What if Evolution Meant High Intelligence and an Advanced Civilization Were INEVITABLE???

Artistic depiction of the exquisite fine-tuned initial conditions of our universe inevitably resulting in stars, elements, planets, compounds, life, intelligence and an advanced civilization.

You’ll never guess who believes that – Richard Dawkins. “Shut up!!!”, you’re thinking. No, it’s true! While few scientists currently agree with them on the question of whether a highly intelligent species and advance civilization are inevitable in evolution [1], famed Oxford evolutionary biologist and outspoken atheist, Richard Dawkins, AGREES with Simon Conway Morris and Kenneth Miller (two ardent evolutionists who are also ardent Christians) that high intelligence and an advanced civilization are INEVITABLE in an evolutionary paradigm! See quotes below (from 2010 but apparently little noticed). Yes, this is HUGE!

(A) The Inevitability of High Intelligence via Evolution

Link to SCM's book of serious science on the ubiquitous evidence of convergence in evolution and its implications for theismTo be sure, there is still sharp disagreement among prominent evolutionary biologists on this topic with most shunning any idea of progress or direction in evolution.So when the prominent Cambridge evolutionist paleontologist/paleobiologist Simon Conway Morris (SCM) wrote , “Life’s Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe”[2][3], let’s just say that book raised more than a few very thick eyebrows.

SCM’s book makes a case for the inevitability of life’s features (camera-like eyes, flight, intelligence, and even essentially humans) based on the ubiquitous evidence for convergence (same features of life arising independently in very diverse organism through evolution). But, despite the fact that SCM is an expert on the Burgess Shale fossils involved in the Cambrian Explosion and member of the Royal Society, the fact that SCM is also a professing Christian as well as the fact that ID-theory proponents would like to claim him for their own God-of-the-gaps arguments, doesn’t help SCM make his revolutionary evolutionary case. I expect many might wonder if there isn’t a faith-bias there.

The other real game-changer here on that point is support for this very idea from none other than the notorious atheist, Richard Dawkins. What he says is in the following quotes transcribed from audio interviews in, “To-The-Best-of-Our-Knowledge: What Does Evolution Want?”, by Jim Fleming, May 27, 2010, available through iTunes [1].  See also free audio links at http://www.ttbook.org/book/science-and-search-meaning-what-does-evolution-want.

On question of whether a highly intelligent species will eventually emerge in evolution, we have the following key interactions:

SIMON CONWAY MORRIS: “Don’t worry whether you’re talking about a mammal or a bird. Think about the biological property: technology — is that inevitability? Yes, the details of the evolutionary story would not be the same. But the end product, the sentient species with an advanced civilization, in my view, is an inevitability.”

NARRATOR: “Are you saying that there is something in the evolutionary process that will inevitably lead to a highly intelligent species?”

SIMON CONWAY MORRIS: “…a sentient species with a highly advanced civilization is an inevitability.”

Kenneth Miller agrees with SCM, adding that given the right conditions and resources, that eventually,

“…living organisms are not only going to find the earthworm style niche…they’re going to find the high intelligent niche as well.”

Note that no one is saying that an earthworm, for example, is on a path to become highly intelligent. It has it’s own niche that doesn’t require it and a big brain would be hard to push through the dirt. It has no dexterous hand to build things, etc.

Dr. Sean B. Carroll, noted author (love his books, btw!) and an Evolutionary Biologist (Professor of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Univ. Wisconsin-Madison), as well as the atheist philosopher Daniel Dennett were also interviewed to represent the majority view and they disagree with SCM and Miller. But, of course, that matters little to the possible question of faith-bias for SCM and Miller when atheist Richard Dawkin’s view (and Carl Sagan’s as we shall also see shortly) is brought to the table in agreement with SCM and Miller.

RICHARD DAWKINS: “As a matter of fact, Simon Conway Morris and I are remarkably close. I mean, he’s one of very few biologists who agrees with me and I’m one of a very few biologists who agrees with him on that very question. It’s just that he thinks it implies some kind of theistic push and I don’t.”

Hold the phone! Now, that’s HUGE! But, that’s not all.

Kenneth Miller goes on to quote astronomer Carl Sagan as saying,

When we’re talking about extra-terrestrial intelligence, we’re not talking about humans or humanoids. We are talking about the functional equivalent of humans — say any creatures able to build and operate radio telescopes…These creatures may live on the land, or sea, or air. They may have unimaginable chemistries, shapes, colors, sizes, appendages and opinions. We are not requiring that they follow the particular route that led to the evolution of humans. There may be many different evolutionary pathways, each unlikely, but the sum of the number pathways to intelligence may, nonetheless, be quite substantial.

Miller concludes that what Sagan argues is basically,

“…you are going to get to that niche of intelligence one way or another“.

I suggest the reader pause for a moment of silence to let this sink in.

How can this be? And what does this mean?

My wife’s natural response to these views is, “Why then isn’t Dawkins a theist?” Good question, Hon.

Richard Dawkins, who says above of SCM that the difference between them is that SCM “…thinks it implies some kind of theistic push and I don’t.” Dawkins is also known for saying,

Although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist[4]

Turning that on it’s ear, I like to think that Simon Conway Morris (and now Dawkins) makes it possible for me to be an intellectually fulfilled evolutionary creationist.

