Let’s get back to basics
Since I’ve been digging into the theory of Evolution with the help of Amit Goswami, I’ve decided to take a look at precisely what that theory is. The Scientific American issue May 2009 is partly devoted to evolution. It has a column by a scientist visiting a creationist conference for instance. He notes, the dismay is kept very light in his piece, that they don’t think humans and animals have a common ancestor. Amit Goswami sits comfortably on the side of scientific opinion on this one: he does think humans have animal ancestry.
Looking at our closest relatives – from a genetic standpoint – chimpanzees share 99% of our DNA. This means that any one trying to prove we’re not related will have a hard time. By the way, Blavatsky maintained we ARE related, but that chimpanzees and other great apes are in fact descended from the first humans, not the other way around. Since she proposes a non-physical humanity coming BEFORE a physical one, her theory is rather hard to prove.
Let’s get back to those genes: When they started looking at that one percent of genes we don’t share with chimps, they found the following:
- The HAR1 DNA sequence is the same for chickens and chimpanzees, but very different for humans. It plays an important part in how our brain develops, specifically the cerebral cortex which is responsible for abstract thought.
- Another brain related part of DNA has to do with simply the size of it. ASPM it’s called. The human brain is a lot larger than that of other animals – compared to our body size.
- The FOXP2 DNA sequence differs significantly from chimps and is involved in our speech. It probably enables us to talk and was already present in Neanderthals.
- HAR2 is a DNA sequence that has an impact on the way the wrist develops enabling us to use complex tools (like me typing ten fingered).
- AMY1 is a gene sequence that helps digest starch. Compared to other primates, humans have particularly many of these. This probably helped early humans digest a large variety of foods. Cooking food also helps us digest plant derived foods, but early humans also developed the ability to get more out of them without that help. Similarly there is a very recent gene development helps humans from Europe and Africa to digest milk. This gene, LCT, is only present in part of the human population and not in chimps at all. This accounts for the inability for people with Asian ancestry to digest milk – we would usually call that a milk allergy. But the fact is: it is simply a very new ability that humans elsewhere have acquired, but hasn’t spread throughout the whole human population yet.
All of these things are, of course, physical characteristics of human beings. That is after all the only thing genetics can say anything about. From a spiritual perspective all of this may be true, but it is hardly satisfying. Our instincts tell us that what makes us human isn’t the wrist-hand abilities, our speech or even our large brains. Yet from a biological standpoint: those are the only things that can be said at present.
7 thoughts on “What makes us human – about evolution and religion”
“That is after all the only thing genetics can say anything about. From a spiritual perspective all of this may be true, but it is hardly satisfying. Our instincts tell us that what makes us human isn’t the wrist-hand abilities, our speech or even our large brains. Yet from a biological standpoint: those are the only things that can be said at present.”
From a spiritual perspective, I would like to know what would have been satisfying to you? If you can articulate that, it would be probably useful. There is a lot to discuss on this topic, and on the subject of evolution. But remember that what our nature brings us to wish does not need to correlate with the biological reality of what we are. After all, from the biological perspective, the reason for us to be here are pretty clear: “to spread our genes”. The fact that we don’t find that reason intellectually or emotionally satisfying is an interesting fact that does not infirm this biological reality.
You do not have to agree or accept everything which happens to you for it to be real.
Now the real point of my comment was to let you know that at the beginning of this month an interesting paper on Foxp2 was published. The researchers involved in this study modified the mouse version of Foxp2 so that it looks like the human one, and then studied the effects this would have on the “humanized” mice. The article is here: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2009.03.041
Actually – that is precisely what I don’t think biology can prove: that we’re here only and merely to spread our genes. There are lots of people – like me – who choose not to spread their genes.
Isn’t THAT part of my reality? Trying to fit that reality, which has been part of religious history for almost as far as we can go back, into a purely Darwinist framework is like trying to fit a square plug into a round hole. And no theory which attempts it is very convincing. And the theories aren’t convincing precisely because of that primary fact: genes AREN’T always being spread. I think I have some excellent genes (as well as some not so handy ones), thank you 🙂 but I can’t be reduced to just my genes either. Can you – with all your scientific talk – be reduced to your genes? Isn’t that ignoring MAJOR parts of YOUR reality?
Science is about falsifying isn’t it? But examples like this are not used to adapt the essence of evolutionary theory, but instead roundabouts are created to make them fit anyhow.
