's a complete mystery. So this would seem to be a question one puts to a strawman.

---"Another absurdity! Who that is possessed of common sense can regard chance as an intelligent agent? And, besides, what is chance? Nothing."

A bunch of non-sequiturs. Who says intelligence is part of the equation? And "chance" is a relative, human definition. If someone places a dollar bill on the ground and walks away it did not get there by chance. But I would likely consider my finding that dollar on the ground a chance event..

---"The harmony which regulates the mechanism of the universe can only result from combinations adopted in view of predetermined ends, and thus, by its very nature, reveals the existence of an Intelligent Power. To attribute the first formation of things to chance is nonsense for chance cannot produce the results of intelligence. If chance could be intelligent, it would cease to be chance.

More unbridled logical leaps. The author starts not with "the universe is regular" but that "the universe is regulated" (implying a "regulator") and thus is clearly starting at the conclusion he's already made up. Regarding "chance producing the results of intelligence" (this author strikes me as a sloppy writer) blind forces, with an element of chance do indeed arrive at "designs" that are somewhat analogous to the designs of human intelligence. It's called "Evolution."

Prof.

Hi Chris.


Chris wrote: "I believe in God and part of evolution. There are 2 kinds of evolution. One is macro evolution and if I am not mistaken this includes all the crap that Darwin was talking about. The other is micro and it involves adapting to the environment. Like when chameleons change colors. Or you tame a wild animal. It all goes about survival and adapting to a situation. Darwin just states we all came from monkeys for no apparent reason we just evolved. I might have gotten macro and micro mixed up if so I am sorry."

Chris, I'm afraid you are very mixed up about evolution and apparently haven't encountered the real facts and theory. Whenever I hear "micro" and "macro" evolution I know I'm reading someone who has learned about evolution via creationism, not via science. Those distinctions are most often seen in creationism (and very rarely in science, because "macro" evolution is simply microevolution over time. It's the creationists who come up with the illogical idea that one is possible, the other is not.

Chameleons changing color or taming animals has zero to do with any form of evolution. Evolution means a change in the physical form of an animal (organism) population over time. Remember that variation occurs within species - think of how humans come in different sizes and shapes. Same with an animal species (although often not as pronounced as human variation).

Take the classic "Darwin's Finch" of the Galapagos. Drought occurs on the Finches island, the dropped sees upon which the birds normally feed become scarce and high-winds blow precious seeds off the small rocky islands. The only seeds that tend to be left are those stuck between cracks of rock and the like. So, those birds that happened to have a slightly thinner, longer beak are able to reach those seeds to survive. The rest of the finches die from lack of food. The surviving finches pass on their slightly-longer-beak trait to their off-spring (just as tall human parents will tend to pass that trait to their children). Therefore, the population of finches has changed in regards to average beak length. Beaks are now on average longer. That is the "micro" evolution to which you refer. "Macro" evolution is simply the result of "micro" evolution over greater time periods, in which selection pressures and mutation have led to a species changing so much over time it is no longer very similar to it's ancestors. Creationists reject that notion and wish to pretend "macro" evolution is something different. There is nothing that separates the mechanism of so-called "micro" and "macro" evolution; they are the same thing. But creationists like to confuse the issue in a misguided effort to protect their beliefs.

--"My thing is he said fish, snakes, and other reptiles and birds come from dinosaurs and now the dinosaurs are extinct but we have reptiles and birds.

What is the problem there? Current animals are related to previous species all the way back to the age of the dinosaurs. Are you puzzled about the fact that you are still around while your great, great grandparents are dead? I hope not. Same thing with animals.

---"Humans supposedly come from monkeys so why are there still monkeys. Are this people that are waiting to evolve no. When they die they are still monkeys. So when does the evolution take place.

Didn't you read my reply to you where I told you why there are still monkeys? And that humans did not evolve from monkeys? Remember: evolution is what happens to populations of animals over successive reproduction cycles - over time. It isn't what happens to one animal during it's life-time. And an animal doesn't pass on traits it acquires during it's life-time, it passes on it's own lucky genetics. In other words, if your dad got muscular lifting weights that doesn't mean you will be born muscular because he lifted weights. But if your dad was naturally muscular you may be naturally muscular too.

Here is a pretty simple web-site concerning evolution:

http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evosite/evo101/index.shtml

Cheers,

Prof.

Prof.
If you have the time I was wondering if you could download and listen to this lecture. I am curious about what a thoughtful atheist's refutations would be to the philosophical arguments laid out in Dr. Kreeft's lecture. Sometimes it is hard to find the holes when you already believe in it.

http://www.peterkreeft.com/audio/18_god-existence.htm