Thursday, June 06, 2013

The Horizontally Warped and the Vertically Weft Behind

Chapter 3 of The Radiance of Being is called Vertical Evolution, a title I will steal if I ever get around to to a cirquel.

Then again, maybe I don't need to steal it. Let's see... a quick search of vertical evolution yields ten wordy posts, which I suppose is nearly enough for a book. Out of curiosity, I counted the wordys: 17,199. Enough for a children's booky. Hmmm. A Young Person's Guide to Vertical Evolution....

Although there can be no conflict between true religion and real science, the materialists don't see it that way because they can't -- or refuse to -- see it that way. Caldecott:

"The tendency in the evolutionist camp is always to turn the theory of evolution into something more than it is, indeed to transform it into a religion..." (He cites a book by that title which I'd never heard of.)

My only quibble is that the problem isn't with the fact of evolution but with the theory of evolution by natural selection alone. Why limit onesoph in such a way, when there can be nothing in the theory itself that excludes other factors. It's analogous to, say, promulgating a theory of human development via nature alone or nurture alone, when there is obviously an interplay of the two.

Caldecott makes the point that for a certain type of mind, the theory "has to be true, for no other type of explanation would be acceptable..."

In other words, as we have said many times, it's really an a priori conclusion pretending to be a theory -- like the frog (pardon my French) that says "I have a theory that all insects are alive," when dead insects simply don't register in the frog's perceptual field. Or, a child might say, "I have a theory that when I walk down the street at night, the moon follows me." The supposedly neutral perception is really a subjective projection -- or a projection of subjectivity.

And even leaving aside the theory -- or the subjective projection -- that all biological diversity may be reduced to random copying errors, it vastly exceeds any rightful claim -- and any sense of proportion -- by insisting that "all life on earth can be traced back to one primitive organism, developing spontaneously and by chance, probably from a primordial soup of electrified chemicals" (Caldecott).

How is this different from any other degenerate creation myth? It is what I call the "godlessness of the gaps" approach, whereby, when confronted with an irreducible mystery, the person banishes it by fleeing into the comforting delusion of either scientistic necessity or blind fortuity. Both "solutions" simply eliminate the problem by a kind of special pleading.

Paradigms matter. For example, can we understand more about the cosmos by employing a machine metaphor or an organism metaphor? The Raccoon says: why limit ourselves to one or the other? Complementarity, baby. Almost always, when one reaches a metaphysical paradox, it is simply an orthoparadox -- for example, form vs. substance, or wave vs. particle, or time vs. eternity, or boxers vs. briefs.

Why pretend we know what consciousness is, when it is strictly impossible to do so? I say this for the same reason that it is strictly impossible for the eye to know what vision is like. Caldecott quotes the philosopher Jerry Fodor, who correctly points out that "Nobody has the slightest idea how anything material could be conscious."

I mean, right? And not only:

"Nobody even knows what it would be like to have the slightest idea about how anything material could be conscious." I, however, do have a slight idea of what it would be like to have the slightest idea of what it would be like to have such an idea. Problem is, I haven't the slightest idea how to express it.

Speaking of which, Caldecott suggests that "God speaks to us not in human words but through whatever happens to us, moment by moment."

To be clear, this doesn't exclude words, it just places them in the total context of one's life. We may regard the statement "as a reference to another kind of causality, at right angles to the kind investigated by science but not in contradiction to it" (ibid.).

Exactly -- like contextual and relational right brain vs. linear and particulate left brain. Thus, the events of our lives "have their normal (efficient, material) causes, the kind studied by science, but they also have a higher explanation..." The vertically aware simply recognize "a higher level of order or meaning, supervening upon and assuming the lower-level of material cause and effect" (ibid).

Material science is (or pretends to be) entirely time-bound, using material and efficient causes to predict in the direction past-to-future, or to deduce the past from the present. Conversely -- no, complementarily -- religion uses formal and final causes in order to intuit top-down explanations and to apprehend future-to-present causation.

Bottom line? "Horizontal and vertical causality are like the warp and weft making up a single fabric" (ibid), the very fabric we use to weave the cosmic area rug that ones to pull twogather the threeds in this vast womb of souls.

24 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

How is this different from any other degenerate creation myth? It is what I call the "godlessness of the gaps" approach, whereby, when confronted with an irreducible mystery, the person banishes it by fleeing into the comforting delusion of either scientistic necessity or blind fortuity. Both "solutions" simply eliminate the problem by a kind of special pleading.

Yes, this. Whole post, in fact. Is what I was trying to get at in my last wordy comment to yesterday's post. They argue this, because for some reason they simply cannot abide the idea that it was intended.

6/06/2013 09:08:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

From my notebook:

The atheists' "God of the Gaps" are magic words such as force, energy, gravity, which merely label things, observations, and mysteries yet do nothing to explain them.

6/06/2013 09:46:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Or looked at another way, no sane person, upon finding a thin layer of ochre earth misted across a cave wall with a recognizably hand-shaped area left unmisted, would look at it and honestly chalk it up to a bit of pareidolia. It was clearly painted there, and since it was almost certainly painted by something recognizable as human, nobody questions it.

And yet, when scientists delve ever deeper into the hidden mysteries to find things which, if they were found at the human scale, could only exist as the result of an act and not an accident, they (or rather, the evolutionists) immediately dismiss any possibility that those things could be the result of an act and not an accident.

Maybe I'm wrong, but that seems a little insane.

6/06/2013 09:48:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Perhaps the confusion lies in thinking we mean the single-celled organism made the design. I don't mean that at all. I mean, the DNA code is a design.

6/06/2013 10:15:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Here is Mary Midgley, author of that book you linked, Bob:

Mary Midgley: 'There are truths far too big to be conveyed in one go'

I volunteer to read her book and report back as it goes.

