A reader describes what will make him accept evolution

A new reader, “Blas”, submitted this comment (to follow my “modest proposal” post) on what would make him accept evolution (I’m assuming he’s a “he” because “Blas” sounds male):

I will believe in evolution when I listen darwinist tell his fiance or his wife:

“The chemistry of my body make me feel good when I see you. I´m telling this to you because may chemistry is making me tell that, not because I´m free to say this or other thing”

instead of “I love you”

I will believe in evolution when I listen darwinist tell his childrens:

“The chemistry of my body make me feel good when I see you, because the vision results in the possibility that my shelfish genes will survive.I´m telling this to you because may chemistry is making me tell that, not because I´m free to say this or other thing”

instead of “I love you”

Well, perhaps this guy is not a human but a mollusc (“shelfish genes”), but regardless, this is not necessarily evidence for evolution. It is evidence for emotions and feelings coming from physiology, something that many antievolutionists can accept, I suppose. After all, God could work through hormones, too, just as theists tell us he works through natural selection.

And I’m puzzled by how Blas mixes up physiology with free will.  Presumably many of the compatibilists who post here would readily admit that our feelings are conditioned by hormones.  Indeed, we can change a person’s feelings by adjusting his/her hormone titer.

At any rate, let’s turn this guy around.  I can tell him that I have had a female tell me that her feelings for me were due to a surge of oxytocin.  I don’t have a family, but perhaps one mother or father can verify that they’ll tell their children that their feelings of love derive from natural selection, promoted by inclusive fitness, that acted on genes that produce hormones and emotions.

All it takes is one of us to say these things and—presto—Blas will become a Darwinian!

196 Comments

  1. Posted April 3, 2012 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    While I have told my children that I love them, I have also talked to them very in depth about the nature of human emotion, neurohormonal interactions and how those things developed through evolution…they and I think that’s pretty freaking cool!

  2. Mackenzie
    Posted April 3, 2012 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    Well, my husband actually has said that to me before. Not those exact words, mind you, but he often points out the science behind certain feelings. Given that I’m a scientist too, I understand… but sometimes it might be nice just to ignore the science and just say something sweet. :) A girl can dream, right?

    • Yi
      Posted April 3, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      Totally agree. Science should be pulled out in those romance moments.

  3. Greg G
    Posted April 3, 2012 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    Prometheus Retold
    Old Song: Updated
    You may remember these children’s lyrics:

    Tell me why the stars do shine
    Tell me why the ivy twines
    Tell me why the sky is so blue
    And I will tell you just why I love you

    Because God made the stars to shine
    Because God made the ivy twine
    Because God made the sky’s so blue
    Because God made you, that’s why I love you.

    Someone from MIT rewrote the lyrics.

    Tell me why the stars do shine
    Tell me why the ivy twines
    Tell me why the sky is so blue
    And I will tell you just why I love you

    Nuclear fusion makes stars to shine
    Tropisms make the ivy twine
    Rayleigh scattering makes the sky so blue
    And testicular hormones is why I love you.

    • darnoujoum
      Posted April 3, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

      Sub

    • procrastin8or
      Posted April 3, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

      FTW! I find that latter more poetic

    • Lisa
      Posted April 4, 2012 at 11:45 am | Permalink

      Both are pretty, poetic and true. Except maybe the last line of the MIT one. Something more along the lines of “Because you are a beautiful creation is why I love you.” That lacks something in the meter but the idea is there.

  4. Posted April 3, 2012 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    I’ve said almost exactly that to my fiance. She thought it was cute.

    • Rich
      Posted April 3, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

      that’s what I would expect. I think that there is something romantic about “helpless love” and to admit you have no control over the feelings of love you have, but that you have them anyhow, is very sexy. So our theist mollusk friend must now convert. But I think of course he is not making an honest offer.

  5. Peter Beattie
    Posted April 3, 2012 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    Reductionism Redux—respect! :)

  6. J
    Posted April 3, 2012 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    Blas – we can recognise the chemical causes of love & still use the word love in a sentence… The thing that makes it special is not having no idea what causes the feeling (which you seem to be suggesting) but knowing that you only get that feeling with one person (usually).

  7. Jean K
    Posted April 3, 2012 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    Dear Bias, To believe in evolution, you do not need to embrace any particular account of love. You especially don’t need to stop talking about love and start talking about oxytocin. Plenty of psychologists and philosophers accept evolution, but think there are more things to say about love besides what biologists have to say about it. This is a lot like thinking a painting by Rembrandt is made out of elementary particles, but physicists don’t have the last and only word on it. (You do accept the physical theory of paintings, don’t you? Or must we believe in painting fairies, so we can keep calling paintings “beautiful”?) There is just nothing at all that says belief in evolution ought to dominate your entire way of thinking about everything, just because it is in fact true that humans evolved. So–keep saying “I love you,” and don’t think that’s any barrier whatever to accepting evolution.

  8. imil42
    Posted April 3, 2012 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    I’m pretty sure that if Tim Minchin hasn’t yet written a song on this subject, he will do it some day.

    “If I Didn’t Have You” (http://youtu.be/LAzodf69rfk) comes dangerously close with its seemingly antiromantic message.

  9. Posted April 3, 2012 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    In other words, this reader doesn’t understand science.

    • Kels
      Posted April 3, 2012 at 11:28 am | Permalink

      They don’t seem to know much about love, either.

      • Joshua
        Posted April 3, 2012 at 11:56 am | Permalink

        …or proper grammar.

        • Heintje
          Posted April 3, 2012 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

          and couldn’t make up his mind between ‘selfish’ and ‘shellfish’.

          For me it’s easy, the latter is delicious.

  10. Sastra
    Posted April 3, 2012 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    I think Blas is afraid of reductionism. If we can take something apart, analyze it, and discover that it comes from components which are not like the thing we started out with — then that thing we started out with isn’t ‘real.’ It’s only an illusion. We reduced it away.

    Which means that Blas is working with a simple (or simplistic) mindset and making a genetic fallacy. Like comes from like, and a thing is what it is. A simple example of such reasoning would be “if water is made of hydrogen and oxygen — and neither of these is wet — then water isn’t wet, either. But we know it is; therefore, anyone who thinks they can reduce it to components like hydrogen and oxygen must be wrong.”

    Blas won’t do this with chemistry, but thinks s/he ought to do this when it comes to things which seem “higher.” Using this line of reasoning, then, we get “if love is the product of brains, chemicals, and a process of evolution — and none of those is themselves ‘loving’ — then love isn’t loving, either. It’s fake, untrue, an illusion.”

    What Blas thinks satisfies his criteria is “if love comes from a source that is loving, then love is real.”

    Bottom line, Blas is

    1.) afraid of reductionism (“greedy reductionism,” where the explanation kills what is explained)

    2.)thinking in essentialist terms (things are what they are because they have an irreducible “essence” as part of their nature.)

    The thing that Blas thinks would or should change his or her mind is based on a fallacy of how science works and how evolutionists think. Better to examine the error.

    • Thos Cochrane
      Posted April 3, 2012 at 11:44 am | Permalink

      nicely dissected!

    • Gluon
      Posted April 3, 2012 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      +1

    • Dan L.
      Posted April 3, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

      I’ll be willing to believe in internal combustion engines as soon as a husband tells his wife: “Honey, I’m going to use convoluted hydraulic and mechanical systems to mix petroleum vapor and oxygen in a metal cylinder whose volume will subsequently rapidly decrease thus increasing the pressure and temperature of the fuel/air mixture inside causing an explosion; I’m doing this in service of going to the store.” Instead of “Honey, I’m going to drive to the store.

      I’ll be willing to believe in buffer solutions when a doctor says to a patient: “You should dissolve a salt made of calcium and a negative ion that constitutes a weak acid which will subsequently help to neutralize the acidity of your stomach.” Instead of “You should take an antacid.”

    • Lisa
      Posted April 3, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

      Let’s add a different dissection. Using the chemical example, two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen, both of which are not wet combine to make a wet substance. Well I could discuss how we would define wet; our sense of touch as interpreted by our brains, but that is getting uselessly esoteric and philosophical.
      Instead lets discuss the difference between chemistry and well how we feel.

      It is true that chemicals and neurons in our bodies produce feelings that well, feel real. But are they? For example someone who claims to have a religious experience would feel that it is very real, but could it just be the misinterpretation of their chemical emotions? This forum would likely argue yes, therefore their experience while lovely and ‘real’ for them was not real as naturalism would interpret it.

      So then when it comes to our chemicals, electrical impulses etc, what is ‘real’? Just because we feel something it does not automatically follow that that something is real. So is it enough that feelings are real for those who experience them?

      If so, what is real is reduced to what our minds, emotions, bio-functions tell us is real. So in the end all we can be sure is real is that we are walking pieces of meat full of electrical and chemical impulses. Much like the mollusc referred to, granted we are a more advanced version – although Darwinian naturalism would argue there is no such thing as more or less advanced when it comes to evolution, but never mind.

      So that is it. There is nothing more than that – we are nothing more than that. Walking, talking biological systems here to make what we will of our presence on the planet. There is no higher meaning to our existence, we are not ‘cool’, evolution, nature etc is not marvelous or beautiful. What we think and feel is not real to anyone or anything but us.

      Oh and how we think science works and what evolutionists think is not necessarily real either, their chemically and electrically based thought processes merely makes them feel it is.

      • Posted April 3, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

        The point about religious experiences is not that the experience isn’t real. It is. It’s a measurable, and to some degree inducible, action of brain electrochemistry. If you don’t think the human brain is marvelous or beautiful, that’s your loss.

        • Lisa
          Posted April 4, 2012 at 2:24 am | Permalink

          Oh no I do indeed think the human brain is marvelous and wonderful, just as I think humans can be. But if all we are is biochemical machines then what I, you or anyone else thinks is immaterial and meaningless except to those thinking it. Real becomes a matter of perception, just as does right or wrong, happiness or misery.
          Though happiness and misery at least are often a matter of perception, but I digress.
          Don’t misunderstand me; kudos to anyone who can find happiness in their existence, but from an evolutionary standpoint it is meaningless and pointless, to anyone but them and those immediately around them.
          We are here to know joy and to enjoy being human. Naturalist evolution is dehumanizing.

          • Occam
            Posted April 4, 2012 at 3:24 am | Permalink

            Why should naturalist evolution be dehumanising?
            Circularity apart — our preconceptions up to timepoint t define our “humanity”, therefore new challenging insights at t+x are ipso facto “dehumanising”. Izzatso? Among the greatest joys in life, in mine at any rate, is the opportunity, during this very limited timespan we have, to learn and understand something new about this world, every day.
            One of my favourite websites dedicated to photography, Michael Reichmann’s “Luminous Landscape”, carries as its motto a Walker Evans quote:

            Stare, pry, listen, eavesdrop.
            Die knowing something.
            You are not here long.

            I love it.

            • Lisa
              Posted April 4, 2012 at 11:55 am | Permalink

              And when you die what becomes of your knowing? It is good for your lifespan only. Granted we pass it on etc. But when our species dies out? In the movie Troy (a work of fiction, but I use it to demonstrate a point) Achilles went to war to gain fame for 3000 years. If Naturalist evolution were true (and I do believe in evolution, just not naturalist) he might as well not have bothered, 30 years, 3000, 30,000 it makes little difference to the blip it creates on evolution’s timeline or the universe’s.
              That we think, feel and know now is wonderful – to us anyway, but ultimately useless and pointless and incredibly short lived.

