During my rather impetuous youth, I considered the study of philosophy an exercise in futility.
In those days of my more pragmatic materialism, I found the introductory courses to philosophy to be tedious and essentially useless in my “big scheme” of things. The whole point of the course seemed to be identifying an unanswerable question, then wasting the rest of the class trying to guess an answer we could not possibly know.
I never appreciated questions such as, “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?”
In my opinion, this is a stupid and somewhat arrogant question.
The asker presumes sounds only occur if audibly detected by human ears. Of course a falling tree makes a sound.
There’s just no one around to yell “Timber!”
Also, philosophers love questions like “How do you know your experiences are real and you aren’t just a brain in a vat?”
Another stupid question. Here’s a clue: find a hammer, and instead of striking the nail squarely on the head, smash your other hand and tell me if it hurts. You can wonder if your pain is imaginary on your way to the emergency room.
Hopefully you have enough sense not to attempt my sarcastic suggestion of an “experiment.”
Even philosophical children ask maddening questions such as: “Did Adam and Eve have belly buttons?”
My logical answer (gut instinct) says no because they would be superfluous, unless they were born and not created.
Really, how on earth would I know? How can I state my opinion with any conviction?
My atheist friends should agree that even if science could provide a real answer to my question about the biological mechanism for modifying a genome into a new creature, the first sentient male who “evolved” from an ancestor type could still be called Adam.
Another favorite traditional dead-end has been the question: “Which came first: the chicken or the egg?”
It may surprise you and seem hypocritical for me to suggest that we explore possible answers to that last question.
After all, I’ve just confessed to a rather dismissive prior attitude toward philosophy. In my own defense, I submit that my opinion of philosophy itself has evolved over time.
When my disinterest in God turned into curiosity, I freely admit the naiveté behind my approach to answer the philosophical question: Does God exist?
One night I simultaneously begged God to offer me some evidence of His existence while doubting anything would really happen. My cynical nature evolved after the destruction of my childhood faith in God from what I learned in my (mandatory) introductory science classes in college.
I didn’t believe in miracles. I no longer believed in a literal 144 hour period of creation, which in my mind invalidated the first chapter of Genesis and by extension, the rest of the Bible.
I had learned in geology class that the Earth was probably about 4 billion years old, give or take a few hundred million years.
I still don’t believe in six literal “days” of creation. But I am writing this article because of what happened that night I became convinced God exists.
If God exists, how could I reconcile what I knew to be true about the Big Bang and evolution? My effort to answer that question began with Divine Evolution and continues with these articles.
Regarding the problem of the chicken or the egg: my answer has always been “the chicken” because I believe that God created the chicken or the chicken genome or whatever you want to call it, but some divine intelligence shaped the modern animal.
I have speculated in my book those fossils of so-called ancestral forms could actually be prototypes. No matter what the fossils are, no rational argument can explain how and why life diversified as it did after multiple mass extinctions.
Why do we have order in nature? Why does the food chain exist? The immune system?
I believe that natural selection, if defined as genetic mutation, offers a perfect explanation of how life forms adapt to their natural environment. (cont’d below)
The scientific theory of natural selection offers no evidence to show how new genomes are formed or new life emerges except to say that it takes so long observation is impossible.
Or they offer sham evidence of speciation like Jerry Coyne’s claim that two apple maggot flies with different culinary tastes produce a new “species” of apple maggot fly.
Evolution cannot answer the basic question of which came first, the chicken or the egg.
However, science might have. British scientists have given us a definitive answer: the chicken.
I can believe that they’ve “proved” that the chicken came first.
It makes perfect sense, if you think about it. Either a chicken-like ancestor mutated slowly over time and ultimately produced the first two chickens, or God created the chicken genome. In either event, you’ve got a chicken before you’ve got an egg.
The problem with looking at an example such as the Larus gull and claiming proof of evolution is that for a ring species to expand the ring there has to be more than one existing type of gull. Otherwise the “ring” actually only demonstrates gene flow and isolation, not an emergence of new species of gull.
I have humbly suggested (okay, maybe not) that either Archaeopteryx is a biological dead end, or there should be a biological explanation for how a different species gradually became Archaeopteryx — besides gene flow and isolation because of what we know about the Larus gull.
The gull changes slightly due to mating with – a perfectly legitimate and well understood biological result, but it’s still a gull.
I know I differ in opinion on this matter with scientist heavyweights like Richard Dawkins and Francis Collins, and I don’t question what they know. What can they prove? How does the similarity of genome prove a direct relationship exists when we can’t explain how it could happen?
I’m not talking about variations in a couple of gulls. I’m talking about the big differences in a genome that a common ancestor could exist between a gull and a chicken, or mouse and human.
Yet according to the theory of evolution, logically if you can regress far enough back in time, every form of life on Earth is related to a common ancestor formed by abiogenesis.
There was one original genome for a simple plant organism that evolved over billions of years. It allegedly now accounts for thousands of precise genetic algorithms separating bats, zebras, snakes, and frogs, genomes that do not even mix well when extremely similar life forms mate.
I refer to hybrid products like mules, zedonks (see one locally at Chestatee Wildlife Preserve), whophins and ligers by “similar life forms”.
For the rate of evolution to exceed the known rate of extinction, we should be able to observe very slight variations in form created by unique new genomes that emerge from some sort of biological selection. Yet we can’t ever observe it, unless you blur the lines and count “types” of fruit flies with only different culinary tastes.
The argument I’ve made that so-called transitional fossils should more logically be considered biological prototypes because there is no satisfactory explanation for how something that was not quite a chicken became a chicken, or laid an egg that became a chicken.
The reason I can say the argument for divine design of the animal genome (including homo sapiens) is stronger than an evolutionary argument is based on sexual pairing.
The real question is not which came first: the chicken or the egg?
It is simply this: how did a hen and a rooster simultaneously evolve (without entropy killing one before the other evolved) such that they could sexually reproduce and the hen could lay the egg?