2010/1/15 Rex Allen <rexallen...@gmail.com>:
> On Thu, Jan 14, 2010 at 10:16 PM, Stathis Papaioannou
> <stath...@gmail.com> wrote:
>> There is no real distinction between the different possibilities you
>> mention, but evolution has programmed me to think that I am a single
>> individual travelling in the forward direction through time.
> How did evolution do that?  By what means?  Using what causal powers?
> Evolution can't really be used as an explanation for anything can it?
>  Evolution is just a useful fictional narrative that helps us think
> about what we observe.
> For example, if deterministic physicalism is true, then the initial
> configuration of matter at the universe’s first instant, plus the
> causal laws that govern the subsequent behavior of this matter as
> applied over 13.7 billion years fully determines the current state of
> the universe today.
> In this case, there is nothing for evolution to do. It is purely a
> description of what we observe, not an explanation of it. The state of
> the world is today was fixed by the initial conditions plus the causal
> laws of physics.  Any explanation for the way you are lies there, not
> with "evolution".
> There is no “competition” for survival. There is no “selection”.
> Instead, events involving fundamental particles unfold as they must…in
> the only way that they can.
> When we say “competition among creatures”, what we really mean is “it
> is as though there were competition among creatures”. Because what
> really exists are fundamental particles (quantum fields, strings,
> whatever), not “creatures”. It is only in our minds that we take
> collections of quarks and electrons and form them into creatures.
> Since they aren't fundamental laws, evolution and natural selection
> have no causal power.  We just speak of them as if they did.
> Further, even allowing for some kind of quantum randomness still
> doesn’t give “evolution” anything to do. Though it does muddy the
> water a bit.
> Right?  Or wrong?

Right, in a sense, but it's like saying a computer does not do what it
does due to its programming, it merely obeys the deterministic laws of
physics which take it from its initial configuration to its final
configuration. Another example: a balloon does not expand because
heating the gas inside it causes the pressure to increase, but because
the gas molecules are moving faster and impart a greater momentum when
colliding with the balloon walls.

Stathis Papaioannou
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