              • truthspeaker
                Posted April 4, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

                “If Naturalist evolution were true (and I do believe in evolution, just not naturalist) he might as well not have bothered, 30 years, 3000, 30,000 it makes little difference to the blip it creates on evolution’s timeline or the universe’s.”

                But it makes a difference to us. 30,000 years is a blip on the universe’s timeline, but from our perspective it’s an awful long time.

              • Tulse
                Posted April 4, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

                But Lisa, if everything is the product of an eternal creator that already knows everything, then surely that makes human knowledge far more “useless and pointless and incredibly short lived”. What is more amazing and meaningful, to be the very first person to ever know/experience/feel something, or to experience something that another being knew you would experience at the dawn of time? The latter just makes us puppets acting out a pre-written play — it is the former that gives humans dignity and meaning.

          • Lisa
            Posted April 4, 2012 at 3:45 am | Permalink

            I apologize for the phrasing of my last sentence. It is argumentative and I certainly don’t mean to offend. I do however enjoy a good debate, and many of the comments on this blog seem spirited and often well informed and thought out. I will rephrase: Naturalist evolution seems dehumanizing to me.

            • Dan L.
              Posted April 4, 2012 at 7:24 am | Permalink

              Naturalist evolution seems dehumanizing to me.

              I think this is a silly point of view. Is it dehumanizing to learn that there’s no such thing as Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy? Is it dehumanizing to learn that you were not, as an infant, delivered to your child as a stork?

              What I think is dehumanizing is to base your entire life and worldview on some nonsense fairy stories written 2000 years ago and to live your life the way a bunch of old, dead, celibate white guys think you should.

              Emerson said: “Our age is retrospective. It builds the sepulchres Note of the fathers. It writes biographies, histories, and criticism. The foregoing generations beheld God and nature face to face; we, through their eyes Note. Why should not we also enjoy an original relation to the universe? Note Why should not we have a poetry and philosophy of insight and not of tradition, and a religion by revelation to us, and not the history of theirs?” Why should it be humanizing to live the stories of dead authors?

              No, it’s humanizing to enjoy a relationship with the universe that is authored by yourself. The lack of intrinsic meaning in the universe is freedom to create your own meaning, and that is much more precious than living according to the worldview of dead holy men. Atheism/agnosticism/skepticism/naturalism allows you to find your own holy and live it. Personally, I think it’s dehumanizing to let someone else tell you what’s holy and what’s not.

              • Posted April 4, 2012 at 7:28 am | Permalink

                Perhaps you could’ve edited the “Note”s out of that quotation before posting… ;-)

                Otherwise: Strongly agree.

                /@

              • Occam
                Posted April 4, 2012 at 11:34 am | Permalink

                Ant:
                That unmotivated “Note” will some day be as legendary, and as mysterious, as the infamous “shrubbery” marginal note in the original Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio transcripts (R:2/35r).
                An urban myth is in the making. Don’t spoil it.

              • Lisa
                Posted April 4, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

                While I did believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy (though not for very long, I questioned too much as a child) I was never under the impression I was delivered by a stork.
                Like wise I don’t base my view on dead white celibate guys. I am not catholic, and while christian my religion has no catholic roots whatsoever. Frankly I agree with you to believe what is espoused from most pulpits is dehumanizing and it is little wonder that so many people find it confusing and ultimately worth rejecting. What is heartbreaking however is that the baby is thrown out with the bathwater so to speak. Yes religion has been used or rather abused since man was, but then so has science (a neuclear bomb is a wonderful example of this) for as long as we have had it. Does it then follow that we must throw out the good with the bad? Science is wonderful, amazing, exciting and even though we understand only the tiniest fraction of the universe though it the benefits to mankind are astounding. But does that then follow we need no religion?
                Religion, real religion seeks not to repress but free through an understanding of moral laws which are just as understanding and applying the laws of physics free us to do things like … fly for example or harness the sun’s energy.
                There is a lot of wisdom in your quote by Emerson. We should not let others tell us what to believe, we should find out for ourselves. While we can use the wisdom of others to build on, in the end it is upto us to find out what is true and we should absolutely have a religion based on personal revelation, how else would we know it was true? If you transpose the word “universe” with “God” Emerson’s quote is spot on the mark. He was also right when he said: “Religion is to do right. It is to love, it is to serve, it is to think, it is to be humble.” I find naturalist evolution dehumanizing because it limits human potential. Because these things, without further human potential than this brief span alone, are ultimately meaningless in a cold, uncaring and unimaginably vast universe.

              • Lisa
                Posted April 4, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

                Legend along with being “as an infant, delivered to your child by a stork”. My children would be deeply shocked if an infant version of their mother arrived like that or at all. Though perhaps they could deal with my diapers for a change.

              • truthspeaker
                Posted April 4, 2012 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

                If you’re a Christian, then your beliefs come from dead white celibate guys (and probably a few dead celibate brown guys from Alexandria and Jerusalem). Who do you think assembled the Bible?

              • Tulse
                Posted April 4, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

                while christian my religion has no catholic roots whatsoever

                I’m curious as to what you mean by that, as arguably all Christianity has its roots in what becomes Catholicism, even if that means rejection of Roman authority and dogma. (I’d include even the New World sects of Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc. in that group, although the argument is admittedly weaker for them.)

                Do you care to identify your particular sect?

              • Lisa
                Posted April 4, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

                truthspeaker: The Romans assembled the current version of our modern. Ironic consiering they’d just spent hundreds of years slaughtering and repressing both Jews and christians. They left out parts they didn’t like too. Fortunately I don’t need to rely on their version of the bible alone.

                Tulse:
                Christianity has its roots in the life and teachings of Christ. What happened in the forth century is merely creedism (a term I coined myself). I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints commonly known as Mormons. Other Christian denominations would tell you I am not in fact Christian as Mormon’s do not believe in the Nicene Creed or any of the other political councils who sat centuries after Christ and determined what religion would be in order that it best control the masses. That however is beginning to sound as though I am bashing other religions, which I am definitely not, the core of many of them contains a lot of good and truth. Suffice to say we have no Catholic roots, while we believe in the bible we do so only “in so far as it is translated correctly” and we have other sources of information such as the Book of Mormon.
                How are we different? We believe in a god who’s design and work is for our happiness, not our misery or repression. In family relationships that last not just for now, but forever. If anyone reading this wants to know more, the Church as several websites. Or if anyone would like my email address I would be happy to provide it.

              • truthspeaker
                Posted April 4, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

                Yes, Christian bishops in the Roman empire – which is to say, old, celibate, dead, predominantly white men – assembled the Bible. The Bible is the sole source of information for Jesus’s teachings. So if your religion is based on Jesus’s teachings, then it’s based on the word of old, celibate, dead men.

                If you are a Mormon it’s based on that, plus the teachings of a middle-aged, adulterous white man.

              • Dan L.
                Posted April 4, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

                @Lisa,

                Like wise I don’t base my view on dead white celibate guys. I am not catholic, and while christian my religion has no catholic roots whatsoever.
                As others have already mentioned, all Christianity is derived from Catholocism. Where do you think the Christian Bible came from precisely?

                I find naturalist evolution dehumanizing because it limits human potential. Because these things, without further human potential than this brief span alone, are ultimately meaningless in a cold, uncaring and unimaginably vast universe.
                This is a bizarre attitude to me. First of all, “naturalist evolution” is a descriptive theory. It cannot possibly limit human potential; human potential may be limited, but it’s not limited by descriptive theories, it’s limited by those properties of the universe which limit it. From your perspective, it is God who puts limits on human potential; from mine, it’s the laws of nature. Our attempts to figure out what those laws are don’t themselves have causal force.

                So this comes across as pure wishful thinking. You seem to me to be saying, “If there are limits to human potential, then I don’t want to know about them.” That, to me, is the very opposite of humility. Humility is about acknowledging your limits, arrogance is ignoring them entirely.

                But why must life last forever to have any meaning? That is truly bizarre to me. It seems to me that it’s death that gives life it’s meaning. Life wouldn’t be precious if it lasted forever. A flower that blooms once in a hundred years is more beautiful than any perennial; eternity in heaven would be more meaningless than almost any other situation I can imagine.

                I have lots more to say about your post…about how the universe is simply more interesting as it is than any silly fairy story about gods or prophets or worldwide floods. God is boring. I can pull better eschatologies out my ass. And I don’t need any of it to be moral or to give my life meaning. Frankly, I feel a little sorry for anyone who thinks a bunch of ancient stories DOES give his or her life meaning.

              • Dan L.
                Posted April 4, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

                The Romans assembled the current version of our modern. Ironic consiering they’d just spent hundreds of years slaughtering and repressing both Jews and christians. They left out parts they didn’t like too. Fortunately I don’t need to rely on their version of the bible alone.

                History is clearly not your strong suit. I’d suggest not making arguments like this if you don’t want to look a fool.

              • Tulse
                Posted April 4, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

                Thanks for the background, Lisa. I am well familiar with the Mormons, as my spouse used to be one. As an ex-Catholic myself, I do tend to view all Christian sects as essentially an off-shoot of, or reaction to, Catholicism, but I can understand how someone whose a member of a group formed during the Great Awakening would see that connection as non-existent.

              • Posted April 4, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

                @ Lisa

                “real religion seeks not to repress but free through an understanding of moral laws”

                Where do these moral “laws” come from? How does your/real religion provide an understanding of these? And how does that understanding free us?

                /@

              • Lisa
                Posted April 5, 2012 at 3:15 am | Permalink

                Dan: From my perspective there is no limit to human potential. God places no limits on us, we do that to ourselves. As for the part about Naturalist theory not being limiting in and of itself; I see your point of view and it was nicely put.
                About the jab at my potential need to polish my history. My comment was perhaps a little too general, but really my posts are so big as it is. Would you be able to more specifically point out my error? If I am lacking historical knowledge I would like to rectify it.
                “Why must life last forever to have any meaning?” Why must it be transient to have any meaning? Though I acknowledge your point that death gives life more meaning. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons death is necessary. As for an eternity in Heaven being meaningless, I suppose that would depend what you did there.
                “the universe is simply more interesting as it is than any silly fairy story” This of course relies on the assumption that what I believe is a silly fairy story. Finding those stories and the concept of God both boring and silly simply indicates a lack of understanding of them and makes it easier to dismiss or ignore any truth in them.
                Tulse: Thanks, I am glad of the familiarity and the understanding of my views in this instance. I don’t know your spouse and do not presume to know their reasons for ceasing activity in the church, but I have an inactive sister and I also spent a period away from the church during my teenage years. In my experience most inactivity generally comes down to a problem with people, often their bad behaviour, rather than a problem with the teachings themselves. As I said though I don’t know the specifics with your spouse but I hope one day things change for them.
                Ant: Moral laws are the laws that govern the universe. Many of them you may know yourself, things like treating others with kindness, honesty, love, loyalty, the need for humility. Others you may not know or perhaps not accept. We are however governed by these laws as irrevocably as we are governed by the laws of physics, whether we believe in them or not. Just as if we were to jump off a cliff without regard for the laws of physics we would go splat no matter what we believed. Because God granted us Agency (or as you might term it free will), one of the greatest of his gifts, we can choose whether or not to follow these laws. But while we are free to choose our actions we are not free from the consequences of those actions. Sometimes it might seem as though we are, but eventually the consequences will catch up to us as night follows day. A good story to illustrate this happened to our son a few years ago. As we walked back from a fair we passed an electric fence, the low voltage generally harmless kind. It was a pulse fence, meaning current did not run through it all the time. When my husband explained to the children it was an electric fence and warned them not to touch it or they would get shock. My oldest son did not believe a word of it and, being the kid he still is, went ahead and touched it. For a moment nothing happened and he made a face at his dad as if to say “ha!” then the current pulsed through and he was given a most unpleasant shock, the consequence of his action had caught up to him (and my husband too as he was dumb enough to still be holding our son’s hand).
                When it comes to moral law the consequences of our good actions will also find us, we will reap the rewards of them whether we believe in God or not. For example anyone who has selflessly served someone else will understand the delightful consequence that came from obeying that law.
                How does understanding these laws free us? Well perhaps I should have said, keeping these laws frees us. It frees us from the negative consequences of disobeying those laws and allows us to not only enjoy the rewards that come from keeping them but also allows us to keep our agency. For example if I were to use my agency to take drugs I would very likely become addicted, I would then have lost the freedom to choose not to take them and reap all the other very unpleasant consequences of that addiction. Note here no one would have taken that agency from me but myself. Alternatively if I use my agency to choose not to take drugs I remain free. So it is with all of the moral or God’s laws.
                Those laws are also given not to restrict us, but to protect us and allow us to continue to be free. Sometimes it may seem restrictive, even tyrannical, but that is generally because we lack understanding. My toddler certainly feels restricted by my decree that he not leap head first down the stairs and I know from the odd tantrum he thinks I am a tyrant on the point. However my ‘law’ is to protect him and by obeying it he keeps himself free of a nasty injury or worse.

