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Re: directionality and purpose

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  • Fred Pauser
    Fred,
    Message 1 of 36 , Mar 1, 2008
      Fred,

      < I still agree with Gould that evolution is non-random and overall
      non-directional. I do feel that the teleologic aspect is
      environmentally driven and is, therefore, contingent.>

      Evolution involves both random chance and specific mechanisms. The
      teleological or directional aspect involves the environment, and it
      also involves all of the mechanisms of evolution and it involves the
      scientific laws of nature. Directionality toward increasing
      complexity began immediately following the Big Bang – subatomic
      particles to hydrogen and helium, to converging into suns, etc. It
      involved the four fundamental forces: strong, weak, electro-magnetic,
      gravity. With the advent of life, evolutionary forces caused a
      continuation of increasing complexity through genetic mutation,
      sexual reproduction, natural selection, competition/cooperation,
      symbiosis, etc. The general overall trend of increasing
      complexity/capabilities is so apparent that it seems to me that those
      who are knowledgeable yet oppose this view must be doing so on the
      basis of ideological bias. If I was alone in this view, I would
      wonder, but I am not alone.

      < What you are referring to in your example of the fossil [large
      brained dinosaur with grasping forepaws, etc.] is an anomaly; it
      stands out singularly because it is an anomaly, not a trend in any
      sort of way, especially when compared with all the other fossil
      evidence.>

      It may be an anomaly, but it also represents a trend. I don't know
      the details of dinosaur evolution, but surely some of those critters
      were developing a little intelligence of some sort. How about similar
      critter from that era still alive today – the crocodile. It's said to
      be little changed since dino days. Even this one example shows some
      basic intelligence. The human brain is also considered by some to be
      an anomaly, but also at the CURRENT peak of a trend. As Sagan said,
      if life begins anywhere, intelligent life will eventually emerge. We
      can see this is the general direction evolution takes anywhere on
      earth regardless of environmental differences.

      < If I understand your view, the things that evolution brings forth
      are pre-programmed into the evolutionary process "somehow" and it
      will eventually shape the environment to conform to it's wishes or
      something along those lines. That "somehow", or the mechanism in
      scientific terms, needs to be explained in detail as you pointed out.
      If that mechanism is defined and explained scientifically, then I
      would put a lot more stock in your position than I do now.>

      I used the word "somehow" when talking of the transition of carbon-
      based molecules from non-living to living/self-duplicating. No one
      knows exactly how that occurred, but scientists seem to be sure that
      it occurred! (Do you know how?!) There is still much we do not know
      about evolution, BUT we still hold what we DO know of it to be true
      based upon lots of evidence, just like there's lots of evidence for
      progressive increasing of complexity/capabilities. I mentioned some
      of the mechanisms above in response to the first point.

      Come to think of it, I may have used the word "somehow" also in a
      similar context that you state above. See final response of this post.

      To say "the things that evolution brings forth are pre-programmed
      into the evolutionary process" suggests that pandas and humans were
      pre-destined. Wrong. The laws of nature appear to be such that given
      certain planetary conditions, life in likely to emerge, and
      eventually intelligent life is likely to emerge. This is basically
      Sagan's view. But the FORMS that life takes will be different on each
      such planet due to the random elements involved in evolution.

      < The Hawks gene apparently controls this developmental process. A
      mutation in the gene appears to have arrested our development as a
      species and left us in that "immature" learning state for our entire
      adult life cycle; the programs that turn on and mature us never get
      activated … As a result of this mutation, we are constantly learning
      and have a desire to learn
      simply for the sake of it.>

      Yes, I only recently heard about this. Cool. It sounds like the sort
      of mutation that may have occurred many times in the past – except at
      those times the combination of abilities that could take advantage of
      this freeing effect did not exist so the mutant in each case died
      out. To continue to learn without being locked into a behavior
      pattern obviously has survival advantages *when* a certain
      prerequisite of abilities is present (speech, opposed thumb, a good
      memory, ability to visualize future possibilities, etc.) This has
      freed us to innovate and continue to learn so as to improve and grow
      in various ways.

      < As a result, we would expect to feel a singular lack of purpose; we
      don't know "what to do" unlike the other animals and one could even
      argue that is the subtle change that makes us feel different than the
      rest of nature. This feeling of not having a purpose is so ubiquitous
      in humans that one could even consider it a defining trait of what it
      means to be human. The rest of nature hits the ground running, as it
      were, bears know what they need to know about being bears, etc, and
      the brief time spent in the learning mode is essential to figuring
      out what's what in the specific environment they find themselves in.
      We don't even know what it means to be human and what our purpose is,
      never mind how to act;>

      The bears and other animals seem to have all the SAME purpose: merely
      to survive and reproduce. Hypothesis: All preceeding species have
      been non-intentionally advancing toward a species that can take over
      evolution intellectually and kick it into warp drive. Purpose: to
      creatively harness the forces of nature, to continually approach new
      frontiers, to learn and grow. This is what we are already doing
      intuitively. The common feeling of lack of purpose in humans at this
      time is due to our infancy in this state of advanced consciousness,
      which is revolutionary. There is conflict between the older drives of
      mere competitive personal survival, and the more recent drive to
      innovate, increase knowledge and capabilities, grow. If we manage to
      survive for another century or two we will probably do well,
      including engineering our species replacement.

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      You hit the nail on the head when you said,

      "This much I do think is practically at the theory level – it just
      needs some scientist to do the work of formally describing the
      evidence. It would be similar to how Darwin went about supporting the
      origin of species and the theory of evolution."

      The discovery of the mechanism of evolution, the genes, was a huge
      step for the theory I think we can both agree. Now, when you say
      formally describing the evidence, you are refering actually to the
      mechanism are you not or do you mean the evidence, or the facts that
      we observe? Evidence, as I understand it, are facts, observations and
      measurements.
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      Darwin had no knowledge of genes when he developed the theory of
      evolution, yet he was successful. The discovery of genes certainly
      strengthened the theory. In The Descent of Man, Darwin spoke of
      the "long history" of "complex structures and instinct" as "the
      summing up of many contrivances…" Without knowing the mechanism, he
      was talking about mutations.

      I meant the evidence together with the mechanisms (above). Both are
      generally observable and/or deducible and testable. They go together.
      Come to think of it, I guess a scientist would not have to do much to
      build the theory of increasing complexity/capabilities… because the
      evidence and mechanisms are the same as those for the theory of
      evolution!! What we do not know much about is exactly how the natural
      laws of this universe cause the phenomenon of increasing complexity
      and growth, but "somehow" they do. An important piece of information
      lies in learning how the first growing and self-duplicating carbon-
      based molecules were caused to grow and duplicate (essentially, how
      did they become alive?).

