I've been thinking about evolution, and it has occurred to me that there are 3 problems with it. 1.) evolution by definition is a reactionary process, so how can it look forward - eg how can we as end results of the process ask "what if?" 2.) humanity has the potential to self destruct - Ayn Rand in Atlas Shrugged recognised that we were the only species that could do that - how can an evolved / reactive process develop a self-destruct mechanism? 3.) At what point along the evolutionary process did it decide to split out into separate genders, and where can we point to to demonstrate this? Any thoughts?

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Telling other people how they're going to think and react is always an effective communication method :) Its like a more verbose form of the mind reading cognitive distortion.

I must protest this; it's not a dichotomy between "religious" and "understanding of evolution"; it's quite possible to be both, and it's certainly possible to be neither.  I've run into many an atheist (but not here!) whose understanding of evolution lacked any real depth; and many who are unbelievers who, rather than looking into it, find their interests lie elsewhere than the sciences and simply defer to the experts.

It's certainly true that Eric James has shown his ignorance of evolution here, and he happens to be religious, but you cannot simply generalize to say "Only a religious person could have such a grotesque mis-understanding of evolution..."

I hate to call out a fellow atheist for bigotry, but... you are being a bigot here.

I wouldn't lump you in with the DP boycotters :) I had you pegged (like ~60% of Americans) as a Dr. Pepper fan, myself.

to create - the basis of art - to contemplate, to ask "what if" - aspects that are part of every day existence - how did they come to be? Even the ability to consider divinity, even if you choose to reject it, doesn't appear to me to be the natural outcome of a non-forward looking reactive process.

The ability to think abstractly, artistically, logically, etc. are all known to come from various areas of the brain, to be lost when those parts are damaged, or to be missing or enhanced depending on biological factors which sometimes come into play as early as birth.

We know that the brain is the source of these traits (i.e. for the reasons stated above) and that it operates entirely on cells and chemical signals and interaction. All of our biological matter (i.e. said cells and chemical emitters) is patterned and produced from the blueprints of our DNA, interaction from also evolving ribosomes, etc., and that blueprint changes with each generation.

In other words, given infinite time, these traits (abstract thought, artisticness, logic, etc.) are guaranteed to rise in the gene pool, but it just so happens that they rose in billions of years instead, alongside billions of other traits and combinations of traits. How complex brain cell activity can result in abstract thought or conscience is nowhere near a hard science as of yet, but the above facts supersede any explanation involving supernatural, planned or reactive process as causing the traits.

There are no "jumps" in evolution, that is the fundamental problem with your understanding.

Humans aren't the only species that can self-destruct. Any species can do that by becoming too prolific and exhausting its food source while at the same time poisoning itself with its waste products.

Eric,

Several posters have recommended reference books to aid you in gaining a better understanding of the  process of  evolutionary development. I applaud your willingness to read Dawkins, Harris and others. It could provide you with the insight needed to correctly question your current modes of thinking. The difficult part of your journey will be whether you can accept the realization that evolution exists and even galaxies are born, live, and die without supernatural influence. 

I agree with your last statement 100%.

How can we ask 'What if'?    I think it has to do with the evolution of the ability to visualize multiple scenarios or choices in the mind.  Consciousness may be a byproduct of this.  http://www.klab.caltech.edu/~koch/crick-koch-cc-97.html   This is an old paper....  

#3  Why do males have nipples? (the link doesn't deal with this question.. I just thought it was a good question to ask considering we are thinking along those lines.)   http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081120171328.htm

@Eric, we gave you those book titles because no one here has the time, and likely not the inclination to spend hours educating you on how evolution works. I had assumed you would go read, at least the one book, then return to the board with your new found knowledge. You've indicated you won't have time to read those until near Christmas, so again, I assumed - this time that you would postpone further discussion until then.

Whether or not you actually intend reading the books, I can't say, but it would seem obvious - this time without the use of assumptions - that you intend continuing the discussion with your limited grasp of the evolutionary process. I, for one have no intention of continuing any further discussion until your return with a greater depth of information - if others choose to waste their time, that, of course, is their option.

See you upon your post-holiday return.

1.) evolution by definition is a reactionary process, so how can it look forward - eg how can we as end results of the process ask "what if?"

No, it's not "reactive." There is nothing reacting to anything. It's a process that favors the leftovers of the struggle to survive. It's progressive, not reactive.

Your definition appears to be wrong.

A result is not necessarily a reaction.

And I think a lot of us are wondering why you are so obsessed with "what if." What if there's no what if? What then?

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