Exchange 6

David: Ah yes, it's been interesting but any sort of collaboration was doomed from the start. (2Co_6:14  "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: ...") Still, I wouldn't have missed it. Unlike you, I'm not  We're like mirror images of each other in some ways; as arbitrary and meaningless as "god" is to you, so "evolution" is to me. As you see my motivation as trying to maintain conformity with Biblical revelation, so your motivation appears to me to be trying to maintain the illusion that there's (ultimately) nothing more than ordinary matter and energy. (I think that's where you're losing most people who might, unlike creationists, be interested -- once you fully and consistently accept atheism and evolution, you should just accept that "self" and "free will" are illusions and get over it, as my zzzizzzm experiment illustrates.) As you confess, "My reason for avoiding the ID movement is to avoid being drawn into relations that for the other person have defense of Christian doctrine as their point." I encourage you to be bold in your explorations, for if your self is to truly evolve it must be open to new environments. We often learn more from those who are different from us, even our "enemies" than from our friends.

C.S. Lewis' The Abolition of Man deals with a similar problem produced by modern views, although he starts with the attacks on "traditional values," he points out or predicts that this will eventually lead to a disregard for ("the conquest of") "human nature" and acceptance of ("surrender to") nothing but (animal, or materialistic) nature. Is this not the loss of "self" that alarms you, or similar to it? (http://www.lewisiana.nl/abolsum/index.htm)

Do read Flatland, it's not what you seem to think. It's certainly not a Christian work or an attempt to argue for the supernatural, nor about "us" being superior to "them," just about thinking outside the boxes we can't see because they are all we have known, perhaps. I'm afraid you're very much in need of boxes to keep your worldview, e.g. the box you put me in as being limited by a motivation "to preserve conformity with Biblical revelation" when (it seems to me) I've demonstrated a willingness to think outside that box and move far away, if given sufficient cause. To tell the truth, I didn't start communicating with you with any idea of having an opportunity to encourage you to accept Christ as your Savior or even to believe in God, it was just an opportunity to play around with a new evolutionary viewpoint. It was only when I saw how close you'd come yourself to seeing the truth that I couldn't help but invite you to take off the blinders of "knowing" Evolution is true. I've just pointed out how your own thinking practically leads you right up to belief in a Creator God as the truly logical conclusion, as the faithful real Galileo would probably say, and all you can do is say it means nothing to you because of your experience with the dusty, formalistic old liberal Church of England. Ah well, I believe you without a doubt, I just think it's sad and a bit paradoxical that you can't see your way out and beyond.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Senior's poem on the Chambered Nautilus seems to go along with your idea, yet perhaps again shows rather that it lends itself more readily to theistic nature: http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-chambered-nautilus/

I'm not surprised you didn't get a positive response from Sheldrake or anyone else like that. I wasn't suggesting you try to win them over or whatever. On the contrary, I still think you might consider changing your position to one more like one of those. Or at least learning from them. They are also more or less controversial, but have garnered something of a following. I think the difference is that they aren't looking for something betwixt and between, both one thing and its opposite, the way you seem to be. When I said I saw your systematic search as being for "some cloudy 'anything but that' alternative, " it wasn't because I'm "unable to see investigation of the origin and nature of the self as having any point except acceptance of Christ." I can see having an evolutionary point in studying the self, especially within an evolutionary viewpoint, but you seem to want to cherry pick what to believe about evolution (you're familiar with the concept of cherry picking as a flawed approach to investigation/learning, yes?). You see the need for a sufficient cause, but you place your cause within the effect! You reject the supernatural, yet what you fear is nothing more nor less than fully consistent rejection of the supernatural! You accept that the dots of fossil data represent lines of evolutionary descent, but rather than accept also that the descent was slow and gradual (and poorly represented by the fossils in that regard, in some areas), you believe that conscious evolution had the great creative power to produce all those forms as suddenly as the actual fossils indicate. You accept that there was nothing but the matter and energy of this nature when Earth formed, but you can't accept that it was just natural forces bringing those elements together into the first life, without any intelligence involved.