      Fred



      --- In naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com, "Rich Lawrence"
      <freethinker58@...> wrote:
      >
      > Fred,
      >
      > I still agree with Gould that evolution is non-random and overall
      non-
      > directional. I do feel that the teleologic aspect is
      environmentally
      > driven and is, therefore, contingent. In other words, using the
      > dinosaur illustration, they didn't develop large brains for over
      150
      > million years because the environment they were in didn't require
      > it. What you are referring to in your example of the fossil is an
      > anomaly; it stands out singularly because it is an anomaly, not a
      > trend in any sort of way, especially when compared with all the
      other
      > fossil evidence. Conversely, cetaceans have developed very large
      > brains, yet it appears that the skills their large brains have
      > developed are not the skills that ours have developed which begs
      the
      > question how do two species of mammals develop large brains with
      such
      > disparate capabilities? If large brain=intelligence (human
      > intelligence is the unstated assumption) what is the deal with the
      > cetaceans? What is the difference between us? Answer, the
      > environment in which the evolutionary development took place.
      Where
      > evolution occurs is what determines what evolution brings forth,
      not
      > the other way around. If I understand your view, the things that
      > evolution brings forth are pre-programmed into the evolutionary
      > process "somehow" and it will eventually shape the environment to
      > conform to it's wishes or something along those lines.
      > That "somehow", or the mechanism in scientific terms, needs to be
      > explained in detail as you pointed out. If that mechanism is
      defined
      > and explained scientifically, then I would put a lot more stock in
      > your position than I do now. Every Platonist tries to do that when
      > they explain how the Forms relate and influence the Particulars.
      As
      > it stands now, the relationship between environment and organism is
      > all that is needed to explain any characteristic of any organism,
      > especially when you look at a lineage and see that characteristic
      > increasing proportionally to the physical structure that supports
      > it. Whe should see a lot of "human" traits in the other primates,
      > albeit far less developed, and in fact that is exactly what we do
      see
      > up to and including those things that were considered
      > traditionally "human" such as mathematics. As time goes on, it
      > appears that our uniquely human ability was the development of
      > grammar and with it the ability to communicate relative
      > to "past', "present" and "future". The other thing that makes us
      > unique appears to be a subtle mutation in the Hawks (sp?) genes
      that
      > controls our developmental rate. Without going into detail, every
      > mammal in it's developmental cycle goes through a period where the
      > genetic programs that make a tiger a tiger, a bear a bear, a cat a
      > cat is suspended and the animal simply plays and explores it's
      > environement. It is learning, in other words, and we can see this
      > most vividly in mammals. After a certain amount of time, the
      genetic
      > programs take over and the animal matures and does what it does,
      > depending on what it is. It's behavior is in the genes, which is
      why
      > bears essentially act like bears no matter where you find them.
      The
      > Hawks gene apparently controls this developmental process. A
      > mutation in the gene appears to have arrested our development as a
      > species and left us in that "immature" learning state for our
      entire
      > adult life cycle; the programs that turn on and mature us never get
      > activated which would also explain why we are the weakest primate
      > physically pound for pound. A chimp, which is way smaller than we
      > are physically, would kick our ass in a physical fight, no
      contest.
      > We, on the other hand, can shoot him. :) As a result of this
      > mutation, we are constantly learning and have a desire to learn
      > simply for the sake of it. On the flip side, since those genetic
      > programs that turn on and develop the chimp into a full-grown chimp
      > never happen for us, we don't have those genetic programs running
      > to "tell us what to do" since they never turn on. As a result, we
      > would expect to feel a singular lack of purpose; we don't
      know "what
      > to do" unlike the other animals and one could even argue that is
      the
      > subtle change that makes us feel different than the rest of nature.
      > This feeling of not having a purpose is so ubiquitous in humans
      that
      > one could even consider it a defining trait of what it means to be
      > human. The rest of nature hits the ground running, as it were,
      bears
      > know what they need to know about being bears, etc, and the brief
      > time spent in the learning mode is essential to figuring out what's
      > what in the specific environment they find themselves in. We don't
      > even know what it means to be human and what our purpose is, never
      > mind how to act; when we are born we look premature compared to the
      > other primate babies and our subsequent physical development
      compared
      > to theirs is extremely arrested.
      >
      > You hit the nail on the head when you said,
      >
      > "This much I do think is practically at the theory level – it just
      > needs some scientist to do the work of formally describing the
      > evidence. It would be similar to how Darwin went about supporting
      the
      > origin of species and the theory of evolution."
      >
      > The discovery of the mechanism of evolution, the genes, was a huge
      > step for the theory I think we can both agree. Now, when you say
      > formally describing the evidence, you are refering actually to the
      > mechanism are you not or do you mean the evidence, or the facts
      that
      > we observe? Evidence, as I understand it, are facts, observations
      > and measurements. The theory would explain why we see the evidence
      > the way we do. Some theories, such as gravity, don't offer a
      > mechanism. Some theories, like evolution, do.
      >
      > If you are not talking about the mechanism, but meant evidence,
      what
      > does it mean to "formally describe the evidence"?
      >
      > Rich
      >
      >
      > --- In naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com, "Fred Pauser"
      > <arborculture@> wrote:
      > >
      > >
      > > Rich,
      > >
      > > In regard to SETI and life elsewhere you wrote:
      > >
      > > < Right now we have a lack of evidence (facts), at least
      > > in my mind, so we are still at the level of conjecture. You appear
      > > to be at the level of full-blown theory at this point. For me, it
      is
      > > way to premature to be at the theory level, whether or not I am
      for
      > > or against your position. I simply don't have enough facts one
      way
      > or
      > > another.>
      > >
      > > I agree with Sagan that it is highly probable that life exists
      > > elsewhere in the universe. I also agree with you that the
      existence
      > > of life elsewhere in the universe is conjecture.
      > >
      > > But, again, my position does not depend on whether we find life
      > > elsewhere. There is sufficient evidence otherwise to support my
      > > position – which is that evolution is directional, and that
      > direction
      > > is one of increasing complexity/capabilities, or, as Wright puts
      > it,
      > > the direction is toward "the invention of more structurally and
      > > informationally complex forms of life." This much I do think is
      > > practically at the theory level – it just needs some scientist to
      > do
      > > the work of formally describing the evidence. It would be similar
      > to
      > > how Darwin went about supporting the origin of species and the
      > theory
      > > of evolution.
      > >
      > > < I have to accept the fact that there is a teleological
      > > aspect to the natural world. What the implications of this are is
      > > where we disagree, I think. Would you say that was a fair estimate
      > > of the fundamental differences in our positions?>
      > >
      > > I'm glad you accept a teleological aspect, that's a big step. If
      I
      > > understand you correctly, you believe that the forms that species
      > > take in the evolutionary process has a large random element,
      > meaning
      > > that it's just chance that humans have the brains instead of say,
      > > some species of dinosaur. I agree!!! In fact, archeologists
      > > discovered the fossil remains of a dinosaur not much bigger than
      > us,
      > > that walked on it's two hind legs, had arms with paws capable of
      > > grasping objects, and a very large brain for it's size. Had it
      not
      > > been for the meteor event, some advanced form of that dinosaur
      > might
      > > have now been inventing computers and flying into outer space.
      > >
      > > < How about that homo sapiens is
      > > just another evolutionary train station, like the lemur of old
      that
      > > 139 mammalian species are descended from? Let's say that your view
      > > of things is correct, that evolution is a guided process that is
      > > working to produce "something" at the end and how about that we
      as a
      > > species are simply a minor player in all of this. In the same way
      > > that the rest of the primates are second thoughts to the real deal
      > > that is homo sapiens, perhaps we are the mammalian equivalent of
      the
      > > dinosaurs?>
      > >
      > > I never said that evolution is a "guided process," at least not
      > > wholly so. Existence entails a set of natural laws that cause a
      > > process of evolving increasing complexity, but the particular
      > details
      > > and forms that the process produces are determined by chance. We
