Notices
Results 1 to 61 of 61

Thread: Karen Armstrong

  1. #1 Karen Armstrong 
    Forum Radioactive Isotope mitchellmckain's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Salt Lake City, UTAH, USA
    Posts
    3,112
    Has anyone read any of Karen Armstrong's work?

    I have been reading her "The Case for God" and it seem to be a very comprehensive historical scientific examination of relgion.


    See my physics of spaceflight simulator at http://www.relspace.astahost.com

    I now have a blog too: http://astahost.blogspot.com/
    Reply With Quote  
     

  2.  
     

  3. #2  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    101
    I've been reading God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher Hitchens. Do you believe The Case for God does justice as an argument for the existence of God? Is it worthy of examination by an Atheist? I'm always skeptical of books that argue the existence of God, but I will give this one a look if you truly believe it is the best case on the market. Or, is there a better book to argue that God exists?


    Reply With Quote  
     

  4. #3  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope mitchellmckain's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Salt Lake City, UTAH, USA
    Posts
    3,112
    Quote Originally Posted by korben
    Do you believe The Case for God does justice as an argument for the existence of God? Is it worthy of examination by an Atheist? I'm always skeptical of books that argue the existence of God, but I will give this one a look if you truly believe it is the best case on the market. Or, is there a better book to argue that God exists?
    I think the title is misleading. It does not make an argument for the existence of God -- not that I can tell. I think it would be of interest to anyone with an appreciation for an objective scientific approach and willing to consider such an approach to the study of religion.

    It proposes some interesting speculations from an evolutionary perspective about how various religious ideas came about. They are challenging for me as a religious person for they certainly do not agree with my religious convictions. But I am very much interested in an objective scientific approach and in expanding my awareness of what evidence is available.

    It does have some rather serious critiques of modern atheism which it sees as just another one of many developments in the relgious thinking of human beings -- part of a particular historical progression of relgious ideas. The books that you are reading are compositions of anti-religious rhetoric and not even remotely approaching anything scientific or objective. Yes, I definely think that an atheist would very much profit from seeing the difference.
    See my physics of spaceflight simulator at http://www.relspace.astahost.com

    I now have a blog too: http://astahost.blogspot.com/
    Reply With Quote  
     

  5. #4  
    Administrator KALSTER's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    South Africa
    Posts
    8,231
    I will definitely have a look.
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

    "Gullibility kills" - Carl Sagan
    "All people know the same truth. Our lives consist of how we chose to distort it." - Harry Block
    "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle
    Reply With Quote  
     

  6. #5  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    101
    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    Quote Originally Posted by korben
    Do you believe The Case for God does justice as an argument for the existence of God? Is it worthy of examination by an Atheist? I'm always skeptical of books that argue the existence of God, but I will give this one a look if you truly believe it is the best case on the market. Or, is there a better book to argue that God exists?
    I think the title is misleading. It does not make an argument for the existence of God -- not that I can tell. I think it would be of interest to anyone with an appreciation for an objective scientific approach and willing to consider such an approach to the study of religion.

    It proposes some interesting speculations from an evolutionary perspective about how various religious ideas came about. They are challenging for me as a religious person for they certainly do not agree with my religious convictions. But I am very much interested in an objective scientific approach and in expanding my awareness of what evidence is available.

    It does have some rather serious critiques of modern atheism which it sees as just another one of many developments in the relgious thinking of human beings -- part of a particular historical progression of relgious ideas. The books that you are reading are compositions of anti-religious rhetoric and not even remotely approaching anything scientific or objective. Yes, I definely think that an atheist would very much profit from seeing the difference.
    Yes, what I read is anti-religious to which it has an approach of disbelief in God, but it shares reasons why as well. If I was to look up this authors beliefs, would I find that she is in fact religious? I wouldn't believe that she has taken upon an unbiased stance with the title of her book. It's an assumption of mine, but I feel with a title such as The Case for God that I would be a bit mistaken to not make an assumption as to her being a defender of religious beliefs. In either case, I will give her a chance to see exactly what she believes. For the share of the book, thank you.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  7. #6  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope mitchellmckain's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Salt Lake City, UTAH, USA
    Posts
    3,112
    Of course it is not scientific in the strictest sense of the word. This is no article in a scientific journal. And since it is my claim that only science -- real science is really and truly objective that means that this isn't purely objective either. I think she is arguing that religion in general does have a role to play in human thought and life but her approach is not one of accepting any mythology of a religion literally or as being historical. Her book is a scientific approach in the sense that she argues from the scientific world-view alone.

    But she does a lot of atheist myth busting -- thereby demonstrating that atheist too have their myths in regards to the unreasonable one-side characterizations that they make of religion. For example, the following is taken from the chapter entitled "Faith" where whe is showing that monotheistic religions have a long long tradition of not taking its scriptures literally.

    The rabbis knew that miracles proved nothing. One day, during the early years at Yavneh, Rabbi Eliezer was egaged in a fierce argument about a legal ruling (halakah) arising from the Torah. When his colleagues refused to accept his opinion, he asked God to prove his point with a series of miracles. A carob tree moved four hundred cubits of its own accord, water in a nearby canal flowed backwards, and the walls of the house of studies caved in, as if on the point of collapse. But the rabbis remained unconvinced and seemed somewhat disapproving of this divine extravaganza. In desperation, Rabbi Eliezer asked for a bat qol, a heavenly voice, to support his case, and obliginingly a celestial voice cried, "What have you against Rabbi Eliezer? The halakah is always as he says." Unimpressed, Rabbi Joshua quoted God's own Torah back to him: "It is not in heaven." The Torah was no longer the property of heaven; it had descended to earth on Mount Sinai and was now enshrined in the heart of every Jew. So "we pay no attention to a bat qol," he concluded firmly. It was said that when God heard this, he laughed and said, "My children have conqured me." They had grown up. Instead of meekly accepting opinions foisted on them from above, they were thinking for themselves.

    Revelation did not mean that every word of scripture had to be accepted verbatim, and midrash was unconcerned about the original intention of the biblical author. Because the word of God was infinite, a text proved its divine origin by being productive of fresh meaning. Every time a Jew exposed himself to the ancient text, the words could mean something different.
    This seems to draw from a story in Jewish midrash called the Babylonian talmud. Nor is this isolated for she also relates a very similar story involving Moses coming down to confront a rabbi.
    See my physics of spaceflight simulator at http://www.relspace.astahost.com

    I now have a blog too: http://astahost.blogspot.com/
    Reply With Quote  
     

  8. #7  
    Veracity Vigilante inow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    3,499
    I enjoyed watching Armstrong get mutilated here.

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2...p_on_karen.php


    Here's one tiny piece of an overall well executed evisceration:

    So once more I'm lost in the reasoning Armstrong is using here — she is using a strange claim not made by atheists of a principle not implemented by atheists to endorse the compatibility of religion and democracy, a non-conflict that most atheists wouldn't argue over.

    Bleh. What a mess of goo and vapor. I don't doubt that Armstrong is an intelligent woman, but she's giving us another reason why religion is bad for people and for nations: it turns good brains to mush.


    For those who don't like the nonsense shredding which often comes with the above site, here is a more reasoned and patient view of her work:

    http://www.truthdig.com/arts_culture..._god_20091203/
    The complaint that the new atheists (Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, etc.) are theologically incompetent, and that a subtler appreciation for the finer points of theology would expose the shallowness of their attacks, is by now a common one. But few defenders of religion attempt actually to spell out the theological details; and the results of those attempts that have been made are, in my experience, deeply unsatisfying.

    <...>

    In other words, it is precisely our lack of knowledge of God that enables us to say, well, pretty much whatever we want about God—except, of course, that God was not in Christ (but only an atheist or heathen would want to say that anyway). This is mysticism and metaphysical hand-waving raised to a truly objectionable level. If you do not know what you are denying then you also do not know what you are asserting; our inability to conceptualize cannot, on the one hand, prevent skeptics from denying Christ’s divinity while at the same time allowing the faithful to assert it.

