Evolution and Morality

Creationism, Evolution, and other science issues

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gadfly
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Evolution and Morality

Post #1

Post by gadfly »

I have listened to many debates between theists and Naturalists and the most common theme emerging is that of morality: where it came from and why it should be heeded.

What interests me in these debates is that neither side answers the second question satisfactorily, at least for me. But of the two I have the Naturalist's position the most fascinating (though of course there are equally fascinating aspects of the theist's, but these are more of a philosophical nature than scientific, and so I will give them elsewhere, in apologetics or theology).


This is not so much a question for debate than a description for evaluation. In short, is the following a good critique of Naturalism and Naturalists?

(I should say that by Naturalist and Naturalism I assume an Evolutionary view of organic history. If there are Naturalists who do not hold to the theory of Evolution...well, I have never heard of you. My sincerest apologies).

My biggest problem with Naturalists when they explain the pervasive presence of morality (by which I mean a pressure upon the will to favor one type of behavior and reject another) among our species is that they don't speak like Naturalists.

They talk of traits in species developing "in order to survive". But Evolution does not care about the survival of any species. The giraffe did not get a long neck in order to eat top leaves. In fact, if a long line of developments had led to a giraffe in a field where no trees were present, it might very well be we would not know what a giraffe was. The giraffe HAPPENS (the emphasis here on pure CHANCE) to have a long neck in an environment where long necks are suitable. One day his long neck might not be suitable to the environment. Evolution will have no problem retiring his species.

The same goes for us humans. We happen to have traits that work in our environment. We might think they are more impressive than the traits of other species, but Evolution does not care. It is a blind process without any care. Evolution does not even care about Organic Life. A universe of stardust would suit Evolution no more and no less than the organic life that we know.

That is one misconception I think Naturalists display.

The second is this.

They speak of morality as a) developing gradually, b) conducive to the species, and c) objective.

Let's take A: Morality gradually developed. the common phrasing of Naturalists is that morality "developed over time as the species realized that its survival depended on rules." How does one visualize this? If we were to go back in time (for all history must be theoretically "record-able") would we see the earliest humans at first killing each other (how many were there to be killed?!) and then suddenly coming together (why?! What instinct would bring them together) and saying, "We can't keep doing this; if we do we will kill each other and end the species." If any movie-maker attempted to give a compelling video of the development from pure animal instinct to animals whose instincts were suddenly curbed in the interest of something else, he would have a hard time. And the best history (and Evolution is a matter of history) is the one that can be visualized.

B) That Morality survived because it was conducive to the species. Again, Evolution does not care about the species. If morality survived, it did so because a number of members of a species obeyed it and were able to procreate; and their offspring obeyed it and were able to procreate even more. And obviously not all have obeyed it. In fact, most have not and still are able to procreate. Some have abandoned it more than others (an example might be today's drug Cartel) and they are procreating just fine. It would seem that morality and procreation are not mutually necessary.

C) Morality as Objective. This is the biggest systematic error I have seen in Naturalists. They speak as if some actions are wrong; not wrong according to the society which has conditioned them. That would be consistent. No, but wrong in all societies. Now I can respect philosophically the Naturalist who says "the only thing 'wrong' about the Nazi regime is that it 'didn't last'". But the Naturalist who speaks as if the Nazi regime was "evil" or "awful" in any objective way is simply not behaving according to his philosophy. Of course he can say, "I know I am reacting irrationally (i.e. against my philosophy) and that is fine. Most animals act irrationally. But if he claims that the Nazi regime was wrong whether it lost or won is simply not congruent with Naturalism.

Such is my criticism of Naturalism. I will now give (on another forum) my critique of Theistic morality.

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JoeyKnothead
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Re: Evolution and Morality

Post #11

Post by JoeyKnothead »

The Barbarian wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 4:19 pm
gadfly wrote: Mon Aug 31, 2020 12:12 am They talk of traits in species developing "in order to survive".
We do? Who? Morality is a trait that developed which improved our species fitness of survival. Not the same thing as developing in order to survive, which sounded like Lamarckism to me. Suffice to say our morality came about the same way giraffe got their long necks.
At first, it seems to have been a consequence of allometry. We have a lot of giraffoids, from pronghorn antelopes, to Okapis, to lots of fossil examples. Turns out an increase in absolute size of the animal results in an increase in the relative length of the neck.
Of course I'm an amateur, but if this were the case, elephant necks wouldn't end til they reached two counties over. I mean, sure, it stands to reason critters gotta reach down to drink or graze. But what of giraffes...
Eventually, it became adaptive for male competition, and probably for keeping an eye on predators. It is not, as Lamarck supposed, to reach higher trees, nor did natural selection initially produce longer necks.
I can't put truth to it, but I somewhat recently read a paper that proposes giraffe's long necks might well be a product of their fighting, or "necking". It's proposed a longer neck provides greater leverage. With, as you say, other advantages of it.