      do
      > > not know what will be at the end of the process. Otherwise, I
      agree
      > > with that paragraph.
      > >
      > > < We get to evolve into a planet dominating species and
      > > hang out until the environment changes to be more favorable for
      > > the "real" species to emerge, the one that evolution has been
      > working
      > > all these billions of years to produce, the one that has the
      evolved
      > > traits and potentials to do all the things that your theory
      claims
      > is
      > > the future and the purpose of our species.>
      > >
      > > Our species is incidental, we just happen to be the most
      advanced,
      > > most capable, at this time. There is no "real' species to emerge
      as
      > I
      > > see it. What is emerging is ever increasing information and
      > knowledge
      > > and ability to predict and control and to manipulate the
      > environment.
      > > The direction seems to be *toward* omniscience and omnipotence,
      > > although such ultimates may never occur. When life gets really
      > > advanced, it, we, they, will be controlling speciation. We are
      > > already fiddling with genetic engineering. What will life be like
      > in
      > > a mere one million years?
      > >
      > > < Can your theory accomodate the view that it may be a
      > > future species with evolved capabillities that we can't even
      > imagine,
      > > that are magintudes above what we call intelligence and we are
      just
      > > another placeholder like the 99.9% of the species that came before
      > > us? Our teleology may be to get out of the way and go extinct so
      > > that the real deal can happen, just like the dinosaurs got out of
      > the
      > > way.>
      > >
      > > I guess I just addressed most of that. Certainly we will go
      > extinct,
      > > and we probably will engineer our own successor.
      > >
      > > < I have to accept the fact that there is a teleological
      > > aspect to the natural world. What the implications of this are is
      > > where we disagree, I think. Would you say that was a fair estimate
      > > of the fundamental differences in our positions?>
      > >
      > > In the beginning of our debate you seemed to side with Gould and
      > his
      > > position of completely random non-directional evolution. As we
      have
      > > gone along, you seem to align increasingly closer to my position.
      > > Recently you declared your agreement with the comments by David
      > > Deutsch, which would seem to place you at odds with Gould, and
      > again
      > > in alignment with me. So I am not sure what our differences are
      at
      > > this point. (?)
      > >
      > > Fred
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > > --- In naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com, "Rich Lawrence"
      > > <freethinker58@> wrote:
      > > >
      > > > Fred,
      > > >
      > > > Good points one and all. Let me address the SETI point
      directly
      > > and
      > > > go on from there. My response to it should also address the
      > other
      > > > points as well. If not, let me know and I'll do my best to
      clear
      > > > things up.
      > > >
      > > > You wrote,
      > > >
      > > > "Now you seem to be saying that since SETI has not yet found
      > life,
      > > we
      > > > can conclude that we are the only planet in the universe with
      > life.
      > > > That is a VERY premature conclusion. We have so much to learn.
      We
      > > > have only recently discovered the existence of a few planets
      > > outside
      > > > of our own solar system although logically there are probably
      > many
      > > > trillions of them out there! Yes, our current technology for
      > > locating
      > > > life elsewhere may well be insufficient at this time."
      > > >
      > > > That would be a very premature conclusion on my part but that
      > isn't
      > > > my conclusion. If it came across that way, my apologies. My
      > > meaning
      > > > is this: based on the evidence we have thus far, it appears
      that
      > > we
      > > > are the only intelligent species that we know of.
      Additionally,
      > > > given the almost unanimous opinion that there is intelligent
      life
      > > out
      > > > there and that all we need do is look for it, the results thus
      > far
      > > > are very disappointing to say the least. Taking an evidence-
      > based
      > > > view of things, I see no evidence of the ubiquity of life,
      never
      > > mind
      > > > intelligent life, throughout the universe whatsoever. That may
      > or
      > > > may not turn out to be the case as time goes on. Should
      evidence
      > > > come in that would change that, either through SETI or through
      > the
      > > > exploration of Mars, for instance, then my views will need to
      be
      > > > readjusted to accomodate the new evidence. If I were to call
      the
      > > > operative assumption that I am working with (right now it
      appears
      > > > that we are the only ones around with TV) anything, it would be
      a
      > > > conjecture. After conjecture, then hypothesis, then theory,
      each
      > > > stronger and more sound due to the amount of facts they
      > incorporate
      > > > and explain. Right now we have a lack of evidence (facts), at
      > > least
      > > > in my mind, so we are still at the level of conjecture. You
      > appear
      > > > to be at the level of full-blown theory at this point. For me,
      > it
      > > is
      > > > way to premature to be at the theory level, whether or not I am
      > for
      > > > or against your position. I simply don't have enough facts one
      > way
      > > or
      > > > another.
      > > >
      > > >
      > > > Further, let me just say that I do agree there is teleology in
      > > > nature, much to the chagrin of my evolutionist cohorts. Each
      and
      > > > every organism exibits a teleology in their pattern of growth;
      it
      > > is
      > > > the nature of DNA to do this, to program an individual to
      become
      > > > something, to grow in a very specific direction and to a very
      > > > specific goal, in the case of most that goal being
      reproduction.
      > > > Whether or not intelligence has it's own teleology or not is
      open
      > > to
      > > > debate, hence our discussions. :) Irregardless of the origin of
      > > that
      > > > teleology in nature, whether or not the teleology that we see
      is
      > a
      > > > result of random process or not, the teleology is still there
      > and,
      > > as
      > > > a naturalist, I have to accept the fact that there is a
      > > teleological
      > > > aspect to the natural world. What the implications of this are
      > is
      > > > where we disagree, I think. Would you say that was a fair
      > estimate
      > > > of the fundamental differences in our positions?
      > > >
      > > > You wrote,
      > > >
      > > > "Nevertheless, whether we find signs of life elsewhere or not,
      we
      > > > have plenty of *other evidence* to support the conclusion for
      the
      > > > general purpose of life that I have advanced."
      > > >
      > > >
      > > > Here is another conjecture for you: How about that homo
      sapiens
      > is
      > > > just another evolutionary train station, like the lemur of old
      > that
      > > > 139 mammalian species are descended from? Let's say that your
      > view
      > > > of things is correct, that evolution is a guided process that
      is
      > > > working to produce "something" at the end and how about that we
      > as
      > > a
      > > > species are simply a minor player in all of this. In the same
      > way
      > > > that the rest of the primates are second thoughts to the real
      > deal
      > > > that is homo sapiens, perhaps we are the mammalian equivalent
      of
      > > the
      > > > dinosaurs? We get to evolve into a planet dominating species
      and
      > > > hang out until the environment changes to be more favorable for
      > > > the "real" species to emerge, the one that evolution has been
      > > working
      > > > all these billions of years to produce, the one that has the
      > > evolved
      > > > traits and potentials to do all the things that your theory
      > claims
      > > is
      > > > the future and the purpose of our species. And what if this
      > trait
      > > is
      > > > still in it's dormant stage as we look around at the biosphere,
      > > much
      > > > as mammalian intelligence was in the dormant stage during the
      age
      > > of
      > > > the dinosaurs? Can your theory accomodate the view that it may
      > be
      > > a
      > > > future species with evolved capabillities that we can't even
      > > imagine,
      > > > that are magintudes above what we call intelligence and we are
      > just
      > > > another placeholder like the 99.9% of the species that came
      > before
      > > > us? Our teleology may be to get out of the way and go extinct
      so
      > > > that the real deal can happen, just like the dinosaurs got out
      of
      > > the
      > > > way. In other words, there may be a script, a goal and a
      purpose
      > > to
      > > > evolution but we are not it, anymore than frogs, flies,
      dolphins,
      > > > whales or chimpanzees are. The real goal is yet to come, yet to
      > be
      > > > evolved and we are just preparing the environment for it. That
      > > would
      > > > explain why we don't see the rest of them "out there". We
      could
      > no
      > > > more notice them than rabbit could figure out what a university
      > was
      > > > other than a warm and dry spot for a den. What makes you think
      > we
      > > > automatically get a membership card in this group by virtue of
      > who
      > > we
      > > > are?
      > > >
      > > > Rich
      > > >
      > > >
      > >
      >
    • Rich Lawrence
      Fred, I think this is the correct post that I am responding to. :) I agree wholeheartedly that the discovery (probably going to be a retrodiction) of how life
      Message 36 of 36 , Mar 3, 2008
        Fred,

