Re: [asa] Jerry Coyne's Confused Attack on Religion

From: Schwarzwald <schwarzwald@gmail.com>
Date: Wed Jan 28 2009 - 20:52:22 EST

Mike Gene,

I was thinking along the same lines, but you've put it best. I think I
really need to pick up Morris' book at this point.

On Wed, Jan 28, 2009 at 8:08 PM, Nucacids <nucacids@wowway.com> wrote:

> Hi Guys,
>
>
>
> Before seriously considering the argument about convergence and humanoids,
> it is worth remembering that we are reacting to a book review. And the
> one thing we know from the review is that it was written by a New Atheist.
> Thus, the default position is that it is a biased review, so we might
> reasonably expect Coyne to be arguing against a straw man. That Coyne has
> to cut-and-paste from Miller's first book to make a sneering point about his
> second book tells us Coyne has his own agenda.
>
>
>
> If you want to seriously ponder the convergence argument, you would have to
> look more beyond Coyne's biased review and presentation of arguments he
> feels forced to debunk. In fact, you would have to go beyond the books
> from Miller and Giberson. For it was Simon Conway Morris who put this
> argument on the table, back in 2003, in his book, Life's Solution:
> Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe.
>
>
>
> Suffice it to say that Morris is enough of an expert on evolution to be
> well aware of the type of criticisms Coyne makes. Thus, one might also
> assume that his argument is more sophisticated and nuanced than the
> characterization Coyne supplies.
>
>
>
> So I went looking for my copy. I started reading this book years ago, but
> only made it halfway through. I finds it and it turns out that Morris has
> a chapter (9) entitled, "The non-prevalence of humanoids?" I just started
> reading this chapter (Morris's views are extremely similar to my views on
> front-loading) and I can tease you with this part early in the chapter:
>
>
>
> "There is no simple answer to the question about the stage at which
> something like ourselves becomes overwhelmingly probable. To provide a
> focus, however, much of this chapter will concentrate on those elements that
> we might regard as the hallmarks of the humanoid large brain,
> intelligence, tools, and culture all of which, needless to say, show
> examples of convergence." (p. 234)
>
>
>
> PS: Go back and consider Coyne's objection:
>
>
>
> "We recognize convergences because unrelated species evolve similar traits.
> In other words, the traits appear in more than one species. But
> sophisticated, self-aware intelligence is a singleton: it evolved just once,
> in a human ancestor."
>
>
>
> Coyne is basically saying that in order to show that humans are special,
> they shouldn't be special. If the planet was populated with two or three
> other species of sophisticated, self-aware intelligent species, would
> this really make it clear that humans were intended? Heads I win; tails
> you lose.
>
>
>
> - Mike Gene
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> *From:* Schwarzwald <schwarzwald@gmail.com>
> *To:* asa@calvin.edu
> *Sent:* Wednesday, January 28, 2009 10:49 AM
> *Subject:* Re: [asa] Jerry Coyne's Confused Attack on Religion
>
> Heya Randy,
>
> Just wanted to comment on one thing in particular.
>
> 2. Agreed. Though I suspect Coyne would say that the scientific evidence
>> is not consistent with an intent for convergence to humanoid creatures.
>> That's a little softer than disproving it but close.
>>
>
> How would or could anyone get proof of 'intent' in a scientific way here?
> Though I don't necessarily agree with Miller & company's specific claims on
> this, that humans were an outcome of evolution is in this discussion without
> dispute - if it's agreed that evolution produced humans, it goes without
> saying that a mind could use evolution to produce humans. Convergence
> certainly plays a role in evolution, and could play a role in producing such
> an end product.
>
> It also seems to me that, at one point in history, a convergent outcome in
> evolution would/could have been singular - such that at that point, one
> would look around and say, 'Well, that was an entirely unique development.'
> Go further along the timeline, and oh - actually this development is
> repeating. If evolution does tend towards repeating solutions and
> developments along distinct lineages, it lends force to the argument Miller
> & company seem to be making - especially if part of the assumption is that
> once a species reaches a human-like stage, their influence spreads rapidly
> and powerfully enough that a second 'natural' development of such
> intelligence in the same environment is vastly reduced.
>
> The point where science ends and speculation begins really seems to be
> shorter than many realize, no matter what side they take in such debates.
> Coyne himself seems to hardly care about such lines, save for insisting that
> he can always imagine chance as being fundamental no matter what the issue.
>
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Received on Wed Jan 28 20:52:54 2009

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