Dawkins on "Why we are here"

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tbieter
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Dawkins on "Why we are here"

Post by tbieter »

“Evolution is the stunningly simple but elegant explanation of our very existence and the existence of every living creature on the planet. Thanks to Darwin, we now understand why we are here and why we are the way we are. You cannot be ignorant of evolution and be a cultivated and adequate citizen of today.:
http://www.startribune.com/opinion/othe ... 23408.html

I thought that the question why are we here? (why does something exist rather than nothing?) was a philosophical question, rather than a question subject to analysis according to the scientific method. Unfortunately, Mr. Dawkins did not provide the evolutionary explanation (answer) in his article. Can anyone knowledgeable about evolutionary biology enlighten me.
Last edited by tbieter on Sat Aug 27, 2011 2:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Arising_uk
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Re: Dawkins on "Why we are here"

Post by Arising_uk »

I think you are right Tom, just shows that biology is not philosophy.

He should have said "how".

And it seems to put the kibosh on the religious explanation that 'god' made us.

Nice article. Think it'll stop the New Creationists from teaching their explanation as science in US schools, I hope not.
ochaye
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Re: Dawkins on "Why we are here"

Post by ochaye »

'According to a 2009 Gallup study, only 38 percent of Americans say they believe in evolution.'

Which may mean that 62 percent of Americans are liars.
chaz wyman
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Re: Dawkins on "Why we are here"

Post by chaz wyman »

tbieter wrote:“Evolution is the stunningly simple but elegant explanation of our very existence and the existence of every living creature on the planet. Thanks to Darwin, we now understand why we are here and why we are the way we are. You cannot be ignorant of evolution and be a cultivated and adequate citizen of today.:
http://www.startribune.com/opinion/othe ... 23408.html

I thought that the question why are we here? (why does something exist rather than nothing?) was a philosophical question, rather than a question subject to analysis according to the scientific method. Unfortunately, Mr. Dawkins did not provide the evolutionary explanation (answer) in his article. Can anyone knowledgeable about evolutionary biology enlighten me.
Like most people at the top of their profession they tend to overstate that professions importance, and loose humility.
Darwin and Dawkins have never even addressed the "WHY WE ARE HERE" question. Any philosopher worth his sort can spot this flim-flam from a mile.
What Darwin and Dawkins actually address is HOW WE ARE HERE. There may not be an answer to why we are here, and lets face it science has NEVER really been in the business of asking that question; it may not even be a valid question.
Dawkins would do better to be more honest and with pride accept the fact that he and Darwin have both contributed to showing us HOW we came to be humans and HOW we evolved from more simple animals.
chaz wyman
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Re: Dawkins on "Why we are here"

Post by chaz wyman »

ochaye wrote:
'According to a 2009 Gallup study, only 38 percent of Americans say they believe in evolution.'

Which may mean that 62 percent of Americans are liars.
No, 62% of Americans are telling their truth.
THe Gallup pole suggests that at least 30% of Americans THINK they know what evolution is.
62% of AMericans don't accept it, and probably don't understand it either.
I would imagine that no more than 8% actually understand its simplicity.
The rest think evolution is a cause, and reject it.
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Cerveny
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Re: Dawkins on "Why we are here"

Post by Cerveny »

Simplicity of evolution mechanism does not explain its purpose/aim.
You will probably answer "there is no aim".
But such claim is not possible to verify :(
ochaye
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Re: Dawkins on "Why we are here"

Post by ochaye »

Cerveny wrote:Simplicity of evolution mechanism does not explain its purpose/aim.
You will probably answer "there is no aim".
But such claim is not possible to verify :(
Indeed. If we give thanks to Darwin because we now understand why we are here, we understand more than Darwin did, who took the view that theism was entirely unaffected by the virtual fact of evolution. In fact, in the 2nd edition of 'The Origin', he even referred to a creator; not the creditable work of a scientist, of course, but significant.

Science in any of its branches has never been capable of influencing theism, one way or the other. The modern attempt to force science to oppose theism arises presumably because there is no better means at the disposal of those of partisan, rather than scholarly motive, who wish to oppose theism. Because theism involves moral issues, this is predictable, and people are liable to lie about what they believe. So science is abused simply because it is used for this purpose; so the very fact of science vs. theism debate testifies to belief in theism.
chaz wyman
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Re: Dawkins on "Why we are here"

Post by chaz wyman »

Cerveny wrote:Simplicity of evolution mechanism does not explain its purpose/aim.
You will probably answer "there is no aim".
But such claim is not possible to verify :(

Actually understanding the mechanism demands there is no purpose - that is the whole point.
There are consequences, there is the effect of change, but not specific direction, though survival is the result - the result which gives the appearance of purpose to human minds that have a propensity to see purpose in everything.
chaz wyman
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Re: Dawkins on "Why we are here"

Post by chaz wyman »

ochaye wrote:
Cerveny wrote:Simplicity of evolution mechanism does not explain its purpose/aim.
You will probably answer "there is no aim".
But such claim is not possible to verify :(
Indeed. If we give thanks to Darwin because we now understand why we are here, we understand more than Darwin did, who took the view that theism was entirely unaffected by the virtual fact of evolution. In fact, in the 2nd edition of 'The Origin', he even referred to a creator; not the creditable work of a scientist, of course, but significant.