The perspectives of spirituality and science are very different. It’s the business of science to be always skeptical. It’s the business of religion and spirituality to find meaning in life. The best of spirituality takes the conclusions of science into account in that endeavor. Which is what I’m trying to do conscientiously.
What a pity you didn’t sum up the conclusions from that article, since it’s locked for all (non-students, non-healthcare practitioner) not willing to lie about who they are.
“What a pity you didn’t sum up the conclusions from that article, since it’s locked for all (non-students, non-healthcare practitioner) not willing to lie about who they are.”
Humm, I guess you’ll have to provide more background on the “willing to lie” part, I don’t know what you mean (I’m in Europe, probably living in a different continent than you, and English is not even my mother tongue – hence my bookish writing style, so some context may be useful here). I think journals will be happy to serve any paying customer, irrelevant of their convictions or agendas. Usually if you don’t have access but you really want to read it, you can still pay for the article, just like any purchase on the Internet.
But you’re right, my bad that you don’t have access to the article in the link, I was absent minded. The gist of the article is that as you know, the gene Foxp2 has been implicated in functions related to language. In a family carrying a Foxp2 mutation, affected members have elocution difficulties and can’t really learn grammar and language structure (the precise reasons for that being somewhat of a controversy, as far as I know).
Another very interesting point about Foxp2 is that it’s a very conserved gene across mammalian evolution. Among many apes this gene is identical (chimpanzee, gorilla, rhesus monkey, etc). Even between the chimpanzee and the mouse, whose most recent common ancestor lived 70 million years ago, there is only a single difference in their respective Foxp2 proteins. So in two animals separated by 140 million years of distinct evolutionary story, only a single amino acid change took place in the protein, which is a remarkable example of conservation. Foxp2 is a transcription factor, a kind of “maestro” gene which coordinates the expression of many other genes. Modifications in Foxp2 can induce profound changes in the expression of many other genes. Additionally, Foxp2 is expressed in most body organs, which means that these changes will affect the whole body. This is a gene you don’t want to mess up with, and there is obviously a strong evolutionary pressure to keep it stable over time (i.e. most mutations to this gene are eliminated by natural selection over time).
This is why people who studied Foxp2 evolution made a remarkable finding: they noticed that the human version of Foxp2 had TWO amino acid changes from the chimpanzee Foxp2. So although Foxp2 only had one change since the 140 million years that separate the mouse from the chimpanzee, in the human lineage Foxp2 underwent two changes since it branched from the chimpanzee line 6 million years ago. The people who made this finding (and which are the same who published the article I mentioned) then suggested that these two modifications of Foxp2 where probably important in mediating part of the changes that distinguish us from chimpanzees, and that maybe Foxp2 played a role in enabling us to develop the very rich type of language humans have.
The paper I linked to is precisely an effort to test that hypothesis. The aim of the article is to try to understand the precise role and function of those two mutations. Since you can’t manipulate genes in humans because of ethical concerns, these researchers inverted the problem: because we know that the mouse Foxp2 is nearly identical to the human one, how about inserting the two mutations humans have in the mouse gene, and see what are the consequences of those mutations in the mouse? And that’s exactly what they did: they modified the mouse Foxp2 gene sequence so that it carries the two “human” mutations, and then analyzed the results.
What they found is that these mice are completely normal for a battery of about 300 tests (normal life-span, physiology, histology, normal in nearly all neurological tests). The only difference they found is a lower tendency for these mice to explore their environment than normal mice (and this is not due to fear, since their anxiety levels where measured and found to be equal to normal mice). These results are remarkable because as mentioned before Foxp2 is a “maestro” gene which controls many genes. It seems these two “human” modifications have very specific effects, restricted to the brain function. Analyzing the “humanized” mice further, they found that these mice show differences in a specific type of neuron, the medium spiny neuron found in the striatum, a region of the brain that coordinates information flow from different parts of the cortex. The “humanized neurons” show a more developed dendritic tree (which basically means that they can receive more information), and a greater level of functional plasticity (which means that they can more easily change their behavior) than the normal “mouse” neurons.
Finally, since in humans changes in Foxp2 have a profound impact in speech and language, they tried to find some kind of analogous change in the “humanized” mice. They found that when little pups call for their mothers, “humanized” pups produced vocalizations which are a bit different from “normal” mice. Again it’s interesting because they could show that even in mice, which are so different from humans, the “humanized” version of Foxp2 could have an impact in the performance of organs we use to communicate.