    Armstrong’s apophaticist’s disavowal of God thus appears to be a conceptual Trojan horse—a sop to the skeptic whose real intent is to permit religious speculation to go on as before, unchecked by rational criticism and debate. The strategy reduces to saying “God isn’t this, God isn’t that” without ever giving a positive account of what God is, while still regarding oneself as justified in talking about and orienting one’s life around God. This is like the debater who responds to every objection by insisting “Well that’s not what I meant” without ever managing to say what he does mean.

    <...>

    Her uncritical acceptance of the “non-overlapping magisteria” view is only one of the mistakes she makes about science. According to her, Einstein’s theories of relativity implied that science was “unable to provide us with definitive proof [and that] its findings are inherently limited and provisional”; Karl Popper argued that all scientific hypotheses “could never be perfectly verified and were no more reliable than any other ‘belief,’ because testing could only show that a hypothesis was not false”; and Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle showed “that it was impossible for scientists to achieve an objective result because the act of observation itself affected their understanding of the object of their investigation” and somehow implied “the deep interconnectedness of all reality.” All quite wrong, of course. What may be the most serious misunderstanding leads her to utter the tiresome canard that “there will always be an element of what religious people call ‘faith’ in science.” Of course “acting on faith” here simply means “acting in the absence of absolute certainty,” so that a scientist’s willingness to proceed on the assumption that a certain hypothesis is correct is, to Armstrong’s mind, essentially the same phenomenon as religious faith. (As is drinking a glass of milk or turning a key to start one’s car, for that matter.) But there is all the difference in the world, precisely because the scientist, if reasonable, will so proceed only if there is good practical reason to do so, and only unless and until the evidence proves the hypothesis false. The responsible scientist, that is, respects the fact that she is not absolutely certain, and is thus ready to be proved wrong. Indeed, any responsible scientist can tell you what evidence would cause her to abandon her hypothesis; whereas it is the rare religious believer indeed who is able to do this.

    But there I go, talking about religious believers again, when Armstrong has shown that religion is not a matter of belief—right? Well, as I said above, she has tried to show that, but not convincingly; and even if she could show it, it is not clear that that could somehow defend religion as actually practiced in our world.

    In short, her entire argument is encapsulated by this:


    The caption reads: "God is transcendent, clever clogs. So we obviously can't understand him. Duh!"
    Reply With Quote  
     

  9. #8  
    Forum Junior
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    266
    i have to agree with inow, Armstrong is an ex nun and always has an axe to grind, also she constantly distorts fringe theories as accepted facts and has no sense of sound historical judgment. REally beware at all costs Yaroslav Pelkan, Elaine Pagels, Bart Ehrman, Huston Smith are all better and more intelligent writers.

    When reading armstrong if something appears wrong or you are surprised by something double check it. its another case of some one with no historically training destroying good scholarship, HG Wells and Freud did the same thing at point in their career
    Reply With Quote  
     

  10. #9  
    Time Lord
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    5,328
    Armstrong appears to be a dedicated bridge-builder, foremost. I don't suppose I can pass on this.
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
    Reply With Quote  
     

  11. #10  
    Forum Professor
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    1,079
    I rather enjoyed "A history of God" some years ago.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  12. #11  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope mitchellmckain's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Salt Lake City, UTAH, USA
    Posts
    3,112
    In response to Karen's theory about the origins and motivation for the religious impulse of human beings, I will now explain my own idea of this in contrast with hers, which is I think inseperable from my own experience of relgion and so this will quickly wander somewhat from the topic of origins to an explanation of how I came to find value in the Christian perspective.

    We all seek to find meaning in our lives. For some it is easy and for others it is more difficult. Regardless, we suceed in doing this in very different ways. Nothing could be more natural because we are all different. Our lives are different. Our talents are different. Our challenges are different.

    If religion represents a way of telling others what the meaning of their life should be then it is a deception -- an obstacle to meaningfulness -- an evil if you will. But if religion simply represents the part of the spectrum and diversity of the ways in which people find meaning in their lives then there is nothing more natural -- more good -- more human than this. And thus we MUST realize that religion is not the ONLY thing that can be an obstacle to meaningfulness -- it is ANY time that people participate in the rather dubious activity of telling other people what the meaning of their life should or should not be -- which is something I see atheists doing all the time.

    Not being raised to believe in any sort of god, finding meaning in this idea of God was not an automatic thing for me. I think you can say that it is the above sentiments that first allowed me to find meaning in the word "God". For it seemed quite clear to me that this act of finding meaning in ones life is necessarily an act of faith and I came to the conclusion that the "faith in God" that the religious people talked about was their way of having faith in the value and meaningfulness of life. They see their life in terms of a relationship with this being who is perceived in the totality of their experiences. I think this perception of a personal God is a way of animating ones experience of life and thus infusing it with meaning in a way that is more flexible than any ideological philosophy.

    The above realization was part of a long "journey" on my part coming from the perspective of the scientist through the philosophy of existentialism to eventually embrace Christianity -- or my own understanding of it -- which I think is a surprisingly orthodox one -- considering the circumstances. There is no doubt that there are both atheists and Christians who find this incomprehensible. No problem. There are Christians (Calvinists paricularly) whom I find rather incomprehensible myself. The bottom line is that my understanding does not have to make sense to them -- it makes sense to me and that is what counts -- and the same goes for their understanding for them.

    This explanation of how I came to see meaning in the idea of God is simply an objective explanatory bridge for this realization that a purely objective (observer) approach to life was nonsensical is only the beginning. The next step was an exploration of the ideas of religion to see if any of these would fit my subjective perceptions of life and that necessarily includes decisions about what sort religion I can consider worth pursuing. I find the pretentions to objectivity by both atheist and christian , with this attitude that they have to believe this or that because it is the "truth" whether they like it or not, to be seriously off-base and even laughable. I think this is ultimately no different than living ones life according to how someone else thinks you should. Objective truth is found but subjective truth is created and the former is the expertise of science while the latter is the essence of life itself.

    I found in my studies of physics a rather unlikely concoction of complexity -- a rather common experience for physicists -- that seemed to me to have a most sensible explanation that the whole was designed for the specific purpose of creating the conditions where you could have this phenomenon of spontaneous self-organization that we call life. This is of course a rather subjective perception, and one which supported a conception of a God motivated to create life. I found in evolution an understand of life that was more consistent with Christianity than creationism because it provided a sensible answer to that philosophical challenge to the idea of God known as the problem of evil and suffering.

    In evolutionary theory we face the undeniable fact that without the suffering found in challenges to our survival on the brink of extinction there can be no evolutionary development. We in fact find obvious parallels with this in relgious thought about how the difficulties we face in life are necessary for the growth and development of our spirit and character -- and this provides a more realistic understanding of God as a good shepherd who sometimes must cull the herd to keep it healthy. Which just points to the difference between a loving God who is sappy-stupid-indulgent and a loving God who really understands what our best interest requires however uncomfortable and painful it may be.
    See my physics of spaceflight simulator at http://www.relspace.astahost.com

    I now have a blog too: http://astahost.blogspot.com/
    Reply With Quote  
     

  13. #12  
    Time Lord
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    5,328
    Crystal clear. I'd say I respect your faith, but we both know that's a kind of metagaming. Ah, what the heck: I bow to the god in you.

    I share your ultrascientist scepticism that I'm even capable of an objective thought. Some drugs in my teens may have helped me appreciate the basic absurdity of my existence, and my necessarily "distorted lens". It was a good step towards scientific thinking. So while your path was (roughly) science -> existentialism -> Christianity; mine was existentialism -> science -> logic -> faith (atheistic). The science part, as I recall, featured a lot of foolish primates and ancient cultures (i.e. "what am I?")... not physics or evolution... those entered later.

    I think that people who reject religion often become averse to "meaning", among other things by association.

