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Dawkins on the purpose of evolution & life...

#35: Jan. - Mar. 2007 (Non-Fiction)
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Chris OConnor

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Dawkins on the purpose of evolution & life...

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This question was emailed to Dawkins by a reader/fan and listed on his official site.What do you feel is the purpose of evolution? I don't mean the passing on of genetic material and the survival of the species. I mean what is the purpose of passing on genes - and hence, the species? [...] Could evolution be the first of many developmental phases that a species goes through?Quote: If you read The Selfish Gene, you will find that the purpose of life certainly has NOTHING to do with the survival of the species. If anything, it is the passing on of genes (which is a very different matter), but in any case the language of purpose can mislead -- as it has misled you. Really there is NO purpose. It is simply that those genes that DO survive are the ones that we see, and whose manifestations we see, in the life that we see. That is all there is to it. There is no higher purpose to evolution. The only higher purposes in the universe are to be found in evolved brains, such as our own when we have a conscious purpose to achieve some goal. And our brains are so accustomed to this that they falsely -- as in your case -- ascribe purpose where it doesn't belong.Personally, I've yet to read The Selfish Gene, but I did recently acquire a copy and have it on my list of books to read.So what do YOU think is the purpose of evolution and/or life? I always answer this question with my opinion that evolution has no "purpose" and neither does life. There is no meaning of anything unless a conscious intelligent or "evolved brain," as Dawkins says, assigns some sort of purpose or value or meaning to something. What is your opinion on this matter?
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Re: Dawkins on the purpose of evolution & life...

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I agree Chris. The meaning of life derives from the beings that want there to be meaning.Simple. It aint that mysterious as I see it.My question is: WHY do so many WANT or NEED there to be that supernatural twist to it all? WHY the NEED for a god?Mr. P. I'm not saying it's usual for people to do those things but I(with the permission of God) have raised a dog from the dead and healed many people from all sorts of ailments. - Asana Boditharta (former booktalk troll)The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.What is all this shit about Angels? Have you heard this? 3 out of 4 people believe in Angels. Are you F****** STUPID? Has everybody lost their mind? - George CarlinI came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper
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Re: Dawkins on the purpose of evolution & life...

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Why the need for a God?My answer to this is as follows. God exists as space filler. And the space I'm referring to is the "gap" in our current knowledge and understanding about our environment and how it operates.Curiosity is a trait in humans selected for naturally. Those humans, or human ancestors, that were curious enough to explore and wander and become geographically isolated from the rest of the complacent and non-curious social group from which they came had an increased probability of surviving catastrophes that would typically wipe out the entire group. I hope this is making sense. Being curious and wondering about how things work or why they don't work is of benefit to the human organism for a zillion reasons. This trait has been passed down genetically and is now a defining difference between humans and the "lower" animals. We're explorers and wanderers and wonderers. But this curiosity can also cause us a great deal of frustration. Some questions aren't so simple to answer, despite the burning curiosity and quest for understanding we may possess. Our desire to know matched with the fact that we don't know leaves a vacuum or gap that is demanding to be filled. It actually hurts our heads not to understand.I'm hoping this analogy is making sense. This is how I view the whole God subject. Our brains or better yet "minds" are like a semi-permeable membrane. If the pressure on the outside of our heads is greater than the pressure on the inside something is going to pass through the membrane and enter the area of lower pressure. The vacuum MUST be filled as per the laws of physics.Educated minds have less of a vacuum, or a higher pressure, as they understand life and how it operates, to some extent, and are less prone to have unwanted information pushing its way into their weak or gullible brains. Ignorant people have a big empty head (that sounds so mean) so the pressure is too great and eventually that vacuum will be filled by an implosion of nonsense information. The end result is the ignorant person suddenly feels the pressure in their mind lighten up as it reaches equilibrium with the outside of the head. The naturally selected for desire to know and understand has been quenched, even though it was quenched with bunk, so the pain of not knowing is alleviated and they can go about their lives in peace and relative bliss.The intelligent person or critical thinker has far less of a vacuum (more knowledge) AND a stronger cell membrane (critical thinking skills and intelligence) so their minds are guarded against an inflow of space filler and nonsense information. They are able to sit tight even when NOT knowing the answers to certain questions. They recognize their own ignorance and their own naturally selected for curiosity, but refuse to be duped into allowing garbage to pass from the region of high pressure (societal influences and ignorant superstitious irrational non-answers) to the region of low pressure (the areas in their brains where unanswered questions reside). They allow unanswered questions to sit there awaiting processing and eventual answers. The ignorant person who allowed garbage to flow into their head stops being as curious, stops wandering and stops wondering. Just think...it is 1:00 pm and I'm 100% sober. I cannot believe I just typed what I typed, but I do think it is a fairly valid analogy.
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Re: Dawkins on the purpose of evolution & life...

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I like it! Later
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