Evolution

As I child I was presented with two explanations for the origin of life and the human race: Evolution and Creationism. I quite happily chose Evolution, since it made at least some sense, and I hated everything related to Christianity. On a quick glance Evolution seems reasonable, not a bad idea really. It’s when you try to understand what the concept actually is and what it claims about reality you get into problems.

In my early- to mid-twenties my first proper doubts about Evolution began. I saw a nature documentary on TV. In it were insects that looked like sticks, and another species of bugs that looked like bird shit. Both apparently had this look in order to protect them from predators. I couldn’t understand how such abilities could have developed randomly. It seemed quite deliberate to me. It even got me trying to develop my own theory I’d later call Purposeful Design. That was before I had heard of Intelligent Design. However, I sort of dropped my theory, partially because of Intelligent Design. If the Christian Right was having similar ideas as me, I must have been wrong.

The first problem I have with both Evolution and Intelligent Design is their name. I’m a language student first and foremost, not certainly a biologist nor an ontologist. The term Evolution has the innate assumption that biological lifeforms change over time for the better. Supposedly even Darwin didn’t like the term Evolution, he preferred Descent with Modification, i.e. lifeforms descend from their parents, but the new lifeforms are modified in some way. Even the word evolution is wrong for unconscious random processes that main stream science claims is behind everything natural. For the same reason I dislike the term Intelligent Design, as intelligent, or having intelligence, is usually regarded as something very positive and admirable. Both terms are oozing with values of those who support them. Had Evolution been called Descent with Modification, and had it merely been stated that lifeforms tend to develop from simple to more complex ones, I’d have no problem with it. However if it is claimed lifeforms evolve from simple to complex. One might say the the word “develop” also contains inherent value judgments, but I don’t think so.

I don’t know much about biology, so I cannot say much about the details of it, however the influence of Evolution can be seen almost everywhere in modern Western society. Everything is assumed to evolve. Be it societies (from tribal to monarchy to democracy), technology (which in a sense can be said to have evolved), or even values and ideas (superstition and religion has “evolved” into atheistic scienticism). One simplified way of looking at this ideology is to say that based on the modern idea of everything constantly evolving is that whatever that happens is good as it things have evolved. For example development of atom bombs, mass produced popular culture of hi-tech tyranny is by definition a good thing, because it has evolved from something simpler. The Theory of Evolution, according to my knowledge, makes no such claims. It is solely concerned with the development of biological lifeforms, yet it has had this side effect, or possibly the main effect if we look at it from a conspiratorial standpoint.

The main problem with Evolution is the nonsensical notion that it has happened by accident. Random forces have created all of these highly specialized functions lifeforms have, from eyes, to wings, to sonar, to various ways of protecting themselves, to consciousness. Lets say there was a the primordial goo with amino acids and stuff. Somehow they developed into amoebas, gradually they developed into marine animals, then to amphibious animals, to land based animals, birds, lizards, mammals and so on. Humans included. That could very well be, but in no way was it accidental. I’d rather say there already was consciousness in non-material form in existence. It existed, yet not as a physical entity. What that consciousness or consciousnesses were is another question. However for some reason it wanted to experience itself in matter in various forms. Thus somehow it helped lifelessness develop into life so it could possess these material forms and experience life in myriad physical creatures and plants.

One could say it’s a merger of both Evolution and Creationism. Yet, it’s still just an idea. I’m not saying I believe it. I don’t know what we as humanity even know or can know about the origin of life, or of various species. I believe in empirical experience rather than theories. If life somehow started on this planet billions of years ago, no-one was there to see it. If humanity somehow evolved from apes, none of us were there to see it. Regarding Evolution all we have is circumstantial evidence. Bunch of bones and fossils that only tell the story of different kinds of human-like creatures which had lived a long time ago. The scientists choose to interpret the existence of those remains to mean that first there apes, they evolved into Australopithecus, Paranthropus and countless other fancy names until they evolved into Cro-Magnon and modern humans. That raises new questions as well like what are the Neanderthals, as supposedly they are not the ancestors of humanity? How about Annunaki genetic engineering? It sounds like a reasonable possibility to me.