    I'm a bit worried younger generations of raised atheist will run a little too far with selfish genes though.
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
    Reply With Quote  
     

  14. #13  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope mitchellmckain's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Salt Lake City, UTAH, USA
    Posts
    3,112
    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    I think that people who reject religion often become averse to "meaning", among other things by association.
    Yes I know. I first encountered this in my undergraduate years of college, when a fellow student declared that according to the philosophy he was studying, there was no such thing as meaning. The utter absurdity of this position is definitely a line in the sand for me because simple logic forces me to conclude that this statement and the philosophy which spawned it is one that is itself completely without any meaning. I am reminded of Kierkegaards warning that philosophy that does address the challenges of human existence are of no value and I see in this postmodernism the ultimate of what he warning us about. I think this sort of philosophical conclusion just goes to show that meaning cannot be found within the purely objective perspective.


    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    I'm a bit worried younger generations of raised atheist will run a little too far with selfish genes though.
    I am not so worried. If they really are going to look to phenomenon of life for guidance then I think they must eventually be forced to look a little deeper. Frankly there are few better places to look for wisdom than in this process of life and I think that Christianity desperately needs to look in this direction as well. Selfishness like individual evolution according to the survival of the fittest maxim is only one facet of the whole process of evolution that does not account for the evolution from prokaryotic cell to eukaryotic cell or from single cell to multicellular organisms. Community is also a critically important part of the process of the evolution of life. Just as selfishness is a just a way of getting stuck in simple primitive forms of life, so also is it a way of limiting oneself to a simple primitive sort of human being. Turning the evolutionary clock back and living for oneself alone is kind of the essence of what cancer is.

    I find this anthropomorphizing reductionism which is found in Whitehead, Dawkins and various quantum philosophers to be rather bizarre. Ascribing selfishness let alone any motivation to DNA is rather peculiar, and ascribing consciousness to elementary particles is even more absurd. DNA is just an information storage device and however any such information storage is bound to become terribly important to something which learns and grows, it is simply something which the living process uses and not life itsef. A working theory of abiogenesis has to follow the metabolism first model and see DNA and RNA as an important innovation in that process and NOT as the beginning.

    After all I am forced to acknowledge that, as long as we do not have a repeat of the anti-religious extremism of Nazism (which was at least anti-Jewish) and Communism, there are far far more worrying extremes to be found in fundamentalist religion. AND I am NOT just talking about Islam. In fact I find fundamentalist Christianity, with the way they have been establishing their own universities to support creationism in the US and Canada, to be even more frightening. I have heard rhetoric from these guys denouncing tolerance as a "logically unsupportable idea" and I think these have become so reactionary that they are actually moving in the direction of tearing down the ideals of democracy and relgious freedom for the sake of their self-righteous (but unrealistic) causes like the opposition to abortion.
    See my physics of spaceflight simulator at http://www.relspace.astahost.com

    I now have a blog too: http://astahost.blogspot.com/
    Reply With Quote  
     

  15. #14  
    Moderator Moderator
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Washington State
    Posts
    8,416
    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain

    I find this anthropomorphizing reductionism which is found in Whitehead, Dawkins and various quantum philosophers to be rather bizarre. Ascribing selfishness let alone any motivation to DNA is rather peculiar, and ascribing consciousness to elementary particles is even more absurd.
    Non of them ascribe selfishness as a motive. It's just a darn useful metaphor to describe how genes evolve to maximize their survival--a useful mental model which allows use to think about the process of evolution as well as connect to the layperson as well as sell book :-)

    I'm a bit worried younger generations of raised atheist will run a little too far with selfish genes though.
    I'm not because I don't see that as a tendency. There's absolutely no reason why an atheist can't find just as meaningful and altruistic life as a religious person. Their only challenge might be there might not be a cookie cutter as following some faiths--that very fact might well give some even more meaningful journey because they have to find their own way through the forest of alternatives.
    --
    Perhaps I'll read "The Case for God," next winter. I enjoyed her book about Islam very much a few years back as a counter balance to the terrible views ascribed to it by the popular press and American culture as we struggled to understand the reasons for the rage against us. Truthfully it was a good professional Army officer read as well.
    Meteorologist/Naturalist & Retired Soldier
    “The Holy Land is everywhere” Black Elk
    Reply With Quote  
     

  16. #15  
    Forum Masters Degree
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Posts
    716
    Mitch wrote:
    Ascribing selfishness let alone any motivation to DNA is rather peculiar, and ascribing consciousness to elementary particles is even more absurd.
    If Dawkins was a physicist he probably would say that black hole is very selfish: it sucks up everything. But he would also ridicule the idea that black hole is conscious.
    I have read quite a few of his books, I don't see where he ascribes consciousness to elementary particles. Could you point it to me?
    If there is any religion that would cope with modern scientific needs, it would be Buddhism
    -Albert Einstein
    Reply With Quote  
     

  17. #16  
    Veracity Vigilante inow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    3,499
    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox
    There's absolutely no reason why an atheist can't find just as meaningful and altruistic life as a religious person. Their only challenge might be there might not be a cookie cutter as following some faiths--that very fact might well give some even more meaningful journey because they have to find their own way through the forest of alternatives.
    Thank you. Hear, hear.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  18. #17  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope mitchellmckain's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Salt Lake City, UTAH, USA
    Posts
    3,112
    Quote Originally Posted by prasit
    Mitch wrote:
    Ascribing selfishness let alone any motivation to DNA is rather peculiar, and ascribing consciousness to elementary particles is even more absurd.
    If Dawkins was a physicist he probably would say that black hole is very selfish: it sucks up everything. But he would also ridicule the idea that black hole is conscious.
    I have read quite a few of his books, I don't see where he ascribes consciousness to elementary particles. Could you point it to me?
    He doesn't. I said no such thing. Read more carefully.

    I find this anthropomorphizing reductionism which is found in Whitehead, Dawkins and various quantum philosophers to be rather bizarre. Ascribing selfishness let alone any motivation to DNA is rather peculiar, and ascribing consciousness to elementary particles is even more absurd. DNA is just an information storage device and however any such information storage is bound to become terribly important to something which learns and grows, it is simply something which the living process uses and not life itsef. A working theory of abiogenesis has to follow the metabolism first model and see DNA and RNA as an important innovation in that process and NOT as the beginning.
    Dawkins is in the first sentence as an example of someone advocating one type of anthropomorphizing reductionism -- i.e. selfishness to genes. Other examples are these quantum philosophers who DO ascribe some sort of consciousness to elementary particles. But I see all these as examples of a rather fruitless type of thinking.

    I do think that consciousness and motivations like selfishness are not exclusive to human beings, or at least are simply human versions of something more general to be found in the process of life itself. The difference is that I attribute these to a process that generates such things rather than as irreducible properties of basic parts -- which I think is a very naive pre-scientific approach to explaining things, like seeing life as a magical force or a substance that gives the property of life to things.
    See my physics of spaceflight simulator at http://www.relspace.astahost.com

    I now have a blog too: http://astahost.blogspot.com/
    Reply With Quote  
     

  19. #18  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard SkinWalker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Grand Prairie, TX
    Posts
    2,377
    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    I find this anthropomorphizing reductionism which is found in Whitehead, Dawkins and various quantum philosophers to be rather bizarre. Ascribing selfishness let alone any motivation to DNA is rather peculiar, and ascribing consciousness to elementary particles is even more absurd. DNA is just an information storage device and however any such information storage is bound to become terribly important to something which learns and grows, it is simply something which the living process uses and not life itsef. A working theory of abiogenesis has to follow the metabolism first model and see DNA and RNA as an important innovation in that process and NOT as the beginning.
    Dawkins is in the first sentence as an example of someone advocating one type of anthropomorphizing reductionism -- i.e. selfishness to genes.
    Its as if you haven't actually read The Selfish Gene. Dawkins, in no way, is actually anthropomorphizing the gene. The personification read in the title is not the sum of the text itself. Throughout the book, Dawkins speaks more of altruism and cooperation than he does of actual selfishness. The term "selfish gene" is one of an analogy -easily understood by anyone who actually reads the book and has a basic understanding of biology.

    In the 30th Anniversary Edition, Dawkins answers with a new preface the misinformed/under-informed critics who seem only to read the book's title.

