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Was intelligence, nature's plan from the very beginning? To clarify some points about this debate.

Since the start of life there have been many variations and grading of species. Some species stopped evolving millions of years ago and others have gone on to evolve when they would have been more successfull, not do have done so. Crocodiles and sharks are just two examples. It appears, after years of research, that the reason for this scaling down was to allow intelligent life to have a better chance of survival. This pattern suggests that evolution is not random, therefore there must be a natural explanation. The best way to solve a problem is by understanding it, this applies to the meaning of life as much as any other problem! Darwin's theory on primates is just that, a theory. Could it be that they stopped evolving because intelligent life had been accomplished? This would fit in with the rest of the pattern.

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    Feb 18 2011: "This pattern suggest evolution is not random...." "this applies to the meaning of life" "stopped evolving because intelligent life had been accomplished"? Poor Darwin. To be so misunderstood by so many. Surely, we are not the acme, the end of the eveloutionary line! The very idea that "evolution " can or would stop is contradictory. Short or long arcs in evolution could be random or not, no? Mutations occur naturally and "unnaturally", from within or as a result of outside forces.
    • Mar 14 2011: Hi, I did not intend to give you any idea that evolution had ended with intelligence. With intelligence came a different path for evolution to explore. Let me explain why I think evolution is not random. With intelligence comes an awarness of our own mortality and all the emotions that go with it. Some of these emotions will be the most unbearable we will experience. The reign of the dinosaur and its purpose is never aired, on the other hand its demise has been reconstructed so many times. it is obvious that science is only theorizing. I will now give you my theory, one theory is as good as the other. Was the reign of the dinosaur to boost the intelligence of the smaller and more vulnerable species and its demise was to allow that intelligence to flourish! It's the same principle with the emotions we now experience with the knowledge of our own mortality. Is evolution forging us on to some unknown destiny. Things are not always what they seem, make a mistake in evolution and we will go down the wrong path and it will be almost impossible to get back. Having said that I think nature will always find a way, that what makes these disscussions so interesting, if everything was right at this moment in time there would be no conversations. I deal with the outside forces in a new debate. (How life started and its meaning.)
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    Feb 18 2011: Derek, now that I get to it, here some additional comments:
    1) From our point of view, evolution doesn't seem random because we can't really grasp the incredible number of trials and errors that led to all the species we see today. Don't forget, we are talking about billions of years.
    2) I also disagree that intelligence is a measure for the likelihood of survival. Example: assume a huge meteorite hits the planet. What species are more likely to survive ? bacteria or man ?
    3) evolution didn't stop. It's ongoing, but again, because of the incredible long time spans involved it doesn't become so obvious for us within our short lifetime of 80 years or so.
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    Feb 17 2011: Planning REQUIRES intelligence, therefore, nature couldn't have planned intelligence. That would be a circular reference.
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    Feb 17 2011: No.
    Nature has no plan.

    A "plan" is something people make. One can argue that some other intelligent creatures (some birds and mammals) could also make plans, depending on the definition of what "a plan" is.
    There is no evidence that "making a plan" "planning" can be attributed to other things in this universe.

    If you would rephrase the question to
    "Is intelligence inevitable when life exists?"
    or
    "can we argue that in our universe the emergence of intelligence was inevitable? And if so, what are the minimal conditions to allow the emergence of intelligence?"
    then, we might have an interesting debate...
    • Mar 14 2011: Hi, I agree with your comment, intelligence was inevitable. Assuming the first life needed to evolve, it would have mutated into a life that would not only sustain its own life but be able to go on surviving, for if it died then the life that created it would die. The beginning of the balance in nature, the start of the food chain. This process would eventually create intelligent life. I am sorry I did not get back to you sooner, (computer trouble.) I have since started a new debate. (How life started and its meaning.)
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    Feb 18 2011: Oh boy! This is rich. "Nature's plan" was for us to feel superior? We are wisps of water with a vague consciousness and "nature" planned this vainglorious organism as the pinnacle of "intelligence"? Oww, I'm laughing so hard, I fell out of my chair. Thank you and good night.
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    Feb 17 2011: YES. see my comments under my profile
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    Feb 17 2011: The way in which evolution works is that given organisms adapt to whatever kind of environment exists at a given time. To assign a long term goal to an essentially unguided process is, I think, a mistake. All species living today are evidence of evolutionary fitness as they come from long lineages of ancestral forms all the way up from the hypothetical Last Universal Common Ancestor. It could thus be argued that all living species today display to a certain extent what is needed for evolutionary success (although only to a certain extent as they only might be well adapted to the current environment rather than all kinds of environment) and intelligence seems to be one of those characteristics that has only really evolved once as opposed to other survival mechanisms which are known to have evolved independently many times. So I would be more inclined to say no, nature did not "plan" for intelligence from the beginning.