20th-century Biologist Quotes
While our view of the world is filtered through our senses, evolution has, by and large, molded those senses to perceive the world accurately, for there's a severe penalty to be paid for seeing things wrongly. That holds not only for the external environment, but also for the character of others. Without accurate perceptions, we couldn't find food, avoid predators and other dangers, or form harmonious social groups. And following those perceptions is indeed the pursuit of true beliefs : beliefs based on evidence. Natural selection doesn't mold true beliefs; it molds the sensory and neural apparatus that, in general, promotes the formation of true beliefs.
Time and again, my sociobiological colleagues have upbraided me as a turncoat, because I will not agree with them that the ultimate criterion for the success of a meme must be its contribution to Darwinian "fitness". At bottom, they insist, a "good meme" spreads because brains are receptive to it, and the receptiveness of brains is ultimately shaped by (genetic) natural selection.
A great many people say we have language and imagination to posit creators, interveners, and agencies that we can't actually prove. And yet some people experience God within them—these experiences are not drawn-up hypotheses. It's possible those of us who don't feel God within them have deficient brains that aren't capable of such experiences; or alternatively, the people who experience these things have brains that somehow create them. As near as I can tell, the jury is out on that. I may be a non-theist who doesn't include a god concept in my religious orientation because I have an incompetent brain, or perhaps theists have brains giving them inaccurate information.
The distance between folk society and literate society is ever decreasing, and Teresa Brewer will yet shake hands with Mrs. Texas Gladden. But until that happens—until my own culture, and Teresa Brewer's, develops a folk tradition of its own—If I want to learn something about real folk music, I'll stick with Mrs. Gladden.
Thus, horses have very stiff backbones, and a consequence of this is that people can ride them. However, we would not say that the function of a horse's backbone is to enable people to ride horses, because we do not think that horse's backbones evolved as they did so as to enable people, in the future, to ride.