    The Selfish Gene has been criticized for anthropomorphic personification and this too needs an explanation, if not an apology. [...] Personification of genes really ought not to be a problem, because no sane person thinks DNA molecules have conscious personalities, and no sensible reader would impute such a delusion to an author. I once had the honour of hearing the great molecular biologist Jacques Monod talking about creativity in science. I have forgotten his exact words, but he said approximately that, when trying to think through a chemical problem, he would ask himself what he would do if he were an electron.
    Dawkins, Richard (2006). The Selfish Gene, 30th Anniversary Edition. New York: Oxford University Press, p. x.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  20. #19  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope mitchellmckain's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Salt Lake City, UTAH, USA
    Posts
    3,112
    Quote Originally Posted by SkinWalker
    Its as if you haven't actually read The Selfish Gene. Dawkins, in no way, is actually anthropomorphizing the gene. The personification read in the title is not the sum of the text itself. Throughout the book, Dawkins speaks more of altruism and cooperation than he does of actual selfishness. The term "selfish gene" is one of an analogy -easily understood by anyone who actually reads the book and has a basic understanding of biology.
    Oh I read it alright. And despite any later attempt by Dawkins to deny this, it is nevertheless implied in the book that genes are the motivators and directors of the process and this simply is not the case. As I said in my original post, DNA and RNA are simply information storage devices and that is all. These are innovations in the development of the process of life that gave that process a means by which what was learned could coded and passed on to future generations. It plays the same role that written and recorded information plays in the development of human civilization, and what Dawkins says in his book is just as ridiculous as it would be to say that human life and civilization is simply a means by which books can perpetuate themselves.
    See my physics of spaceflight simulator at http://www.relspace.astahost.com

    I now have a blog too: http://astahost.blogspot.com/
    Reply With Quote  
     

  21. #20  
    Moderator Moderator
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Washington State
    Posts
    8,416
    it is nevertheless implied in the book that genes are the motivators and directors of the process and this simply is not the case
    That's pretty ridiculous.

    Genes evolve in ways that allow them to survive in processes that resemble how they might evolve if they actually were selfish. It's just a useful model for thinking about the process, not in anyway an assertion that they are actually selfish.


    It doesn't appear you understood the book.
    Meteorologist/Naturalist & Retired Soldier
    “The Holy Land is everywhere” Black Elk
    Reply With Quote  
     

  22. #21  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard SkinWalker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Grand Prairie, TX
    Posts
    2,377
    I'm in agreement with LF. I've discussed The Selfish Gene with many people over the years, and I've never encountered a one that actually read it and believes his analogy was anything more than an analogy.

    Your insistence on that small belief explains a lot, however.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  23. #22  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    New Orleans
    Posts
    1,191
    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain

    Oh I read it alright. And despite any later attempt by Dawkins to deny this, it is nevertheless implied in the book that genes are the motivators and directors of the process and this simply is not the case. As I said in my original post, DNA and RNA are simply information storage devices and that is all. These are innovations in the development of the process of life that gave that process a means by which what was learned could coded and passed on to future generations. It plays the same role that written and recorded information plays in the development of human civilization, and what Dawkins says in his book is just as ridiculous as it would be to say that human life and civilization is simply a means by which books can perpetuate themselves.
    Yes, it is quite clear that Dawkins has back pedaled since his first writing. He very clearly implied/proposed that the processes of generating and preserving genes was gene centric and intended to "selfishly" preserve that gene combination over others by out-competing the others.

    Inclusion of cooperation and altruism seems to have been included perhaps to counter the criticism that he could see of his concept. Is that your take Mitchell?
    Reply With Quote  
     

  24. #23  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard SkinWalker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Grand Prairie, TX
    Posts
    2,377
    It's quite clear that he had to write a new preface for the sole purpose of answering creationist critics like yourself who never read more than the title.

    The "inclusions" of altruism and cooperation were there all along and throughout and were central themes of the book.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  25. #24  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard SkinWalker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Grand Prairie, TX
    Posts
    2,377
    If anyone is willing to get back to the topic of Karen Armstrong, I have a couple of her books though I confess I haven't had the time to do more than briefly skim either.

    I have A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and at least one other around here somewhere.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  26. #25  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    New Orleans
    Posts
    1,191
    Quote Originally Posted by SkinWalker
    It's quite clear that he had to write a new preface for the sole purpose of answering creationist critics like yourself who never read more than the title.
    It is rude to continue to mislabel your opponents SkinWalker and it reveals you for who you are.

    The "inclusions" of altruism and cooperation were there all along and throughout and were central themes of the book.
    I don't recall indicating that it was not there all along. Dawkins has always anticipated criticism and addressed it in advance. You should quit trying to read between the lines. Nevertheless, the concept of selfish genes has not taken off, I am interested in Mitchell's comments on this.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  27. #26  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard SkinWalker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Grand Prairie, TX
    Posts
    2,377
    Quote Originally Posted by cypress
    Quote Originally Posted by SkinWalker
    It's quite clear that he had to write a new preface for the sole purpose of answering creationist critics like yourself who never read more than the title.
    It is rude to continue to mislabel your opponents SkinWalker and it reveals you for who you are.
    It reveals me for one who calls it as it appears. You appear to be a creationist.

    The "inclusions" of altruism and cooperation were there all along and throughout and were central themes of the book.
    I don't recall indicating that it was not there all along. Dawkins has always anticipated criticism and addressed it in advance. You should quit trying to read between the lines. Nevertheless, the concept of selfish genes has not taken off, I am interested in Mitchell's comments on this.[/quote]

    You indicate that they were merely "included." In fact, they are central themes. I doubt you've actually read the text and are doing your usual: posting with a purpose of obfuscation and promoting anti-science. The "concept" of selfish genes was never meant by Dawkins to "take off" and anyone who actually read (and understood) this book and others he's written, gets that it is a useful analogy, designed to promote creative thought among those interested in biology or understanding biological concepts in light of the fact of Darwinian evolution.

    However, I get that the irrational and the superstitious need to find fault with Dawkins at every turn, particularly in his positions on biology and evolution, since he's such a vociferous opponent to religious superstition being injected into educational systems.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  28. #27  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    New Orleans
    Posts
    1,191
    I have read it and I have told you repeatedly that I am not a creationist. Yet you persist with mislabeling me deliberately. Like it or not, it does reveal your character. As far as a description of the central theme of Dawkins ' book, I doubt you and I will describe anything we read the same. I do find it odd that Dawkins would name his book the Selfish Gene if something other than his concept was central. If you don't mind I'd prefer to hear Mitchell's thoughts, yours seem circumspect.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  29. #28  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard SkinWalker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Grand Prairie, TX
    Posts
    2,377
    Still can get past the concept of analogy, eh?
    Reply With Quote  
     

  30. #29  
    Administrator KALSTER's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    South Africa
    Posts
    8,231
    I am perplexed by the criticism of Dawkins' description of genes as "selfish". Of course he is describing what happens as opposed to what something wills to happen, i.e. it is only used as an aid to describe the mechanisms by which DNA is perpetuated.

    DNA has to be considered in terms of the body it describes and how this body functions in the environment. DNA is not the body, but the plans to the body. a Body whose sole function is to reproduce itself and in so doing the DNA. The simple fact is that only DNA survives that describes bodies that can survive long enough in the environment to reproduce. Any DNA that does not conform to this requirement perishes. Simple as that.

    Where does altruism and cooperation fit into this picture then? Well, what does altruism describe? It is when something acts in a way that might benefits others, but (superficially) not necessarily itself. But what benefit can such behaviour have for the perpetuation of specific DNA? Easy. If you have 10 closely related DNA vehicles (bodies) that are exposed to a threat and one of the bodies act in a way that neutralizes the threat, then it serves to preserve that DNA, if at least DNA that is closely related. 1 dies and 9 lives, as opposed to all ten dying. So individual altruism is ultimately selfish in terms of a broader set of closely related DNA.

    Of course we can decide to be altruistic to the benefit of people other than those close to us, but that really does not disprove the concept. The point is that DNA describes bodies that at least mostly is capable of narrowly altruistic behaviour. We evolved in situations where close tribal units were the normal environment for individuals to be altruistic to when the situation demands it, so chances were very good that those would benefit from this behaviour would be very closely related. This trait is explicitly selected for in this way.

