Complexity of life - how you understand and how you'd explain it to an average theist
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21-05-2015, 12:05 PM (This post was last modified: 21-05-2015 01:30 PM by Learner.)
Complexity of life - how you understand and how you'd explain it to an average theist
I've been an atheist for about a year now (deconverting from fundamentalist christianity), and a large part of the initial deconversion was through reading and actually understanding science, since I used to be a YEC (young earth creationist).

My question for this thread: I could use some input and resources to help me better personally understand as well as be able to share with others how atheists view the complexity of life...like some simple ideas in layman terms. A few thoughts I've had to explain these things to the average theist are as follows: (1) I'm not the most scientifically or philosophically minded person, but I think I understand Hume's argument. The analogy of comparing the designed-watch to a rock doesn't work when looking at the universe and saying it must've been designed, because we have no example of something that is manifestly uncreated to compare the universe to in order to show if it was designed or not...that's nonsensical. Similarly, this assumes what it's trying to prove ("the universe must have been designed...because it just looks designed"). Further, I think evolution by natural selection makes far more sense of apparent design. Just because something is complex doesn't mean it was designed, especially when we're talking about nature. (2) At a very easy to understand level, I think of how homo sapiens didn't exist before the last 2 million years or whatever per the fossil record, for one example. Or per the fossil record, if we look back far enough to the majority of Earth's early history, nothing but multicellular life existed for a lot of that history. So even though we don't know the exact mechanisms of evolution that led to all the many diverse features of various living beings, we all have to admit that even such complex things as the eye evolved to its various manifestations in various living beings rather than having been "specially created." The fossil record has shown that evolution and LOTS of time can "create" very complex things. (3) Various complex items, like the eye, can be shown pretty reasonably how it may have evolved through various stages as even are represented in different types of animals today. (4) Related to #2, I don't think the average YEC could even begin to fathom what such long periods of time can do for the evolution of life on a changing planet.

I apologize if some of the details above could've been articulated better - I'm just a layman. I hope my question was clear enough: I just want to know how you personally understand the arising of complex life and features via evolution, and how you might explain it to the average open-minded theist of modest intellect. This is one of the most common objects the average theist has, and it's something I want to have an easy-enough-to-understand answer. Feel free to add any clarity to any of the items I mentioned above about my personal understandings on the matter.
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21-05-2015, 12:14 PM
RE: Complexity of life - how you understand and how you'd explain it to an average theist
god of the gaps.

just because an answer isnt known (yet), doesnt mean a god did it.

most of the topics you picked above, have answers.


"Life is a daring adventure or it is nothing"--Helen Keller
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21-05-2015, 12:15 PM
RE: Complexity of life - how you understand and how you'd explain it to an average theist
check out

http://www.YourLogicalFallacyIs.com


"Life is a daring adventure or it is nothing"--Helen Keller
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21-05-2015, 12:20 PM
RE: Complexity of life - how you understand and how you'd explain it to an average theist
(21-05-2015 12:14 PM)Bows and Arrows Wrote:  most of the topics you picked above, have answers.

What did this portion of your reply mean? The "topics" I mentioned above were just a few explanations I'd give the average theist for how I understand complexity without invoking supernatural explanation.

And the other two items you brought up are great, thanks. And thank you for that website!
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21-05-2015, 12:25 PM
Complexity of life - how you understand and how you'd explain it to an average theist
Your average theist? Best bet would be a Psychlo learning machine.

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21-05-2015, 12:29 PM
RE: Complexity of life - how you understand and how you'd explain it to an average theist
(21-05-2015 12:25 PM)Popeyes Pappy Wrote:  Your average theist? Best bet would be a Psychlo learning machine.

If it weren't for a few atheists I've met over the years who kindly and clearly explained what they believe, I wouldn't be an atheist right now.
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21-05-2015, 12:59 PM
RE: Complexity of life - how you understand it
(21-05-2015 12:05 PM)Learner Wrote:  (5) I don't know how to specifically say this, but I think there's a degree to which the universe is intelligent and complex in and of itself. I think life is just the result of the working of nature under certain specific conditions. Maybe a simple answer to the theist could be: "Life is complex simply because the universe is complex. This in no way requires there having to be some supernatural creator for life or the universe."

I was pretty much with you until #5. I certainly don't see any evidence that there is any intelligence to the universe. As to whether or not it is complex, that could be argued either way and you seem to be arguing that the complexity had to exist from the start. Complexity can arise from simplicity through repeated iteration of simple rules acting on simple things so it makes much more sense to me that that probably explains what we see better than any assumption of initial complexity.

Atheism: it's not just for communists any more!
America July 4 1776 - November 8 2016 RIP
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21-05-2015, 01:08 PM
RE: Complexity of life - how you understand and how you'd explain it to an average theist
here is a good 'general' video on the evolution of the eye.
http://youtu.be/SHgHI8YnsF8

I feel the only way to guide people out of religion requires that they are 1. open to new ideas. 2. that they are willing to look at evidence and come to an answer that contradicts their beliefs 3. they want to know the truth no matter what it is.


there is the Socratic Method you can use in discussions, also loads of ethical questions, and a book by Peter Bo??? - I forget the name but I am sure someone else will chime in with it.

if they have their heels dug in (think Ken Ham) you are essentially wasting your breath. It comes down to faith vs knowledge and many people cant walk away from the faith no matter the amount of reasoning, logic, rationality or evidence. sad but true.


"Life is a daring adventure or it is nothing"--Helen Keller
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21-05-2015, 01:08 PM (This post was last modified: 21-05-2015 01:22 PM by Learner.)
RE: Complexity of life - how you understand and how you'd explain it to an average theist
(21-05-2015 12:59 PM)unfogged Wrote:  
(21-05-2015 12:05 PM)Learner Wrote:  I was pretty much with you until #5. I certainly don't see any evidence that there is any intelligence to the universe. As to whether or not it is complex, that could be argued either way and you seem to be arguing that the complexity had to exist from the start. Complexity can arise from simplicity through repeated iteration of simple rules acting on simple things so it makes much more sense to me that that probably explains what we see better than any assumption of initial complexity.

Thank you for the comments and the link. I definitely see what you mean, so maybe "intelligence" wasn't the right word I intended to use. (I certainly didn't mean the universe is an entity that has some sort of intelligent mind or whatever.) I need to firm up my definitions. I think I mostly meant there is an order and complexity to the universe, and something about it is fascinating and unknown such that intelligent consciousness could arise in a situation as ours.

That's a good point that complexity can arise from simplicity. This is something I need to think and learn more about.
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21-05-2015, 01:13 PM
RE: Complexity of life - how you understand and how you'd explain it to an average theist
(21-05-2015 01:08 PM)Bows and Arrows Wrote:  there is the Socratic Method you can use in discussions, also loads of ethical questions, and a book by Peter Bo??? - I forget the name but I am sure someone else will chime in with it.

Ask and ye shall receive...
Peter Boghossian - A Manual For Creating Atheists

Atheism: it's not just for communists any more!
America July 4 1776 - November 8 2016 RIP
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