As quite fairly noted at the website Talk of Origins,

Naturalistic explanations of origins do not make atheism mandatory. If God is the creator, it would make sense that he would be responsible for creating everything, including evolution and the laws that make it operate.” http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CA/CA602_1.html

Just look around you. The beauty, complexity and functionality you see all around you are still pointers to a Designer, especially if indeed high intelligence and an advanced civilization are inevitable in an evolutionary paradigm.

Why is there something rather than nothing? Why should inanimate matter gain consciousness and see the way of love?

Click here for a better perspective and “a” new model of intelligent design as properly understood without reliance on god-of-the-gaps arguments (arguments where God is inserted wherever there is gap in our scientific knowledge) or trying to prove God by using science.

(B) Cosmic Fine-tuning

And when you the combine (A) the inevitability of high intelligence via evolution with (B) cosmological fine-tuning you have an evolutionary creation (EC) scenario for God’s creative action that is consistent with the data of modern science – God’s essential design could simply be further back and front-loaded in or inherent in the exquisitely fine-tuned initial conditions and physical laws that resulted in the Big Bang and the only universe we know, i.e., or in the initial conditions that enabled a multiverse that inevitably resulted in the conditions of our universe.

So, given Dawkin’s support of the inevitability of high intelligence, I don’t see how evolution helps Dawkins to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist when God’s essential design can simply be further back, e.g., inherent in the cosmological fine-tuned initial conditions.

Evolutionary creationists believe evolution is God’s chosen creative tool and a God-ordained and sustained process where God simply got it so right in the beginning, (e.g., the cosmological fine-tuning at the time of the Big Bang or conditions that allowed a multiverse inevitably producing the conditions of our own) that evolution didn’t need to be subsequently fixed by subsequent divine interventions or other guidance.

(C) Time and Space Had to Have a Beginning

If that is not enough, top physicists recently declared in 2012 that time and space had to have a beginning – any way you do the math, no matter what kind of universe we have, e.g., oscillating, multiverse, etc. there had to be a beginning!

This is also HUGE, especially when you consider that prior to the Big Bang (a derogatory name given by its detractors because it smacked of creation) theory, scientists had maintained for the prior 1,500 years or so that the universe has ALWAYS existed. “Proof” (used in the linked article above) may be a strong word, but now it is currently the consensus that there must have been a beginning.

Pointers to God

(A)+(B)+(C) or rather (A) in view of (B) in view of (C) offers a pointer to a Creator who transcends time and space and it certainly begs the question. Yet, I’m not saying God is a slam dunk – faith is still required to pick up that metaphysical belief where the scientific data leaves off. Others, like Dawkins and other positivists, choose not to entertain the idea unless God is actually shown by the scientific data itself. It isn’t their cup of tea. That could be a big mistake if God is not supposed to be proved or found in the data of our material created world, i.e., if God, as I suspect, has a vested interest in covering His tracks lest faith becomes sight and the world becomes like a police-state in which God is not a choice and we have no choice but to bow the knee.

Science Can’t Go There

God is a rational explanation and arguably the best explanation, especially when science has identified the need for a beginning, i.e., a pre-material wall beyond which science, by it’s very nature, cannot go.

As so aptly phrased many times by John Polkinghorne, physics can tell us how the water in the beaker boils. But it CANNOT tell us that real reason it is boiling in the first place is because I want a cup of tea.

Science, by its nature, cannot tell us the answer to the really big question of purpose in the universe.

Science, for all it has given us, also cannot investigate anything outside of the testable material time/space universe. It cannot investigate the eternal transcendent concepts of the value of justice or the laws of logic that exist outside of material time and space and, were this universe to collapse back on itself and disappear, would apply to any planet in ANY other universe (assuming there is or would be one) with the right stuff where high intelligence and an advanced civilization would inevitably evolve.

Time for tea…

 

Our next post will likely take on the question, “How Can Anything Good Can Come from Randomness?”, and just how these things can be.


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[1] To-The-Best-of-Our-Knowledge: What Does Evolution Want by Jim Fleming, Wisconsin Public Radio, May 27, 2010 http://bit.ly/15CTrHo (opens in iTunes)

[2] “Lonely” because life has not been found on other planets, yet.

[3] Life’s Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely [2] Universe, by Simon Conway Morris, Cambridge University Press (January 13, 2005) ISBN-10: 0521603250 ISBN-13: 978-0521603256

[4] Dawkins, Richard. 1986. The Blind Watchmaker. New York: Norton.

Keith Furman, PhD

http://www.linkedin.com/pub/keith-c-furman-phd/44/b99/684

3 Comments:

  1. Excellent post and certainly food for thought; I’m coming for more! For now, in the matter of Carroll (the biologist) spiritual tendencies I seem to remember reading that he explicitly refuses to discuss them, wishing them to remain absolutely private. If I find the ref. I will post it here…

  2. I used the occasion of an evening service to preach on this and raise the question of the potential of life evolving many times in the universe and asked what it might mean for Christian theology. One of the set texts for the service was Ezekiel ch 1, and without endorsimg the “alien spaceship” scenario of Eric von Danekin et al I did raise the question.
    My answer was “maybe”., The bible only speaks of God’s relationship to humanity and visions of unearthly intelligent beings may point to a real extra-terrestial reality. It may mean many Incarnations in many sorts of flesh because if humanity had the freedom to sin so would other intelligent ET life. Such a cosmic vision of Gd visiting many intelligent species for their salvation would simply add to the wonder of the divine love.

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