I. IN THE BEGINNING
A. Big Bang Misnomer
[1:1] In the beginning there was the “Big Bang.” However, this event was neither “big” as the universe arose from an infinitesimal point, nor was there a “bang” as there was not only no medium for “sound” but there also were no perceivers to have the subjective experience of sound.
[1:2] Despite the “Big Bang” being a pejorative misnomer coined by Fred Hoyle in 1949, there is now broad coherent academic consensus that everything that exists has come into existence through the process of evolution and that the “Big Bang” is now the accepted term for referring to such a beginning. This evolutionary process has resulted in not only all the galaxies, solar systems, and biological life, but also all cognitive experiences of living beings including such experiences as moral values.
[1:3] Since evolution is the acknowledged academic explanatory process for the existence of all that exists, including cognitive experiences, it follows that the process of evolution, as manifested by natural selection, is also the academic explanation that can be provided for the origins of the principles of morality. It makes no difference as to whether or not the existence of something is material or cognitive, the process of evolution is still the agreed upon universal academic explanation.
[1:4] Because evolution is based on empirical facts, and because empirical facts can only provide deterministic cause and effect relationships, it is academically recognized that it is impossible to empirically observe any evolutionary purposes or ends. Purposes and ends—teleology, are subjective cognitive determinations and since empirical facts can only provide objective facts, it follows that empirical facts cannot provide evidence of not only evolutionary purposes or ends but it also cannot provide any empirical evidence of any moral purposes or ends. This non-teleological account of evolution is not controversial as it would be unreasonable to expect empiricism to provide something that it is not capable of providing, i.e. purposes or ends. As John Stuart Mill said, albeit in the context of happiness: we shouldn’t expect more from life than what it is capable of bestowing.
[1:5] From this non-teleological evolutionary point of view, the question then arises as to how the principles of morality, which have purposes and ends, have evolved into existence.
[1:6] One academic description is that morality, culture, and worldviews in general are immaterial cognitive developments that are transferred or passed on from one generation to the next by the evolutionary process of natural selection. Richard Dawkins coined the term “meme” to refer to such natural selection or transference of cognitive values. However, if morality is in fact immaterial, then it also follows that morality cannot be established by empirical evidence.
[1:7] Evolution therefore appears to be reductively dualistic with empiricism providing the factual evidence for evolution independent of purposes and ends, and "mematic evolution" providing the factual evidence for evolution of cognitive values.
C. Natural Selection
1. Survival of the fittest vs natural selection
[1:8] Natural selection is a subcategory of evolution in that it refers to the mechanisms or processes that results in the passing on of genetic traits by reproduction. Since natural selection is based on empirical facts it follows that there are no teleological purposes or ends that can be discerned outside of subjective cognitive experiences and/or evaluations. The evolution of biological creatures is called natural selection, not “survival of the fittest” as it is sometimes mistakenly referred to.
[1:9] Biological natural selection is the empirical evidence that shows that those beings that are most able to successfully reproduce will predominate and pass on their genetic traits and thus exist. This reproductive ability is necessarily accompanied by adaptation, i.e., the ability to adapt to the ever-changing environment. As a result, natural selection is not “survival of the fittest,” as that term would imply that there is an end or purpose that nature is pursuing, i.e., fitness, rather than just reproductive success. Since it is impossible for empirical evidence to observe anything except determined cause and effect relationships, and since “survival of the fittest” generally implies a purpose or end, it follows that “survival of the fittest,” like the “Big Bang” is a contradictive misnomer.
[1:10] However, if “fittest” is defined simply as “survival” in order to make the phrase “survival of the fittest” coherent with “natural selection,” then “survival of the fittest” becomes a meaningless term as is shown by replacing the term “fittest” in “survival of the fittest“ with “survival” which then results in “survival of the those who survive.” It is certainly a capital “T” Truth like an analytic statement, but it is not a statement that provides any additional knowledge: it is a tautology.
[1:11] Biological natural selection is a purely descriptive process of the unfolding of biological nature and therefore it cannot impart any value or purpose.
