David Birnbaum Philosophy
August 21, 2014
3 Views - Evolution
Three Views on Evolution:
Randomness, ID, Potentialism
wed, 2014-08-20 01:30
Contemporary Evolution thought currently falls across three main theories – Randomness, Intelligent Design (ID), and, as of the turn-of-the-century, Potentialism; this newest theory was released in 1988 by philospoher David Birnbaum via Ktav Publishing in the first of his three-part philosophical treatise Summa Metaphysica (1988, 2005, 2014). See www.SummaMetaphysica.com
Randomness was the prevalent cosmology of the 20th century. Founded on atheist principles, it was an attempt to completely divorce the universe from abstract philosophy, spirituality, any form of religion, and any semblance whatsoever of ‘direction/purpose/intentionality.’
To Randomness, cosmic evolvement is ruled entirely by chance. To Randomness proponents, Evolution simply tries new features endlessly; the ones which turn out to be an advantage are kept because those displaying it will survive to breed. The universe itself evolves completely mindlessly. The Big Bang, galaxies, star systems, life, vertebrates, humankind, consciousness are just happenstance and part of the cosmic genetic lottery.
Of course, there is an ‘internal contradiction’ here: On the one hand Randomness posits that there is no direction whatsoever to the universe; on the other hand, as regards Evolution in particular, Randomness is adamant that genetic survivability is a de facto ‘constant’ which has been sustained for several hundred million years. ‘Genetic survivability’ as universal? Interesting; a seeming glaring exception (to supposedly ‘aimless’ Randomness) at the very core.
Intelligent Design (ID)
ID experienced a renaissance of popularity late in the 20th century – largely in reaction to Randomness Theory. ID proposes the universe most definitely moves with intentionality.
In modern context, ID has often been used as an argument for proof of God's existence, which has put ID in direct confrontation with Randomness; subsequently, ID has been the subject of quite-vitriolic attacks from atheist opposition; the prime gambit has been to mock, if not totally humiliate, its chief academic/scientific protagonists.
There is, indeed, a widespread belief that ID is just a stalking-horse for Creationist God in general, and the Christian version thereof, in particular. However, clearly there are serious academics with no hidden agenda in-the-mix of ID protagonists as well. In any event, as the name of the theory directly implies, Intelligent Design believes in an intelligent, probably conscious designer. Some, if not most, ID proponents believe that the unseen designer effected humans as a so to speak ‘finished product.’
ID itself, while a philosophical gateway for the possibility of the divine, is nevertheless founded on scientific theory, or, at least, its protagonists’ conception of scientific theory. The argument is largely stated as such: Life in the universe is simply too complex and complex to have happened by mere chance. More specifically, ID was based on two principles: Irreducible Complexity and Specified Complexity. In the early 21st century, a third principle was ingathered from the mainstream scientific community itself: ‘The Fine-Tuned Universe.
a) The ‘Irreducible Complexity’ argument: Certain biological systems – like the human eye – are asserted to be too complex to have gradually evolved from simpler or ‘less complete’ predecessors.
b) The ‘Specified Complexity’ argument: Basically, the argument that a human being is too complex a system to have come about by random chance ‘survivability.’
The existence of specified complexity is used as evidence of outside orchestration of a natural process – that is to say, the intelligent hand of some high-level unseen designer.
c) The ‘Fine-Tuned universe’ argument
This is the proposition that the constants relating to the multiple variables in the universe necessary for Life each lie within such a narrow range, that one cannot assign the extraordinary/extreme confluence of all these variables to random chance; meaning, the existing confluence of variables which has yielded and sustains Life could simply not have come about by random chance; Moreover, even with the add-on proposition of multiple universes, the possibility/probability of all the variables coming-together by chance is de facto 0.
The newest of the cosmological theories is Potentialism: David Birnbaum’s Potentialism, as a whole, is based on the foundation of the Birnbaum-hypothesized (natural) dynamic – Infinite Quest for Infinite Potential. The underlying premise is that everything in the universe has an inherent drive which causes it to seek its own greatest potential. See ParadigmChallenge.
Birnbaum’s position is that this dynamic – Infinite Quest for Potential - is driving the Cosmic Order and Evolution: According to the hypothesis, Quest for Potential (shorthand: Q4P) directs the universe via Complexification (shorthand: C+) towards ultimate Extraordinariation (shorthand: E+).