              • Tulse
                Posted April 5, 2012 at 5:58 am | Permalink

                God places no limits on us, we do that to ourselves.

                So the child with Down’s Syndrome is to blame for their condition?

                I don’t know your spouse and do not presume to know their reasons for ceasing activity in the church […] most inactivity generally comes down to a problem with people, often their bad behaviour

                I’m pretty sure my spouse would be greatly insulted at that remark. Then again, from your perspective, her behaviour probably was bad…

              • Lisa
                Posted April 5, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

                Early morning and after a frantic hunt in the dark for a missing dummy (I think you call them binkies or pacifiers) I there is too much adrenaline in my system to sleep.
                Tulse: I owe you and your spouse an apology for my incredibly bad wording. What I meant was -other- people’s bad behaviors and examples. Sadly while people might be taught good behaviors they do not always live them and this can affect how others perceive those teachings. This was certainly the case in our family. My mother is not religious, my father is. I love my father and he has always tried to do the right thing from his perspective, it is just that with an underprivileged and sometimes abusive upbringing in post WWII Europe his perspective is distorted at times.
                Of the two my mother provided a much better example of how to behave, my father was extremely difficult to live with and I believe this was one of the major reasons that my sister left church. Had I been basing my own beliefs purely on the example of my parents then I too would not believe as I do.
                I am sorry it sounded like I was making a judgement on the behavior of your spouse. I do not know her, but all I meant was if she left because of someone else’s bad example I am sorry and I hope one day something changes. Thank you for your mild response to what must have seemed an incredibly judgmental statement.
                As for the comment on a child with down syndrome. No, their genes are to blame for that. Really though from a spiritual sense they are not to blame at all, just the opposite. They and children born with such disabilities are special. I know a longer explanation would be more useful, but I just don’t have the time right now.

            • Tulse
              Posted April 4, 2012 at 7:31 am | Permalink

              Naturalist evolution seems dehumanizing to me.

              Lisa, even if that is the case, that doesn’t mean that “naturalist evolution” isn’t true. Surely you want to see the world as it actually is, and not just how you wish it were.

              • Lisa
                Posted April 4, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

                Absolutely. To quote Einstein. “A man should look for what is, and not for what he thinks should be.”
                I like to look at the evidence. There is no conclusive proof that Naturalist evolution is true (again when it comes to just plain evolution there is definitely evidence), the lack of proof however does not mean it is not true I grant you. But likewise the lack of scientific proof that religion is true doesn’t mean its not either. In the end such a debate can only end in an agreement to disagree.
                So how do we find out? We could ask, but then I am sure prayer has a fairly bad rap here. Short of that we could experiment. Take a religious teaching you desire or hope to be correct, like selflessly helping others. Live it for a while allowing proper time for it to develop, did it produce good results? Yes? Then you know for yourself that it is real and tangible; not because anyone told you.
                Proceed with other principals, don’t take anyone’s word for it. Do this and go searching through the myriad of religions out there and you will find the one which is true.
                There is a world out there as it actually is, that we find it is life’s most important pursuit.

              • truthspeaker
                Posted April 4, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

                “Selflessly help others” is not a religious teaching, it’s a moral teaching. A religious teaching would be “selflessly help others because God wants you to”.

              • Tulse
                Posted April 4, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

                A religious teaching would be “selflessly help others because God wants you to”.

                Or “Commit genocide on the Canaanites because God wants you to.”

              • Posted April 4, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

                @ Lisa

                What distinction are you making between “naturalist evolution” and “plain evolution”?

                /@

              • Lisa
                Posted April 4, 2012 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

                ““Selflessly help others” is not a religious teaching, it’s a moral teaching. A religious teaching would be “selflessly help others because God wants you to”.”

                What is religion, I mean real worthwhile religion, execpt for moral teaching? But to elaborate: Why does God want you to? Because he feels like it? God doesn’t do things or give commandments execpt for our happiness or the happiness of others.

                “Commit genocide on the Canaanites because God wants you to.” You know I confess that is one thing I very much do not understand. In part it may be some of that miss-translation I mentioned. As for the rest … to say the Cannanites deserved it is not something I would be comfortable with. Also whether someone does or does not deserve to die is another debate entirely, capital punishment and all, which would be interesting to get into but tangential. The children certainly could have done nothing wrong. Why them? And why command the Israelites to do such a thing? I can only imagine the effect doing things like that would have on someone. So while I have some understanding of it I truly don’t know. Still there are many things I have not understood in the past that have later become clear. I am content to find out.

                Ant: Naturalist Evolution: That life came into being due to the completely random collision of molecules and progressed from there with no guidance, direction or purpose. Plain Evolution: That life evolved, one creature becoming another etc but with a guiding intelligence and design behind it. Remember these are -my- distinctions and in my limited time to post not as eloquently put as I would like.

              • truthspeaker
                Posted April 5, 2012 at 6:55 am | Permalink

                “What is religion, I mean real worthwhile religion, execpt for moral teaching?”

                Belief in supernatural entities. Moral teaching can exist without religion, and religion can exist without moral teaching.

                “But to elaborate: Why does God want you to? Because he feels like it? God doesn’t do things or give commandments execpt for our happiness or the happiness of others.”

                How do you know what God wants?

              • Posted April 5, 2012 at 2:38 am | Permalink

                @ Lisa

                There is no conclusive proof that Naturalist evolution is true (again when it comes to just plain evolution there is definitely evidence), … 

                &

                Naturalist Evolution: That life came into being due to the completely random collision of molecules and progressed from there with no guidance, direction or purpose. Plain Evolution: That life evolved, one creature becoming another etc but with a guiding intelligence and design behind it.

                Well, you perpetuate a common fallacy. “That life came into being due to the completely random collision of molecules” isn’t part of (naturalist(ic)) evolution. That is a different topic, abiogenesis or biopoiesis, which is not an established theory, although there are a few very credible hypotheses, and the consensus is that it too is a naturalistic process.

                Nor is it true that life came from “the completely random collision of molecules”. While chemical interactions are in some degree stochastic, the way molecules interact to form amino acids, RNA, proteins, &c. is not at all random, but governed by the “laws” of chemistry (in turn governed by the “laws” of physics, established from the inception of our bubble universe). Because of the laws of chemistry, the emergence of replicators, while not inevitable, is not at all surprising.

                Evolution proper begins once there are replicators. And now you’re right: (naturalistic) evolution progressed — indeed, progresses — with no guidance, direction or purpose. It is no more teleological than a puddle fitting itself to a hole in the ground.

                Contrast that with what you call “plain evolution” (using some definition of “plain” that I wasn’t previously aware of), which most of us here would recognise as “intelligent design” (“ID”) or “theistic evolution”. (Even in this case, I think it’s misleading to say “one creature becoming another”; that suggests a wrongly linear view of evolution.)

                Now, to the matter of evidence. In both cases, evolution happens, and that is clearly evinced by comparative anatomy, the fossil record (even with its lacunae), genetics, and so on. We agree on that, do we not?

                So, consider the difference. You state the issue in an asymmetric way: there’s “no conclusive proof” of naturalistic evolution, but there is “definitely evidence” for “plain evolution”. But science doesn’t deal in “conclusive proofs” — that’s for logic and mathematics. Science deals in validation and falsifiability, in the weight of evidence, in the “best” model — that is, the one that most closely fits the evidence; has the most explanatory power; makes (and fulfils) the most detailed, testable predictions; and is the most parsimonious (“Occam’s razor”).

                Now, naturalistic evolution, proceeding by natural selection, genetic drift, and so on, is, by those criteria, the “best” model.

                I have not seen that there is “definitely evidence” for evolution with a guiding intelligence and design behind it.

                Most (possibly all) of the “evidence” adduced for ID (i.e., “plain evolution”) argues against naturalistic evolution rather than for ID. That is, even if naturalistic evolution were to be falsified, it’s never convincingly shown that ID is the “best” alternative model (no other alternative models being considered): how does ID best fit the evidence, how does ID explain evolution (especially given examples of piss-poor “design”, such as the “wiring” of vertebrate eyes, the recurrent laryngeal nerve, the vas deferens, and so on), what testable predictions does ID make — and, of course, as ID postulates a guiding intelligence, it’s never the most parsimonious model.

                Furthermore, most of the “evidence” against naturalistic evolution – argued with ideas like “irreducible complexity”, for example — only show a lack of understanding of how naturalistic evolution actually works, and often the assumption that natural selection is the only mechanism by which naturalistic evolution proceeds (it’s not, as Larry Moran and others will heartily confirm).

                But please elucidate if you think (which clearly you will) I am wrong.

                /@

              • Lisa
                Posted April 5, 2012 at 3:29 am | Permalink

                I wanted to thank you all for your patience, insightful comments and of course for the debate. I have learnt a lot from you and hope I have added something to the discussion and perhaps even left food for thought. I actually stumbled across this blog while looking for something else entirely and while I find it fascinating, regrettably time pressures won’t allow me to regularly check it or keep up. I will read any responses to my comments tomorrow as I am very interested in them, but I will have no time to respond immediately. I hope I have responded to everyone, if I have missed something I apologize. Should anyone like to continue any of our debates or have more questions my email address is hayplains@live.com, it is not my usual email address, but I will check it every few days for a while.

              • Lisa
                Posted April 5, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

                Ant: Part of why I love this (or any good debate) is that it forces me to learn how to better articulate what I am thinking and I generally learn something about the opposite point of view that helps me clarify ideas and better appreciate differences in others.
                While definitely no expert, I am familiar with Naturalist evolution. I have a teenage son who is home schooled (the only one of my kids who is thank goodness) and he LOVES evolution, completely fascinated by it. So the amount of documentaries we have watched, websites and museums we have visited, books we have read … Well obviously I have no problem with evolution being taught in schools. :-)
                So once again this comes down to my bad wording. Let us just agree that there is evolution and the laws of physics, chemistry etc that govern our universe and indeed your statements regarding its workings. The only substantial difference in our points of view then is that you believe it all happens by itself while I believe there is a guiding intelligence behind it all – God. So Naturalist evolution vs Guided evolution? You’re right ‘plain’ evolution is silly term.
                There is no way to prove either of our points of view using science, debate will convert neither of us to the others philosophies, on an intellectual level we must agree to disagree. They only way you (or any of us) will know whether my point of view is correct is to search for more information, (again a suggested place to start is the Church’s websites and google search will easily find them, ponder it, think it out, but ultimately it comes down to prayer. I realize what most of you here think of that last suggestion, but it is real and it does really provide you with a confirming feeling. Can’t hurt to try right?
                I would offer to do the same, I am certainly keen to educate myself and have loved learning from everyone here, but the praying part would be kinda funny. After all if you Naturalists are right there is no God there to tell me its true.