Please give page reference. It is not fair to imply Darwin believed in such a thing, and I think you would have to take him out of context to do this.

Science in any of its branches has never been capable of influencing theism, one way or the other. The modern attempt to force science to oppose theism arises presumably because there is no better means at the disposal of those of partisan, rather than scholarly motive, who wish to oppose theism. Because theism involves moral issues, this is predictable, and people are liable to lie about what they believe. So science is abused simply because it is used for this purpose; so the very fact of science vs. theism debate testifies to belief in theism.
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Cerveny
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Re: Dawkins on "Why we are here"

Post by Cerveny »

chaz wyman wrote: Actually understanding the mechanism demands there is no purpose - that is the whole point.
There are consequences, there is the effect of change, but not specific direction, though survival is the result - the result which gives the appearance of purpose to human minds that have a propensity to see purpose in everything.
Many kinds of simple organism (bacteria…) are lingering for ages. But they are only the basic stones, bricks, layers of the building construction. The direction of such construction is clear enough: more and more complicated creatures working with more and more abstract construction, working with deeper ideas. It tends us to say (according Hegel): An idea rises here…
chaz wyman
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Re: Dawkins on "Why we are here"

Post by chaz wyman »

Cerveny wrote:
chaz wyman wrote: Actually understanding the mechanism demands there is no purpose - that is the whole point.
There are consequences, there is the effect of change, but not specific direction, though survival is the result - the result which gives the appearance of purpose to human minds that have a propensity to see purpose in everything.
Many kinds of simple organism (bacteria…) are lingering for ages. But they are only the basic stones, bricks, layers of the building construction. The direction of such construction is clear enough: more and more complicated creatures working with more and more abstract construction, working with deeper ideas. It tends us to say (according Hegel): An idea rises here…
Such hybris.

On the scale of the universe, no such construction is 'clear', at all. We will disappear in few more thousand tears having been a twinkle of time. As has happened several times before there will be mass extinctions, and all life will be snuffed as if it had never been here - The universe abides whilst we pretend to be clever.

PS Hegel was a mystical fool with delusions of Germanic grandeur. Nothing he said was of any use. Dreams all of it.
none of which have come to pass.
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Arising_uk
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Re: Dawkins on "Why we are here"

Post by Arising_uk »

chaz wyman wrote:... As has happened several times before there will be mass extinctions, and all life will be snuffed as if it had never been here - The universe abides whilst we pretend to be clever. ...
Not quite tho', as I thought we thought it was the extremophiles that may have preserved Life after extinction events like complete ice-ages. Or is Fred still on to something?[/quote]
keithprosser2
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Re: Dawkins on "Why we are here"

Post by keithprosser2 »

I thought that the question why are we here? (why does something exist rather than nothing?) was a philosophical question, rather than a question subject to analysis according to the scientific method
I believe that if you look for the 'why' of our existence in science, you will not find it. To some people that is a depressing prospect - it means there is no no reason, no purpose to existence and nihilism is the truth.

I take a very different view. Because there is nothing that defines our 'why', there is nothing to limit our 'why'. We are free to choose our own 'why'. The scientist can tell us only the reductionist, causal reasons "why we are here" and as the OP suggests, such reasons are ultimately unsatisfactory in some indefinable, 'deep' sense.

The philosopher's task is not to discover the antecdent causes of our existence - there are none, beyond those reductionist ones the scientists already know. Rather the philosopher's task is to decree what our 'why' shall be.

That is a daunting task. How convenient if our 'why' was implied by the laws of biology and physics! But it isn't, and we have to take responsibility for our destiny, whatever we choose it is to be.
lancek4
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Re: Dawkins on "Why we are here"

Post by lancek4 »

While I agree with the 'how' posts, I would put it more precisely:

Why (for us now)= how.

The explanation which asks 'how' effectively supplies the 'why' part of our current reality. It is merely a discursive distiction, not a functional distiction; The function for supplying us reality is the same
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Rortabend
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Re: Dawkins on "Why we are here"

Post by Rortabend »

In Aristotle's taxonomy of explanations in terms of 4 basic kinds of cause, evolution ticks three out of four boxes. It provides a material, formal and efficient cause of why we are here. However, as others have pointed out, it fails to consititute a final cause because it does not explain our aim or purpose. Dawkins misses this because he never engages with the history of philosophy. He does philosophy without doing Philosophy.
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