I digress. Back to accidental evolution. If animals and plants randomly develop from simple to complex ones with better abilities to survive, then there should be countless failed experiments. I don’t mean just species that went extinct. Rather our depository of ancient species should look something like a mad scientist’s laboratory with monkeys with four asses, canines with no eyes, snakes that kill themselves with their own venom, one-legged hamsters… If nature is an insane and inane inventor that combines different things, with no understanding of its actions, until the creations manage to take care of themselves, there should be countless of failed experiments littered all over. Trial and error produces a lot of errors, especially when the scientist has no intelligence at all. If it’s all random, there should have been even animals, countless animals, that did not even know how to eat. To program the instinct to eat when hungry is not a simple thing. It must have taken a lot of accidents to get it right. We may take it for granted, but if there was no consciousness at all how did the first animals know how to eat, hide from predators, or copulate? Would they have even known how to rest? They could not have had the instinct to rest when tired, since it too is a programmed reaction. A lot of animals must have killed themselves due to overwork simply because they did not know how to sleep. How about animals with no asshole? They eat until they bloat and explode. If nature works like this, as the scientists presume, nature looks a lot like H.P. Lovecraft or Giger, but much more gruesome and with even less purpose than Lovecraft’s meaningless universe.

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13 thoughts on “Evolution”

  1. You are making a wrongful assumption that evolution is a random process. It is the most common misunderstanding of the matter and one of the easiest to explain. Evolution is a non-random selection process. There is random genetic variations and non-random survival and non-random reproduction which is why, as the generations go by, animals get better at doing what they do. That is quintessentially non-random. You do not need any consciousness of guiding force for it to happen. Evolution is the opposite of the random process. The only random factor in it is the random genetic mutations. Please raise your hands if i need to go further into the topic. 🙂

    1. Thanks for your input. However the article you posted hardly deals with the matter I was talking about. It says however: “Natural selection is a rigorous testing process that filters out what works from what doesn’t, driving organisms to evolve in particular directions.”

      So it’s a rigorous testing process? Sounds like intelligent design to me, and an anthropomorphization of nature as the ancient man anthropomorphized God into a man with white beard, the modern man looks at himself as a scientist who continuously engages in rigorous testing processes. Who or what started that process? Was it random chance? Then I’d say Evolution is random (assuming it is not a fantasy in the first place), or was it God? What inserted such an underlying mechanic into the essence of life?

      1. It is not fantasy nor God. Since you are a language student, I hope you understand how tricky words can be and how interpretation affect the meaning. Semantic barriers are pretty hard to overcome so I will try to be as clear as possible and I implore you to listen with the intent to understand instead of to reply.

        Firstly, I need to emphasize the difference between the “beginning of life” and “evolution through natural selection”. They are two separate subjects and must not be mistaken as the same. While one concerns the question of how the first living organism came into existence, the other explains how organisms gradually became more and more complex.

        You say that “The main problem with Evolution is the nonsensical notion that it has happened by accident.” I understand that in this context what you mean in that FIRST LIFE happened by accident and I must say yes, it most probably did. Beginnings of life were very simple, so what we are searching for is a first self-replicating molecule – not a cell or amoeba, but possibly an archaic form of RNA of sorts build from, indeed, aminoacids. We are not yet certain how it happened, mainly because it happened such a long time ago, but as far as I know, similar molecules have already been created in a lab from inanimate matter. When speaking of “accidents” or “chance” it is important to remember that we live in a universe so vast that improbable events happen every day but we cannot witness them since we only catch a glimpse of the whole image. It is also difficult for us humans to get our heads around the vastness of time – we only ever experience 70-100 years so when we start talking in millions and billions we find it practically impossible to picture. The age of our universe is now known to be 13.77 billion years old and it has been estimated that life on Earth began 3.6 billion years ago therefore life had 10 billion years to emerge by chance. 10 billion years is a hell lot of time for something to happen by chance. Randomly. I would even dare to make a far-fetched guess that it is far more likely for life to ‘spontaneously jump into existence” that we imagine and that it did, in fact, happen multiple times before it emerged in a more stable form able to withstand the forces of primordial Earth (or wherever else it might have originated).