              • truthspeaker
                Posted April 5, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

                What about those of those who have tried and haven’t gotten that confirming feeling?

              • Lisa
                Posted April 5, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

                Truthspeaker: “Belief in supernatural entities. Moral teaching can exist without religion, and religion can exist without moral teaching.”
                I agree and without moral teaching belief in supernatural entities is all religion is, we might as well worship the couch. Though personally were I to have an idol it would be chocolate.
                “How do you know what God wants?”
                Because I found out through listening to the teachings of others, my own study and pondering and because I asked Him. Anyone can know by doing the same.
                All: I really do have to bow out to an extent, my carriage has turned into a pumpkin. Again I will try and return to read comments but will probably not have time to reply (unless there are anymore lost pacifiers in the early morning). I might find email easier to manage so again my address: hayplains@live.com
                Thanks heaps everyone.

              • truthspeaker
                Posted April 5, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

                How do you know those OTHER people know what God wants?

              • Tulse
                Posted April 5, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

                Naturalist evolution vs Guided evolution? […] There is no way to prove either of our points of view using science

                Really? Science tells us that evolution historically has involved massive amount of death and extinction. Does that seem “guided” to you? Is that the kind of mechanism that a loving, benevolent creator would use?

              • Lisa
                Posted April 6, 2012 at 12:07 am | Permalink

                Ant: Check the method and try again. 1) Search/research look at what others have said about it, both written (eg scripture, teachings of modern church leaders, other church publications) and by talking to people who know something about it, a member of The Church perhaps. I like to ask my husband and friends, a non-member could ask a church-member friend or talk to the missionaries or I have posted my email address. 2) Study it out in your mind, what do you think about it? How does it make you feel? What do you think is the right thing here? 3) Formulate a question to pray about. 4) Take it to the Lord and ask, here though you need to be asking sincerely, a “lets ask so I can find out if this junk is true” attitude is unlikely to produce a result.
                It is helpful to have something specific to be asking about. Trying to find out all at once if everything is true is a huge and likely impossible task. For example “Is the Book of Mormon true?” That would require a reading of it first as part of step 1) Or there is always the simple “If I pray will You answer? Are You there?” but even with that simple question step 1) is important
                The answer can come in a variety of ways, as everyone responds to the spirit differently. you may get your socks knocked off with a blast, you may feel a simple quiet sureness or you may not get an answer immediately, but find as you go through life over the next weeks or months, answers in small ways that build until you just know. It maybe that you have to ponder and ask a few times, but the answer will come.

              • Lisa
                Posted April 6, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

                I hope it is understood that any of the things I theorize about evolution are just that – my own personal theories and not doctorines of the LDS (mormon) Church. The LDS Church teaches that God created the earth and as far as I know has no official standpoint on evolution as a concept either for or against. I like to think it was one of God’s tools.
                Other things I might talk about, the religious things; moral law, prayer, God’s plan etc … these are doctorines.

              • Lisa
                Posted April 6, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

                Truthspeaker:
                “How do you know those OTHER people know what God wants?”
                Well I don’t just blindly take their word for it. The short answer whould be because I experimented on their words and found the teachings to be good, experience has taught me to trust them.
                I also asked, prayed about whether that they were saying was true. Ultimately this is the -only- way to know, to go to the scource and ask. It would not matter if an angel came down and personally declared it to me, experimenting on teachings and praying about them is the only way to know.
                It is also an on-going process. Do I know everything? No. I would not need to be here if I did, but I learn more everyday, from many, many sources (lately that has included this forum). By following the process of – Learning; pondering and/or applying; formulating questions; praying for answers; and learning to recogise those answers – my knowledge increases.
                Tulse: I really hope you saw my previous appology and that it cleared up the misunderstanding.
                “Really? Science tells us that evolution historically has involved massive amount of death and extinction. Does that seem “guided” to you? Is that the kind of mechanism that a loving, benevolent creator would use?”
                There are several assumptions here. Firstly that science is correct and evolution happened as we think it did. Personally I think there were mass extinctions so we will go with that, however we don’t actually know what caused them, though there are all sorts of fascinating theories. So we don’t in fact know that God killed them, it is possible He simply ceased their ability to reproduce – one alternate theory, we just don’t know. However I am content with the scientific assummptions. I think it can be readily agreed that without these extinctions life on earth would not have progressed as it has, that each extinction was necessary for the next stage of life to evolve. For example the extinction of the dinosaurs allowed the age of mamals to commence; had the dinosaurs not become extinct we humans would not be here. So yes, that seems guided to me.
                The second assumption then is that death is the worst thing that can happen and that it is an irrevocable state. If this was so then, yes, wiping species out, even nonscentient ones, would be an awful thing to do. But God had and has a plan and this plan includes all creatures not just humans. We are taught that everything that exists in physical form also existed in spirtual form (including the earth itself) and that despite death everything will one day be restored to physical form. How exactly prehistoric, or indeed modern animal life fits I don’t know. What I do know is that God expects we humans to care for our planet and the creatures on it, that we will be accountable for our discharge of this duty. He does care for all His creations and is a benevolent creator, so whatever the specifcs of His plan there I am content it is a good one.
                As for humans, God is more than a benevolent creator, He is a literal, loving parent. Understanding this and understanding that His plan for us is designed exclusively for our happiness and extends far beyond our lives here can help us view life and its challenges with greater perspective.

              • Posted April 7, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

                @ Lisa

                After half a century (and two score years since my apostasy), I already “feel a simple quiet sureness” that no theistic god exists.

                There is not one shred of evidence, in evolution or cosmology or anywhere else, that such an agency exists or is needed to explain anything, nowadays even more so than in Laplace’s time. No church website can refute this.

                In particular, there is nothing in evolution to suggest that it’s “guided”, but, in fact, much to suggest that it’s not. Apart from the innumerable design flaws, a few of which I mentioned above, what about all the evolutionary dead ends? If evolution was guided, why did it shoot off down so many blind alleys? Why all those wasted lives and deaths? No church website can explain this theodicy writ large. (Note: God’s supposed ineffability is not an explanation.)

                Why should further “prayer” or contemplation now change that? Looking inward to find an answer is wholly subjective. A confirming feeling is just that: A feeling. It adds nothing to science, which is an intersubjective methodology designed to stop us fooling ourselves.

                /@

              • Lisa
                Posted April 7, 2012 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

                Ant: I am very sorry to hear that. Design flaws I could offer some answers on and a debate about the blind alleys and evolutionary dead-ends would no doubt come up with some very interesting theories. But no, there is no website, debate or even scientific proof which can give you the evidence you desire. But it is there, as discussed, nonetheless.
                I very much hope that someday something will happen to change the way you currently feel. In the mean time keep searching, you have a keen intelligence and an open mind, these are wonderful gifts.

              • Lisa
                Posted April 8, 2012 at 4:51 am | Permalink

                I know I have said it before but I really do have to bow out, finding time to reply to the many interesting comments has been difficult.
                Thank you all for your insightful and informative debate. While I remain of the opinion that purely Naturalist evolution is an incomplete explanation and (to me) dehumanizing, there is nothing dehumanizing in the philosophies many of you hold along with it, such as a delight in life and a wonder at the beauty and grandeur of our universe. Most especially the belief that you do things which you feel are right, because they are right, not from fear of punishment nor hope of reward. This is both beautiful and humbling.
                You have taught me new ways of thinking about what you believe, new ways of thinking about what I believe and even enhanced my understanding of truths I hold dear.
                Lastly I would like to leave you my testimony. I know that God lives and while I do not claim to know all the details, I know He created this earth. He loves us and wants us to be happy and has provided a plan for this purpose. I hope that all of us have the chance to enjoy that happiness. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
                Thanks again for the debate and should anyone have any follow up questions regarding the things we have been discussing please visit http://www.mormon.org or email me: hayplains@live.com

            • Lisa
              Posted April 4, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

              Truthspeaker: Yes from -our- persective. Our tiny, short lived, woefully underinformed perspective. What a narrow view of the universe our perspective forms. If we broaden our view to see the universe as a whole, there is either the meaninglessness of our own existence or something infinately more. What is that more?
              Tulse: Unless of course our purpose in life was to become like our eternal creator. If that was our end goal, to know what He knows, to be as He is. Then human knowledge and learning becomes supremely important.

              (And I hope I am placing my replies in the right places, I am very new at blogs)

              • Tulse
                Posted April 4, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

                Unless of course our purpose in life was to become like our eternal creator.

                That wouldn’t be our purpose, but a creator’s purpose imposed on us. Or do you think that a cow believes its purpose is to become a steak? If your parents thought you should be a doctor, is that your purpose in life?

                Really, how can you worry about human dignity, but think that our goals in life should be those forced on us by some other being?

              • truthspeaker
                Posted April 4, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

                You seem to be making a category error here.

                If we broaden our perspective to look at the universe as a whole, then it does not look meaningless because “meaning” only makes sense from a human perspective.

                The only entities we know of that can ascribe meaning to things are humans. Our actions may look meaningless to a neutral observer on the time scale of all of existence, but from our perspective and on the time scale of humanity’s existence they have plenty of meaning. And that’s the perspective that matters to us.

              • Lisa
                Posted April 4, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

                (Once again I apologize if my comments appear on the wrong posts, I’ll get the hang of this eventually.)

                Tulse: “That wouldn’t be our purpose, but a creator’s purpose imposed on us.” As genetic offspring of our parents isn’t our purpose in life to become like them? Ie mature, functioning adults. It could be argued that this is imposed on us by our genes. Or that when we teach our children the things we believe will help them achieve happiness that we are imposing that ideal of happiness on them. No I mean become like god in the sense that a child has the opportunity to become like their parents. And I stress the word -opportunity- to become like Him is not imposed on us at all, just the opposite, we are free to do so or not as we choose.

                I do not live in the US and it is morning here, so I will not be able to respond to anymore comments till tonight. Thank you to everyone who responded to my comments I have learnt a great deal. There is something I am very curious about though; what is the definition of ‘free will’, I see it mentioned several times. I have my understanding of but am curious about other people’s understanding.

              • Tulse
                Posted April 4, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

                As genetic offspring of our parents isn’t our purpose in life to become like them?

                Our purpose? Not at all. Do you think if your parents had sickle-cell anemia it was your purpose to develop that genetic disorder as well?

                And more broadly, do you feel like your parents can set your purpose for you just because they “made” you? If they wanted to sell you into slavery, would you feel that being a slave is your purpose? If they wanted you to become a lawyer, would you feel obligated to do so because that is your purpose?

                The notion of some other being imposing a purpose on you is infantilizing. You are your own person, and you can choose your own purpose. Anything else is an affront to human dignity.

              • Dan L.
                Posted April 4, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

                If we broaden our view to see the universe as a whole, there is either the meaninglessness of our own existence or something infinately more.
                Perhaps this is your problem. Here’s a story that, I believe, comes from missionary circles (like your own):

                As I walk down the beach at low tide I see a man stooping to pick up starfish and flinging each that he finds back into the ocean. I ask him, “Why are you doing this? There are thousands of starfish washed up on the shore, you can’t possibly make a difference!”