[1:12] If there is any value, purpose, or meaning in the physical universe it seems that it would be only because cognitive beings are able to subjectively conceive of the universe as valuable, purposive, or meaningful, not because there is any value, purpose, or meaning empirically found in physical nature itself, or independent of subjective cognitive experiences of beings. Therefore, since moral principles exist as cognitive experiences, and since moral principles have purposes and ends, it follows that moral principles cannot be empirically determined, rather the nature of the existence of moral principles must be a purely subjective experience.
2. Evolution vs. creationism
[1:13] The distinguishing characteristic between creationism—a purposeful theistic creation of the present world, and evolution is that evolution has independent and verifiable evidence from a broad range of academic disciplines in its support, and creationism does not have a single academic empirical discipline that is able to support its faith-based position. Astronomy, Geology, Paleontology, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, just to name a few academic disciplines, have all independently concluded, using the scientific method, that both empirically and rationally that a non-purposive evolution is the best explanation of the origin and nature of the universe with all its biological beings and with all it’s cognitive experiences. This multidisciplinary academic agreement is called coherency. Creationism, on the other hand, is a nonacademic, nonscientific, faith-based conclusion that is incoherent with academics. This observation does not necessarily disprove faith-based creationism, such as for example theistic evolution, as empiricism can only provide evidence for the making of reasonable conclusions. However, if the faith-based creationism asserts statements of fact that are empirically determined to be false, such as for example, a geocentric worldview, or flat Earth, then empiricism would be able to discredit those so called "factual claims" as being false.
[1:14] Therefore, although empiricism cannot provide evidence for the nonexistence of the tooth fairy or god, it is the case, as mentioned earlier, that academics can provide both empirical and rational proofs that particular factual or rational claims are false, contradictory, and/or logically inconsistent.
[1:15] Since academic education is about academic subjects, and since creationism is not an academic worldview, it would be absurd to conclude that creationism ought to be given equal academic time when dealing with the empirical sciences any more than in faith-based investigations equal time ought to be given to academic empirical science. So also when dealing with morality. Since academics uses empirical and rational evidence for establishing the nature of reality, and since this is an academic text, it follows that the study of the nature and origins of the principles of morality will also have to be presented using the empirical and rational scientific method, not those that are based on faith or some other nonscientific method.
[1:16] On the other hand, if the academic subject were to be Anthropology, Philosophy of Religion, or Sociology and the focus was to address how faith or belief in creationism or theistic evolution—(now often referred to as intelligent design), has arisen independently of academically accepted scientific evidence, then it would be an appropriate subject to address in academia.
3. Representative heuristic errors
[1:17] A heuristic is an intuitive mental shortcut for making decisions quickly. Heuristic decision-making often works quite effectively, yet at other times heuristic decision-making may introduce errors. For example, in judging distance the heuristic use of clarity is often times used. Objects of less clarity are intuitively judged to be further away than objects of more clarity. As a result, on clear days with little humidity distances are often times heuristically underestimated. On hazy days, distances are often times over estimated. Overall the distance heuristic is effective enough for most distance judgments for humans to effectively interact with their environment for survival.
[1:18] One academic explanation of why so many people think of a purposeful universe or a purposeful creation is that those judgments are based on intuitive heuristic errors. For example, the representativeness heuristic is the psychological propensity to evaluate probabilities in such a way that to the degree to which “A” represents “B” is the degree towards which it is believed that “A” comes from “B.” This may be true for some situations, but not true for other situations, causing errors of intuitive judgments, i.e., a heuristic error. A representative heuristic error, for example, would be the conclusion that an emotional event implies an emotional cause. The heuristic error is that the cause could be something other than emotional. In the discussion of “survival of the fittest” the representative heuristic error would be that since many beings experience purpose, then it follows that the cause of that purpose must have been caused by a purposeful universe or caused by some purposeful god when in fact cause and effect relationships can only determined a series of events, in that one event follows another independent of the determination of a purposeful universe or a purposeful god. More specifically, just because the principles of morality have purposes, it does not logically follow that the causation of those purposes was necessarily purposeful itself, rather it can be scientifically explained by the nonpurposive processes of natural selection.