    Dawkins only ascribes emotive motivations to DNA as a descriptive tool and to suggest otherwise is absurd in the extreme.
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

    "Gullibility kills" - Carl Sagan
    "All people know the same truth. Our lives consist of how we chose to distort it." - Harry Block
    "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle
    Reply With Quote  
     

  31. #30  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    New Orleans
    Posts
    1,191
    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    I am perplexed by the criticism of Dawkins' description of genes as "selfish". Of course he is describing what happens as opposed to what something wills to happen, i.e. it is only used as an aid to describe the mechanisms by which DNA is perpetuated.
    An obvious issue that stands out is that while it fits a conceptual model, it doesn't fit experimental observation where, for example, a common adaptive mechanism is alteration and therefore damage of a gene to overcome selection pressure.

    DNA has to be considered in terms of the body it describes and how this body functions in the environment. DNA is not the body, but the plans to the body. a Body whose sole function is to reproduce itself and in so doing the DNA. The simple fact is that only DNA survives that describes bodies that can survive long enough in the environment to reproduce. Any DNA that does not conform to this requirement perishes. Simple as that.
    But it's not so simple. Organisms have many more purposes or functions than simply to reproduce, this is yet another obvious issue with the model.

    Where does altruism and cooperation fit into this picture then? Well, what does altruism describe? It is when something acts in a way that might benefits others, but (superficially) not necessarily itself. But what benefit can such behaviour have for the perpetuation of specific DNA? Easy. If you have 10 closely related DNA vehicles (bodies) that are exposed to a threat and one of the bodies act in a way that neutralizes the threat, then it serves to preserve that DNA, if at least DNA that is closely related. 1 dies and 9 lives, as opposed to all ten dying. So individual altruism is ultimately selfish in terms of a broader set of closely related DNA.
    Just like Dawkins, this becomes tautology. It becomes true by virtue of the description. It's part of the narrative. To see this ask, what alternative is there? How would one falsify this? You can't .... It is a metaphysical belief, because it is true by default, not by evidence.

    Dawkins only ascribes emotive motivations to DNA as a descriptive tool and to suggest otherwise is absurd in the extreme.
    Agreed, you seem to be reading too much into the critique.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  32. #31  
    Moderator Moderator
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Washington State
    Posts
    8,416
    Quote Originally Posted by cypress

    DNA has to be considered in terms of the body it describes and how this body functions in the environment. DNA is not the body, but the plans to the body. a Body whose sole function is to reproduce itself and in so doing the DNA. The simple fact is that only DNA survives that describes bodies that can survive long enough in the environment to reproduce. Any DNA that does not conform to this requirement perishes. Simple as that.
    But it's not so simple. Organisms have many more purposes or functions than simply to reproduce, this is yet another obvious issue with the model.
    Such as? And even if somehow you could convince yourself of that--anything that jeopardizes the ability to reproduce obviously ends that individual's line, or even the species and that particular package of genes. (I forget what Dawkins called the collection).

    Whether you like its implications or not, the same is true of humans.
    Meteorologist/Naturalist & Retired Soldier
    “The Holy Land is everywhere” Black Elk
    Reply With Quote  
     

  33. #32  
    Administrator KALSTER's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    South Africa
    Posts
    8,231
    An obvious issue that stands out is that while it fits a conceptual model, it doesn't fit experimental observation where, for example, a common adaptive mechanism is alteration and therefore damage of a gene to overcome selection pressure.
    I don't understand why this is an issue. The fundamental principle of evolution is that organisms that survive long enough to reproduce do, while others that can't, don't. It is as simple as can be. Whatever accomplishes this is allowed, no matter if a gene is damaged of even completely eliminated. If it improves the organism's chances to reproduce, it will probably be selected for.

    But it's not so simple. Organisms have many more purposes or functions than simply to reproduce, this is yet another obvious issue with the model.
    I echo Lynx's request. Like what?

    Just like Dawkins, this becomes tautology. It becomes true by virtue of the description. It's part of the narrative. To see this ask, what alternative is there? How would one falsify this? You can't .... It is a metaphysical belief, because it is true by default, not by evidence.
    What evidence do you want? It is as straightforward a concept as it can be. In one group you have a bunch of individuals that lack the capacity for altruistic behaviour that results in an individual's death, but can result in the survival of the rest of the group; while in a second group individuals have this characteristic. The first threat to either group will select for the altruistic behaviour. Do you disagree? Other levels of altruistic behaviour results in the sharing of resources and such and in that way benefits the group as opposed to one individual and so enhances the survival rate of that closely related gene pool. Is it really so difficult to understand? It is a matter of simple logic, not an abstract concept that has to be proven. It is classic social behaviour.

    Dawkins only ascribes emotive motivations to DNA as a descriptive tool and to suggest otherwise is absurd in the extreme.


    Agreed, you seem to be reading too much into the critique.
    Well, I still don't understand where you are coming from in the first place. What you have said so far only demonstrates a lack of understanding more than anything else.
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

    "Gullibility kills" - Carl Sagan
    "All people know the same truth. Our lives consist of how we chose to distort it." - Harry Block
    "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle
    Reply With Quote  
     

  34. #33  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard SkinWalker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Grand Prairie, TX
    Posts
    2,377
    Organisms have many more purposes or functions than simply to reproduce, this is yet another obvious issue with the model.
    "Many" more? Not a couple (i.e. two) more or a few (i.e. three) more, but many more, meaning there should be at least four or more.

    Please give us four purposes or functions of organisms that isn't tied to reproduction. I admit, I'm very interested and ready to be educated as I haven't really given it much thought.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  35. #34  
    Forum Isotope
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Transient
    Posts
    2,914
    Quote Originally Posted by SkinWalker
    Organisms have many more purposes or functions than simply to reproduce, this is yet another obvious issue with the model.
    "Many" more? Not a couple (i.e. two) more or a few (i.e. three) more, but many more, meaning there should be at least four or more.

    Please give us four purposes or functions of organisms that isn't tied to reproduction. I admit, I'm very interested and ready to be educated as I haven't really given it much thought.
    Reproduction is the root of nearly every function of an organism. I may include self-survival as a function, but even with that its only 2 real root purposes to an organisms day to day functions. Everything I can think of is geared towards those 2 goals.

    Note: Self-happiness could be included for animals with the capacity, to make 3 total, if you like. I'm sure I can lump every single action into these general groups. I challenge all to present an action that does not follow these 3 general goals.
    Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools, because they have to say something.
    -Plato

    Reply With Quote  
     

  36. #35  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard SkinWalker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Grand Prairie, TX
    Posts
    2,377
    Self-survival and self-happiness make an organism fit for reproduction (surviving to see one's offspring's offspring). So we can boil it back down to one, eh?
    Reply With Quote  
     

  37. #36  
    Forum Isotope
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Transient
    Posts
    2,914
    I suppose we could, but I could argue self-happiness is non-inclusive of reproduction. For instance, if it made me happy to kill rabbits, that action would not necessarily facilitate successful reproduction, but would make me happy.

    Take also for instance the experiment with a mouse where it was given a button that was wired into it's brain to give it immediate pleasure upon pressing the button. It, quite literally, pleasured itself to death.
    Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools, because they have to say something.
    -Plato

    Reply With Quote  
     

  38. #37  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    New Orleans
    Posts
    1,191
    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox
    Quote Originally Posted by cypress

    DNA has to be considered in terms of the body it describes and how this body functions in the environment. DNA is not the body, but the plans to the body. a Body whose sole function is to reproduce itself and in so doing the DNA. The simple fact is that only DNA survives that describes bodies that can survive long enough in the environment to reproduce. Any DNA that does not conform to this requirement perishes. Simple as that.
    But it's not so simple. Organisms have many more purposes or functions than simply to reproduce, this is yet another obvious issue with the model.
    Such as? And even if somehow you could convince yourself of that--anything that jeopardizes the ability to reproduce obviously ends that individual's line, or even the species and that particular package of genes. (I forget what Dawkins called the collection).