                The man looked at me and replied, “It makes a difference to this one,” before tossing it into the surf.

                Meaning is something that happens at the level of individuals. Individuals make their own meaning. Humans are meaning making machines. Naturalists don’t, themselves, seem to think their lives are meaningless and yet you seem unwilling to take their word for it. You keep insisting that although each and every naturalist is a counterexample that naturalism renders life meaningless. Why can’t you believe it when people tell you they can find their own meanings without religion?

              • Posted April 4, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

                Yep, why should our existence have any meaning beyond the lifespan of humanity and what we ourselves can give it?

                /@

              • Lisa
                Posted April 4, 2012 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

                Tulse: “Do you think if your parents had sickle-cell anemia it was your purpose to develop that genetic disorder as well?” Umm from a genetic perspective it kinda is and your genetics have in fact imposed that on you.

                “parents can set your purpose for you just because they “made” you” Well my dad at one point would have liked to have thought that. So I can tell you I emphatically disagree with him on that point. Not a Mormon teaching BTW. As for the rest, I agree with you I am my own person, I have agency (something I think is similar to your concept of free will) and I can choose my own purpose and my own destiny. I/we/humans simply have the opportunity to become like god, as previously stated we are under no obligation to do so.

                “The notion of some other being imposing a purpose on you is infantilizing” I agree, which is why our purpose is not imposed on us.

                Dan: I really like that story and in fact did the same thing to an earthworm on the path on a walk home with my boys this morning. And I do take your word for it, Naturalist don’t -think- their lives are meaningless. But as has been pointed out many times here, what someone thinks and what is reality can be two very different things. But to be clear I don’t think a Naturalist’s life is anymore meaningless than my own. What I do think is that were Naturalism true, all life would be meaningless, regardless of what any of us think.

                As for finding meanings without religion. The similarities between Naturalism and religion are very strong, for a start there is no conclusive proof that naturalism is true yet you believe it anyway. You -believe- that while science doesn’t have all the answers right now it will one day, you even seem to have your own moral code and philosophies of free will. In the end Naturalism is another belief system, one which I am delighted to discover is not without some beauty and truth. Truth can be found in many places, humans have within them an innate sense of it as thoroughly demonstrated by many comments I have read here. But alone your belief system does not describe the wonderful realities of life and existence, I guess if I were making one point it would be that.

              • truthspeaker
                Posted April 5, 2012 at 6:54 am | Permalink

                In your religion, only men can aspire to be like god. The best a woman can hope for is to be spiritually joined to a man to serve him in his godhead.

              • Lisa
                Posted April 5, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

                Truthspeaker: “In your religion, only men can aspire to be like god. The best a woman can hope for is to be spiritually joined to a man to serve him in his godhead.”

                A very common misconception. Personally I plan for my husband to be serving -me- in my goddess-hood. The poor long-suffering man would no doubt tell you he already does. (Insert pert grin here)

              • truthspeaker
                Posted April 5, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

                If it’s a “misconception”, why is it on the very websites you directed us to about your church, not to mention in the Book of Mormon itself and in the official teachings of the LDS church?

              • Lisa
                Posted April 6, 2012 at 12:15 am | Permalink

                Truthspeaker: You got that from a few hours research? I think a bit more research might make it a little clearer.
                In the gospel men and women marry for eternity and this kind of marriage is prerequisite for what we have been discussing as godhood, but what is more generally referred to by church members as Exultation or Eternal Life. This exultation is a joint thing, husbands and wives become gods and goddesses, both have the priesthood (that women don’t have it in this lifetime is a related discussion).
                While it is true the role of the husband is to preside over the family, this too is a joint role. Husbands and wives lead the family together, no decision should be made by either alone (ok maybe what to have for dinner, but you get my point) and the husband most certainly does not have the final say. In fact it could be construed that it is a little unfair the other way as the husband is held ultimately accountable for his family’s welfare in all areas.
                From the time they are little boys men are taught that women are to be respected and honored. This expectation is hammered into them as teenagers and then constantly being reiterated to them as adults, over and over and over again. There is nothing more important in a man’s life than to be a good husband and father and should he violate any of these responsibilities or injure those he is meant to care for physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually he is accountable to both God and his own priesthood leaders.
                My own husband treats me with the kind of respect, love and service that I think any woman would be thrilled to have, I only hope I treat him half so well.

              • truthspeaker
                Posted April 6, 2012 at 6:54 am | Permalink

                I’ve done quite a bit more research than “a few hours”; more like years. I live in the United States, so I was aware of the existence of the LDS church long before you posted about it.

              • Lisa
                Posted April 6, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

                Truthspeaker: Forgive my presumption. All I can say then is that you were misinformed or read incorrect material and I say it as someone who has spent years living the gospel, and deliberately seeking to educate myself on as many aspects as possible. I guess with all the misinformation out there finding the correct info can be difficult. I will try and find links for you, however, in the meantime http://www.mormon.org and http://www.lds.org are two of the Church’s official website and a good starting point.

              • Posted April 6, 2012 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

                Lisa, it’s fine to converse like this but you do realize that all of evolution’s evidence comes from studies, right? No conversation is about science without reference to these articles. There are many about evolution, zero about an intelligent designer. Fine to debate, but you have to follow the same rules as everyone else. And if you want to see the studies I am sure there are about two dozen commenters here who would be glad to post links.

              • Lisa
                Posted April 6, 2012 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

                Hi Amelie. By studies I assume you mean academically published scientific ones, specifically on evolution? If anyone would like to provide links to those I would be happy to read them, alternatively you could just provide me the name of the paper, author/s and journal the article appears in and I will find it. I have access to the majority of them via university subscriptions and I am sure my teenage son would also be interested in them. Evolution fascinates him and he is currently planning on being a palaeontologist. He might however find the science journal ones a bit dry, at present he is more interested in documentaries, books we borrow at the library and websites directed at teenagers, but any suggestions on those would be very welcome.
                As for the rest of the conversation it surrounds the concept of religion and evolution existing in conjunction, or not, depending on your point of view. It has evolved (not meant to be a pun, but amusing none the less) via debate, said debate you are more than welcome to offer your opinions on.

          • Greg G
            Posted April 4, 2012 at 6:05 am | Permalink

            Right vs. wrong and happiness vs. misery are products of cognition. Perceptions of reality are as well but perceptions are shaped by the underlying reality, not the other way around.

            • Lisa
              Posted April 4, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

              I completely agree.

          • truthspeaker
            Posted April 4, 2012 at 11:25 am | Permalink

            “But if all we are is biochemical machines then what I, you or anyone else thinks is immaterial and meaningless except to those thinking it”

            Again, so what? It is meaningless to everyone except the 6.2 billion people on the planet. Why isn’t that enough?

      • truthspeaker
        Posted April 4, 2012 at 11:24 am | Permalink

        “So that is it. There is nothing more than that – we are nothing more than that. Walking, talking biological systems here to make what we will of our presence on the planet”

        Isn’t that enough?

        • Tulse
          Posted April 4, 2012 at 11:31 am | Permalink

          And even if it isn’t enough for Lisa, that doesn’t mean it’s false. Existence is not obligated to meet her wishes.

          • Lisa
            Posted April 4, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

            “Existence is not obligated to meet her wishes.” Very true and a fact I lament everyday (add dramatic sigh here).

            • Posted April 7, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

              Lisa, I think you missed the point of my comment. There is no “opinion” on evolution. The studies to which I refer ALL document observable evidence. This evidence, 150 year’s worth, put together forms the theory of evolution.

              If you want to see these fossils or observe DNA evidence, there is some access to it. Or you can read the studies.

              There is no “guided” theory of evolution. Do you know why? Because there is no evidence. If you have a fossil of God or DNA somewhere, fine. Write a paper about it.

              When Creationists talk about “random accidents” in nature, they are misrepresenting the science. Clearly there was a rational fashion to how chemicals and life formed, because otherwise it would not have been successful. Just because our brains are too limited to see the logic, that does not mean it must have been done by God.

              creationists like yourself cannot expect scientists to put forth evidence for evolution and then refuse to follow the same rules as everyone else. That is just absurd. Show the published studies for intelligent design.

              And for goodness sake, teach your son the truth or he will be laughed right out of a college classroom. I’ve seen it happen.

              • Lisa
                Posted April 7, 2012 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

                My sister gave me some easter eggs in the shape of little turtles and their eggs. She did this because by buying them she was helping to raise money to save a local and very rare species of turtle. Evidence of this turtles existence was only discovered by zoologists in 1996. Does this mean before that time the turtle did not exist? Just because scientific evience of something has not yet been discoverd, it does not follow that that thing does not exist.
                On the other hand evidence of dinosaurs has been around for much longer, fossils have been known for millenia, though they were not recogonised for what they were. They have been studied by modern science for almost 200 years; William Buckland being the first person to have described a dinosaur in a scientific journal. Yet it wasn’t until reasonably recently that we learned dinosaurs have more in common with birds than lizards. The evidence was staring science in the face and yet it was not recognised. Just because evidence is not recognised, does not mean it is not there.
                “Clearly there was a rational fashion to how chemicals and life formed, because otherwise it would not have been successful.”
                Your statement is both accurate and interesting. Interesting because rational (and logic, a word you also used) indicates intelligence as does a lack of randomness. So arguabally all the studies published that show rational, non-random evolution of life point towards an intelligent design.
                So from another point of view – just because our brains are too limited to see the logic, that does not mean it was -not- done by God.
                There are many, many sicentists out there who are religious, the two concepts can and do exist side by side. Many of those scientist’s contributions to our understanding of the universe and indeed evolution itself have been significant. It would be both insulting and limiting to the field of science should they be “laughed out” merely because they hold a different view.
                As I have said before however, a look at religion through the microscope of science can only result in an agreement to disagree since at this time we lack the necessary scientific evidence to make a determination either way.
                Even were science to prove the existence of God it would not be enough. It certainly would not be enough for me, I would want to know for myself, not take someone else’s word for it.
                There is only one way to be sure, one way to know and that is to search for the truth, beyond the current limitations of science, spend time thinking about those truths, then go to the source and ask for yourself.

              • Lisa
                Posted April 8, 2012 at 4:42 am | Permalink

                Amelie: Thanks for the additions to the debate but due to time constraints I am withdrawing. Should you or anyone else want follow up information on the theological points discussed, please visit http://www.mormon.org or email me at hayplains@live.com

  11. Lxndr
    Posted April 3, 2012 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    So… he wants us to state the full meaning of “I love you” instead of using the more convenient shorthand, just for his benefit?

    That’s “shellfish.”

  12. alopiasmag
    Posted April 3, 2012 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    Whatever…. I don’t want him on our side. I get a feeling he bleeds ignorance…

  13. Posted April 3, 2012 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    I’d read “The Shellfish Gene” by Dr. John Zoidberg.

    • truthspeaker
      Posted April 3, 2012 at 11:43 am | Permalink

      +1

      • Posted April 4, 2012 at 6:19 am | Permalink

        Does the shellfish gene make you crave fish?

        /@

  14. FastLane
    Posted April 3, 2012 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    There’s a lesson here kiddos.

    Don’t do drugs, or better: don’t do religion.

    Religion (and some drugs) make you stoopid.

    This public service announcement brought to you by evolution.