What I find important in this article is not so much the results they found (although they certainly are interesting), but the approach in itself: let’s take every single mutation we suspect of being important in differentiating us from other monkeys and test exactly what its role and function really is. In this way research of human evolution stops being merely an historical science to become an experimental one, which is a much more powerful approach in learning how we are the way we are.
Now allow me to switch gears:
“Actually – that is precisely what I don’t think biology can prove: that we’re here only and merely to spread our genes. There are lots of people – like me – who choose not to spread their genes.
Isn’t THAT part of my reality? Trying to fit that reality, which has been part of religious history for almost as far as we can go back, into a purely Darwinist framework is like trying to fit a square plug into a round hole. And no theory which attempts it is very convincing. And the theories aren’t convincing precisely because of that primary fact: genes AREN’T always being spread. I think I have some excellent genes (as well as some not so handy ones), thank you 🙂 but I can’t be reduced to just my genes either. Can you – with all your scientific talk – be reduced to your genes? Isn’t that ignoring MAJOR parts of YOUR reality?”
Ok, first let me take care of one tangent: You can’t be reduced to just your genes. You, as a breathing, living organism are not just your genes, but the product of the interaction of your genes with your environment. Because of these rich and diverse interactions, you are unique. This is very easy to check, just take twins: they have nearly 100% identical genetic information, but they live their own life, shaped by their unique experiences. You will find that twins are never completely identical to their twin sibling. There will be differences in characters, sometimes also physical differences because of different lifestyles, etc. They are truly different individuals. That you can’t be entirely reduced to your genes is not a bug but a feature of your biology: you are “built” to adapt to your environment. An organism with a genetic program so rigid that it would produce exactly the same individual in different environments would probably fail and quickly disappear. Your body has to adapt to types of food, periods of fasting, ranges of temperature, regimes of physical activity and disease exposure, not to mention culture and lifestyles that will shape your body and mind in profound ways. Your genetic program has to allow and even encourage adaptability to all these conditions, and hence the fact that different individuals can be produced by the same genetic program is to be expected.
An extreme example of this is your immune system, whose job is to protect you from whatever diseases and parasites you’ll meet during your life. It’s impossible to encode genetically a specific defense against all diseases. First of all, that would require an infinite genetic program, and second it would not work because new germs are constantly appearing. So the solution we have is an incredibly flexible immune system: during the production of your immune cells, they undergo massive random recombinations of specific parts of their genes. The result of these recombinations is the production of millions of cells with different specificities at identifying and attacking foreign agents. So when something new enters your body, even if it’s the first time ever an human was infected by it, there will be one immune cell among the millions of others that will be better at recognizing and attacking this new threat. This particularly successful cell will then clone itself enormously to build up a strong and efficient response to this particular new infection. Once the infection is controlled, some sentinel immune cells will remain alive, so that the next time the same type of germ infects your body, your immune response will be much swifter and efficient.
So there you have it: flexibility and adaptability which goes far beyond the initial genetic program, but at the same time is already encoded in it, just like with the same finite and limited number of letters of the alphabet we can produce an infinity of sentences, discourses and meanings.
Now, as to try to fit the fact that you don’t want to spread your genes and how that fits with biological theories, let me tell you that it’s not at all a problem with the theories, and I will give you some examples.
First of all, please note that I said “spread your genes”, and not “reproduce”. In terms of evolution and natural selection, it does not matter whether you reproduce yourself, or help those similar to you to reproduce. The bottom line is the spreading of genes, not how many kids you bear by yourself.
An extreme example of this are ants: in an ant colony only the queen is producing new offspring. All the other millions of ants forsake their own fertility and become workers. This makes perfect sense because while giving up the opportunity to create their own offspring, the worker ants are efficiently helping the queen ant (which has a similar set of genes) to produce enormous amounts of offspring carrying those same genes. On their own, each of these ants would have much lower chances of spreading their genes than working together as a team with highly specialized and efficient roles.
The same is true of the cells that constitute your own body, the vast majority of which forsake their chances of reproducing and are there basically to support the germ cells to carry out that task (ovaries for women, testis for men). Again extreme examples of specialization. And if a cell in your body “rebels” and starts reproducing on it’s own it will either be eliminated by your body, or then produce a cancer that will kill and die together with you (again natural selection at work).