        I think this is the correct post that I am responding to. :)

        I agree wholeheartedly that the discovery (probably going to be a
        retrodiction) of how life started would answer a lot of questions.
        Not only the mechanical aspect of it but also what conditions need to
        be present. I seem to remember an article by Isaac Asimov which
        discussed the importance of our moon towards both the inception of
        life in general and the development of our intelligence
        specifically. As far as I know, the importance of tidal forces vis-a-
        vis the generation and development of life is still
        unknown/unaccounted for in terms of theory. It may very well turn
        out to be a prerequisite in addition to all the other constraints
        that are currently put forth, two of which seem to be location in the
        solar and galactic goldilocks zones. Add to that the necessity of a
        moon with enough mass to produce tidal forces to the other
        constraints and things and we are again limiting the arenas where we
        will find life, intelligent or not.

        Regarding the increase in complexity: I think we both agree that the
        environment drives the increase in complexity. As species compete
        in a given environment, the complexity of the adaptations increase
        due to continual competition. However, at least as far as I
        understand, these very complex adaptations can be detrimental to the
        species when the environment changes, especially when that change is
        sudden. In otherwords, they can't climb back down the ladder of
        complexity fast enough to adapt to the changing environment and then
        go extinct. The fire consumes the room, the ladder and the species
        before they can get out the door, in other words. Complexity is
        contingent on the environment and can be both advantageous or not.
        If I read you correctly, the increase in complexity is always
        advantageous, in fact, it is the fundamental drive of evolution. It
        may or may not be; I think it could be argued that there are plenty
        of species whose complexity has not increase in millions of years.
        What's up with that?

        I would agree that our intelligence is at the current peak of a
        trend. I don't think that our absolute domination of the biosphere
        that our intelligence has given us can be called into question.
        Whether or not this trend will turn out to be advantageous, both to
        us and the rest of the bioshpere, remains to be seen (see my other
        postregarding this). You mention our ability as a species to
        creatively harness the environment. I would agree that we can most
        certainly harness the environment. Whether the overall effect
        is "creative" is still open to question (again, see my other post).

        You wrote,

        "To continue to learn without being locked into a behavior pattern
        obviously has survival advantages *when* a certain prerequisite of
        abilities is present (speech, opposed thumb, a good memory, ability
        to visualize future possibilities, etc.) This has freed us to
        innovate and continue to learn so as to improve and grow in various
        ways."

        This certainly sounds like a bit of an anthropomorphism, especially
        the opposed thumb part, but, to be fair, I would argue that the
        improvement can be judged as an improvement as it relates to our
        individual subjective conscious experience (life today is a lot less
        painful than it was 50 or 100 years ago for us as individuals) but as
        a species and as the biosphere is concerned, and I think you address
        this as well, an very strong argument can be made that it might not
        be a positive thing in the long run. To be fair, it could also be
        argued that without the proper environmental pressures, the increase
        in complexity, in this case the adaptation of intelligence, would
        have no impetus to develop further in terms of the environment that
        intelligence is evolving in and the current destruction of the
        biosphere that we seem to be engaged in is as it should be; we are,
        as Agent Smith in the Matrix would say, a virus of sorts that needs
        more and more environments to continue its lifecycle. That would
        certainly force us as a species out into space for new worlds to
        exploit, just as a virus needs a continual supply of new hosts to
        exploit. It has been argued that one of the first "life forms" were
        viri, and they make a living exploiting their environments. If
        intelligence is in the same place as an adaptation as viri were as an
        adaptation, then we might expect to see the same sort of behavior in
        terms of it's life cycle. A virus is not a good thing as far as the
        host is concerned and it appears that regards to the overall health
        of the biosphere, we are not a good thing either. Most viri
        replicate without constraint destroying the host that they find
        themselves in. Our current track record as a species seems to be
        unbounded replication driven by ever increasing resource consumption,
        a consumption which seems to be destroying the host, in this case the
        biosphere that we evolved in. I've even heard it said by the Gain
        contingent that the rise in global temperatures can be interpreted as
        the biosphere developing a "fever", much as we develop a fever when
        we get the flu.

        I say all this to underscore my contention that there are numerous
        ways to interpret all that we see going on around us and, without
        some other examples, induction does not have a good track record of
        coming to correct generalities about what is what and how things
        are. Given our lone example of Earth, it could certainly be argued
        that intelligence is the next step for viri life cycle. Memeticists
        might be sympathetic to this view as well I think. One certainly can
        argue, very pursuasively the more I think about the analogy/metaphor
        that our intelligence has allowed us to express all the
        characteristics of viri; unbounded replication and hijacking and
        destruction of the host's resources, the host in this case being the
        biosphere, the virus in this case being primate intelligence, opposed
        thumb and all. That we engage in these activities are also facts and
        evidences that are far more quantified and observed than some other,
        more speculative facts and evidences, not to mention viri and their
        behavior is an observed fact of the evolutionary process, not some
        speculation about what is "likely" to be a part or outcome of the
        evolutionary process. Want proof about our destructive and all-
        consuming behavior? Simply read the paper. Just about everyone who
        needs to purchase gas these days can testify to our unlimited
        appetite for oil, consequences down the road be damned. A virus
        drilling a host for the DNA operates the same way. It is not
        concerned about the consequences, it just needs that DNA, no matter
        it's success spells the death of the host and itself.