  15. esseff916
    Posted April 3, 2012 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    They rely on feelings, not facts. That’s the essence of this letter. My reply “Feelings aren’t facts”

  16. Posted April 3, 2012 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    I have said as much to my wife and to my very clever seven y.o. daughter, and will say it to my younger daughter once she’s old enough to understand. Except that being one of those compatibilists I would not say the bit about not having a free will. And I do always add – “What people are made out of makes not a bit of difference to how important our emotions for each other are.” People who think we must have souls for love to be important evidently do not think that love itself is important.

  17. Tulse
    Posted April 3, 2012 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    I’ll believe in traffic when I hear a traffic reporter say on television “individual units of petroleum-powered metal, glass, and rubber have collected in very large numbers on the downtown freeway”.

    • Gluon
      Posted April 3, 2012 at 11:55 am | Permalink

      Excellent!

  18. neil
    Posted April 3, 2012 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    “The chemistry of my body make me feel good when I see you.”

    Damn. If I weren’t married, I’d try that as a pick-up line in a singles bar.

    • Veroxitatis
      Posted April 3, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

      No, no, no! She might think you suffer from premature ejaculation!

      • Neil
        Posted April 3, 2012 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

        Wouldn’t that be proof of evolution? God would ensure that I’d ejaculate at exactly the right time.

  19. Gluon
    Posted April 3, 2012 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    I tell my young daughter that I love her many times a day. Why do I use the word “love” when I believe in evolution and know so much biology? Because it is the right word for the task. When I see a wave in the ocean, I call it a wave, even though I know it’s just the collective motion of lots of water molecules. A car is, similarly, a collection of atoms, arranged just so. There is no mystery about how cars work, right down to the atomic level. But I do not point out this fact when I talk about cars, nor do I regard all cars as equal on the car lot because, after all, they are all just assemblages of atoms. Or, let’s go the other direction, I can observe a whole country and say, “There is a democratic country”. Of course, it is a collection of people who are a kind of animal and animals are a kind of life which is a kind of very complex galaxy of chemical reactions. It would be absurd to try to describe “democratic country” in terms of chemistry, however. In principle there might be such a description, and we can acknowledge that, but in practice that’s just not a useful level on which to talk about countries.

    But back to love. What do I mean when I tell my daughter that I love her? I mean that I am really happy whenever I see her, that I enjoy watching her play, that I would give up a lot of my resources for her, that I’d take on a bear to protect her, and so on. There is an overpowering feeling I’ve had ever since she was born, a feeling that this is what I am supposed to be doing, a feeling of accomplishment (like it was hard… but the feeling is real), a feeling of affection and protection. This feeling has even spread to other children. Children were invisible to me until I had one. Now I notice them, and feel an affection for them that is, it seems obvious, a bleeding over of the affection I feel for my own child. I have told my daughter these things, and explained how I’m programmed to love her. She doesn’t care and I don’t care. Why should we? The feeling is the same. Knowing the mechanics of it all is, in a very real sense, a difference that makes no difference.

    • Grania Spingies
      Posted April 3, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

      Yes, exactly.

      I never did understand why people are squeamish about understanding the chemical and genetic origins of their emotions, as if somehow that lessens or diminishes your love or joy.

      It doesn’t.

      • Posted April 3, 2012 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

        I don’t understand it either. Seeking and finding compelling explanations for whatever never fails to enhance my appreciation of it.

        I work in the arts. Music, specifically. I’m constantly dealing with conductors, performers, even composers (I really don’t get that last one) who simply don’t want to get in there and figure out their subject matter. For them, it’s preferable just to rely on your gut, as if astute analysis was a crutch on which only the hopelessly Philistine need to rely.

    • itchy
      Posted April 3, 2012 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

      I love this comment.

  20. Posted April 3, 2012 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    Never conflate love with the god of Abraham.

  21. 8bit
    Posted April 3, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    I’ll stop using the word “love” to indicate complex chemical reactions as soon as you start telling your kids:
    “Peek-a-boo. I’m aware of your proximal location because receptors sensitive to photons have carried a signal to neurons in my brain that recreate a proximal 3d representation of you based on specific wavelengths of energy reflecting off your surface.” instead of the shorter “Peek-a-boo. I see you.”

  22. eric
    Posted April 3, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    I will believe in evolution when I listen darwinist tell his fiance or his wife…I will believe in evolution when I listen darwinist tell his childrens…

    Why the assumption that all evolution-believers are male?

    Anti-science and misogynistic.

    • Sigmund
      Posted April 3, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

      How about a Darwinist telling his husband?

      • Tulse
        Posted April 3, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

        That would make Blas’ brain explode.

        • xuuths
          Posted April 3, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

          Scanners is due for a remake with current levels of special effects . . .

  23. Joshua
    Posted April 3, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    I’ll try telling my 9-year old daughter tonight. This will definitely take some memorization before I come home tonight. I’ll keep repeating this sentence to myself until then:

    Listen honey, the reason I care for you so much is that my “feelings of love derive from natural selection, promoted by inclusive fitness, that acted on genes that produce hormones and emotions.”

    It’s in the bag. ;)

  24. Golkarian
    Posted April 3, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    The funny thing is that (some) Christians believe they love their wife or children only because God told them to. I think a lot of people assume that if you explain something, that something ceases to exist (eg love), which applied to anything else would look completely ridiculous.

    • Gluon
      Posted April 3, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

      Many Christians believe that they are moral only because of their Christianity. This is a very common and exceedingly absurd lie, and a staple of pulpits everywhere. Countering this lie is probably one of the things that atheists who have an interest in greater acceptance of non-belief should focus on, because the fear of moral chaos is a very real part of what motivates the religious to oppose irreligion so fiercely. It is a big part of why Christians are less threatened by all the other religions in the world than they are of atheists, why a Muslim has a better chance of getting elected to congress than an atheist. They care about all their points of belief, of course, but what really frightens them on a practical level is the fear of moral anarchy.

  25. Zugswang
    Posted April 3, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    I’ll just go ahead and say it:

    E pur si muove.

    I (or for that matter, anyone) need not consciously acknowledge the underlying chemical or physiological reasons for the phenomenon we call “love” in order for them to be true. Certainly no more than I need to consciously acknowledge the mathematics and physics involved in the proper delivery of a ball to its intended target.

    An incredible number of calculations and variables need to be considered to properly calculate an object’s trajectory – physical properties of the object and the person that will be throwing it, potential obstacles, leverage, gravity, air resistance, vectors, etc. It’s all very complicated when you have to sit down and spell it all out. By the time I shouted out the long series of equations necessary, you’d probably get bored and leave long before I throw the ball. And yet, if I throw the ball without writing all that down, it doesn’t mean I doubt the veracity of gravitational theory or the existence of vectors. Even if I did doubt such things, it does not make them any less true. I throw the ball, I give and receive love, and while I know that love is the result of hormonal interactions in my brain selected for their evolutionary advantages, I need not acknowledge it in order for it to be true.

    Even the phrase “I love you” has a very strong selective advantage over that long, meandering thing you came up with (it’s much shorter), which is why I imagine so few people would say the latter aloud in that context.

    And for the record, I doubt the sincerity of your words. If such simple assertions were all it took to convince you, then after 10 minutes here, you’d have also figured out that all supernatural entities are man-made concepts with no basis in reality.

    • bonetired
      Posted April 3, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

      Deliver a ball to its target? You are obviously not an England cricketer! Back on track … We are getting more than hints about the chemistry of sexual selection – the role of pheromones for example – and as time goes on I expect that that knowledge will increase … I hope that my wife won’t come back one day and say “my sexual attraction chemicals are in full flood tonight” (unlikely given we have been married 25 years!!) rather than “I love you” but if it is chemistry at the bottom of it then I won’t mind a jot …

    • RFW
      Posted April 3, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

      You can vastly simplify your trajectory calculations by using the principle of least action, one of Feynman’s favorite physical principles.

  26. footface
    Posted April 3, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    I don’t understand why understanding the origin of our emotions has to threaten us, as though it means our emotions aren’t “real.”

    I think they become MORE real. They are expressions of very fundamental stuff going on inside our bodies. Evolution has been chewing them over for a billion years. They’re bred into us and other living things. They’re a PART of us.

    That’s pretty real.

    • Joshua
      Posted April 3, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

      I’ve heard the criticism that this type of understanding “dehumanizes” us. How, I’m not sure. I think it’s some fear of viewing yourself as an automaton. I don’t see this though. If anything, knowledge of what it is to be human does the opposite: it humanizes us. How could it not do this?

    • Gluon
      Posted April 3, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

      I frequently describe the effect having a child had on me in this way:

      “I didn’t want to have any children until my daughter was born. About ten seconds after this crying red thing popped out, a billion years of evolution kicked in and all I wanted in the universe was to make this little thing feel better. I felt, instantly, like having a daughter was all I ever wanted.”

      I have said as much to my daughter. Does that count?

      I know that everyone doesn’t have this feeling as suddenly or starkly or sometimes even at all (variation is the norm) but it seems clear to me that somewhere some molecular switch was thrown in my brain, triggered by the sight, or the sound, or the pheromones of my wife in the room, or who knows what. This child was mine, my genes, and my brain was changed so that I’d take care of it. *I* was changed. I don’t feel diminished by this. It was, and remains, the best thing that has ever happened to me. I feel just as happy as I would if it were a decision I made, or the result of God dropping some mysterious “love” stuff on me. It is precisely because I had rationally decided I didn’t want children, because I was happy with that decision, that this transformation struck me as so clearly biochemical. The evolutionary rationale is so obvious. But that doesn’t make the experience any less real.

  27. daveau
    Posted April 3, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    If, for some reason your life functions ceased, my most precious one, I would collapse, I would draw the shades and I would live in the dark. I would never get out of my slar pad or clean myself. My fluids would coagulate, my cone would shrivel, and I would die, miserable and lonely. The stench would be great. –Beldar Conehead

    • xuuths
      Posted April 3, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

      +1

    • Marta
      Posted April 3, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

      *1

  28. Posted April 3, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    I love my husband and he loves me, all because of chemistry. :)

    We’re both also made up of the death ashes of stars, and those ashes have come together quite nicely.

    and watch the theist now back away from its claim. As another commented noted, it seems that theists, particularly Christians, think that God has made them love someone because of some plan (wasn’t that the argument abainst that one Christian dating site, how dare anyone interfer with god’s plan?) and that they are being controlled by a puppet master. But I guess love doesn’t mean much to this god since it has no problems making rules that force people to chose between obeying it and loving their spouse, family, etc.

  29. eric
    Posted April 3, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    At last count, posters 1, 2, 4, 16, and 23 have all done (or will soon do) what Blas requested only one person need do, for him to accept evolution.

    Blas, any reply?

    Beuller?

  30. Posted April 3, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    “And I’m puzzled by how Blas mixes up physiology with free will.”

    Because he(?) is an idiot. Next!

    • Posted April 3, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

      PS, chemical transmitters made me write that

  31. RFW
    Posted April 3, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    Reductionism is both a blessing and a curse, and it’s pervasive. Take for example Gray’s Anatomy: it presents human anatomy in a reductionist way, but in fact the body is an integrated whole. (Cue the song about the neck bone being connected etc.)

    A medical student has to learn all the bits and pieces of the body in his/her anatomy course, but when he/she becomes a doctor, the patients are fully integrated systems. Cue that song again.

  32. DoubtingEric
    Posted April 3, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    Unpleasantness of a certain view = falsity of that view. And on and on we go. Why does it seem so difficult to ask yourself, “but what if that really is the way the world is?” It very well could be! Just because someone thinks that to accept it would trivialize things they hold dear, like love, it doesn’t have anything to do with whether it’s true or not.

