Sunday, June 30, 2013

Ongoing Evolutionary Responses

(Succeeding Evolutionary Responses. Overview of Lightform Evolution begins in Part 3, and is continued in Part 4 and Part 5.) Part 6 to follow.

Benjamin Cain writes, "One of the problems with optimistic or pessimistic evolutionary predictions is that they're just-so stories. They're untestable and they can be imagined to explain anything in biology."

Evolution can be "tested" with time; being optimistic about it is making a value judgment. You actually might be being more starry-eyed, here, than High Arka. Consider: using carbon dating and the fossil record, we can discover overwhelming evidence that life on this planet has grown in structural complexity over, say, the past few dozen million years. Life has gotten better able to survive and reproduce in more environments, and gotten better able to self-direct its own change; if we presume the existence of consciousness (i.e., if you believe in yourself and others), it has gotten more self-aware and capable of a wider range of emotions and sensations.

Now, you might find some of these recent facets of consciousness--love, bliss, satisfaction, et cetera--to be "good." Some, you may find "bad." So, when the evidence shows us that life is becoming better able to produce more emotions, more (presumed) awareness, and more intense emotions, you can accuse High Arka of being "optimistic."

To accuse High Arka of being "optimistic" or an advocate of "progress," though, is a normative judgment. You are, in essence, saying that more consciousness and stronger feelings are "good." It would be a separate discussion to address whether or not this versal pattern (increasing lightform complexity) is good.

This one does feel that it is good. We might say, "High Arka likes evolution." That's obvious. But we should separate our discussion over whether or not it is good from the discussion over whether or not it is happening. Disagreement as to the positive value of higher pleasures and joys, relative to the negative value of lower pains and sorrows, should be separated from separate disagreements over how the evidence shows lightform evolution to actually work.

The begged question about evolution has often resulted from advocates' inability to separate their value judgments from their scientific ones. Those who tend toward a negative view of evolution--those like Dawkins and Hawking, who see the world as a terrible, random, pointless place--are so influenced by their terror at the idea of more powerful consciousness that they are unable to see "the forest," and unable to concede life's trend toward increasing complexity. They conclude, then, that life's increasing complexity is random, hoping against hope that billions of years of cellular development will not continue to produce more intense forms of consciousness, and that existence will become un-existence.

Those who tend toward a positive view may be so influenced by their joy at higher emotions that they are unable to see the trees of the billions upon billions of years necessary for different aspects of an environment to communicate enough to produce "noticeable" evolution. They may disregard the corresponding sensory nadirs (such as increased ability to feel pain) as part of a "divine plan" to produce only goodness.

Both perspectives are in error, because both have drawn conclusions about the evolutionary process based upon presupposed judgments about whether or not the end result will be to their liking. The Pop-Scientist thinks that pain outweighs pleasure, so he concludes that existence is pointless and doomed to end--he advocates the ultimate pain, of ending everything good everywhere. He accuses the Pop-Spiritualist of pollyannish ignorance of previous unpleasant sensations. The Pop-Spiritualist thinks that pleasure outweighs pain, so he concludes that true existence is all about pleasure and is doomed to persist in timeless pleasure where everything is explained away. He accuses the Pop-Scientist of bleak ignorance of previous improvement.

So, the Endless Void of the cold universe faces off with the endless void of basking in God's unchanging light.

The Pop-Scientist is, truly, the Pop-Spiritualist. Out of fear of death and change, the Pop-Scientist advocates destruction of all hope and future in a timeless emptiness. Out of fear of death and change, the Pop-Spiritualist advocates destruction of all hope and future in a timeless filling, limited by the pre-ordained imagination of a simple God.

The observed evidence contradicts them both, suggesting a verse of boundless potential, infinite time, and "larger" forms of both pleasure and pain. Indeed, what you might call "positive" and "negative" sensations bear a relation to each other. Like matter and antimatter, or life and antilife, pleasure and pain are kin. If we want to be agents of pleasure--intelligent, rational ones--we may use the lightforms to increase positive expressions at the expense of negative ones. Negatives can be used to out-negative other negatives, and positives to out-positive other positives, so a harmony can benefit all aspects of lightform and produce the melody that "we" "want."

