Is there teleology in nature?


I don’t think so. Do you?


Does a proton behave like a proton?


Yes. It does.


Sure, it can exist in nature. It cannot be discovered by the scientific method.

Allow me to repeat my post from the other thread:
If all one can accept as a reason for why something happens is a string of events brought about by the ordered functioning of the universe, how can any other purpose ever be discovered?

That’s not to say science is a bad thing, but just to point out that by its nature there are causes that could exist in theory that would by the nature of science be beyond the realm of science to investigate.

I mean really–can you describe an ominipotent and omniscient being that science can prove? Science can’t prove either of those. I think it is axiomatic, then, that science can never be the source of faith. Nature, sure, because if different kinds of evidence are admitted then nature can provide that kind of evidence, obviously. Science, however, is an activity whose method precludes anything believed based on “the evidence of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1) By science, we can understand the order that is in the universe, but only by faith can we ever accept that “the universe was ordered by the word of God” or that “what is visible came into being through the invisible.” (Heb. 11:3)

If you ask your mother to prove to you why she loves you, could she do it? No, not unless you are speculating that by “love” what is really meant is some oxytocin-based response rooted in your common past with her.


There is a scientific answer to that. Which is based on evolutionary requirements from a deep, deep past. But there is nothing to say that we can’t add to it in some way. To imbue it with some reason that is personal, that rises above simple animal instincts.

Which doesn’t, need I say, require a deity. Just enough intelligence to understand our position in the cosmos.


Do you believe that all human choices are solely the result of physical cause-and-effect?


And why can’t you describe love that way. We know roughly what parts of the brain are activated by such an emotion, we know the endocrine system is involved. We can even replicate it to some extent by injecting those hormones in to the blood stream. And really, one can come up with some pretty sound reasons why, say, something like maternal love exists. One of the features, particularly of mammals (and I imagine most birds as well), is that young are relatively helpless (an evolutionary compromise to accommodate larger brains and body sizes), thus any behavior by one or both parents that enforces protective and nurturing behaviors is going to have a very strong positive selection bias.

Humans are hardly the only animals that demonstrate these kinds of emotions. You’ll find them in most mammals. Clearly this endocrine-central nervous system set of behaviors have very deep evolutionary roots.


You could describe love that way, just as you can say the reason a pot of water is boiling on the stove is that there was a fire burning under it that added so much kinetic energy to the water molecules that the intermolecular forces in the water were broken and the substance began its conversion into a gas.

It does change how you view the choices you have in life and the relationships you have with other people, doesn’t it?

What do you think the evolutionary role of gratitude is? Do you think gratitude is a mythological construct?

I didn’t say emotions did not have a physical dimension. I was asking if you thought they have anything to them or even if our decision-making process has anything about it that cannot be described by physical cause and effect.

Do you think any of us have ever made a choice in our lives? Is everything we do the result of instinct, chemistry and so on?


Gratitude is a positive emotion that rewards the giver and receiver. A sort of a part of the “social glue” of social animals. Again, such emotions derive from underlying neurological and hormonal phenomena. Obviously the real explanation could be a bit more complex, but since we’re talking in the form of “just-so” stories, and I’m not a behavorial expert, I’m just kind of winging it. I’m sure papers have been published on the topic.


Do you think someone can decide to be grateful, or is gratitude something that happens because of the existence of certain conditions of cause and effect?


I’m disappointed to say my time is up. I hope the debate goes well with you all!


I would say the fullness of love can’t be described in scientific terms. Even if we had absolute knowledge of love, the chemicals, the brain, the actions, and anything else science could tell us we haven’t described love.

The person who knows all these facts and has never loved learns something about love when he first loves.


I have a feeling that such emotions are largely automatic. One of the more disturbing notions to come out of neurology and psychology over the last few decades is how much of our behavior is not consciously-driven. We don’t actively decide a lot of our behaviors; everything from fight-or-flight reflexes to sexual attraction derive in a more impulsive way. I watched a fascinating documentary a few months ago on human sexual behaviors (specifically flirting), and just how much men and women’s flirtatious behavior, like hair twirling and the like, really happens unconsciously.


And I’d disagree. I think if you have a reasonably good description of the biochemical nature of any given emotion, then, well, you have a description of that emotion.


But this implies that the person who has never experienced love doesn’t learn something by loving. Which means the person has knowledge of the experience of love without experiencing it. That seems impossible. That through knowing how our body would respond allows to recreate that response mentally. Idk about that.


“Protons have mass? I didn’t even know they were Catholic” - Steven Wright.

teleology |ˌtelēˈäləjē, ˌtēlē-|
noun ( pl. teleologies ) Philosophy
the explanation of phenomena by the purpose they serve rather than by postulated causes.
• Theology the doctrine of design and purpose in the material world.

Philosophy is not an exact science, therefore teleology applies also to it. As to philosophy, I believe that it was developed when ancient thinkers tired of constantly discussing the weather or politics.


What do you mean by “knowledge”? Emotions are innate aspects of vertebrate behavior, to some extent hard coded. It’s like asking what’s the knowledge of our endocrine system.


This topic could veer off into a nice philosophy of the mind discussion.

But I wish to stay on topic. I have some thoughts on where I’d like to start besides a strictly Thomist/first principles angle. I need time to dig up some resources… and time to of course share.


That’s an incredibly difficult question as I’m sure you’re aware, since you’re philosophically minded.

Maybe I’ll try saying it a more informal way instead of directly answering you. I would say that if someone has learned everything science can tell us about love, and then loves, he has learned something new about love. Thus science cannot teach us everything about love. It certainly seems to make sense to say you can learn what something feels like as well as learning what something is. And it also seems those are distinct.

I’m not gonna go down the rabbit hole of giving endlessly rigourous definitions of every word I use because I frankly can’t. I’m trying call on some basic every day intuition.


Yes we observe this

The error in this statement is that you are assuming that a correlation between hormonal phenomena and the act of giving means that they are qualitatively and measurably identical in nature. Science offers us no such claim. That’s philosophy. Clearly the experience of love and what it makes us want to do is a different thing from the underlying physical process that prompted that experience. The underlying physical processes are blind to love, while we are are aware of an experience we call love and act according to the meaning we find in it. In fact we are moved not just by the feeling but also the meaning we experience which is not something that can be quantified and yet clearly exists. Clearly this is not just because of a mechanistic event since we could have been moved to an end and yet feet nothing at all and find no meaning in it. Love is more than the physical processes that helped actualize it.

This presents a problem for materialists.

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