  33. Posted April 3, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    The chemistry of my body make me feel good when I see you, because the vision results in the possibility that my shelfish genes will survive.

    Well, my daughter’s adopted, so my shelfish genes are up against a dead end. I guess that makes me a failed Darwinist.

  34. Kirth Gersen
    Posted April 3, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    “All it takes is one of us to say these things and—presto—Blas will become a Darwinian!”

    No, he won’t — he’s just Lying for Jebus(TM).

  35. Blas
    Posted April 3, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    Doctor Elessar
    “While I have told my children that I love them, I have also talked to them very in depth about the nature of human emotion, neurohormonal interactions and how”

    And did you make understand them that your love is only a consequence of them that you cannot avoid?

    Mackenzie
    “Well I understand… but sometimes it might be nice just to ignore the science and just say something sweet. A girl can dream, right?”

    If you can live as if evolution is not true.

    Jerome Haltom
    “She thought it was cute.”

    You didn´t make a big effort to she understand what you mean. Don´t you?

    Jean K
    “but think there are more things to say about love besides what biologists have to say about it. This is a lot like thinking a painting by Rembrandt is made out of elementary particles, but physicists don’t have the last and only word on it. (You do accept the physical theory of paintings, don’t you? Or must we believe in painting fairies, so we can keep calling paintings “beautiful”?)

    What other exist appart from the material of the painting and the chemical reactions that the light reflected produce in us?

    “There is just nothing at all that says belief in evolution ought to dominate your entire way of thinking about everything, just because it is in fact true that humans evolved. So–keep saying “I love you,” and don’t think that’s any barrier whatever to accepting evolution.”

    What do you mean by “love”.

    Kels
    “They don’t seem to know much about love, either.”

    May be you can enlight me.

    Sastra
    “I think Blas is afraid of reductionism. If we can take something apart, analyze it, and discover that it comes from components which are not like the thing we started out with — then that thing we started out with isn’t ‘real.’ It’s only an illusion. We reduced it away.”

    My sentence do not denies the existance of love only reduce their mean according to ToE.

    “Which means that Blas is working with a simple (or simplistic) mindset and making a genetic fallacy. Like comes from like, and
    “a thing is what it is.”

    Well I´m interested at a thing that is what it isn´t.

    “What Blas thinks satisfies his criteria is “if love comes from a source that is loving, then love is real.”

    Again I´m not denying the reality of love, I only expressed it in the correct materialist definition.

    esseff916
    “They rely on feelings, not facts. That’s the essence of this letter. My reply “Feelings aren’t facts”

    So What are they? Exists a non material world?

    Konrad Talmont-Kaminski
    “I would not say the bit about not having a free will.

    Well that is important in order to understand the difference between a materialist love than other definitions of love.

    “And I do always add –
    What people are made out of makes not a bit of difference to how important our emotions for each other are.” People who think we must have souls for love to be important evidently do not think that love itself is important”

    Of what our emotions are made? What are our emotions?

    neil
    “Damn. If I weren’t married, I’d try that as a pick-up line in a singles bar.”

    That is true love.

    Gluon
    “I tell my young daughter that I love her many times a day. Why do I use the word “love” when I believe in evolution and know so much biology?
    But back to love. What do I mean when I tell my daughter that I love her? I mean that I am really happy whenever I see her, that I enjoy watching her play, that I would give up a lot of my resources for her, that I’d take on a bear to protect her, and so on. There is an overpowering feeling I’ve had ever since she was born, a feeling that this is what I am supposed to be doing, a feeling of accomplishment “

    Do you understand that there is nothing that you are supposed to do? You do what your genes happened to be.
    (like it was hard… but the feeling is real), a feeling of affection and protection.

    Off course is real, but is nothing more than the chemistry of your brain that make you protect your daughter.

    eric
    “I will believe in evolution when I listen darwinist tell his fiance or his wife…I will believe in evolution when I listen darwinist tell his childrens…
    Why the assumption that all evolution-believers are male?
    Anti-science and misogynistic.”
    Sigmund
    “How about a Darwinist telling his husband?”

    Good point, Next time I will write it less misogynistic.

    Joshua
    “I’ve heard the criticism that this type of understanding “dehumanizes” us. How, I’m not sure. I think it’s some fear of viewing yourself as an automaton. I don’t see this though. If anything, knowledge of what it is to be human does the opposite: it humanizes us. How could it not do this?”
    It depend of your idea of been human. If you think that you are an evolve african ape and what your chemistry make you what you do, there is no difference if you think that you are a been choice to do the good and the bad there is big difference.

    Gluon
    “I frequently describe the effect having a child had on me in this way:
    “I didn’t want to have any children until my daughter was born. About ten seconds after this crying red thing popped out, a billion years of evolution kicked in and all I wanted in the universe was to make this little thing feel better. I felt, instantly, like having a daughter was all I ever wanted.”
    I have said as much to my daughter. Does that count?
    I know that everyone doesn’t have this feeling as suddenly or starkly or sometimes even at all (variation is the norm) but it seems clear to me that somewhere some molecular switch was thrown in my brain, triggered by the sight, or the sound, or the pheromones of my wife in the room, or who knows what. This child was mine, my genes, and my brain was changed so that I’d take care of it. *I* was changed. I don’t feel diminished by this. It was, and remains, the best thing that has ever happened to me. I feel just as happy as I would if it were a decision I made, or the result of God dropping some mysterious “love” stuff on me.
    “It is precisely because I had rationally decided I didn’t want children,”

    Sorry, try to write it right. Your chemistry decide you do not want children.

    “because I was happy with that decision, that this transformation struck me as so clearly biochemical. The evolutionary rationale is so obvious. But that doesn’t make the experience any less real.”

    The experience is real anyway, the difference is freely chosen or a genetic accident.

    clubschadenfreude
    “I love my husband and he loves me, all because of chemistry.
    We’re both also made up of the death ashes of stars, and those ashes have come together quite nicely.”

    Too much poetry, are you sure beleive it is all about our chemistry?

    • Greg G
      Posted April 3, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

      When we see a beautiful sunset, it does not diminish the view to understand how the light is reflected and refracted to produce the colors. When we see a flower, its beauty is enhanced by knowing how its color is selected by the spectrum of its insect pollinator’s vision and how it feeds or tricks the insect into delivering pollen. It is fascinating to understand how evolution accounts for the beauty we see.

      However, if it is a product of an omnipotent being, the beauty is diminished. That’s the best an omnipotence can achieve? Where’s the dancing lights of the aurora borealis with the sunset? Why is our vision restricted by just two retinal pigments that only react to a very narrow band of the electromagnetic spectrum? If the answer is not evolution, then God better have an excuse.

      Evolution explains why sex feels good but if godidit, why doesn’t sex within marriage feel much better than unmarried sex?

      Evolution explains why we feel the way we do. Mammals care for their young because it is one method of passing on the genes. The bonds between the parent and young are pleasant. Humans are mammals. Humans survive by intelligence which requires learning which means extended care of the young. Those who help their mate care for the offspring have more offspring surviving to reproduce. That means a pleasure incentive for long-term relationships is beneficial to the off-spring.

      If everything was a God-miracle, birds could be made of lead and still fly. The fact that things work according to the laws of physics shows that they are not working according to God-miracles.

      • Heintje
        Posted April 3, 2012 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

        Silly you, the reason God didn’t make birds out of lead is he didn’t want to let his beloved children to suffer from mental retardation caused by lead poisoning resulting from inhalation and/or ingestion of leaden feathers shed by the the birds.

        As to why lead poisoning would cause mental retardation, blame Satan. Why Satan? Just because!

      • Posted April 3, 2012 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

        +1

        Real explanations enhance.

        “Goddidit” cheapens.

        Right on.

      • Occam
        Posted April 4, 2012 at 3:39 am | Permalink

        It is fascinating to understand how evolution accounts for the beauty we see.

        In every sense, because our peception of beauty is likely a product of evolution itself.

        xkcd has a couple of wonderfully oblique takings on the subject:

        http://xkcd.com/1026/

        http://xkcd.com/1024/

    • eric
      Posted April 4, 2012 at 5:38 am | Permalink

      So, Blas is basically going with the No True Scotsman defense. If you used his explanation and your family member accepted it, you must not have really used his explanation.

  36. Bethany
    Posted April 3, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    I think we are misunderstanding his proposal. Given the use of spelling and grammar, and the fact that it is an extremely odd choice for “proving” Darwinism, he is requesting a magic spell. If we all say these words, and exactly these words to our loved ones, he will be converted by the same magic that causes the Sinners Prayer to make you Christian.

  37. Posted April 3, 2012 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    I think that English may be his second language, seriously. He seems to be waxing poetic about speaking from the heart while using snide poetry to mock the rest of us for turning love into an “acidic” destructive chemical process. Odd poetry, but unique. I’ll give him that.

    • Achrachno
      Posted April 3, 2012 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

      I’m sure that Blas is not a native speaker of English and that some of the quirks in his essay grow from that.

  38. David Leech
    Posted April 3, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    I will believe in god when I listen theist tell his fiance or his wife:

    “The holy spirit of my body makes me feel good when I see you. I´m telling this to you because my god is making me tell that, not because I´m free to say this or other thing”

    instead of “I love you”

    I will believe in god when I listen theist tell his children:

    “The holy spirit of my body make me feel good when I see you, because the vision results in the possibility that my selfish genes will survive. I´m telling this to you because my god is making me tell that, not because I´m free to say this or other thing”

    instead of “I love you”

    Nah! At least the unedited version has evidence to back it up.

  39. Hamilton Jacobi
    Posted April 3, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    After all, God could work through hormones, too, just as theists tell us he works through natural selection.

    No way man, that ain’t how it works. There’s a little homunculus inside your skull, kind of like Captain Kirk on the bridge of the Enterprise. And he gets his orders from God just like Kirk gets orders from Starfleet. Same 1960’s communications equipment and everything.

  40. Miss May
    Posted April 3, 2012 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    Blas is simply a troll-albeit a smart one with time to spare. Next time try less obvious misspellings.

  41. jmckaskle
    Posted April 3, 2012 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    That’s actually an adorable sentiment and I’m go tell my girlfriend this.

  42. ftfkdad
    Posted April 3, 2012 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    Every single day I have been saying to my children the following: “The chemistry of my body make me feel good when I see you, because the vision results in the possibility that my shelfish genes will survive.I´m telling this to you because may chemistry is making me tell that, not because I´m free to say this or other thing”. HOwever, I realized this was taking too long to get out, so I now go with the much shorter substitute phrase of “I love you” which, of course, means exactly the same thing.

  43. Charles Jones
    Posted April 3, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    I tell my daughters all the time that soon their hormones will kick in, and these hormones will cause them to feel love for boys (or perhaps girls) and to urgently want to mate.

    I didn’t have to spell this out for my wife because she already knew such things.

    OK, Blas, time for you to accept evolution!

  44. Roz
    Posted April 3, 2012 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

    Oooh, good one David Leech!

  45. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted April 3, 2012 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

    “All it takes is one of us to say these things and—presto—Blas will become a Darwinian!”

    With that level of logic, do we want him?
    ( /her?)

  46. Kieran
    Posted April 4, 2012 at 12:02 am | Permalink

    I don’t believe in evolution, I also don’t believe in chairs, hammers, this computer and million other real things.
    I believe that high moisture content of mineral gley soils reduces the efflux of carbon dioxide. Mainly because my results show this but until I get independent confirmation, positive or negative, I will contiue to believe I’m right.