This may make us "good," but it need not make us incorrect. We may separate our discussions about (1) whether or not any of the pain is justified, (2) whether or not existence is "fair" or "right," and (3) whether or not evolution actually happened.

If we can do that--if we can segregate the discussion of (3) enough to allow us to consider billions of years of development without shaking in our boots over whether or not it was worth it--then we can easily see the way the lightform evolves to produce more powerful consciousness and sensation. Recognizing that inevitable trend will help us guide it in a more pleasurable direction. Not recognizing, or pretending to not recognize, that trend, is the tool of guiding things in a less pleasurable direction.

...which hell need not necessarily be good or bad for the purposes of discussing the trend. It is the right of demons to fight for a world of intense sorrow, fear, and hopelessness. The battle over souls occurring right here is the battle over whether or not you ecstasate or mourn.


  1. Well, I agree that evolution in the sense of organic development has happened, and I agree also that organisms have gotten more and more complex. Life started from a simple form and by way of a genetic arms race, the genes that proliferated were those that coded for larger and more specialized bodies that allowed species to break into and colonize new environments.

    But development and complexification aren't the same as progress. Progress is a normative, teleological notion. Just because change has happened and there are certain patterns in that change doesn't mean the change is progressive. Progress is change for the good. If we say evolution is progressive, we're assuming some of the evolutionary patterns are good, such as increase in consciousness or self-control.

    The scientific theory of evolution is necessarily neutral about the teleological interpretation of organic development (to avoid committing the naturalistic fallacy).

    1. Let's be clear so we're not committing a common error about evolution: genes do not, in a warlike "arms race", react (code) to the world to allow the organism to survive, thus creating a march of "improved" species. Rather, it is the environment which acts upon the organism, culling those (by elimination) which cannot hack the stringencies of the environment. The organism that survives to have offspring is the one that gets to pass along genes that may be more suited to the current conditions.

      That said, you're right that the notion of "improvement" is not necessarily a progressive one. Rather, the specialization-- or complexification, if you prefer-- is just the manifestation of species who lived and populated certain environmental niches better than others (species competition/ behavior).

    2. Yes, you're right about the environment. But you're not contradicting what I wrote. The genes that proliferate are the ones that help produce--with many proteins--body types that are adapted to survive and reproduce in some some environment. Mind you, I'm not a biologist, but I think I understand the basics of natural selection.

      As I understand it, phenotypic specialization, and thus complexification, are at least partly explained by the idea of a sort of genetic arms race. Is that not right?

    3. Not to speak for Anonymous, but the "arms race" metaphor wouldn't work for a traditional current biologist, because an arms race implies conscious attempts on the parts of realist-aligned nations ("realist" in the political science sense) to develop the arms.

      The Market-Style Evolution model would say that doesn't apply, because the genes don't operate under any kind of intent or purpose when they mutate. It would be more like two competing countries run by bureaucrats who aren't aware that they are competing with the other country, and aren't even aware of that country's existence. One bureaucracy develops libraries, and fails; the other bureaucracy develops nuclear bombs, accidentally launches them at the second country, and therefore triumphs.

      (Or, one tiger develops sharper fangs by chance mutation, gets more calories as a result, and the second tiger, with the blunter teeth, dies off.)

      At any point when we decide that's an "arms race," we've granted a purpose to the genes--a mission they're trying to carry out. That idea would be too close to orthogenetic evolution, which 20th and 21st century mainstream biologists have been strictly against.

    4. "Arms race" is just a metaphor. The technical term is "positive feedback." Here's the Wiki article on the subject:

  2. HA's evolution posts are the only ones that truly confuse me. Is this discussion necessary, other than as an analogy for the rationally unsolvable debate if there is "something else" or not?

    Any scientists worth his stripes (which does NOT include Dawkins) is aware that there are things that are merely unexplained yet, and things that are inherently unexplainable (at least per the scientific method).

    People that despair about - or alternatively too much into - evolution seem to share the common tendency to ascribe to it more than it does, which is more or less pretty dull - a dry account of the process of speciation. To read anything more into it necessitates going beyond anything the theory of evolution can ever say.