    Whether you like its implications or not, the same is true of humans.
    Many organisms have a role in biological cycles for example the oxygen cycle. We don't need a book by Dawkins to tell us what conditions lead to extinction and I don't mind the implications of failure to reproduce.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  39. #38  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard SkinWalker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Grand Prairie, TX
    Posts
    2,377
    Now who's anthropomorphizing. You say organisms have a "role in the oxygen cycle." But is this a "role," which is an assigned part to play in a bigger production, or is it just a happenstance -a byproduct which other organisms "exploit" for their own survival, and, thus, ability to reproduce?

    Giving organisms a "role" is no less anthropomorphic and personifying than saying they're "selfish" or that they contain "selfish genes."

    Organisms haven't any true "role" to play. They're part of a bigger ecosystem that evolved over time in a feedback system which has as its only apparent universal purpose the need to reproduce.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  40. #39  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    New Orleans
    Posts
    1,191
    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    An obvious issue that stands out is that while it fits a conceptual model, it doesn't fit experimental observation where, for example, a common adaptive mechanism is alteration and therefore damage of a gene to overcome selection pressure.
    I don't understand why this is an issue. The fundamental principle of evolution is that organisms that survive long enough to reproduce do, while others that can't, don't. It is as simple as can be. Whatever accomplishes this is allowed, no matter if a gene is damaged of even completely eliminated. If it improves the organism's chances to reproduce, it will probably be selected for.
    Yes of course, but this shifts the focus back to the organism and not gene configuration.

    Just like Dawkins, this becomes tautology. It becomes true by virtue of the description. It's part of the narrative. To see this ask, what alternative is there? How would one falsify this? You can't .... It is a metaphysical belief, because it is true by default, not by evidence.
    What evidence do you want?
    Testable, repeatable evidence for a start. What is offered is a concept. Clearly historical science does not offer this kind of evidence for these kinds of scenarios because it plays out over time. So let's stop pretending it is science to speculate on what might have happened in the past until one can come up with a way to falsify, to test, and to validate the models.

    It is as straightforward a concept as it can be. In one group you have a bunch of individuals that lack the capacity for altruistic behaviour that results in an individual's death, but can result in the survival of the rest of the group; while in a second group individuals have this characteristic. The first threat to either group will select for the altruistic behaviour. Do you disagree?
    It is a wonderful elegant concept that cannont be tested. There are countless other alternatives. Other characteristics could very well have selective advantage over altruism. Furthermore how can altruism be a selectable advantage and at the same time evil behavior also be common? Do opposite behaviors both have selective advantage? Is every behavior selectable? How would you confirm this is true? You can't.

    Other levels of altruistic behaviour results in the sharing of resources and such and in that way benefits the group as opposed to one individual and so enhances the survival rate of that closely related gene pool. Is it really so difficult to understand? It is a matter of simple logic, not an abstract concept that has to be proven. It is classic social behaviour.
    Should we then consider all simple logical concepts scientifically true by default without benefit of the scientific method?

    Dawkins only ascribes emotive motivations to DNA as a descriptive tool and to suggest otherwise is absurd in the extreme.

    Agreed, you seem to be reading too much into the critique.
    Well, I still don't understand where you are coming from in the first place. What you have said so far only demonstrates a lack of understanding more than anything else.
    Or an inability to articulate it in a way you accept.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  41. #40  
    Forum Isotope
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Transient
    Posts
    2,914
    Quote Originally Posted by cypress
    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox
    Quote Originally Posted by cypress

    DNA has to be considered in terms of the body it describes and how this body functions in the environment. DNA is not the body, but the plans to the body. a Body whose sole function is to reproduce itself and in so doing the DNA. The simple fact is that only DNA survives that describes bodies that can survive long enough in the environment to reproduce. Any DNA that does not conform to this requirement perishes. Simple as that.
    But it's not so simple. Organisms have many more purposes or functions than simply to reproduce, this is yet another obvious issue with the model.
    Such as? And even if somehow you could convince yourself of that--anything that jeopardizes the ability to reproduce obviously ends that individual's line, or even the species and that particular package of genes. (I forget what Dawkins called the collection).

    Whether you like its implications or not, the same is true of humans.
    Many organisms have a role in biological cycles for example the oxygen cycle. We don't need a book by Dawkins to tell us what conditions lead to extinction and I don't mind the implications of failure to reproduce.
    All of these cycles contribute towards the ultimate goal of reproduction, and as such are likely done for the purpose of reproduction/survival. Otherwise, the action wouldn't be done.
    Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools, because they have to say something.
    -Plato

    Reply With Quote  
     

  42. #41  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    New Orleans
    Posts
    1,191
    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    Quote Originally Posted by cypress

    Many organisms have a role in biological cycles for example the oxygen cycle. We don't need a book by Dawkins to tell us what conditions lead to extinction and I don't mind the implications of failure to reproduce.
    All of these cycles contribute towards the ultimate goal of reproduction, and as such are likely done for the purpose of reproduction/survival. Otherwise, the action wouldn't be done.
    Maybe so, maybe not. They could be secondary or even primary functions. Is there any way to confirm this? Is it presupposition that drives you to the conclusion you have reached or is it exhustive testing that allowed you to confirm that there are no secondary functions or goals and that reproduction is indeed the ultimate goal?
    Reply With Quote  
     

  43. #42  
    Forum Isotope
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Transient
    Posts
    2,914
    Quote Originally Posted by cypress
    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    Quote Originally Posted by cypress

    Many organisms have a role in biological cycles for example the oxygen cycle. We don't need a book by Dawkins to tell us what conditions lead to extinction and I don't mind the implications of failure to reproduce.
    All of these cycles contribute towards the ultimate goal of reproduction, and as such are likely done for the purpose of reproduction/survival. Otherwise, the action wouldn't be done.
    Maybe so, maybe not. They could be secondary or even primary functions. Is there any way to confirm this? Is it presupposition that drives you to the conclusion you have reached or is it exhustive testing that allowed you to confirm that there are no secondary functions or goals and that reproduction is indeed the ultimate goal?
    There may very well be secondary goals. However, why accept that there are if it can be determined that the goal is something else?

    I reached my conclusion not through exhaustive testing, but through observation of behavior and generalization through the plethora of organisms. I make a couple fundamental assumptions, and among them is that every organism has evolved from the one, or a select few, initial organism that are interrelated. Also, that every generation has the same ultimate goals as it's predecessor.
    Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools, because they have to say something.
    -Plato

    Reply With Quote  
     

  44. #43  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    New Orleans
    Posts
    1,191
    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    Quote Originally Posted by cypress
    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    Quote Originally Posted by cypress

    Many organisms have a role in biological cycles for example the oxygen cycle. We don't need a book by Dawkins to tell us what conditions lead to extinction and I don't mind the implications of failure to reproduce.
    All of these cycles contribute towards the ultimate goal of reproduction, and as such are likely done for the purpose of reproduction/survival. Otherwise, the action wouldn't be done.
    Maybe so, maybe not. They could be secondary or even primary functions. Is there any way to confirm this? Is it presupposition that drives you to the conclusion you have reached or is it exhustive testing that allowed you to confirm that there are no secondary functions or goals and that reproduction is indeed the ultimate goal?
    There may very well be secondary goals. However, why accept that there are if it can be determined that the goal is something else?
    Precisely the point that it has not and very likely cannot be determined what criteria drives particular function. Our ability to invent logical explanations does not make those explanations correct or even scientific does it?

    I reached my conclusion not through exhaustive testing, but through observation of behavior and generalization through the plethora of organisms.
    As have others and remarkably their conclusions about final cause differ from yours.

    Imake a couple fundamental assumptions, and among them is that every organism has evolved from the one, or a select few, initial organism that are interrelated. Also, that every generation has the same ultimate goals as it's predecessor.
    Indeed, this conclusion is derived from and is born out of assumption.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  45. #44  
    Administrator KALSTER's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    South Africa
    Posts
    8,231
    Yes of course, but this shifts the focus back to the organism and not gene configuration.
    No, they are quite obviously part of the same system. The expression of genes determine what the body will look like and how the body performs in the environment determines if that strain of DNA continues on or not.