4. Philosophers Historical Influence
[1:19] Richard Dawkins asks the question, "Why did it take so long for a Darwin to arrive on the scene?" The concept of evolution and natural selection is such a simple and easy concept to understand as compared to many of the other scientific understandings that preceded it. So why did evolution take so long in becoming scientifically accepted, and why do more than 40% of Americans still deny the scientific empirical evidence that humans evolved from other animals, and think that they were created by God within the last 10,000 years?
[1:20] A significant cause of such a scientific delay is probably because of a combination of both religious and academic indoctrination. Religious indoctrination because of religious revelations such as those found in the book of Genesis but perhaps even more influential and seminal to the scientific delay was the academic indoctrination that was incorporated into religious doctrines. This antievolutionary worldview started with Pythagoras, then spread to Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle and then ultimately to the entire history of academia. These philosophers were arguably the most important and influential academic contributors the world has ever known. As a result it was philosophical leaders, not religious leaders, who were the most significant contributors to the delay in the scientific advancement of evolution for the past 2000 years.
[1:21] Plato combined Heraclitus's ever-changing flux and Parmenides eternal never-changing one. The Pythagorean ideal perfection of geometry in which perfection only exists independently of the physical world was extended by Plato to be the immutable, nontemporal, and nonspatial forms. These perfect and unchanging forms is what made knowledge possible for Plato.
[1:22] Although Aristotle rejected the apartness of the forms, and therefore Plato's mind body dualism, he was still fundamentally a Platonist. For Aristotle every holistic individual thing has two aspects, matter and form, and either without the other is an abstraction and unreal. As an acorn grows into an oak tree, the oak is the form or purpose that the acorn serves. The acorn is the potentiality of there being an oak tree, and the oak tree is the actuality of this potentiality. The acorn is the basis that makes an oak tree possible—potentiality; and the oak is the purpose, or end, toward which the acorn grows—actuality.
[1:23] These concepts of Plato's unchanging immutable forms, together with Aristotle's potentiality and actuality created the infertile parking lot environment that evolution and natural selection has had to set its roots in.
[1:24] Perhaps the question, "Why did it take so long for a Darwin to arrive on the scene? is not the right question. Perhaps the question should be "How was it possible that evolution and natural selection was able to grow roots in such an infertile environment?" The answer to this question, as will be further discussed, was greatly influenced by empirical evidence, and rational reasoning.
[1:25] Likewise, morality is indistinguishable from evolution and natural selection in that it can be approached as an academic discipline. Such an approach is not an atheistic or anti-religious perspective or worldview, rather the perspective that will be presented is the result of the epistemological justification of empirical evidence and rational reasoning.
SUMMARY: In The Beginning
[1:26] All of reality has evolved into existence regardless of whether you are referring to planetary systems or moral principles. Since evolution is based on empirical evidence, and since empirical evidence can only observe cause and effect relationships, it follows that epistemologically there can be no empirical claims of purposes and ends as purposes and ends are subjective claims not empirical claims. However, persons intersubjectively agree that they do have purposes and ends and that needs to be explained.
[1:27] Religion, along with creationism, may be one way of explaining purposes and ends, yet for academic scientific enquiry such epistemological and metaphysical claims of “faith” are not acceptable. It would be inappropriate to give equal time to both evolution and creationism in an academic setting as there is no empirical evidence for creationism and academics is based on empirical and rational analysis.
[1:28] Purposes and ends that are conceived as being part of the evolutionary framework can be explained as heuristic errors of representativeness, in which the purposeful effect is thought to be necessarily caused by a purposeful cause. However, it is known that causes do not necessarily have the characteristics or attributes of the effects and therefore such evaluations may be an intuitional error, hence the name heuristic error.
[1:29] Purposes and ends that are conceived as being part of the evolutionary framework can also be explained as being part of a long history of academic indoctrination based on antievolutionary worldviews starting with Pythagoras, then spreading to Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and then ultimately to the past 2000 years of academia.
[1:30] It is through the continued process of empirical evidence and rational thought that scientific advancement is prevailing and the same will be the case with the study of moral theory.
[1:31] Please take: Quiz 2