Darwinian reading of Genesis

-It would be adaptive to be in the image of God. Adaptation is fundamentally domination of environment and no one dominates the environment more than the one creating it.

-Plantinga wants to make materialism incompatible with Darwinianism. Make the transcendence of matter adaptive, and we might make transcendence a prediction or a hypothesis that predicts the greater adaptive power of knowing mathematics, logic, time in the abstract, etc. Call it the evolutionary argument for transcending the physical.

-All adaptation before self-awareness and conscious domination of the environment will be random in comparison with it. The organism will just get lucky as opposed to deliberately taking hold of the environment.

-In light of intelligence-that-makes, the environment becomes matter.

-At first, we are just eager to divide artificial selection from natural selection. But artificial selection is a result of natural selection. It is adaptive, and how. It is the moment where natural selection overcomes its greatest defect.

 

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5 Comments

  1. February 10, 2014 at 10:01 am

    “At first, we are just eager to divide artificial selection from natural selection. But artificial selection is a result of natural selection. It is adaptive, and how. It is the moment where natural selection overcomes its greatest defect.”

    This reminds me of a passage from a striking essay (to me, at least) by V. S. Soloviev:

    “In order to see better, man has no need to change the morphological type of his visual organ. He has no need at all to have many eyes in place of two because with these two eyes weak vision (in the literal sense) is eliminated by invented human means like telescopes and microscopes, and in a higher sense man’s ‘prophetic pupils, as on a frightened eagle’ can open wide. With these two eyes he can become a prophet and a superman, whereas a creature of another organic form, supplied even with a hundred eyes, is still only a fly.”

    Throughout the essay, he develops an alternative, Christian understanding of Nietzsche’s superman, arguing that while physical adaptation was the process through which humanity came about, our rationality has made further physical adaptation unnecessary — we can seemingly conquer any weakness through, as you put it, “artificial selection” (assuming I’m reading you correctly). The only thing that we cannot seem to conquer, and are indeed conquered by, is death itself. Thus a true superman “must be first of all, and particularly, a conqueror of death — a liberated-liberator of humanity from those essential conditions which make death necessary, and consequently, the executor of those conditions by which it is possible either not to die at all or, having died, to rise from the dead to eternal life.”

    • February 10, 2014 at 10:27 am

      This is the direction I was going, yes. I’ve only read V.S.S.’s story of AntiChrist, but I loved it. Is this essay online?

      Though artificial selection first just meant husbandry and selective breeding of cattle, the idea generalizes to any mode of conscious control over the environment for the sake of the self (whether we consider the common or particular good of the self). Artificial selection, as everyone points out, is selection simpliciter, whereas natural selection is just good luck or bad luck (though recent research points to some loading of the dice, as TOF has written about recently, or which S. Conway Morris has dedicated his career to showing.)

      My suspicion is that all great scientific advances are first taken as promoting atheism or, at best, extremely idiosyncratic theism. Over time, all of them eventually are swallowed up into an orthodox theism. The cynical or skeptical account of this is that theists are just more inveterate, persistent, inventive in support of what they believe, and more invested in it; the opposite response is that theists are better readers of the opposition. That, and what they believe is true.

  2. February 10, 2014 at 10:47 am

    The essay is “The Idea of a Superman.” What I quoted is from this volume:

    http://www.amazon.com/Politics-Law-Morality-Essays-Soloviev/dp/0300079958

    Unfortunately, the essay is not online, so far as I know.

    His last major work, The Justification of the Good, can be found here, however:

    http://www.amazon.com/Politics-Law-Morality-Essays-Soloviev/dp/0300079958

    It’s an old translation, and the text has been revised (even re-translated, I think) in several more recent editions, but this one is still readable. I highly recommend it.

    It’ll be behind a paywall until June, but (*shameless self-promotion*) the journal of which I am assistant editor published an updated version of the last chapter, “The Moral Organization of Humanity as a Whole,” which can be found here:

    http://www.marketsandmorality.com/index.php/mandm/article/view/890

    In any event, I think your suspicion is correct. As my Calvinist friends would say, “All truth is God’s truth.” Such a realization, imo, *ought* to chasten knee-jerk reactionism against scientific advances that seemingly support (and often are used for the purpose of promoting) atheism.

  3. February 10, 2014 at 10:48 am

    Whoa! My apologies. I had no idea that giant preview would come up. The archive.org link is here: https://archive.org/details/cu31924028962128

  4. Matthew McCormack said,

    February 10, 2014 at 10:28 pm

    “Adaptation is fundamentally domination of environment…”.
    Domination sounds too strong to me. I would say ‘mastery’.


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