Posted: Jun 21, 2019 4:45 am
by Jayjay4547
laklak wrote: I've been following this thread for years and I still have no goddamn idea what it's about. Why would "atheists" want to hide evidence that early hominids bit cave lions and/or smacked proto-leopards with sticks?

That doesn’t read like a serious attempt to present the argument I’ve been exploring, especially recently. Here is the best I can do to explain what it is about.

Atheists want to avoid interpreting early hominid morphology in terms of a struggle for existence in relation to other organic beings or to external conditions and instead they want to interpret it terms of a struggle between the individuals of one sex, generally the males, for the possession of the other sex. That text is adapted from how Darwin contrasted natural selection from sexual selection in the 6th edition of The Origin of Species.

So with respect to the recent discussions on teeth, atheists want to interpret male primate canines in terms of sexual selection whereby those with longer canines struggled successfully with other males for possession of females, or maybe the females themselves chose to give their favours to males with longer canines.

Interpreted in terms natural selection, male primate canines serve to raise a credible threat of maiming biting, to “other organic beings” who are weighing whether to predate. Successful deterrence provides access to food resources, by the troop.

In the same terms of natural selection, the distinctive absence of long canines in early hominids shows that they did not raise a credible biting threat to predators, while their bipedal body plan and their wide distribution shows that they were adapted into highly successfully offering a credible threat through the use of hand held kinetic weapons.

The record of recent posts shows that “atheists” do in fact avoid interpreting hominid teeth in terms of natural selection, even going so far as to put a smokescreen over the basic issue of whether Australopithecus lacked long sharp canines in the first place. Even your good self in your post, drew a confusing picture over the basic point of what I have been arguing. This forum is a great laboratory for exploring “atheist” behaviour.

For the purpose of study, “atheist” should include posters who flatly say they aren’t atheists, but are some variety of rationalists. Because you share the same overall ideology and to call it “rationalist” would imply a neutral point of view, which is scarse here.

laklak wrote: What's the point? Where's the payoff? Who benefits?
Atheists benefit by gaining a level of assurance that helps them to get good jobs for themselves and like-thinkers in particular occupations such as lecturing at universities in the social and life sciences. Though the benefits that come from believing that one is one of a select group of “right thinkers” goes much beyond salary.

The link between the assurance and the hominid teeth is of course the tricky part in my position and that might be at the heart of your problem with it. An origin story in terms of relations within the group and explicitly excluding relations with other organic beings or to external conditions, is essentially a closed narrative. The actors are all hominins. In contrast, an origin story in terms of natural selection involves an outward spreading network of actors and systems of actors, such as one might try to invoke in words like biome or Africa or Gaia or eventually “God”.

laklak wrote: It's not like creationism isn't utter nonsense on the face of it, there's no need to lie to make it even more utterly fucking nonsensical.

Please don’t imply that I am lying Laklak; I’m doing my best to explain my position. It is not true that the creation of mankind happened from scratch over 6 days of 24 hours. But it did take place through a network of actors and systems of actors that doesn’t seem to have a clear outward limit either spatially or in terms of time. This system has been hugely creative, it is radically unpredictable by us and we have good reason right now, to fear it.

The human origin story in terms of evolution has several times drifted from an initial state towards a closed narrative. In The Origin of Species, Darwin drew a distinction between natural selection and sexual selection but focused on the former to explain general evolution. A decade later when he came to describe human evolution he devoted 2/3 of Descent of Man to sexual selection. Around the same time he revised Origins, clarifying that sexual selection is NOT about external conditions. In that interval Darwin had become a figurehead in a massive shift of public thinking that involved the collapse of religious control of Oxbridge and the creation of new model universities with a distinctly secular flavour.

Darwin’s justification for going into such length with sexual selection in human origins, was to explain human races, which he claimed, couldn’t be explained by natural selection. However that might be, human races don’t need to be explained so much as the extraordinary functionality of human speech and tool use.

Raymond Dart drifted in the same direction as Darwin had. In the years after his brilliant analysis of the Taung child in 1925 when he saw that its teeth and posture implied the use of tools “for offense and defense”, he developed the hunting hypothesis expressed in his “Predatory transition from Ape to Man”. A hunter is the essential actor, imposing his will on the hunted.

For me personally, the clincher about this drift was when I found my guess confirmed, that Darwin had edited his earlier distinction between natural and sexual selection to clarify that it wasn’t about externalities. But I don’t think sexual selection or primate fangs are by any means the only elements of the story of human origins being messed up by atheist ideology. Partly through indulgence and partly through the mechanisms of dialectics, I suspect that the whole narrative is shot through with atheist ideology. But I can only see one piece at a time.