        Aside from the unflattering portrait of humanity that this model of
        our place in the biocosm paints, what sort of evidence out there
        contradicts it? Aside from the benefits to an individual subjective
        consciousness that lives longer (75 years instead of 30) and
        phyysically pain free (we haven't taken into account psychological
        pain and disease that our less intelligent cousins don't seem to be
        afflicted with)overall our technology and our "taking control" of
        things over the past 200 years does not seem to be contributing to
        the flowering of life. Quite the opposite, many experts compare our
        extinction abilities to that of 7 mile wide asteroids that have hit
        the planet in the past. Same thing for the virus. It's individual
        success sounds the deathknoll for the host, itself and all the other
        viri contained in the host that don't manage to spread to another and
        repeat the same process.

        Now, I have a question for you. Would you be willing to admit that,
        given the evidence that is currently available to us and our current
        behavior as a species especially as that behavior is driven by the
        intelligence that we both agree we find in our species, can be just
        as easily explained my evaluation of the facts and our behavior as a
        species and is more in congruence with the history of the development
        of life as we understand it at the present time?

        I'm willing to admit that your theory is feasible, again, going back
        to our previous posts, the inevitability of intelligent life outside
        our planet, especially if it is way older than ours and hasn't
        polluted itself to death, would be a convincing piece of EVIDENCE
        that I and my "virus theory" are incorrect. It would go very far in
        advancing the idea that your theory is the correct model which
        explains things and why I have maintained the importance of that
        discovery throughout our discussions. Until that evidence is found,
        my spin on things is just as viable as yours is and I would dare say
        I have way more objective evidence on my side as well. CO2 levels
        are increasing due to our technological activity and that can't be
        good. Just look at Venus. CO2 levels are just one of the things
        that I can point to.

        Next point that you raised was that our intelligence is such that we
        will be able to take control of the evolutionary process,

        "advancing toward a species that can take over evolution
        intellectually and kick it into warp drive." was your description.


        Being a professed transhumanist at one point in my life, if I
        understand you correctly, we are somehow going to engineer
        intelligence, silicon based or otherwise? I think not, at least not
        as long as quantum mechanics is completely counterintuitive to the
        intelligence we currently have. Intelligence is not computation, no
        matter what Ray Kurzweil would have you believe, not the intelligence
        we seem to be discussing at any rate. You think we should start
        another thread for the AI/engineered intelligence discussion? I
        think there is a lot to be mined in the virus discussion without
        muddying the waters with the AI thing. If you concur, start the AI
        thread. We can drop the "Meaning of Life" thread as it seems to be
        paralleling this one anyway. With the length of our exchanges, I
        think two active threads are plenty. :)

