Evolution vs. God

Some time ago sergei_sh has brought to my attention the works of Jeffrey A. Gray and I have decided to read his book, Consciousness: Creeping up on the Hard Problem. I will definitely write more about it, as I like it a lot. Right now one statement not that related to the main content of the book struck me. I will just quote is out of the context (Chapter Reality and Illusion, p. 63).

For the good fit between conscious experience and outside reality, the idealist philosopher Berkley called in God. In this more materialist age, it is Evolution that we must thank.

What I like here is similar to Laughlin’s statement from quite a different context (I am not sure if Jeffrey A. Gray has meant the same):

Evolution by natural selection, for instance, which Charles Darwin originally conceived as a great theory, has lately come to function more as an antitheory, called upon to cover up embarrassing experimental shortcomings and legitimize findings that are at best questionable and at worst not even wrong. Your protein defies the laws of mass action? Evolution did it! Your complicated mess of chemical reaction turns into a chicken? Evolution! The human brain works on logical principles no computer can emulate? Evolution is the cause!


2 responses to “Evolution vs. God”

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  1. There is something unsatisfying about it. We are sure evolution has produced all sorts of things — and yet for very many of them, we can only guess as to how it was done. And even if you say, “It works because it survived, and it survived because it works,” — I can’t see how that should provide a full understanding of why the thing works (though the genius of the theory must be in showing such circles are not vicious). Evolution is called upon to design an eye, but that an eye must be such and such, is because of optics, not evolution. (Likewise, I have seen someone try to argue that a sphere has one of the smallest ratios of surface area to volume, because certain animals approximate it when they are trying to keep warm — but it is rather the other way around.)

  2. I agree and this is why I like these quotes. I should say though that Jeffrey A. Gray presumably believes in evolution, as in his book there is a quite interesting discussion on why evolution has created consciousness.

    He also says that physics and chemistry does not have the evolution law within them and I am not sure if I completely understand such a statement. I have red about emergence but it is still unclear to me what it means. It would be nice to see what physicists and chemists say about that, here it would be good to check first Prigogine.