Thursday, June 29, 2006


Can “Why” be a Valid Question?

Now that we have established that modern science rejects the “why” question as something that will lead to increased human understanding of our natural world, some might tend to agree. You might say what possible benefit can one attain by asking the question in the first place? Well the answer could be simply that by asking such questions we end up with answers that suggest a greater truth. The reverse sometimes is the case as well in that by asking the question “ how” we are lead to or given the answer to the question “why”. When this happens the “why” then expands and adds validity to the answer and suggests that it is true. You might say can I give such an example?

One such example is when Charles Darwin went out on his famous voyage aboard the Beagle to visit many parts of the world and returned with a great collection and documentation of life’s species. In the course of studying them he observed slight variations within many species. Variations such as the shape and length of the beaks of finches he had found on the Galapagos Islands. First he asked himself, “how” could these small variations have occurred. The answer given was that small variations occurred by random mutation. The next question is “how” did these mutations persist. The answer put forth was that these mutations would only persist if such change made the species more viable. In other words it gave the individual an advantage to live. This advantage to live instilled in such individuals a better chance to propagate and have this change passed on to the next generation. When this change is passed to following generations then this would increase the survivability of that subset of the species that inherited them. So what am I getting at here? Well by asking those two “how” questions and proposing the answers Darwin was also given the answer to a “why” question. That “why” question is why is life so varied and ever changing. The answer suggested by Darwin's inquiry was that it is natures strategy for the survival and continuance of life.

I would argue that because Darwin’s “how” questions lead to the answer of this “why” question is what gives the theory of evolution such appeal. In other words suggests that it is true. It is also what makes it so reprehensible to many. What do I mean by this? Remember now what I contended has happened to the pursuit of human understanding. I said that it had divided into two camps. One being science that explores and answers the “how” questions and philosophy which is to explore and answer the “why” questions. Well here in the course of asking “how” Darwin had also answered “why”. In other words he had crossed the line that has been drawn between the two disciplines.

Hello Phil. A very interesting blog.
I think it's a bit misleading to say "The answer suggested by Darwin's inquiry was that it is natures strategy for the survival and continuance of life."
Nature doesn't have a strategy; it may be a bit tiresome to qualify a lot of statements with "it's as if...." but many people get a wrong idea of evolution theory presuming it has 'purpose'.
Thanks for a very nice blog. I will return.
Mo one can prove Evolution has a purpose BUT no one can prove it doesn't either. It's unprovable AND unfalsifiable. There is however no shortage of opinions on the subject, each brings their own prejudices for whatever reasons.

For example, I believe in it. Can't prove it. It's just my opinion, based on oh I don't know ... many of my scientifically-trained brain neurons subconsciously tying many different things together? I guess.

Phil, you wrote:

"Well here in the course of asking “how” Darwin had also answered “why”. In other words he had crossed the line that has been drawn between the two disciplines."

There you go, making me think aGAIN! Don't ever thank me Phil, I'm the one who must thank you.

1) Ask: How?
2) Answer: How?
3) Ask: Why?
4) Answer: Why?

In this blarticle you start to "go deep" which is fantastic, Phil. To others, I strongly recommend reading "Influences" by Phil (the second blarticle) for background and as a prequel to this one.

I have more to say but I have to think about it.
Hi Steven,

How can I not be grateful for someone reading my thoughts, as to at least consider them long enough to have understood my point. This of course is part of my more general compliant today that most don’t open themselves to the thoughts of others before making their own assessments about things. Many blame this on the media with shortening of attention span, yet I see it more indicative of the isolation of self to a point where nothing and no one else seems important. Yes perhaps each man is an island, yet still only able to exist as being one of many sharing a common destiny of purpose.


Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?