So yes, I've extended to you the dreaded invitation to believe in God, but I've also suggested you simply be more accepting of the godless reality you've chosen to believe in. My first and true position is indeed no help to your evolutionary search for an evolutionary self, nor is my second, "for the sake of argument," but I think it clarifies the mystery of why you can't get other evolutionists to join you. They've already moved beyond the need for belief in some sort of special "self" and all that. They're closer to my imaginary stud than you are, and if you're correct about the nature of reality, then eventually the zzzizzzm experiment's essence will become reality, too, although perhaps it will be the humans who will become the masters, if there are other inhabited planets and we learn to get to them.

 

Shaun: "...as arbitrary and meaningless as "god" is to you, so "evolution" is to me." I'm surprised. You seemed to take it more seriously than that, and give it independent existence as part of your sense of what's real.

You make me an aunt sally on opposite sides of the fairground aisle, both as a physicalist, and as  dualist. You say "You accept that there was nothing but the matter and energy of this nature when Earth formed, but you can't accept that it was just natural forces bringing those elements together into the first life, without any intelligence involved." I really do feel you turning deaf to what I've said over and over.  "your motivation appears to me to be trying to maintain the illusion that there's (ultimately) nothing more than ordinary matter and energy." No, I'm looking for what behind them gave rise to me, and so must have some nature that's like mine. That would make them very different from what most people see them as. I've said this over and over again, and you keep saying I claim to be no more than a physicalist. I admit, I'm tired of it. Accept I'm a dualist. When you make me out to be a physicalist, you really drain the discussion of any interest. Who you address that way, isn't me.

Then you acknowledge I'm a dualist,  but tell me I "shouldn't" be: "once you fully and consistently accept atheism and evolution, you should just accept that "self" and "free will" are illusions and get over it" You insist one can either be a physicalist or a believer in the supernatural. Now who's in a box! No, I am neither. I am an atheistic dualist.

Can I make that interesting to you? I think I can't. You won't engage with it.

I may be like Butler in his pantheism, though I see these potentials only in matter as it becomes life, not in all matter as I think he did. Take a pile of granite. One person comes by and makes a chair out of it. Another makes a birdbath. The chair and birdbath are not in the granite, they're something you can make out of granite. The chair and the granite are in whatever does the making. For you that's God, for me it's unknown, but still of interest, and I think it's worth finding out. I see that intelligence coming into existence from arrangements matter can take on, that form primitive machines able to carry out  functions, then growing itself. Finally it makes me, and I'd like to know what it is and how it got to do that

"...eventually lead to a disregard for ("the conquest of") "human nature" and acceptance of ("surrender to") nothing but (animal, or materialistic) nature. Is this not the loss of "self" that alarms you, or similar to it?" It is, but I see two responses. One is to go back and base the conscious self on the God whose failure in the 19th century led to our current problem. The other is to go forward to bring the revolution to fruition, and base the conscious self on a new reality. It's a choice. You choose one, I choose the other. And the choice I make is in the modern science tradition.

"they aren't looking for something betwixt and between, both one thing and its opposite, the way you seem to be." I think Sheldrake is. I don't think his morphic resonance is any more plausible than my kind of vitalism. It looks to me like vitalism introduced as a smaller scale of wedge. "OK, give me morphic resonannce then I'll show you how it can account for all other mysteries." If morphic resonance isn't going to account for embryonic development I don't see all his huffing and puffing is worth much. But I appreciate that you find my quest less finely wrought than his. Do you believe the perceived boiling points of chemicals varied because chemicals learned how boil at lower temperatures? How much effort is it worth to prove that?

I am what I am. That's the only conversationalist I can be. A dualist who wants the supernatural to be identified with whatever led to the evolution of our own conscious minds, and whatever that was to taken as an extension of what we know of physics, but not subject to all its limits. If that can't be interesting, let's call it quits. I'm not into a Procrustean bargain.

Cheers, Shaun

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