Some Questions for Believers ??? Jan 11, 2010 10:49:05 GMT
Post by humphreyclarke on Jan 11, 2010 10:49:05 GMT
I think I agree on this point. I wouldn't want to suggest, as Ayala seems to be doing, that the TE position completely solves the theodicy problem. It merely kicks it down a level by adding in an additional layer of causation. It's probably on the same level with ID in that respect.
As regards how theodicy would work on a TE model, the evils we see in nature are a direct consequence of it's autonomy, the fact that the universe is governed by impersonal natural law and the workings of what we might call chance. But an omniscient being could presumably anticipate all the evils that would result from the creation of such an environment and could have created it differently. However an omniscient being could also have foreseen the totality of life's history with it's drama, success, failure, creativity and struggle and decided that it was a good thing to put in motion for two reasons, 1. it results in a world which is autonomous and is allowed to bring itself into being (it is not the static cosmos previously envisaged) 2. it brings about a kind of grand cosmic story in which genuine goods, character, virtue, altruism and freedom can emerge. Imperfections such as the ones raised by Ayala aren't problems in this view since the world is unfinished, it is still in the process of being created.
I don't see this as a problem at all; one can have an algorithmic process which is not target driven but nonetheless can be used to create complexity and diversity. Gravity, Dark Matter and Supermassive Black Holes don't appear to be goal or target driven either but we don't seem to have a problem with them being used to sculpt the cosmos. On a large scale the universe has always possessed a tendency toward emergent complexity and self organisation. In the evolutionary realm, chance and contingency are important but they are not totally dominant as Gould tried to argue. Convergence shows us that the possibilities are limited and that 'design space' is a meaningful concept. The ways in which life navigates design space are open and contingent but evolution is ultimately channelled down certain routes. In terms of the inevitability of humans, we are concious, purpose driven beings with a number of distinguishing features (all of which are convergent in nature - parental care, sociality, language, cultural transmission, music, tool making, cognitive sophistication).
Some biologists would baulk at the idea of inevitable humans, but I think they would have to admit that adaptation by selection does have certain law like properties. Under the right conditions these will lead to more purposive behaviour and greater adaptive complexity. I would say the following. From the origin of life to the present day, organisms have become, larger, multicellularly complex, taxonomically diverse, and energetically intensive. One significant trend that has emerged in life’s history (and would probably emerge again if the tape were re-run) is what is known as selective interorganismal investment which is represented by high degrees of parental care and social reciprocity. This is effectively a directional trend that selects for reduced fertility, higher consumption, greater investments in juveniles, and longer life. Among some primates this has resulted in larger brains, and increased capacity for attachment, altruism and moral commitment (but also manipulation, spite etc). In our particular species our brain has evolved into an advanced higher order system and we have the hard to define properties of ‘awareness’ and ‘understanding’ which increases our capacity for freedom of choice.