        Once the first self-replicating molecule is created, evolution through natural selection may finally take over. “If animals and plants randomly develop from simple to complex ones with better abilities to survive, then there should be countless failed experiments.” That would be true if the process of natural selection was random. Although, as I previously stressed, there is a random aspect of it, it does not imply that the whole process is random as well. Genetic mutations ARE random – every new organism is born with a combination of genes inherited from its parent(s) but every once in a while something accidentally goes wrong and a new mutated gene (of random properties) is written into the gene pool. Here ends the randomness. Our mutated organism is then “tested” if you like, not by some divine power or “consciousness” but by the environment it has been born into. Also, it seems to me that the word “tested” unintentionally carries the need for a “tester”, so let me rephrase and say: “Our new mutated organism has to PROVE itself against the environment – climate, predators etc.” It needs to survive long enough to be able to breed and pass on its mutated gene to the next generation. Think of it as a sieve into which you throw stones of random sizes – only those small enough to fit through the hole will fall down. You get non-randomly sized stones on the table despite the fact that you used stones of all sizes while the sieve is not making any conscious descisions – it is simply a state of the stones’ environment. There is no need for a “consciousness” to choose in what way to mutate the genes – mutations are random, but those that cause organisms not to be able to live long enough to breed are not passed on.

        To answer your questions:
        So it’s a rigorous testing process?
        Yes.

        Who or what started that process? Was it random chance?
        Yes, it was random chance.

        Then I’d say Evolution is random (assuming it is not a fantasy in the first place), or was it God?
        It is not random nor fantasy, and there is no need for ay supernatural forces in the equation. Evolution through natural selection is a non-random process which was initiated by a random event in which first life emerged and has a random aspect gene mutations.

        What inserted such an underlying mechanic into the essence of life?
        The underlying mechanics are the laws of physics – everything that exists in the universe behaves according these laws. As it is beautifully explained in the newest book by prof. Lawrence Krauss, there is no need for any supernatural entity for all the matter, time and laws of physics to emerge (spontaneously!) of nothing. 🙂

      2. I understand the difference between the origin of life and Evolution. The explanation on the origin of life is just a story. The scientists weren’t there to see it when it happened. They have no empirical evidence of it.

        I’m not buying the story about species turning into other species, like fish into amphibious animals into mammals and so on. I can understand Evolution as an interesting parable, but cannot accept as an accurate description of reality. Adding millions and billions of years into the mix doesn’t explain much. Take a red apple. Add 10 minutes to it. It’s still pretty much the same. Add 10 weeks to it and it’s brown.

        I’m not buying the idea of “natural selection” or “survival of the fittest” either. Whereas it is a fact that various living beings do occasionally compete with each other in various way, fighting over life and death, calling it “natural selection” is an expression of values. As if the animals were gladiators and the Caesar chose the best fighters to carry on. It is an over-emphasis on the conflict bit of nature. Nature and life is much more than that.

        You said “There is no need for a “consciousness” to choose in what way to mutate the genes”. It does not matter whether there is need or not, consciousness exists. Human have a consciousness, animals have some degree of it. It is an empirical fact that no-one can deny. What we cannot be sure of is how, why and in what forms it exists. Science has more or less proven that consciousness can affect reality. There are non-physical phenomena. What are the implications and applications of all of this is another matter. There is no need to try to defend the existence of consciousness. Science that only accepts the physical reality as real is outdated at best, religious dogma at worst.

      3. On the other hand, of course it is possible that the universe was so perfectly designed that all the clues leading to the designer would be disguised in scientifically explicable model. It is also possible that if there were a designer, there exists a “signature” of sorts but so far science has not found one. Any reasonable scientist, and any reasonable person for that matter, would be thrilled to be proven wrong but if you want to disprove something, you need to understand what it is that you are disproving.