Just a thought for those who wanna think on it.
Discovery is finding things that exist.
Invention is using things discovered.

Create that path and engineer a metamorphosis.

- William

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Re: Evolution and Morality

Post #12

Post by The Barbarian »

JoeyKnothead wrote: Fri Oct 15, 2021 9:43 pm I can't put truth to it, but I somewhat recently read a paper that proposes giraffe's long necks might well be a product of their fighting, or "necking". It's proposed a longer neck provides greater leverage. With, as you say, other advantages of it.

Just a thought for those who wanna think on it.
It's called "exaption."

exaptation
ĕg″zăp-tā′shən
noun The utilization of a structure or feature for a function other than that for which it was developed through natural selection.The use of a biological structure or function for a purpose other than that for which it initially evolved.

Initially, it was a matter of allometry. As giraffoids got absolutely bigger, developmental processes made their necks relatively longer. No selective forces at all, at first. But at some point, this became adaptive, both for observation and for male competition.

Flight feathers are another good example. Initially for insulation, they became adapted for display and then for flight.

Insect stings are exaptions from ovipositors.

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Re: Evolution and Morality

Post #13

Post by JoeyKnothead »

The Barbarian wrote: Fri Oct 15, 2021 10:27 pm
JoeyKnothead wrote: Fri Oct 15, 2021 9:43 pm I can't put truth to it, but I somewhat recently read a paper that proposes giraffe's long necks might well be a product of their fighting, or "necking". It's proposed a longer neck provides greater leverage. With, as you say, other advantages of it.

Just a thought for those who wanna think on it.
It's called "exaption."

exaptation
ĕg″zăp-tā′shən
noun The utilization of a structure or feature for a function other than that for which it was developed through natural selection.The use of a biological structure or function for a purpose other than that for which it initially evolved.

Initially, it was a matter of allometry. As giraffoids got absolutely bigger, developmental processes made their necks relatively longer. No selective forces at all, at first. But at some point, this became adaptive, both for observation and for male competition.

Flight feathers are another good example. Initially for insulation, they became adapted for display and then for flight.

Insect stings are exaptions from ovipositors.
I shoulda been more clear, as in "They mighta had em a neck to be proud of, but boy howdy, whoda thunk they'd get this long?"

If that ain't me trying to fix the story to yours.
Discovery is finding things that exist.
Invention is using things discovered.

Create that path and engineer a metamorphosis.

- William

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Re: Evolution and Morality

Post #14

Post by The Barbarian »

JoeyKnothead wrote: Sat Oct 16, 2021 9:01 am
The Barbarian wrote: Fri Oct 15, 2021 10:27 pm
JoeyKnothead wrote: Fri Oct 15, 2021 9:43 pm I can't put truth to it, but I somewhat recently read a paper that proposes giraffe's long necks might well be a product of their fighting, or "necking". It's proposed a longer neck provides greater leverage. With, as you say, other advantages of it.

Just a thought for those who wanna think on it.
It's called "exaption."

exaptation
ĕg″zăp-tā′shən
noun The utilization of a structure or feature for a function other than that for which it was developed through natural selection.The use of a biological structure or function for a purpose other than that for which it initially evolved.

Initially, it was a matter of allometry. As giraffoids got absolutely bigger, developmental processes made their necks relatively longer. No selective forces at all, at first. But at some point, this became adaptive, both for observation and for male competition.

Flight feathers are another good example. Initially for insulation, they became adapted for display and then for flight.

Insect stings are exaptions from ovipositors.
I shoulda been more clear, as in "They mighta had em a neck to be proud of, but boy howdy, whoda thunk they'd get this long?"

If that ain't me trying to fix the story to yours.
It always comes down to evidence.

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Re: Evolution and Morality

Post #15

Post by Purple Knight »

gadfly wrote: Mon Aug 31, 2020 12:12 amMorality as Objective. This is the biggest systematic error I have seen in Naturalists. They speak as if some actions are wrong; not wrong according to the society which has conditioned them. That would be consistent. No, but wrong in all societies. Now I can respect philosophically the Naturalist who says "the only thing 'wrong' about the Nazi regime is that it 'didn't last'". But the Naturalist who speaks as if the Nazi regime was "evil" or "awful" in any objective way is simply not behaving according to his philosophy.
This is precisely why I just let history judge everything and blindly agree with it. If it works, it works. If it doesn't, it doesn't.

One of the ways to not work is being so morally offensive to everyone around you that the second you're in a war, everybody but Japan attacks you.

This is when I will say, did not work because evil.

The broader picture is that if Morality comes from God, it can't be changed no matter how much it hurts everyone. Moral is moral. But if morality evolved and is simply there to benefit a species, we can certainly change it, though we have to look at the ways it benefits us as it is, before we do so, and we can question, does the new one do more harm than good?

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