    It is a wonderful elegant concept that cannont be tested. There are countless other alternatives. Other characteristics could very well have selective advantage over altruism.
    This is an odd thing to say. Where did anyone say altruism is the only mechanism or that mechanisms can only operate exclusively? Behaviour is dynamically adaptable. It has to be. Now, please, give me ONE possible reason where the selective advantage of altruism would fail as described in the above scenario.

    Furthermore how can altruism be a selectable advantage and at the same time evil behavior also be common? Do opposite behaviors both have selective advantage? Is every behavior selectable? How would you confirm this is true? You can't.
    I have to say you are displaying a dismaying penchant for linear thinking. Yes, nearly ANY behaviour can be selected for if it means that the individual can survive long enough to successfully reproduce. Successful reproduction is the only criteria. Humans have evolved to have highly adaptable behaviour and have a huge variety of behaviours to choose from. It is what has made us so successful.

    The confirmation is in the simple hypothetical test. They don't need empirical testing, because they are very simple logic tests in essence. You have a behaviour and the absence of a behaviour. The behaviour ensures successful reproduction in a given scenario. The absence of this behaviour result in reproductive failure. If the scenario is played out, only those individuals that display the behaviour will survive. Our huge success as humans have come as a direct consequence of our ability to display highly adaptable behaviour depending on the scenario, mostly by virtue of the development of our brains. Also, along with the development of physical attributes, cultural behaviour sets have developed that are tailored to the conditions the group might find itself in that is passed on by cultural collective memory (there is a specific term for this?) and that are also selected for. But first the organism has to evolve the capacity to display new behaviours. What don't you understand about this?
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

    "Gullibility kills" - Carl Sagan
    "All people know the same truth. Our lives consist of how we chose to distort it." - Harry Block
    "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle
    Reply With Quote  
     

  46. #45  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    14,168
    Quote Originally Posted by cypress
    Maybe so, maybe not. They could be secondary or even primary functions. Is there any way to confirm this? Is it presupposition that drives you to the conclusion you have reached or is it exhustive testing that allowed you to confirm that there are no secondary functions or goals and that reproduction is indeed the ultimate goal?
    Perhaps I've missed it. Where is th elist of the many more functions that organisms have other than reproduction. The world is waiting for your response.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  47. #46  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    New Orleans
    Posts
    1,191
    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Quote Originally Posted by cypress
    Maybe so, maybe not. They could be secondary or even primary functions. Is there any way to confirm this? Is it presupposition that drives you to the conclusion you have reached or is it exhustive testing that allowed you to confirm that there are no secondary functions or goals and that reproduction is indeed the ultimate goal?
    Perhaps I've missed it. Where is th elist of the many more functions that organisms have other than reproduction. The world is waiting for your response.
    I provided an example in response to Lynx-Fox and KALSTER. Since SkinWalker has a nasty habit of deleting posts from me he does not wish others to address, I figure it is fair game to ignore his requests, and since you have previously declared that you routinely ignore my posts, I figure I have no obligation to address your requests either. Other requests I will honor.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  48. #47  
    Administrator KALSTER's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    South Africa
    Posts
    8,231
    May I suggest we move the education of Cypress to its own thread? This one was supposed to be about Karen Armstrong specifically.
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

    "Gullibility kills" - Carl Sagan
    "All people know the same truth. Our lives consist of how we chose to distort it." - Harry Block
    "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle
    Reply With Quote  
     

  49. #48  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    New Orleans
    Posts
    1,191
    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    Yes of course, but this shifts the focus back to the organism and not gene configuration.
    No, they are quite obviously part of the same system. The expression of genes determine what the body will look like and how the body performs in the environment determines if that strain of DNA continues on or not.
    Yes, so I don't understand the distinction you made earlier in calling out the gene sequence as if it was independent.

    It is a wonderful elegant concept that cannont be tested. There are countless other alternatives. Other characteristics could very well have selective advantage over altruism.
    This is an odd thing to say. Where did anyone say altruism is the only mechanism or that mechanisms can only operate exclusively? Behaviour is dynamically adaptable. It has to be. Now, please, give me ONE possible reason where the selective advantage of altruism would fail as described in the above scenario.
    If it is as simple as you stated in your narrative, then it was your choice of the conjecture that made it both exclusive and not testable. The challenge that you raise to me to identify a reason where altruism would fail under this circumstance is more confirmation that your conjecture is not falsifieable and therefore not scientific, which was one of my points. Please remember that this is your concept to demonstrate as testable and falsifiable. If and only if you succeed, then it is my role to find an exception. Let's not get the cart before the horse.

    Furthermore how can altruism be a selectable advantage and at the same time evil behavior also be common? Do opposite behaviors both have selective advantage? Is every behavior selectable? How would you confirm this is true? You can't.
    I have to say you are displaying a dismaying penchant for linear thinking.
    Well yes, threads tend to drive that kind of process.

    Yes, nearly ANY behaviour can be selected for if it means that the individual can survive long enough to successfully reproduce. Successful reproduction is the only criteria. Humans have evolved to have highly adaptable behaviour and have a huge variety of behaviours to choose from. It is what has made us so successful.
    This kind of uncritical narrative is how selection as a concept becomes metaphysical. Since by default selection can accomplish anything, it is true by default. It is an article of faith.

    The confirmation is in the simple hypothetical test. They don't need empirical testing, because they are very simple logic tests in essence. You have a behaviour and the absence of a behaviour. The behaviour ensures successful reproduction in a given scenario. The absence of this behaviour result in reproductive failure. If the scenario is played out, only those individuals that display the behaviour will survive.
    Theoretical exercises are not part of the scientific method, they are metaphysical. Furthermore success in one given scenario does not ensure overall reproductive success when all possible scenarios are considered. Our limited ability to identify and properly weight each scenario and each combination of characteristics/behaviors is why real world testing is required. What you seem to be doing is a form of cherry picking.

    Our huge success as humans have come as a direct consequence of our ability to display highly adaptable behaviour depending on the scenario, mostly by virtue of the development of our brains. Also, along with the development of physical attributes, cultural behaviour sets have developed that are tailored to the conditions the group might find itself in that is passed on by cultural collective memory (there is a specific term for this?) and that are also selected for.
    Quite likely so.

    But first the organism has to evolve the capacity to display new behaviours. What don't you understand about this?
    But this tells us nothing about how these behaviors came to be. I understand your conjecture perfectly. Dawkins proposal was an attempt to answer this how, and yours was an attempt to justify his proposal, it appears you both have a long ways to go.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  50. #49  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    New Orleans
    Posts
    1,191
    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    May I suggest we move the education of Cypress to its own thread? This one was supposed to be about Karen Armstrong specifically.
    I note that the conversation shifted from Karen and her book to Selfish Genes beginning at the end of page 1. Seems the original topic ran its course. It looks like the OP who also moderates this section was ok with the shift. I asked a question of the OP in direct reference to a post and am still interested in a reply.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  51. #50  
    Forum Isotope
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Transient
    Posts
    2,914
    Quote Originally Posted by cypress
    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    Quote Originally Posted by cypress
    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    Quote Originally Posted by cypress

    Many organisms have a role in biological cycles for example the oxygen cycle. We don't need a book by Dawkins to tell us what conditions lead to extinction and I don't mind the implications of failure to reproduce.
    All of these cycles contribute towards the ultimate goal of reproduction, and as such are likely done for the purpose of reproduction/survival. Otherwise, the action wouldn't be done.
    Maybe so, maybe not. They could be secondary or even primary functions. Is there any way to confirm this? Is it presupposition that drives you to the conclusion you have reached or is it exhustive testing that allowed you to confirm that there are no secondary functions or goals and that reproduction is indeed the ultimate goal?
    There may very well be secondary goals. However, why accept that there are if it can be determined that the goal is something else?
    Precisely the point that it has not and very likely cannot be determined what criteria drives particular function. Our ability to invent logical explanations does not make those explanations correct or even scientific does it?
    It makes them likely correct, which is about as close as you can get. We don't "invent" logic, either. It's there, and we use it. And actually, the truly logical conclusion is the most likely to be correct.

