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

From: Randy Isaac <>
Date: Thu Jan 29 2009 - 06:55:52 EST

I'm not quite sure why Conway Morris says "...needless to say, show examples of convergence." That bolsters my suspicion that convergence is not a very quantitative concept. Different people seem to have different criteria of how many lineages of how similar a characteristic trait are evidence of convergence. I have no idea how one could say where convergence begins and where it stops.

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Nucacids
  To: Randy Isaac ;
  Sent: Wednesday, January 28, 2009 11:43 PM
  Subject: Re: [asa] Jerry Coyne's Confused Attack on Religion

  Hi Randy,

  Good points. Since it's late, let me just throw this out there. Going back to Conway Morris (thanks, Steve):

  “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)

  If these hallmarks are "inevitable," then a front-loading proponent might very well note that the biosphere is poised to evolve a humanoid. Thus, the convergence argument may not get us to humanoid - it may get us to the needed precursor state. From there, the deck is stacked. Convergence stops just short so only one species is likely to make the next step.


  PS: I do not advocate the front-loading of humans, as my focus has always been much more modest. But that doesn't stop my brain from contemplating tantalizing thoughts.

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Received on Thu Jan 29 06:56:35 2009

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