        Rich






        --- In naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com, "Fred Pauser"
        <arborculture@...> wrote:
        >
        >
        > Rich,
        >
        > (Correction, obviously I did not mean to post to myself. Also, I
        > don't know why the formatting is suddenly screwing up. Trying
        > something a bit different this time. Here's the same post.)
        >
        > < I still agree with Gould that evolution is non-random and overall
        > non-directional. I do feel that the teleologic aspect is
        > environmentally driven and is, therefore, contingent.>
        >
        > Evolution involves both random chance and specific mechanisms. The
        > teleological or directional aspect involves the environment, and it
        > also involves all of the mechanisms of evolution and it involves
        the
        > scientific laws of nature. Directionality toward increasing
        > complexity began immediately following the Big Bang – subatomic
        > particles to hydrogen and helium, to converging into suns, etc. It
        > involved the four fundamental forces: strong, weak, electro-
        magnetic,
        > gravity. With the advent of life, evolutionary forces caused a
        > continuation of increasing complexity through genetic mutation,
        > sexual reproduction, natural selection, competition/cooperation,
        > symbiosis, etc. The general overall trend of increasing
        > complexity/capabilities is so apparent that it seems to me that
        those
        > who are knowledgeable yet oppose this view must be doing so on the
        > basis of ideological bias. If I was alone in this view, I would
        > wonder, but I am not alone.
        >
        > < What you are referring to in your example of the fossil [large
        > brained dinosaur with grasping forepaws, etc.] is an anomaly; it
        > stands out singularly because it is an anomaly, not a trend in any
        > sort of way, especially when compared with all the other fossil
        > evidence.>
        >
        > It may be an anomaly, but it also represents a trend. I don't know
        > the details of dinosaur evolution, but surely some of those
        critters
        > were developing a little intelligence of some sort. How about
        similar
        > critter from that era still alive today – the crocodile. It's said
        to
        > be little changed since dino days. Even this one example shows some
        > basic intelligence. The human brain is also considered by some to
        be
        > an anomaly, but also at the CURRENT peak of a trend. As Sagan said,
        > if life begins anywhere, intelligent life will eventually emerge.
        We
        > can see this is the general direction evolution takes anywhere on
        > earth regardless of environmental differences.
        >
        > < If I understand your view, the things that evolution brings forth
        > are pre-programmed into the evolutionary process "somehow" and it
        > will eventually shape the environment to conform to it's wishes or
        > something along those lines. That "somehow", or the mechanism in
        > scientific terms, needs to be explained in detail as you pointed
        out.
        > If that mechanism is defined and explained scientifically, then I
        > would put a lot more stock in your position than I do now.>
        >
        > I used the word "somehow" when talking of the transition of carbon-
        > based molecules from non-living to living/self-duplicating. No one
        > knows exactly how that occurred, but scientists seem to be sure
        that
        > it occurred! (Do you know how?!) There is still much we do not know
        > about evolution, BUT we still hold what we DO know of it to be true
        > based upon lots of evidence, just like there's lots of evidence for
        > progressive increasing of complexity/capabilities. I mentioned some
        > of the mechanisms above in response to the first point.
        >
        > Come to think of it, I may have used the word "somehow" also in a
        > similar context that you state above. See final response of this
        post.
        >
        > To say "the things that evolution brings forth are pre-programmed
        > into the evolutionary process" suggests that pandas and humans were
        > pre-destined. Wrong. The laws of nature appear to be such that
        given
        > certain planetary conditions, life in likely to emerge, and
        > eventually intelligent life is likely to emerge. This is basically
        > Sagan's view. But the FORMS that life takes will be different on
        each
        > such planet due to the random elements involved in evolution.
        >
        > < The Hawks gene apparently controls this developmental process. A
        > mutation in the gene appears to have arrested our development as a
        > species and left us in that "immature" learning state for our
        entire
        > adult life cycle; the programs that turn on and mature us never get
        > activated … As a result of this mutation, we are constantly
        learning
        > and have a desire to learn simply for the sake of it.>
        >
        > Yes, I only recently heard about this. Cool. It sounds like the
        sort
        > of mutation that may have occurred many times in the past – except
        at
        > those times the combination of abilities that could take advantage
        of
        > this freeing effect did not exist so the mutant in each case died
        > out. To continue to learn without being locked into a behavior
        > pattern obviously has survival advantages *when* a certain
        > prerequisite of abilities is present (speech, opposed thumb, a good
        > memory, ability to visualize future possibilities, etc.) This has
        > freed us to innovate and continue to learn so as to improve and
        grow
        > in various ways.
        >
        > < As a result, we would expect to feel a singular lack of purpose;
        we
        > don't know "what to do" unlike the other animals and one could even
        > argue that is the subtle change that makes us feel different than
        the
        > rest of nature. This feeling of not having a purpose is so
        ubiquitous
        > in humans that one could even consider it a defining trait of what
        it
        > means to be human. The rest of nature hits the ground running, as
        it
        > were, bears know what they need to know about being bears, etc, and
        > the brief time spent in the learning mode is essential to figuring
        > out what's what in the specific environment they find themselves
        in.
        > We don't even know what it means to be human and what our purpose
        is,
        > never mind how to act;>
        >
        > The bears and other animals seem to have all the SAME purpose:
        merely
        > to survive and reproduce. Hypothesis: All preceeding species have
        > been non-intentionally advancing toward a species that can take
        over
        > evolution intellectually and kick it into warp drive. Purpose: to
        > creatively harness the forces of nature, to continually approach
        new
        > frontiers, to learn and grow. This is what we are already doing
        > intuitively. The common feeling of lack of purpose in humans at
        this
        > time is due to our infancy in this state of advanced consciousness,
        > which is revolutionary. There is conflict between the older drives
        of
        > mere competitive personal survival, and the more recent drive to
        > innovate, increase knowledge and capabilities, grow. If we manage
        to
        > survive for another century or two we will probably do well,
        > including engineering our species replacement.
        >
        > ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
        > You hit the nail on the head when you said,
        >
        > "This much I do think is practically at the theory level – it just
        > needs some scientist to do the work of formally describing the
        > evidence. It would be similar to how Darwin went about supporting
        the
        > origin of species and the theory of evolution."
        >
        > The discovery of the mechanism of evolution, the genes, was a huge
        > step for the theory I think we can both agree. Now, when you say
        > formally describing the evidence, you are refering actually to the
        > mechanism are you not or do you mean the evidence, or the facts
        that
        > we observe? Evidence, as I understand it, are facts, observations
        and
        > measurements.
        > ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
        >
        > Darwin had no knowledge of genes when he developed the theory of
        > evolution, yet he was successful. The discovery of genes certainly
        > strengthened the theory. In The Descent of Man, Darwin spoke of
        > the "long history" of "complex structures and instinct" as "the
        > summing up of many contrivances…" Without knowing the mechanism, he
        > was talking about mutations.
        >
        > I meant the evidence together with the mechanisms (above). Both are
        > generally observable and/or deducible and testable. They go
        together.
        > Come to think of it, I guess a scientist would not have to do much
        to
        > build the theory of increasing complexity/capabilities… because the
        > evidence and mechanisms are the same as those for the theory of
        > evolution!! What we do not know much about is exactly how the
        natural
        > laws of this universe cause the phenomenon of increasing complexity
        > and growth, but "somehow" they do. An important piece of
        information
        > lies in learning how the first growing and self-duplicating carbon-
        > based molecules were caused to grow and duplicate (essentially, how
        > did they become alive?).
        >
        > Fred
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > --- In naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com, "Rich Lawrence"
        > <freethinker58@> wrote:
        > >
        > > Fred,
        > >
        > > I still agree with Gould that evolution is non-random and overall
        > non-
        > > directional. I do feel that the teleologic aspect is
        > environmentally
        > > driven and is, therefore, contingent. In other words, using the
        > > dinosaur illustration, they didn't develop large brains for over
        > 150
        > > million years because the environment they were in didn't require
        > > it. What you are referring to in your example of the fossil is
        an
        > > anomaly; it stands out singularly because it is an anomaly, not
        a
        > > trend in any sort of way, especially when compared with all the
        > other
        > > fossil evidence. Conversely, cetaceans have developed very large