    I reached my conclusion not through exhaustive testing, but through observation of behavior and generalization through the plethora of organisms.
    As have others and remarkably their conclusions about final cause differ from yours.
    Final Cause? Are you referring to creation? And if so, you missed my point, or mislabeled my argument. I was not talking about the beginning of life, but the goal of life since it's inception. Very different things.

    I make a couple fundamental assumptions, and among them is that every organism has evolved from the one, or a select few, initial organism that are interrelated. Also, that every generation has the same ultimate goals as it's predecessor.
    Indeed, this conclusion is derived from and is born out of assumption.
    Just like every conclusion you yourself have made and asserted as fact.
    Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools, because they have to say something.
    -Plato

    Reply With Quote  
     

  52. #51  
    Moderator Moderator
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Washington State
    Posts
    8,416
    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    Indeed, this conclusion is derived from and is born out of assumption.
    Just like every conclusion you yourself have made and asserted as fact.
    But there is one big difference. Organisms, and their associated genes change and adapt as if reproduction is their primary "purpose" or the species would be extinct.

    Given the intense competition even among minor variations in one's own species (e.g. a 1% advantaged survival group will completely displace a legacy population in less than 500 generations), any other change towards some apparent "purpose," even if intended by some deity, would fail if it also didn't favor reproduction.
    Meteorologist/Naturalist & Retired Soldier
    “The Holy Land is everywhere” Black Elk
    Reply With Quote  
     

  53. #52  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    New Orleans
    Posts
    1,191
    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    Quote Originally Posted by cypress
    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    Quote Originally Posted by cypress

    Maybe so, maybe not. They could be secondary or even primary functions. Is there any way to confirm this? Is it presupposition that drives you to the conclusion you have reached or is it exhustive testing that allowed you to confirm that there are no secondary functions or goals and that reproduction is indeed the ultimate goal?
    There may very well be secondary goals. However, why accept that there are if it can be determined that the goal is something else?
    Precisely the point that it has not and very likely cannot be determined what criteria drives particular function. Our ability to invent logical explanations does not make those explanations correct or even scientific does it?
    It makes them likely correct, which is about as close as you can get. We don't "invent" logic, either. It's there, and we use it. And actually, the truly logical conclusion is the most likely to be correct.
    I see no way to scientifically validate that they are "very likely correct", should we take your word for it? Repeated testing and direct observation can get us much closer. Those here who swear by science when it serves their purpose would generally agree unless they are attempting to promote a prior commitment. No I am well aware that we don't invent logic, but we do invent logical/rational explanations that may or may not be correct.

    While truly logical conclusions may well be objectively correct, in this case all logic can do for us is tell us what conjectures are rational. This is the case because there are too many competing alternatives and not enough information to weed the faulty conjecture out.

    I reached my conclusion not through exhaustive testing, but through observation of behavior and generalization through the plethora of organisms.
    As have others and remarkably their conclusions about final cause differ from yours.
    Final Cause? Are you referring to creation?
    No, I was referring to the goal you described as the ultimate or final purpose.

    Indeed, this conclusion is derived from and is born out of assumption.
    Just like every conclusion you yourself have made and asserted as fact.
    Yes, It is generally why I try to avoid assumptions and conclusions in absence of direct evidence.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  54. #53  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    New Orleans
    Posts
    1,191
    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox
    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    Indeed, this conclusion is derived from and is born out of assumption.
    Just like every conclusion you yourself have made and asserted as fact.
    But there is one big difference. Organisms, and their associated genes change and adapt as if reproduction is their primary "purpose" or the species would be extinct.
    The fossil record displays countless examples of stasis followed by extinction and is nearly void of examples of successive adaptations leading to new body plans.

    Given the intent competition even among minor variations in ones own species (e.g. a 1% advantaged survival group will completely displace a legacy population in less than 500 generations), any other change towards some apparent "purpose," even if intended by some deity, would fail if it also didn't favor reproduction.
    I am not sure how this is relevant. Population Genetic models are neutral on the question of the source of behaviors.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  55. #54  
    Administrator KALSTER's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    South Africa
    Posts
    8,231
    This is hopeless.
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

    "Gullibility kills" - Carl Sagan
    "All people know the same truth. Our lives consist of how we chose to distort it." - Harry Block
    "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle
    Reply With Quote  
     

  56. #55  
    Moderator Moderator
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Washington State
    Posts
    8,416
    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    This is hopeless.
    Pretty much. Don't really want to rehash 40 year old arguments about how evolution works and then there's the continued deliberate insistence not to distinguish between the analog of gene "behaviors," and "purpose" that bolster reproduction from actual behaviors and purpose. Obfuscation of science at any opportunity is the mantra.
    Meteorologist/Naturalist & Retired Soldier
    “The Holy Land is everywhere” Black Elk
    Reply With Quote  
     

  57. #56  
    Time Lord Paleoichneum's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Washington State, USA
    Posts
    5,294
    Quote Originally Posted by cypress
    The fossil record displays countless examples of stasis followed by extinction and is nearly void of examples of successive adaptations leading to new body plans.
    examples............. :?
    Reply With Quote  
     

  58. #57  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    New Orleans
    Posts
    1,191
    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox
    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    This is hopeless.
    Pretty much. Don't really want to rehash 40 year old arguments about how evolution works.
    The point is we don't yet know how evolution works. Fifty years and it remains ill defined, and yet many go on to vaguely ascribe the same ill defined processes to nearly everything because it must be true.


    and then there's the continued deliberate insistence not to distinguish between the analog of gene "behaviors," and "purpose" that bolster reproduction from actual behaviors and purpose. Obfuscation of science at any opportunity is the mantra.
    It's not obfuscation, it is honesty. Many here have a prior commitment to a particular ill defined process and it gets applied like a shot gun to everything despite the inability to demonstrate with the scientific processes they claim to abide how the conjecture is true.

    A far more honest approach would be to admit that it is speculation. The fact that most here won't admit it is telling of the metaphysical commitment those who won't are bound.

    In this case it is assumed that altruism for example evolved over time in humans. There is no evidence available to confirm this, it is not a falsifiable premise, and yet you claim I am obfuscating. Unbelievable.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  59. #58  
    Forum Sophomore
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Posts
    126
    Why not rehash 40 year old arguments? It's invaluable to anyone learning how scientific methodology actually works, like me.

    Cypress is arguing a position that appears very similar to Karl Popper's philosophy. Here is a wiki.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Popper

    Popper argued that evolution by natural selection should properly be considered a metaphysical research program rather than science, because it does not meet the criteria that he attempted to establish for a demarcation - very succesfully attempted actually, as far as i can make out - between what can be considered scientific methodology and what can't.

    So by the criteria established by one of the more influential figures in philosophy of science, natural selection doesn't cut the mustard as science; although Popper also appears to have been of the opinion that whether considered as science or not, natural selection is a research program of huge worth.

    What interests me is how broadly Poppers criteria should be considered applicable.

    My understanding is that scientific methodology is in practise an approximation to an ideal. Some research programs achieve a better approximation than others, and different hypothesis whithin the same research program may approach this ideal more or less satisfactorily.

    While this ideal seems hardly to be set in stone, as far as philosophers are concerned anyway, i think it must be possible to kind of 'rank' the various principles that contribute to establishing ideal criteria for scientific methodology. For example, to hold that a hypothesis must be falsifiable whether it stands alone or exists whithin an environment of mutually supporting hypothesis and theories might be considered to 'rank' higher in terms of ideal science than to hold that an unfalsifiable hypothesis may under certain conditions be acceptable, so long as it exists whithin such an environment.

    I'm starting to waffle, which is a sure sign that i've gone well beyond my understanding, but i just wanted to point out that it does appear, to me at least, to be possible to argue quite reasonably that an exception is made for natural selection.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  60. #59  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Location
    ottawa
    Posts
    81
    Oh man, mitchell mckain as I live and breathe.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  61. #60  
    ox
    ox is offline
    Forum Professor
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    1,649
    And your point is?
    Reply With Quote  
     

  62. #61  
    Bullshit Intolerant PhDemon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK
    Posts
    5,485
    He's gone, no point, he was just another nutter...
    Reply With Quote  
     

Bookmarks
Bookmarks
Posting Permissions
  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •