Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I ran into this post by way of The Friendly Atheist, my atheist news site.

The first post I linked to is by a charismatic (?) Christian who accepts evolution. In it, he describes a conversation he had in college that made him question his stance on evolution.

"She then went on about how mankind’s more complex brain and social survival strategy resulted in increasingly more complex structures–economic, religious, social–all of which were just constructs that serve as methods for survival. None of them were right or wrong, and it was all about which structures and thought patterns worked best in ensuring the survival of the species. By contrast, animals with simpler brains had far simpler requirements, which is why they didn’t need all these social systems. We’re not special. We’re just more complex."

He goes on to say:

"I blindly accepted Evolution without bothering to think about all of its implications. I was an Evolutionist who believed in the existence of a soul."

I find this troubling. I think his friend's assertation that humans are no different than cockroaches is an immense oversimplification. I don't think the implication of evolution is that intelligence is not special. I'm not even sure it's a useful extrapolation.

It seems to me, or maybe it's just a combination of articles that I've seen recently, that it is becoming fashionable to question the reality of free will. I wonder about that myself some days, when my mood seems to be solar powered and not relative to my situation at all.

However, it seems fairly obvious that whatever our brains do, it is a real phenomenon that results in other real phenomenon. Maybe we shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth. Or maybe we should, and stop being so... what, cynical? Plaintive? About the conclusions we draw. A mechanical phenomenon that allows for questioning and literature and architecture and engineering is so amazing that I don't think it's out of place to say that it is worth treasuring, regardless of the source.

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