  47. Posted April 4, 2012 at 12:18 am | Permalink

    It sounds excessively reductionistic, but what’s really the problem with the general premise? It’s like getting upset that the rainbow is really just photons at different wavelengths filtered through the brain. It doesn’t mean that rainbows don’t exist, but that the naive interpretation of rainbows is a bit silly.

    • dallila
      Posted April 4, 2012 at 6:04 am | Permalink

      Srsly?!? You just unweaved my rainbows, man! :)

  48. Posted April 4, 2012 at 12:55 am | Permalink

    Hey Jerry,
    I am a non believer, so the question is simple. I am wondering, what is the structure of the …ologies of the biological sciences?

  49. gravelinspector
    Posted April 4, 2012 at 1:43 am | Permalink

    I will believe in evolution when I listen darwinist tell his childrens:

    What makes this person assume that other people choose to have children?

    • Blas
      Posted April 4, 2012 at 5:37 am | Permalink

      Obviously you do not chose, your genes make you reproduces to propagate them. But seems not everybody is an evolved ape.

      • eric
        Posted April 4, 2012 at 5:59 am | Permalink

        Genes are not determinative of every single action and feeling. That’s a very silly implication.

        Genetic instructions result in the development of systems which allow you to feel love the same way they allow you to feel pain. But when and where you experience love and pain is very much dependent on environmental and developmental factors, not (just) genes.

        Going out on a limb here…when Jerry and others talk about lack of free will, they are not claiming we are pre-programmed from the zygote stage with every action we will ever take. We still respond to environmental cues and stimuli, and how your adult brain turned out is a result of environmental factors as well as genes. How we turn out as individuals is dependent on so many chaotic factors that if we ‘rewound the tape of life’ back to our birth, we might turn out differently. Jerry’s lack of free will means: given a specific brain/body state and a specific set of circumstances, you will respond in one specific way. When you think you are choosing how to respond, you aren’t really choosing. But genes don’t have any real-time control over your responses. Your brain, body, and the environment are what matters for that.

        • Blas
          Posted April 4, 2012 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

          I´m sorry but saying that given circumstances I can chose only one option is fooling me. I do not know you, but I am choosing always what what I am doing. I do not have any excuses my mistakes are mine The bad and the good I did and I will do is my responsability.
          Do you like May way? Is yours way.

      • gravelinspector
        Posted April 7, 2012 at 11:46 am | Permalink

        Here’s a suggestion : if you don’t tell me what is going on in my mind, then I won’t tell you what is going on in your mind. I wouldn’t do that anyway, because I know that the only information I have about the contents of your mind is by observation of your actions, and that is under your control. But you seem to have some magical telescope for looking into my mind.
        That’s great. By the way, does your magical telescope also tell me what the numbers in next Saturday’s National Lottery are going to be? Or does it work by a different sort of ESP in your universe?

  50. Nick260682
    Posted April 4, 2012 at 3:34 am | Permalink

    I don’t have time to say all that crap. I’m far to busy.

    Saying “I love you” is far more succinct.

    Anyway Blas, plenty of people have told you they have said that to their spouse/children, do you now accept the facts of evolution, or were you being completely dishonest?

    • Blas
      Posted April 4, 2012 at 5:37 am | Permalink

      I accept, evolved apes exists.

      • eric
        Posted April 4, 2012 at 6:16 am | Permalink

        Your original words were: “I will believe in evolution when…”

        That doesn’t sound as narrow or limited as your response. Sounds to me like you’re reinterpreting your own words to cover up the fact that you aren’t going to do what you said you would do.

        • Blas
          Posted April 4, 2012 at 11:50 am | Permalink

          May be, now I beleive that some humanoids are product of the ramdom evolution others have souls. I do not have any religious problem to accept that.

      • Nick260682
        Posted April 4, 2012 at 9:18 am | Permalink

        At least you know what we all are. (yes, including you!)

        • Blas
          Posted April 4, 2012 at 11:49 am | Permalink

          No not me, I changed my mind about evolution. You can´t because you make what your chemistry determine.

          • Nick260682
            Posted April 5, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

            I Don’t know what that means.

            Are you saying I can’t change my mind because of chemicals? You and I are the same. Humans. Strange thing to say.

            But like other people have pointed out, you seem to be mixing up evolution with free will arguments.

            The argument about free will is there whether evolution is true or not. Evolution is true, but that doesn’t change anything to do with free will.

            You need to write in better English if you want your points properly understood.

  51. Posted April 4, 2012 at 5:11 am | Permalink

    Blas seems to prefer to continually expand the scope of his questions so that we are never able to satisfy him/her.

    Typical theist tactic.

    Blas, humans are just organic machines, okay? Now go get an education.

    • Blas
      Posted April 4, 2012 at 5:38 am | Permalink

      Was you who says that or is just your program running?

      • alias Ernest Major
        Posted April 4, 2012 at 6:03 am | Permalink

        If free will is your sticking point you ought to be directing your ire at priests, philosophers and physicists, not biologists.

        Reconciling free will and Christian doctrine is difficult. Reconciling free will and physics is a little less difficult. Reconciling free will and evolution is hardly a problem at all.

        • Blas
          Posted April 4, 2012 at 8:39 am | Permalink

          Off course free will is a product of a ramdom mutaton and natural selection. May you explain how it works?

          • Tulse
            Posted April 4, 2012 at 8:52 am | Permalink

            Can you explain how free will works via your god?

            • Blas
              Posted April 4, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

              You can start reading “De libero arbitrio” by Saint Augstine of Hippo.
              Then I have more bibliography.

              • Tulse
                Posted April 5, 2012 at 5:58 am | Permalink

                Thanks for the reference, but in the interest of time, could you perhaps just summarize the argument?

          • alias Ernest Major
            Posted April 4, 2012 at 10:06 am | Permalink

            You’re missing the point. Agonising other how humans acquired free will while glossing over the question as to whether the universe allows free will is avoiding the main issue. If you reject evolution because you can’t conceive of a means for free will to arise, you ought to have rejected Christianity (at least those forms with an omniscient God) and physics first.

            That consciousness is a epiphenomenon of the brain is a reasonable working hypothesis. One could take a similar view on free will.

            • Blas
              Posted April 4, 2012 at 11:45 am | Permalink

              And a epiphenomenon is a chemical reaction? if not what is it?
              If it is a chemical reaction or a physical change it is not free it follows the physical and chemical laws.

              • alias Ernest Major
                Posted April 4, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

                Are you now agreeing (“physical and chemical laws”) that your ire should be directed at physicists?

              • Blas
                Posted April 4, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

                Tell me what other would direct my ire.

      • truthspeaker
        Posted April 4, 2012 at 11:36 am | Permalink

        “Was you who says that or is just your program running?”

        Both. They’re the same thing.

        • Blas
          Posted April 4, 2012 at 11:46 am | Permalink

          So no need of discussion, your answer is programmed.

          • truthspeaker
            Posted April 4, 2012 at 11:58 am | Permalink

            Programs can discuss things with each other, and make different decisions and say different things based on the input they receive.

            • Blas
              Posted April 4, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

              No, they can take the decisions they are programmed for a give input.

              • truthspeaker
                Posted April 5, 2012 at 6:47 am | Permalink

                You don’t know much about computer science, do you?

      • Posted April 5, 2012 at 11:04 am | Permalink

        No; who’s on first.

  52. Posted April 4, 2012 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    I have spoken at length with my boyfriend about how awesome it is that seratonin and dopamine make you feel squishy and wooooo….and how after you have had sex, the dopamine rush is awesome.

    We also chat about how mimicry is a cool behavioural event when couples first get together, and how important it is to bonding.

    We do also be all wussy and stuff, to, but science is far too cool sometimes to not talk about

    • Blas
      Posted April 4, 2012 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      I hope you never found him with increased levels of serotonine and dopamine with other female.

      • Posted April 4, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

        Would it matter if I did?

        • Blas
          Posted April 4, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

          For me not at all. For you?

          • Posted April 5, 2012 at 2:51 am | Permalink

            Well, I was worried that it would cause you to lose sleep, as you brought the question up.

            I lose no sleep over it personally, as I get seratonin and dopamine releases when I look at an amazing sunrise, or suddenly understand the mechanism of something.

            A lot of people get dopamine after eating food…I doubt their partners worry about that either.

  53. Posted April 4, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    I found one on video! The line is at 4:30, but it’s worth listening to the whole talk. It’s funny.

    My favorite line: “Like many rationalists, I’m a Pisces.”

    • FastLane
      Posted April 5, 2012 at 8:23 am | Permalink

      Bah, everyone knows the true rationalists (TM) are taurus. :D

      • Posted April 5, 2012 at 10:16 am | Permalink

        Bull!

        /@ (♒)

  54. phosphoros99
    Posted April 4, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    I don’t have a problem with evolution per se , that is “descent with modification” but I do have a concern about how much modification can be achieved.

    My greater concern is that it is my perception (this may not be reality) that evolutionary biologists seem to think that if one does not see a Michelangelo approach to creating forms i.e directly applied chisel and hammer then there is neither a designer or need for a designer.

    While this may have had traction in the 1800s I find it amazing that the view still has a much traction in the information age.

    What more versatile way to create and modify forms than through an information based process ?

  55. morkindie
    Posted April 4, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    I tell my wife that I love her because she incredibly attractive in many ways. I am compelled to love her. I have no choice in the matter.

    …But it’s the way I say it.

    always gets a smile.

  56. Posted April 6, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    A little story about ‘category error’ guy;

    “Did you enjoy your meal?”
    “I don’t know”
    “What do you mean, “I don’t know”?”
    “Well, I have not yet figured out which theory best explains our sensations of taste and smell.
    If it happens to be a theory involving the supernatural, e.g. I enjoy food, because, let’s say, I am being tongue-kissed by the Goddess of Taste, then I will tell you that I have indeed enjoyed the meal.
    On the other hand, if it turns out that my experience of your meal is best explained by molecules, interacting in their usual boring chemical ways, then it obviously follows that I haven’t”

  57. Mark Joseph
    Posted April 7, 2012 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

    Hello Lisa:

    I’m not sure if you are still following this post and comments or not, and all the replying did make it hard to know where to put things, but I did want to make a suggestion.

    You wrote in what I think was your last post “If anyone would like to provide links to those I would be happy to read them, alternatively you could just provide me the name of the paper, author/s and journal the article appears in and I will find it. I have access to the majority of them via university subscriptions and I am sure my teenage son would also be interested in them. Evolution fascinates him and he is currently planning on being a palaeontologist. He might however find the science journal ones a bit dry, at present he is more interested in documentaries, books we borrow at the library and websites directed at teenagers, but any suggestions on those would be very welcome.”

    Better than journal articles, at least for a teenager, might be two fascinating books that lay out the evidence for evolution at a level which I think would be appropriate, though perhaps at times a bit difficult, for an intelligent teenager. Both are recent, easily available, and highly regarded. I’m a little surprised that no one else mentioned these to you.

    One is “Why Evolution is True” by Jerry Coyne, the author of this blog. The other is “The Greatest Show on Earth” by Richard Dawkins. For specific coverage of the paleontological line of evidence, you could hardly do better than Donald Prothero’s “Evolution: What the Fossils Say, and Why it Matters”.

    • Lisa
      Posted April 7, 2012 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

      Wow! Thank you. Richard Dawkin’s book I have heard of, but hadn’t thought to use it for my teenager. He is however getting older and the last teenager I home-schooled (now attending an advanced academic program at a school dedicated to science) had a jump in comprehension at about the same age. I will try them and see how he goes, at the very least if he is not ready for them now he might be soon.
      Thanks again for the suggestions.


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