6/06/2013 10:18:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Perhaps the confusion lies in thinking we mean the single-celled organism made the design.

Hm. I can't say I know of anyone who would make that argument; it's like saying the single cell just sort of willed itself into being. Which, ironically, is kind of what one is left with if one removes the One actor from the equation.

I agree, the DNA code is a design. One which is meaningless (or rather, essentially useless in regard to its purpose) outside of the cell whose existence it makes possible. I mean, as far as I know nobody is positing a primordial soup in which DNA strands formed all on their own, and then cells formed around them. You can't have one without the other. Not if you want them to be alive, anyway.

So one day, there was this puddle of chemicals sitting around, and they were struck by lightning, and suddenly all at once they were cells. Or maybe viruses (except, viruses, being incomplete organisms, can't exist without whole cells to complete them). Or maybe just prions, which again can't exist without cells.

Anyway, they weren't, and then they were. Shazam. Total accident; it coulda happened to anynobody.

6/06/2013 10:36:00 AM  
Blogger John Lien said...

julie sayeth:

"They argue this, because for some reason they simply cannot abide the idea that it was intended."

Assuming no intention lets them off the hook. If you can come up with a Godless (or "set it and forget it" God) explanation then you don't have to accept all that the existence of God entails.

The belief or non-belief in a creator is where this all starts. The explanations are just support for the side you chose.

6/06/2013 10:42:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Yes, exactly.

6/06/2013 10:52:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Well, with viruses, I'm convinced that the virus 'in-itself' is not the organism, the cell infected by the virus is the organism. So viruses are living things, they are just adapted to harsh living by a very usual life cycle.

Of course that just supports your argument further; viruses are parasitic and derivative, though simpler than much of what they require to become 'whole'.

6/06/2013 11:39:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

This would all seem to support, in an odd way, Julius Evola's contention that evolution went the other way; from complex to simple. That is to say, apes descended from men very long, long ago.

Dunno if I'd go that far, but it is clear that the selection process does not inherently complexify; which is simply a warning sign that the natural selection is not the source of the complexity.

6/06/2013 11:42:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

"Hm. I can't say I know of anyone who would make that argument; it's like saying the single cell just sort of willed itself into being."

I think that's what they are suggesting. Minus the will. And then inserting will under the alsmarty label Chance or Random. Some kind of cognitive dissonance or attack on linking or something. Bob's area...

"So one day, there was this puddle of chemicals sitting around, and they were struck by lightning, and suddenly all at once they were cells."

That actually was in an episode of Sagan's "Cosmos", if memory serves. I can still see the special effects. Maybe it was Fantasia.

6/06/2013 11:44:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

I mean, the DNA code is a design ...

Yes, I started to talk about "junk" DNA in my last comment yesterday, but decided to just stick with "potential". Everything was in that first DNA packet that got dropped into that first cell -- not necessarily all the vast genetic code, but the code to write the code as conditions developed and changed.

6/06/2013 12:01:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

I, however, do have a slight idea of what it would be like to have the slightest idea of what it would be like to have such an idea. Problem is, I haven't the slightest idea how to express it.

Come to think of it, how would we know if matter was conscious or not?

For the stone will cry out from the wall, and the beam from the woodwork respond. (Habakkuk 2:11)

He answered, I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out. (Luke 19:40)

6/06/2013 12:05:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

"Julius Evola's contention that evolution went the other way."

Rats! I was just discovering this yesterday!

RElated, Behe mentions some scientist who studied e coli generations in a lab for some 20 years. Watched what happened to some 30,000 generations (you can produce 6 or so generations per day in a lab) which according to Behe represents about 1 million years-worth of generations in the wild

The e coli evolved alright. Not a lot. But they started to delete useless bits of their code. Use it or lose it, I guess. Anyway, this suggests a simplification rather than complexity trend.

Perhaps a mirroring on the micro scale of entropy on the macro scale. Maybe.

6/06/2013 12:12:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Along the lines of what I said in yesterday's comments about complexity usually being a sign of poor and amateurish design, another common amateurish comment is "Oh, that code isn't really needed anymore...", meaning, they don't have a full understanding of the system, and the little understanding they do have, has no place in it for that strange object oriented stuff over there in the corner.

Well... not too long ago Shazam! someone discovered that 'Junk DNA Not Junk After All'.

(No idea whether this is a decent article or not, it's just the first return)

6/06/2013 12:22:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

re Junk DNA, I never said the e coli knew what they were doing.

Save the Code.

6/06/2013 12:39:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

"complexity usually being a sign of poor and amateurish design"

I think I know what you mean. I don't know if it is related, but there is something I really like about a hammer or a shovel or a pail (pick one) that these designs can hardly be improved.

6/06/2013 12:44:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Oh, that code isn't really needed anymore...

Many is the time I have figured out at 3:00am that that seemingly stupid and pointless little routine handled a condition that happens once in a blue moon at 3:00am.

6/06/2013 12:44:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Rick, did you see John's tomato kludge? Not implying that he's an amateur, of course.

6/06/2013 12:46:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

or an axe

6/06/2013 12:46:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

Tomato kludge?

No but if you hum a few bars...

Actually, I like the sound of it already.

6/06/2013 12:47:00 PM  
Blogger John Lien said...

Damn straight! That was professional level kluge.

(I was just optimizing within the parameter space)

6/06/2013 12:55:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

John, I love the beginning:

"Things got a little out of hand"

6/06/2013 01:00:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

http://getreadytorock.me.uk/blog/2013/05/album-review-i-see-hawks-in-l-a-mystery-drug/

One of the few extant bands i care for, good cosmicamericanpop music having pretty much ceased
post-1969...but these guys update the ol' 'fluences pretty well

6/06/2013 02:37:00 PM  

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