reply to post by OmegaLogos
Just getting back to this, thanks for the video! I love reading Feynman, he's much more accessible than people generally give physicists credit for
Okay, for my take on this question which, by the way, comes from G. K. Chesterton's book "Orthodoxy", I have to restate the question, because it's
more philosophical in nature than anything else.
Why is a rose red? Is it red by some design or process, or is it simply red because it is not purple?
The first option implies that the colour of a rose is a selection "toward" something. If one is theist, one supposes that God likes red roses, so
that's the colour that he has chosen. If one is a evolutionist (or a theistic evolutionist, as I am,) one supposes that natural selection "likes"
red roses, that in the current natural environment, red is a colour that is beneficial to roses.
The purpose of this selection is unknown. Because of the unchanging nature of God, a theistic view would be that roses will always be red. Contrary
to this, the evolutionist view would be that, given a changing environment, red roses can never be assumed. However, because we are selecting toward
something, we come to the conclusion that, in both options, we are left with the impression that red is "good" and not red is "less good."
That's a bit complicated, but the other side is no better.
In the "because it's not purple" option, we are selecting against something. God doesn't like purple, so that is not the colour of roses.
Natural selection has found that purple roses don't work very well, so they are red, not purple. With this in mind, a conclusion might be drawn that
purple roses are somehow "bad", and red roses are "less bad."
When those two are considered together, the two options rather cancel each other out, leaving only the "simply red because it is not purple" piece
remaining, without any real explanation for the statement.
That, I think, is the core answer that Chesterton was getting to, and why I lean toward this as the correct option. We operate with highly limited
expectations and understandings. We put up frameworks and balustrades to keep us confined to a way of thinking and a perception of reality that
we're comfortable with, but it ultimately becomes a prison of seeing what we want to see, defining things in terms of expectations and pushing aside
any notion of contrariness.
As Chesterton says, repetition is not reason. If one cuts the stem of an apple, it will fall to Earth. If one cuts a hundred stems, a hundred apples
will fall. But this isn't the reason that the apple falls, and if we insist that the apple will always fall because it always does, we will be
disappointed when it does not. And if one takes an apple tree into space, away from the effect of gravity, the apple will not fall.
"We have always done it that way" is no reason to do it that way. It is also no cause to stop doing it that way, and thus, it is nothing in itself
Allowing that roses are red because they are not purple is the embracement of this openness. It acknowledges that there is no reason that roses may
not be purple in the future, no reason that they may not simultaneously turn purple, no reason that roses may vanish from existence tomorrow. Rather
than taking something away (comfort in constancy) it recognizes that, in a lack of complete understanding, we should not assume that our limitations
are reality's limitations.