      4. i have been doing a lot of reading on the beginning of life and I must say, although my understanding of deep biochemistry can get seriously limited should my brain overheat, that if there has not yet been an empirical piece of evidence for it, then we are very, very close to it. Have a look yourself at the immense amount of effort people put into the subject.

        http://www.rationalskepticism.org/chemistry/calilasseia-78-papers-on-abiogenesis-t845.html

        It is great to be skeptical and ask a lot of questions – dialogue creates new ways of thinking and brings minds together to tackles the big topics, bit if you say that you simply “don’t buy the story” it would be preferable (and hopefully enlightening to me) if you gave a reasonable explanation for your skepticism. I must admit here that I do not understand the red apple parable.

        You should also be aware of what it is exactly that you are disproving. Living things do not “occasionally” compete with each other. That do that all the time. “Survival of the fittest” is not about to lions fighting for a mate with teeth and claws. From the day you are conceived till they day you die your body is constantly under attack. Amusingly enough most of the attackers are invisible! Bacteria and viruses are inside and outside you in their billions, and with each breath you bring more and more of them. This is why immune systems have evolved – if we did not have them, we would be eaten alive. You cannot over-emphasize the conflicts in nature, because the more you think about it the more you complexity you discover. It is very difficult to get your head around the whole picture of the uncountable connections and conflicts in the web of ecosystems. Again, in the analogy to gladiators and Caesar you still persist in the idea that some intelligent being (Caesar) makes decisions on which fighter is to carry on. How unreasonable! Caesar has no influence as to which gladiator survives the battle, therefore only those that fought the hardest survived and will get to fight again. Those who were not strong or cunning enough have been killed and therefore will fight no more. Caesar has no decision to make.

        I used “consciousness” in that context because you used it in your post to describe what I would refer to as “intelligent being of supernatural power” or “God”. The existence of consciousness in animals, including humans, does not, by any means, imply that there must be a “God” or a “guiding force” whatever you call it.

        I am very curious of the non-physical phenomena you speak of. Please do explain. 🙂 And also, if you clam that it is ignorant of science to solely accept the physical reality, then why do you require empirical evidence in order to prove abiogenesis?

      5. I don’t buy the Evolution story, since that how is humans basically accept or do not accept stories they hear. Everything that we are told about are stories, whether it be about God and Jesus, Odin and Thor, the Ninja Turtles, Theory of Gravity, Evolution, the Asthar Command, the Reptilian Conspiracy, or even the existence of New York. The other way of gaining information is personal experience, which is usually better but more limited in many ways. I don’t buy the Evolution story even though I don’t think it is a bad one, it just doesn’t convince me. I don’t care that there are countless so called scientists and institutions telling the story, amending it and discussing its details. It’s still just a story with a lot of rhetoric behind it.

        What I mean by the existence of New York being a story is that it is only a story to me. I have never been there, so I have no experience of it. I have however seen countless pictures and movies about it, met people who’ve been there, so I believe the story.

        Not all Gladiator battles have to be to the death. After the bout the Caesar can show thumbs up or down to decide the fate of the loser, or winner for that matter.

        There is conflict in nature, but does not have to be seen as a brutal fight for survival. It can also be seen as a very loving way of nature helping organisms grow. There is conflict in nature, but there is also harmony and love. Focusing on the conflict is simply one unbalanced way of looking at it. It’s like if a guy, a girl and a boy go see a movie. The guy might focus on the action, the girl on the love story and costumes, and the kid on neat gadgets and weird creatures. Later they discuss it, and the girl says how the costumes reflected different moods in movie and the guy and the kid didn’t even notice the change in costumes.

      6. The computer you are using, your mobile phone, car, fridge and TV work on the very same principles as evolution. The principles of science and logic. This is what distinguished all the stories about Thor and Ninja Turtles from science – it WORKS. No other methods have brough more benefits to the human kind that science has. It increased our lifespan and conditions of living on an enormous scale and gave us a deep understanding of the world we live in.

        Still waiting for an explanation of the non-physical phenomena. 🙂

      7. If you are really interested in non-physical phenomena I suggest you look into the work of Ingo Swann, morphic fields as told by Rupert Sheldrake or Quantum physics in general.

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