Complexification (C+) = the hypothesized drive towards greater complexity/sophistication/richness/diversity/wondrousness
Extraordinariation (E+) = the hypothesized cosmic quest towards the goal/horizon
of ultimate Complexification
So, symbolically, Q4P > C+ > E+.
This equation is referred-to as the SuperLaw. Per Birnbaum this same SuperLaw is operating across-the-spectrum – from macro universe-level all the way down thru the sub-atomic, quantum level. Somewhere in the middle of the spectrum is Evolution – and the SuperLaw operates here, as well. In short, it is the Common Denominator of the Cosmic Order.
So, with Quest for Potential driving Natural Selection, as well as the entire universe itself, the core inter-related three key components driving the Evolution process – under the umbrella of Infinite Quest for Potential – would then be –
# genetic survivability – necessary, albeit not sufficient.
# Complexification (C+) = the drive towards a greater panoply of Potential
# Extraordinariation (E+) = the quest towards ultimate Infinite Potential
Thus, Birnbaum extracts the component ‘survivability’ from mainstream Evolution science; he then supplements ‘survivability’ with two other, albeit related, dynamics, his C+ and his E+. Thus, after the eons we end up with Beethoven, and not just survival-friendly slugs.
Potentialism believes in an overarching natural cosmic dynamic – Infinite Quest for Potential. The nature of the inherent drive might be something akin to MIT Professor Seth Lloyd's 2006 concept of a universe-spanning quantum computer (see xQuantum1000.com and Lloyd1000.com) interlaced with the Cosmic Order.
Per Potentialism this drive may or may not have evolved into classic God at some point – and for an undetermined span of time, if it indeed did so; Potentialism takes no definitive position on this point other than to posit its possibility (see www.PotentialismTheory.com).
While Infinite Quest for Potential (Q4P∞) is hyper-intelligent, and ever-iterating and evolving. Q4P∞ itself is evolving; the orchestrator is simultaneously the morphed Cosmic Order. There is no separation between the orchestrator and the Cosmic Order; the two are one-and-the-same. In ID Theory, as in classic Aristotelianism, the two are distinct and separate.
ID Theory mandates humans as having skipped-over any Evolutionary timeline, and as having made-an-appearance as a 'finished product'. Potentialism, however, insists on an ongoing evolutionary process not just in the biological sphere, and as regards humans, but across the entire arc of cosmic evolvement.
Unlike Randomness, Potentialism recognizes that the universe does most definitely move with purpose – towards ever increasing Complexification enroute towards Extraordinariation, the elusive horizon/goal of the Cosmic Order (see www.summametaphysica.com/extraordinariation/).
Regarding ID’s three key arguments, the Potentialism position regarding each of the three arguments noted above would be as-follows:
(a) Potentialism believes that the ‘irreducible complexity’ argument is wrong; Potentialism believes that ID underestimates the extraordinary ability/proclivity of Evolution to morph and iterate – from simple to more complex – over the eons;
(b) Potentialism believes that the ‘specified complexity’ argument both on a universe-level and as regards human beings; meaning that our inter-dependent holistic universe is too complex, rich, and extraordinary to have come about – and have prevailed over the billions of years – simply by random chance.
(c) Potentialism, in concert with contemporary mainstream science, is quite sympathetic-to the ‘Fine-Tuned Universe’ argument.
Potentialism: The one unifying theory
How did we get to Beethoven? Randomness certainly did not get us there. God? There may or may not be the God of Creation. A universal and ongoing quest for potential, indeed may have gotten us to Beethoven.
The most elegant and powerful hypothesis to-date – would seem to be Potentialism; as noted, its SuperLaw is: Q4P > C+ > E+; and the day-to-day ‘biological mechanism’ would be Evolution.
DAVID BIRNBAUM PHILOSOPHY / METAPHYSICS
Cosmology, Metaphysics & Philosophy: See sample testimonial on Summa Metaphysica, David Birnbaum's philosophy treatise:
“…an original, and, in this reader’s opinion, a very promising point of view…
the author gathers a philosophically coherent and, in the end, highly modern insight… a unified metaphysics…”
- Louis Dupré, Professor of Religious Studies, Yale University, New Haven, CT