        > > brains, yet it appears that the skills their large brains have
        > > developed are not the skills that ours have developed which begs
        > the
        > > question how do two species of mammals develop large brains with
        > such
        > > disparate capabilities? If large brain=intelligence (human
        > > intelligence is the unstated assumption) what is the deal with
        the
        > > cetaceans? What is the difference between us? Answer, the
        > > environment in which the evolutionary development took place.
        > Where
        > > evolution occurs is what determines what evolution brings forth,
        > not
        > > the other way around. If I understand your view, the things that
        > > evolution brings forth are pre-programmed into the evolutionary
        > > process "somehow" and it will eventually shape the environment to
        > > conform to it's wishes or something along those lines.
        > > That "somehow", or the mechanism in scientific terms, needs to be
        > > explained in detail as you pointed out. If that mechanism is
        > defined
        > > and explained scientifically, then I would put a lot more stock
        in
        > > your position than I do now. Every Platonist tries to do that
        when
        > > they explain how the Forms relate and influence the Particulars.
        > As
        > > it stands now, the relationship between environment and organism
        is
        > > all that is needed to explain any characteristic of any organism,
        > > especially when you look at a lineage and see that characteristic
        > > increasing proportionally to the physical structure that supports
        > > it. Whe should see a lot of "human" traits in the other
        primates,
        > > albeit far less developed, and in fact that is exactly what we do
        > see
        > > up to and including those things that were considered
        > > traditionally "human" such as mathematics. As time goes on, it
        > > appears that our uniquely human ability was the development of
        > > grammar and with it the ability to communicate relative
        > > to "past', "present" and "future". The other thing that makes us
        > > unique appears to be a subtle mutation in the Hawks (sp?) genes
        > that
        > > controls our developmental rate. Without going into detail,
        every
        > > mammal in it's developmental cycle goes through a period where
        the
        > > genetic programs that make a tiger a tiger, a bear a bear, a cat
        a
        > > cat is suspended and the animal simply plays and explores it's
        > > environement. It is learning, in other words, and we can see
        this
        > > most vividly in mammals. After a certain amount of time, the
        > genetic
        > > programs take over and the animal matures and does what it does,
        > > depending on what it is. It's behavior is in the genes, which is
        > why
        > > bears essentially act like bears no matter where you find them.
        > The
        > > Hawks gene apparently controls this developmental process. A
        > > mutation in the gene appears to have arrested our development as
        a
        > > species and left us in that "immature" learning state for our
        > entire
        > > adult life cycle; the programs that turn on and mature us never
        get
        > > activated which would also explain why we are the weakest primate
        > > physically pound for pound. A chimp, which is way smaller than
        we
        > > are physically, would kick our ass in a physical fight, no
        > contest.
        > > We, on the other hand, can shoot him. :) As a result of this
        > > mutation, we are constantly learning and have a desire to learn
        > > simply for the sake of it. On the flip side, since those genetic
        > > programs that turn on and develop the chimp into a full-grown
        chimp
        > > never happen for us, we don't have those genetic programs running
        > > to "tell us what to do" since they never turn on. As a result, we
        > > would expect to feel a singular lack of purpose; we don't
        > know "what
        > > to do" unlike the other animals and one could even argue that is
        > the
        > > subtle change that makes us feel different than the rest of
        nature.
        > > This feeling of not having a purpose is so ubiquitous in humans
        > that
        > > one could even consider it a defining trait of what it means to
        be
        > > human. The rest of nature hits the ground running, as it were,
        > bears
        > > know what they need to know about being bears, etc, and the brief
        > > time spent in the learning mode is essential to figuring out
        what's
        > > what in the specific environment they find themselves in. We
        don't
        > > even know what it means to be human and what our purpose is,
        never
        > > mind how to act; when we are born we look premature compared to
        the
        > > other primate babies and our subsequent physical development
        > compared
        > > to theirs is extremely arrested.
        > >
        > > You hit the nail on the head when you said,
        > >
        > > "This much I do think is practically at the theory level – it
        just
        > > needs some scientist to do the work of formally describing the
        > > evidence. It would be similar to how Darwin went about supporting
        > the
        > > origin of species and the theory of evolution."
        > >
        > > The discovery of the mechanism of evolution, the genes, was a
        huge
        > > step for the theory I think we can both agree. Now, when you say
        > > formally describing the evidence, you are refering actually to
        the
        > > mechanism are you not or do you mean the evidence, or the facts
        > that
        > > we observe? Evidence, as I understand it, are facts,
        observations
        > > and measurements. The theory would explain why we see the
        evidence
        > > the way we do. Some theories, such as gravity, don't offer a
        > > mechanism. Some theories, like evolution, do.
        > >
        > > If you are not talking about the mechanism, but meant evidence,
        > what
        > > does it mean to "formally describe the evidence"?
        > >
        > > Rich
        > >
        > >
        > > --- In naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com, "Fred Pauser"
        > > <arborculture@> wrote:
        > > >
        > > >
        > > > Rich,
        > > >
        > > > In regard to SETI and life elsewhere you wrote:
        > > >
        > > > < Right now we have a lack of evidence (facts), at least
        > > > in my mind, so we are still at the level of conjecture. You
        appear
        > > > to be at the level of full-blown theory at this point. For me,
        it
        > is
        > > > way to premature to be at the theory level, whether or not I am
        > for
        > > > or against your position. I simply don't have enough facts one
        > way
        > > or
        > > > another.>
        > > >
        > > > I agree with Sagan that it is highly probable that life exists
        > > > elsewhere in the universe. I also agree with you that the
        > existence
        > > > of life elsewhere in the universe is conjecture.
        > > >
        > > > But, again, my position does not depend on whether we find life
        > > > elsewhere. There is sufficient evidence otherwise to support my
        > > > position – which is that evolution is directional, and that
        > > direction
        > > > is one of increasing complexity/capabilities, or, as Wright
        puts
        > > it,
        > > > the direction is toward "the invention of more structurally and
        > > > informationally complex forms of life." This much I do think is
        > > > practically at the theory level – it just needs some scientist
        to
        > > do
        > > > the work of formally describing the evidence. It would be
        similar
        > > to
        > > > how Darwin went about supporting the origin of species and the
        > > theory
        > > > of evolution.
        > > >
        > > > < I have to accept the fact that there is a teleological
        > > > aspect to the natural world. What the implications of this are
        is
        > > > where we disagree, I think. Would you say that was a fair
        estimate
        > > > of the fundamental differences in our positions?>
        > > >
        > > > I'm glad you accept a teleological aspect, that's a big step.
        If
        > I
        > > > understand you correctly, you believe that the forms that
        species
        > > > take in the evolutionary process has a large random element,
        > > meaning
        > > > that it's just chance that humans have the brains instead of
        say,
        > > > some species of dinosaur. I agree!!! In fact, archeologists
        > > > discovered the fossil remains of a dinosaur not much bigger
        than
        > > us,
        > > > that walked on it's two hind legs, had arms with paws capable
        of
        > > > grasping objects, and a very large brain for it's size. Had it
        > not
        > > > been for the meteor event, some advanced form of that dinosaur
        > > might
        > > > have now been inventing computers and flying into outer space.
        > > >
        > > > < How about that homo sapiens is
        > > > just another evolutionary train station, like the lemur of old
        > that
        > > > 139 mammalian species are descended from? Let's say that your
        view
        > > > of things is correct, that evolution is a guided process that is
        > > > working to produce "something" at the end and how about that we
        > as a
        > > > species are simply a minor player in all of this. In the same
        way
        > > > that the rest of the primates are second thoughts to the real
        deal
        > > > that is homo sapiens, perhaps we are the mammalian equivalent
        of
        > the
        > > > dinosaurs?>
        > > >
        > > > I never said that evolution is a "guided process," at least not
        > > > wholly so. Existence entails a set of natural laws that cause a
        > > > process of evolving increasing complexity, but the particular
        > > details
        > > > and forms that the process produces are determined by chance.
        We
        > do
        > > > not know what will be at the end of the process. Otherwise, I
        > agree
        > > > with that paragraph.
        > > >
        > > > < We get to evolve into a planet dominating species and
        > > > hang out until the environment changes to be more favorable for
        > > > the "real" species to emerge, the one that evolution has been
        > > working
        > > > all these billions of years to produce, the one that has the
        > evolved