As for humans, we are also a social species which tends to organize in clans of closely related individuals (well, until very recently we were, and it’s still true for present hunter-gatherer societies). This means that it’s ok if you don’t reproduce as long as in exchange of that sacrifice your close relatives manage to reproduce better.
So “spreading your genes” also includes stuff like finding kids and babies cute, taking care of them and supporting the parents, tending and helping other people in society, being altruist, etc. As long as you try to help and contribute to society, you’re doing your bit of “spreading your genes”, since it’s logical that society includes people close to you genetically. Now there’s a lot to discuss here (why not all individuals are helpful to society, and what about our society being so enormous that most of the members are not that closely related to us, etc, we can discuss those points if you want), and I’ll be glad to continue on that topic, but the bottom line is that “not reproducing” is not enough to stop playing the game. You would have to shun all human communication, go live in a cave in absolute isolation with society to really stop all the interactions that induce you to “spread the genes”. As you know, that kind of lifestyle is deeply unpopular among humans. Most would go crazy if they had to suffer it.
Now what I would like to do is to take this question from another angle, specially concerning the bit about “ Trying to fit that reality, which has been part of religious history for almost as far as we can go back, into a purely Darwinist framework is like trying to fit a square plug into a round hole.” Actually, I think you got it all upside down, and it’s rather the case that trying to fit religious explanations of life into a Darwinian reality is not always easy.
Consider this: all living, breathing humans of today are the sons and daughters of humans who reproduced yesterday. Even if 99% of humans decided not to reproduce, 100% of humans living in the next generation would be the infants of humans who made the other choice. Guess whose opinions and culture will this next generation be more close to?
What I mean is that it’s impossible to escape the clutches of evolution and the concepts behind “natural selection”, the hallmarks of Darwinism. It does not matter that you are aware of these concepts or not for them to work. If you revolt against this reality and refuse to play the game and “spread your genes”, your lineage will simply cease to exist and be replaced by others who play the game. Likewise, it does not matter if societies are aware of the “spread the genes” rule or not, because it still applies anyways. If a society strictly prevented reproduction, it would cease to exist and simply be replaced by the others who allow it. That’s why the societal pressure to produce offspring is strong in all human cultures (the Popular Republic of China’s one child policy being an interesting twist that does not contradict this, there’s no chance of the China’s population going extinct, rather the problem of overpopulation. A “no child” policy would be an entirely different matter).
Actually, for there to be natural selection and Darwinian evolution, you only need the following conditions:
production of variability that can be transmitted during reproduction
And that’s all. You don’t actually even need the thing being reproduced to be alive at all (or even to exist in a material sense). If you meet those two conditions, you’ll have evolution and natural selection, whatever the circumstances. Let me go through some examples that get close to respecting these conditions, but don’t:
1)crystal growth: crystals grow by organizing minerals in their neighborhood into the same structure as their own: so a crystal reproduces its structure, and thus grows. But although impurities can produce irregularities and thus diversity in the crystal, these changes are not reproducible. So crystal growth can’t undergo evolution shaped by natural selection.
2)computer virus: computer viruses reproduce themselves (that’s why we call them viruses), but the copies they make are too good (100%) good, which breaks the second condition: there is no production of variability, and thus no evolution shaped by natural selection. In the case of computer viruses, it’s humans who create the diversity, and then viruses multiply by themselves. If someone could somehow create a virus that produces copies of itself that are not always perfect, then you would start having evolution shaped by natural selection.
Now, after speaking of two examples which almost made it, but in the end not, I’m going to tell you about an example which perfectly fits both conditions, and is thus evolving under the same Darwinian rules as living organisms: cultural memes.
Cultural memes are an idea or concept that is present in an organism mind, and can be exchanged with other organisms (chimps and humans have memes). One example of this is a tale. A tale is a narrative that a human has in his mind, and which he transmits to another human. So you have the first condition (reproduction of the meme), and, because the human mind is faulty and susceptible to all kinds of experiences, you also have production of reproducible diversity. What quickly happens is that the tale is going to start evolving, as it’s being reproduced (disseminated) from one human to the other. Many variants will appear, but only those variations which are “memorable”, or “interesting” will continue to exist, because the others will reproduce less successfully, and end up being forgotten. The result is that for old stories to continue to exist in the minds of humans, they will have to be, or have become through evolution, extremely interesting and memorable to the humans that continue to reproduce it. Unless the story is written down somewhere (which is akin to being fossilized), it’s continuous existence in the human consciousness is totally regulated through these mechanisms of evolution and natural selection that also shape living organisms.
