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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It is a journey Ed, and the more I learn the more my mind is becoming freerer and challenged. And it's great. I'll never stop reading and exploring - have you every read any of Francis Schaeffer's work? I haven't for a long time, but I'm about to begin again as I try to make sense of all these intellectual and free-ranging influences. And while I am definitely a Christian and see no reason at this point to abandon it, I am beginning to suspect that there would be very few churches that would accept me if they knew all that I am beginning to believe. I'm not liberal in the denial sense, but I do believe that the Christian Church - especially the Southern Baptist fundamentalist types - have done massive damage and our credibility is all but shot because of their ignorance.

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

The paper by Crick is very interesting, but while he builds a very good case for anticipation / instinct - what he calls the on-line system of seeing based on essentially a combination of training and experience - see the sports examples - and I've always acknowledged anticipation doesn't require a future looking response - he also acknowledges that this is the realm of the philosopher as it is getting into the realm of meaning. He suggests some experiments that can contribute to its understanding, as he raises the issue that it relies on a combination of time, experience and memories and the brains ability to link together massive amounts of experiential data - this is getting into Michael Polanyi's area of tacit knowledge. But there is still no suggestion or indication as to how our consciousness can raise the question "what if" based on our experience and observations of differing aspects of life? Everything he discusses relies on the past - the accumulation of life - he offers no explanation for taking any of this forward into previously unperceived relationships of information, materials, or whatever aspect of life we are exploring at any given moment. His experiments would contribute to the understanding of the neurological functions of consciousness - what he calls the neural correlate of consciousness - but then he acknowledges that it cannot resolve the issues of consciousness itself. As far as I can tell, that remains in the realm of the philosopher at this stage. The senses can absorb vast amounts of information, the brain can process it into logical patterns and responses, but none of this contributes to the "what if" ability I am trying to understand. This is essential implying that the brain is a vast and complex relational database, but a.) they are designed, and b.) they don't have the ability to speculate.

@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.

Progressive based on what - previous results of natural selection with large amounts of time, environment and error thrown in - it's still a reaction to what has gone before - it still doesn't have the ability to look forward and speculate.

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?

It appears from archaeopteryx's reply that I have outstayed my welcome, so I will bid you all adieu. Thank you for you comments and explanations. I will read the books you've suggested over the Christmas break - between I hope a good selection of novels - this has been very interesting, enlightening, and faith strengthening, and I will raise a glass to you all next time I have one in my hand. Go well, and the next time you ask "what if", I hope it brings a thought to you, and not just "that damn Christian who didn't know what he was talking about." I see things from a different perspective, and perhaps I have challenged you to do the same. Adios.

Vaya bien - regressa despues de leyendo los libros --

Oh, and Eric, I spoke only for myself, and we all know it, so don't try to blame your departure on me. A very sweet, bright young lady theist, Anna Silva, came on the board recently, and it was clear that she was not very knowledgeable regarding how evolution works, and you are just another case of that - I recommended to you no more, no less than I did to her.

Although you appeared honest, open, and interested in learning, the fact that you kept coming back to the "What if" issue, over and over, after being told repeatedly that it bore no relevance, even referring to it in your closing remarks, leads me to believe that you may, in fact, have had a covert agenda, one that required we accept as valid your "What if" premise, but realizing that you were never going to get us to do so, decided not to waste any more of your time.

If I'm right, we've seen the last of you; if I'm not, you'll read the Dawkins book and return, in which case, I look forward to additional dialogue with you, as I'd hope others do as well.

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