        > > > traits and potentials to do all the things that your theory
        > claims
        > > is
        > > > the future and the purpose of our species.>
        > > >
        > > > Our species is incidental, we just happen to be the most
        > advanced,
        > > > most capable, at this time. There is no "real' species to
        emerge
        > as
        > > I
        > > > see it. What is emerging is ever increasing information and
        > > knowledge
        > > > and ability to predict and control and to manipulate the
        > > environment.
        > > > The direction seems to be *toward* omniscience and omnipotence,
        > > > although such ultimates may never occur. When life gets really
        > > > advanced, it, we, they, will be controlling speciation. We are
        > > > already fiddling with genetic engineering. What will life be
        like
        > > in
        > > > a mere one million years?
        > > >
        > > > < Can your theory accomodate the view that it may be a
        > > > future species with evolved capabillities that we can't even
        > > imagine,
        > > > that are magintudes above what we call intelligence and we are
        > just
        > > > another placeholder like the 99.9% of the species that came
        before
        > > > us? Our teleology may be to get out of the way and go extinct so
        > > > that the real deal can happen, just like the dinosaurs got out
        of
        > > the
        > > > way.>
        > > >
        > > > I guess I just addressed most of that. Certainly we will go
        > > extinct,
        > > > and we probably will engineer our own successor.
        > > >
        > > > < I have to accept the fact that there is a teleological
        > > > aspect to the natural world. What the implications of this are
        is
        > > > where we disagree, I think. Would you say that was a fair
        estimate
        > > > of the fundamental differences in our positions?>
        > > >
        > > > In the beginning of our debate you seemed to side with Gould
        and
        > > his
        > > > position of completely random non-directional evolution. As we
        > have
        > > > gone along, you seem to align increasingly closer to my
        position.
        > > > Recently you declared your agreement with the comments by David
        > > > Deutsch, which would seem to place you at odds with Gould, and
        > > again
        > > > in alignment with me. So I am not sure what our differences are
        > at
        > > > this point. (?)
        > > >
        > > > Fred
        > > >
        > > >
        > > >
        > > >
        > > > --- In naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com, "Rich
        Lawrence"
        > > > <freethinker58@> wrote:
        > > > >
        > > > > Fred,
        > > > >
        > > > > Good points one and all. Let me address the SETI point
        > directly
        > > > and
        > > > > go on from there. My response to it should also address the
        > > other
        > > > > points as well. If not, let me know and I'll do my best to
        > clear
        > > > > things up.
        > > > >
        > > > > You wrote,
        > > > >
        > > > > "Now you seem to be saying that since SETI has not yet found
        > > life,
        > > > we
        > > > > can conclude that we are the only planet in the universe with
        > > life.
        > > > > That is a VERY premature conclusion. We have so much to
        learn.
        > We
        > > > > have only recently discovered the existence of a few planets
        > > > outside
        > > > > of our own solar system although logically there are probably
        > > many
        > > > > trillions of them out there! Yes, our current technology for
        > > > locating
        > > > > life elsewhere may well be insufficient at this time."
        > > > >
        > > > > That would be a very premature conclusion on my part but that
        > > isn't
        > > > > my conclusion. If it came across that way, my apologies. My
        > > > meaning
        > > > > is this: based on the evidence we have thus far, it appears
        > that
        > > > we
        > > > > are the only intelligent species that we know of.
        > Additionally,
        > > > > given the almost unanimous opinion that there is intelligent
        > life
        > > > out
        > > > > there and that all we need do is look for it, the results
        thus
        > > far
        > > > > are very disappointing to say the least. Taking an evidence-
        > > based
        > > > > view of things, I see no evidence of the ubiquity of life,
        > never
        > > > mind
        > > > > intelligent life, throughout the universe whatsoever. That
        may
        > > or
        > > > > may not turn out to be the case as time goes on. Should
        > evidence
        > > > > come in that would change that, either through SETI or
        through
        > > the
        > > > > exploration of Mars, for instance, then my views will need to
        > be
        > > > > readjusted to accomodate the new evidence. If I were to call
        > the
        > > > > operative assumption that I am working with (right now it
        > appears
        > > > > that we are the only ones around with TV) anything, it would
        be
        > a
        > > > > conjecture. After conjecture, then hypothesis, then theory,
        > each
        > > > > stronger and more sound due to the amount of facts they
        > > incorporate
        > > > > and explain. Right now we have a lack of evidence (facts),
        at
        > > > least
        > > > > in my mind, so we are still at the level of conjecture. You
        > > appear
        > > > > to be at the level of full-blown theory at this point. For
        me,
        > > it
        > > > is
        > > > > way to premature to be at the theory level, whether or not I
        am
        > > for
        > > > > or against your position. I simply don't have enough facts
        one
        > > way
        > > > or
        > > > > another.
        > > > >
        > > > >
        > > > > Further, let me just say that I do agree there is teleology
        in
        > > > > nature, much to the chagrin of my evolutionist cohorts. Each
        > and
        > > > > every organism exibits a teleology in their pattern of
        growth;
        > it
        > > > is
        > > > > the nature of DNA to do this, to program an individual to
        > become
        > > > > something, to grow in a very specific direction and to a very
        > > > > specific goal, in the case of most that goal being
        > reproduction.
        > > > > Whether or not intelligence has it's own teleology or not is
        > open
        > > > to
        > > > > debate, hence our discussions. :) Irregardless of the origin
        of
        > > > that
        > > > > teleology in nature, whether or not the teleology that we see
        > is
        > > a
        > > > > result of random process or not, the teleology is still there
        > > and,
        > > > as
        > > > > a naturalist, I have to accept the fact that there is a
        > > > teleological
        > > > > aspect to the natural world. What the implications of this
        are
        > > is
        > > > > where we disagree, I think. Would you say that was a fair
        > > estimate
        > > > > of the fundamental differences in our positions?
        > > > >
        > > > > You wrote,
        > > > >
        > > > > "Nevertheless, whether we find signs of life elsewhere or
        not,
        > we
        > > > > have plenty of *other evidence* to support the conclusion for
        > the
        > > > > general purpose of life that I have advanced."
        > > > >
        > > > >
        > > > > Here is another conjecture for you: How about that homo
        > sapiens
        > > is
        > > > > just another evolutionary train station, like the lemur of
        old
        > > that
        > > > > 139 mammalian species are descended from? Let's say that
        your
        > > view
        > > > > of things is correct, that evolution is a guided process that
        > is
        > > > > working to produce "something" at the end and how about that
        we
        > > as
        > > > a
        > > > > species are simply a minor player in all of this. In the
        same
        > > way
        > > > > that the rest of the primates are second thoughts to the real
        > > deal
        > > > > that is homo sapiens, perhaps we are the mammalian equivalent
        > of
        > > > the
        > > > > dinosaurs? We get to evolve into a planet dominating species
        > and
        > > > > hang out until the environment changes to be more favorable
        for
        > > > > the "real" species to emerge, the one that evolution has been
        > > > working
        > > > > all these billions of years to produce, the one that has the
        > > > evolved
        > > > > traits and potentials to do all the things that your theory
        > > claims
        > > > is
        > > > > the future and the purpose of our species. And what if this
        > > trait
        > > > is
        > > > > still in it's dormant stage as we look around at the
        biosphere,
        > > > much
        > > > > as mammalian intelligence was in the dormant stage during the
        > age
        > > > of
        > > > > the dinosaurs? Can your theory accomodate the view that it
        may
        > > be
        > > > a
        > > > > future species with evolved capabillities that we can't even
        > > > imagine,
        > > > > that are magintudes above what we call intelligence and we
        are
        > > just
        > > > > another placeholder like the 99.9% of the species that came
        > > before
        > > > > us? Our teleology may be to get out of the way and go
        extinct
        > so
        > > > > that the real deal can happen, just like the dinosaurs got
        out
        > of
        > > > the
        > > > > way. In other words, there may be a script, a goal and a
        > purpose
        > > > to
        > > > > evolution but we are not it, anymore than frogs, flies,
        > dolphins,
        > > > > whales or chimpanzees are. The real goal is yet to come, yet
        to
        > > be
        > > > > evolved and we are just preparing the environment for it.
        That
        > > > would
        > > > > explain why we don't see the rest of them "out there". We
        > could
        > > no
        > > > > more notice them than rabbit could figure out what a
        university
        > > was
        > > > > other than a warm and dry spot for a den. What makes you
        think
        > > we
        > > > > automatically get a membership card in this group by virtue
        of
        > > who
        > > > we
        > > > > are?
        > > > >
        > > > > Rich
        > > > >
        > > > >
        > > >
        > >
        >
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