Another interesting example of cultural meme is of course religion, which is a structured corpus of memes, much like an organism contains a structured corpus of genes. The historical study of religions is an excellent example of natural selection at work in the world of memes. Religions that are successful and persist through time spontaneously develop strategies that favor their dissemination and persistence. These changes are mostly outside of the consciousness of individuals who spread and shape it, and follow the same rules that affect living organisms. Some examples: all major religions that I know encourage their members to reproduce, which is an obvious way to “spread the memes” contained in the religion. This can even become quite sophisticated, when a religion favors sacrifice of a few followers as long as it boosts overall numbers and resilience of the remaining ones (martyrs in Christian religions, Jihad in the Muslim ones). For the same reasons, all these religions discourage the practice of suicide, unless this serves some useful purpose for the religion’s propagation.
For much the same reasons, successful religions will go at lengths to organize the society structure of their followers, which explains why many religious texts spend actually more time listing prescriptions on how society should work rather than about spiritual matters per se.
The production of holy books, missionaries, organization of monasteries can all be seen as “adaptations” that favor spreading and preservation of the “meme code” of the religion, much like spores, seeds, etc do in living organisms.
Of course, not all religions will follow the rules to “spread the memes” in the most efficient ways. Some religions may actually advocate total abstinence of the followers, or even encourage their suicide (like in the case of Jonestown incident – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonestown), whatever their prophet’s fancy. But obviously these religions will quickly disappear and be replaced by others that are more efficient at propagating themselves.
To sum it up, evolutionary rules governing the persistence and evolution of living organisms and cultural memes are an inescapable reality. And it does not matter if you are aware of them, or even accept or refuse this fact, for them to continue to work, just like gravity will continue to work independently of the fact that you are aware of it or not.
So I think it’s more a question of appraising the contents of religions by keeping in mind the “Darwinian” pressures that continuously shape them, than to make “Darwinian” mechanisms somehow “fit” into the content of a specific religion. Of course, I’m deeply interested in your thoughts on the matter.
“The perspectives of spirituality and science are very different. It’s the business of science to be always skeptical. It’s the business of religion and spirituality to find meaning in life.”
Like I mentioned before, I think the main business of a successful and long lasting religion is to efficiently propagate itself among the pool of humans. Providing a “meaning in life” that satisfies the followers is of course a requirement, and that’s why all religions provide an explanation (or a promise of explanation, for the more astute). But the bulk of phenomena shaping the structure of the religion has probably little to do with the “meaning of life”, and more about the selective pressures that the religion has to bear to continue to exist and prosper within the human consciousness pool. So you have to keep this in mind when you appraise a religion with that kind of baggage. In my mind, a long lived and successful religion has mostly proven to have a sophisticated set of adaptations to strive within human society, and the capacity to “please” and cater for human needs, rather than providing objective or authentic information on the values according to which we should organize our life and set of moral values.
“The best of spirituality takes the conclusions of science into account in that endeavor. Which is what I’m trying to do conscientiously.”
That’s something that I’m also interested, and I’m curious as to what you come up with. As for me, my take on this is that it’s our freedom and responsibility to define the goals and sense we want to give to our life. I don’t think we have another predefined goal or reason to be here than the biological role, but I see that as an incredible freedom and window of opportunity, rather than a spiritual loss or metaphysical catastrophe.
I am not denying evolution as A factor in the existence of life. I’m merely denying that it’s the end all be all of life – glad to see you sort of agree.
You’ve pretty much made the most convincing case here: the factors in human existence are the following (taking Susan Blackmore’s meme’s into account as well):
– evolution of genes
– evolution of memes (aka culture)
– the environment as a factor in our lives
What’s missing is precisely the thing you point to at the end: choice. And from my personal religious convictions: reincarnation (aka inborn characteristics which can’t be explained from genes).
The choice thing reminds me of something my favorite sociology professor said in one of his first lectures to us religion students: sociology has to treat human society as the result of rules of cause and effect – that’s what science has to do to work. BUT that doesn’t mean this describes the life of individual people very well or at all.
