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    • Joe Carter

      You said: "It sort of seems like you are suggesting that evolution is being driven by a larger organism with foresight into the future. Not only that but it suggests that evolution is not independent but controlled by a prime mover of sorts." For the record, I am 100% agnostic. Asserting a maker as "necessary" for what we see as the natural world strikes me as pushing the necessity for a maker back a layer while avoiding the contradictory question that assertion begs, which is; "If complex self aware beings need a complex self aware maker to exist at all, doesn't the maker also need a maker?" ergo infinite regress. Anyway, answering that question (if there is one) may be above my pay grade, but it's certainly less valuable to me than leveraging what is here and now to the fullest advantage. If we leverage the tangible opportunities within our grasp to the fullest extent, then I would be happy to devote more energy to things like that.

      I do think our penchant for framing reality in story form as we see in cultural traditions throughout the world is probably a useful adaptive trait given the limits of our cognitive abilities and the limits of collected knowledge in the context of the things we needed to understand and negotiate, especially in the past. Stories strike me as a form of shorthand for the otherwise overwhelming complexities involved in understanding the nature of things, including ourselves in abstract form. A less than perfect lens, but better than no lens at all. We conflate the map with the territory, and the literal with the metaphor to our detriment. I am glad we are getting a clearer picture now as we convert this story conveyed through nature into a more reliable set of predictable processes by way of scientific inquiry with which we are more reliably able to anticipate and act with effective precision. This evidence based inquiry gives us a stronger "voice" in the choir of relationships that conspires to define our experience.

      We can be more intentional and effective without as much speculation using science, but just as the presuppositions embedded in our traditional stories caused blind spots that hurt our progress toward being more effective at accurate perception and corresponding intentional acts, (like a Skinnerian pigeon pecking a dot in the belief that it causes food) so do some of the assumptions we currently use in science blind us as far as I can tell. Prominent among these assumptions is "the mind is solely in the brain and has no presence or expression beyond the brain's field of vision" or something similar. That assumption may be true, but it is a tautology as far as I can tell - an assumption. (Unless you have solid evidence I am unaware of to rule it out) Again, this is no assertion of the contrary, it is a sincere attempt to understand the nature of nature with a full awareness and integration of what we don't know along with a full respect to what we do know. I do not know how to get to “mind exists only in the brain” without assumption.

      Yes I am speculating. I do not know a lot of things, but I do know that inside my field of vision (which could be in error) is a range of possibilities that I can entertain as possible without asserting as fact, which could then be measured by evidence as valid or not. To me, this willingness to entertain ideas within the scope of the possible is the life blood of discovery. I simply draw the parallax lines of possibility wider than you appear to. I am attempting to step outside the conventional lines of assumption to see if there's anything there. I am well aware of how "far out "that looks, and that it may be a fools errand. As for exploration, that is where the greater danger of failure and opportunity exists. I am fully aware I could be in error. If I am trying to smuggle in a presupposition, it is by way of my own ignorance, not by way of intentional nefarious ideological priming. I do not know how to make this any plainer than I already have – repeatedly.

      I am speculating on what I perceive to be within the realm of possibilities, that natural systems may have intelligence embedded within them on different orders of magnitude than this narrow band of perception and response capabilities we label consciousness in a human context. Our field of perception and response capacities inside our brain is a scant fraction of an otherwise far more ubiquitous property of perception and response threaded throughout natural systems in many ways. Our own biology, apart from the thin veil of consciousness in our brain, also has anticipatory skills and action capabilities on many levels. Our fight or flight systems are a highly sophisticated orchestra of perceptions and corresponding actions based on what our biology sees as necessary to deal with a perceived threat. Consciously we could report these processes and label them with our meager net of abstractions, but the origin and current state of their presence, their anticipatory nature, along with their capability to act in relation to that perception, like that of our immune system, sex drives, breathing and suckling reflexes, and a host of other things that are aligned around nourishing and defending the continuation of biology (not necessarily species) through time seems like a fairly plain fact to me. Our abstract descriptions of these already present features is the new kid on the block.

      What it all means, I am not sure, but dismissing all but our brain as the mindless reactionary flow of the elemental waters appears to beg the question; "If we deny the capacity for natural systems to perceive and respond with anticipatory capability in forms other than what we see in our brain due to our ability to frame them as processes, wouldn't this also be sufficient to deny our own consciousness due to its reactionary process based nature?" Laying claim to consciousness based on reactionary process alone in ourselves while simultaneously denying its possibility on other self similar scales seems at least as presuppositional as asserting divinity without warrant and then conforming all evidence to fit that assumption.

