Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Darwinian Assumption: Baby Talk

As a follow up to my post about the evidence for an innate and highly developed sense of consciousness in newborn and infant babies, I was amazed, not only at the level of development the studies uncovered, but in terminology used to describe it. Here, for instance, are a few examples:
  1. "... babies are exquisitely designed ______ to change and create, to learn and explore. Those capacities, so intrinsic to what it means to be human, appear in their purest forms in the earliest years of our lives."
  2. "Children reason in complex and subtle ways that cannot be explained by simple associations or rules."
  3. "Fundamentally, babies are designed to learn."
  4. "If the brain is a computer ____________, we can ask about the _______ justification and neurological basis for the extraordinary learning abilities we see in very young children."
These are all extraordinary statements that support the plain observation that a baby's intellect displays the appearance of design. But what I think makes each of them even more significant is that -- in the blanks left in statements 1) and 4) -- the author has inserted the words: "by evolution," "designed by evolution," and "evolutionary," respectively. This is because ...

"The central idea of cognitive science is that the brain is a kind of computer designed by evolution and programmed by experience."

On what basis does the author make this claim? There is no supporting evidence given -- and there never is. It is simply an assumption made by those who will not accept any other explanation. But two facts make this bold assertion highly unconvincing. The first resides earlier within the same article!

Remember from my first post that the author, who wants us to accept this as "the central idea of cognitive science," has also just reported that:
  • Infants understand fundamental physical relations such as movement trajectories, gravity and containment
  • Infants are born knowing much of what adults know about how objects and people behave
  • Newborns already understand that people are special ..."
All these traits are displayed by newborns that, by definition, could not have been "programmed by experience." They are infants. They don't have any "experience."

The second fact is directly applicable to the claim, repeated over and over again by the author, that the brain is "a computer designed by evolution." Notice (in quote number 2. above) her assertion that: "Children reason in complex and subtle ways that cannot be explained by simple associations or rules."

OK, but what else does evolution have to offer? Darwinian Evolution is, by definition, a mindless, purposeless, mechanistic system, that can bring about nothing but a product based on the "associations" between various physical particles and the "rules" of physics and chemistry that govern them.

Yet materialists, forced by their own philosophical presuppositions to deny the existence of anything other than the physical world, routinely proclaim that our minds and the ideas contained within them are completely reducible to the matter, and the behavior of the matter, contained in our brains. This understanding was summed up well by Sir Francis Crick when he announced that we ". . . are nothing but a pack of neurons."

On this view, the human mind is simply a computer made of meat that can be completely explained by studying the ways in which neurons function. Philosopher John Lucas and mathematician/physicist Roger Penrose have formulated a brilliant rebuttal to this naturalistic view, based on the work of Austrian logician Kurt Gödel.

This work showed that the brain cannot be a computer made of meat for one simple reason: Assuming that it is, and that there is computer program running in our brains, means that we should be able to modify the "program" -- which infers that we would be able to outwit ourselves -- a notion that is completely incoherent. The explanation for their sophisticated thinking is beyond the scope of this blog, and beyond my ability to explain sufficiently, but you can find a detailed explanation (as I did) in Stephen Barr's, Modern Physics and Ancient Faith -- a book that was published in 2003.*

It is not religious hocus-pocus, or wishful thinking that led to this proof. Lucas and Penrose use logic and mathematical reasoning to show that the materialistic view that the human brain cannot simply be a computer made of meat is demonstrably false. Yet, here we are reading in Scientific American at least seven years later, about how evolution designed the computer that is our brain.

The baseless assertions and obvious contradictions made by those who demand that "evolution is a fact," never cease to amaze me. Maybe Evolution is true. Maybe all the magical capabilities attributed to it really are possible. But can someone please tell us exactly how this works ... or can they at least stop contradicting themselves when they insist on labeling things -- things that even they admit blatantly display all the traits of design -- with a forced, and unsupported, materialistic explanation? Can they do so without pretending that their claims have not already been legitimately falsified?

Just once?
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* Stephen M. Barr, Modern Physics and Ancient Faith, (Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 2003), 195.
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1 comment:

  1. Bob:

    Great stuff (as always)! I plan to add that book to my reading list.

    Rick

    ReplyDelete

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