To reduce choice to ‘chance’ as science seems to do isn’t something I can wrap my head around.
“I am not denying evolution as A factor in the existence of life. I’m merely denying that it’s the end all be all of life – glad to see you sort of agree.”
“The choice thing reminds me of something my favorite sociology professor said in one of his first lectures to us religion students: sociology has to treat human society as the result of rules of cause and effect – that’s what science has to do to work. BUT that doesn’t mean this describes the life of individual people very well or at all.”
I agree. Actually, I would compare sociology to thermodynamics (I noticed you studied chemistry). Thermodynamics is a statistical science that describes with exquisite precision the behavior of a body of particles, but completely fails to describe the specific behavior of a single particle. The physical sciences that describe behaviors of single particles are completely different in their setup and focus from thermodynamics. Likewise, sociology goal is to study the behavior of groups of people. But the fact that it can’t predict the behavior of single individuals is not a general failure of science to tackle the issue, but a result of sociology goals and focus (like for particle physics, it’s much harder to predict behavior of the individual than behavior of the group, but no one has demonstrated that it’s impossible to do it, at least to a certain extent).
“What’s missing is precisely the thing you point to at the end: choice. And from my personal religious convictions: reincarnation (aka inborn characteristics which can’t be explained from genes).”
I like the very clear way you define reincarnation, it’s something I can work with. Why do you think we have inborn characteristics that can’t be explained by genes or the environment? Don’t worry, I don’t ask you to convince me of anything, I’m simply interested in the reasons that lead you to have this inner belief?
I comment on that issue because as science progresses, we are seeing that more and more personality traits do have a very strong genetic component. This is true for traits like shyness, impulsive behavior, aggressiveness and their opposites. This has been studied for instance in twins, raised together or separately, etc. So I guess one would have to be cautious when trying to find traits that are not the result of genes or environment.
“To reduce choice to ‘chance’ as science seems to do isn’t something I can wrap my head around.”
As to the matter of “choice”, one would have to define precisely what one means by that term, and I’m not sure I got what you mean by science reducing choice to chance.
For me, choice means having a set of options, and deciding to take one of them. The goal of the nervous system is to collect sensory information, evaluate options and produce a decision (a choice), and then send instructions to the body accordingly. but a nervous system is not even needed to do this. Bacteria decide in which direction to go in search of food without having a nervous system, same for plants. The advantage of a nervous system is that it allows the organism to gain a lot of flexibility in evaluating options and producing diverse decisions.
Now the semantic confusion starts when one mixes choice and decisions with voluntary behavior and free will. I believe that when you talk about choice, you mean conscious decisions, perhaps even free will. Of course, most choices and decisions are not voluntary. When a bird decides on which route to take to migrate, it did not voluntary decide to migrate, it’s something that it is impelled to do. Most if not all of its choices will be automatic, subconscious.
The same happens to humans: most of our choices, and often the most important ones (with whom to fall in love, or create a family with) are totally subconscious, and thus per definition outside of our voluntary control. We can rationalize these decisions after the fact, or curb our impulses, but we are not voluntarily generating them. One just has to think about people trying to diet to understand the limits of voluntary action.
Actually, I think that among the vast number of decisions we make every day, only a very small fraction of them are really voluntary. And when making those few voluntary decisions, we are still very strictly constrained by mental models we did not build voluntarily, or that we acquired from the environment. To put it bluntly, although it’s clear we make voluntary (i.e. conscious) choices, I don’t find reasons to believe that there is such a thing as free will (I speak from how I understand the data at the moment, this position is controversial and not shared by all or even a majority of scientists). I think all our decisions are caused by influence of the environment, the result of our biological development and personal history, or affected by randomness. And of course, randomness is not free will, it’s just a stochastic event, an outcome that you also did not decide upon.
So when I wrote about the freedom of choice in giving the meaning we want to our own lives, I simply meant we have the opportunity to follow the directions into which our nature pulls us to, instead of having to live accordingly to a holy or biological imperative.
NB: Did I actually capture what you meant by reducing choice to “chance” in science?
Yes – I’m very glad to see you summarizing the established scientific opinions so ably.
On the reincarnation thing – that’s a whole other blogpost (and getting way off topic for this one) … I may write it someday, but right now I’m still on this ‘creative evolution’ by Amit Goswami streak. Not yet done with it – it’s a multi-leveled book and I want to do it justice.
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