      As far as my speculation, yes it could be reversal of the oxygenation event early in Earth's history. It could also be an isomorph of the sophisticated dance of cellular and organ development such as we we see in a fetus in utero, complete with strategic expressions of apoptosis in service of a final state of development that is more suited to a future environment that will occur outside the current womb which at some point will no longer be able to sustain development. Apoptosis may happen on a species or ecosystem level under the same principles expressed in seed form in more localized areas such as embryological development. By what means this apparent expression anticipatory based action occurs, by happenstantial reaction or by anticipatory and intentional teleological means of some kind, or some blend, I do not know. It may be something else entirely. I am fairly certain it is natural, whatever it is.

      I do not hide from the fact that as far as I can tell, I use foresight based on a limited perspective to govern my actions with respect to the future. I am guessing I am not alone in this unless I am unwittingly solipsistic in nature, and since I am part of a larger self similar natural world, and since this anticipatory act is part of my nature, therefore I do not artificially (and without merit in my view) discount the possibility of self similar traits on other scales, in other forms, which might be present throughout nature, especially since we appear to be representative of the common traits in natural systems.

      I would also afford the perspective you appear to be comfortable with if I am not mistaken; that everything congealed without any kind of foresight and only appears cognizant and anticipatory by fluke, and that authentic foresight is only the possible emergent domain of conscious beings (or perhaps a delusion). Complex dynamic adaptable systems are dynamic in relation to the orientation toward a goal of continuing as part of a larger relationship economy. If we go on a mission to go to a store or build a house and find obstacles, we can negotiate them and stay on task. I am pretty sure that's a representation of a pervasive aspect of nature on many levels. Again, origins uncertain, hence speculation.

      Yes, I was referring to the fact that our limited abstract self awareness may ironically be the engine of our own extinction by the leverage it yields us to affect the environment coupled with the inability to understand and or discipline ourselves to act within our means may be a result of influences beyond our understanding, potentially of a farming-esque, tending till the slaughter, kind of action. Whether that possibility of extinction would come as a result of the brute force of our myopia, thrusting our historical traits on an ecosystem that cannot sustain the tax, or by some larger developmental aspect of evolution at work which we do not yet understand, I do not know.

      Yes it is speculation to say it may be governed by natural systems pushing for outcomes that are outside our direct field of our awareness. My guess is the same way a lemur probably does not fully understand all the things it does that are aligned around the continuation of it's individual and collective community, nor its full context to the larger body of life, why would we be exempt from this potential for a limited perspective toward those things we participate in without understanding their full weight and impact? I see no solid reason, although it may be possible.

      Consider the Jewel Wasp's use of cockroaches as part of its reproductive cycle. When a fertile female’s eggs are ready she hunts a cockroach. Once found, she first gives the roach a precision sting in a very specific area of its nervous system causing a 2 to 3 minute paralysis of the roach’s legs. She uses that time to administer even more refined stings to prevent the roach from walking spontaneously, disable its escape instincts and change its metabolism. The roach can still stand, jump and walk if prodded, but otherwise it stands there waiting for direction because the connections between the cockroach brain and motor signals have been surgically severed. The roach begins grooming itself and the wasp chews off half of each antennae and then digs a burrow. She leads the roach into the burrow using an antenna as a leash, lays an egg on the roach’s abdomen, seals it in the burrow to keep other predators out.

      The wasp egg hatches into a larva and begins to feed on it, chewing a hole large enough to crawl inside. It strategically eats while preserving what the roach needs to live until the larva is fully developed. It also secretes several kinds of antibiotics to inhibit the growth of bacteria, fungi and viruses. The wasp larvae protects the roach with one hand as it saps nourishment to grow with the other. Once fully formed, it bursts out of the exoskeleton to look for food, a mate and, if it’s female, to hunt roaches on which to lay eggs. There's some anticipatory expressions in there, again my guess is this anticipatory behavior is forged by natural systems.

      Although we are more capable to describe the processes that exist in nature than we once were, my perspective is that this ability to describe process is a necessary, but not necessarily a sufficient means to arrive at a full explanation of nature. I have found many an orthodox mind too willing to accept unquestioned presuppositions as fact, even defend them because of the clear image they render, without noticing the presence of the presupposition at all. The fact that these apparitions of presupposition generate such a convincing image to the people who peer through them is a human condition, it is not isolated to religious presuppositions alone.

      Thank you so much for the continental plate article. I hope my walks on the fringes of science do not continue to trigger inferences of nefarious ID or something. I really don't know. I do find the whole pile of energy applied to the apologetics domain from both camps a waste of time. To me it is similar to arguing over the sprinkles on the cupcake while the kitchen's on fire. There's more important things to do right now.

      I could be missing something(s)