Why the question of the origin of consciousness is centrally relevant to the debate on Darwinian evolution

For newer readers who have not read it, I highly recommend Evariste’s essay on Darwinism at VFR in July 2008. The discussion began (in the original version of the essay posted at Evariste’s group blog, Discarded Lies, when a correspondent said to Evariste:

I found Auster’s criticism of Darwinism something of a strawman—who in their right mind thinks Darwinism has anything explanatory power with respect to consciousness? I thought the book is entitled “the Origin of Species,” not “The Origin of Consciousness.”

In reply, Evariste argued that the failure of Darwinism to explain the origin of consciousness is a valid point against the truth of Darwinism itself. His argument revolved around the idea that both life and—even more so—consciousness radically violate a chief characteristic of the physical universe, which is ever-increasing entropy, that is, ever-decreasing energy and information.

Near the end of the essay, Evariste, who was raised Muslim, referred to himself in passing as a “nice atheist Darwinist boy.” But then in a followup comment to me he added that in the course of arguing that life with its anti-entropy character is “out of place” in the physical universe and “qualitatively different,” he had “ended up realizing I’d just convinced myself of God’s existence.”

Shortly afterward, he wrote another essay at VFR in which he explained that he now believed not only that God exists but that God has consciousness and personality.

- end of initial entry -

Dana writes:

With all due respect, aren’t you simply begging the question that that which you experience as “Consciousness” is anything other than a biological sensory experience of some of our own brain processes?

When you say Evolution can’t explain Consciousness ,you are right if you mean “the mystical, ethereal, noncorporeal Mind no one can subject to evidence, experimentation and proof”.

Evolution will never prove a “Soul” either, because it’s a supernatural, nonscientific religious concept.

LA replies:

Since you have read all my articles on this subject, why do you waste your time and mine making a point that you know I will reject as a self-evident absurdity?

By definition, our experience of the material world is something different from the material world. That you would claim otherwise shows how you have been alienated from your own human experience by the false ideology of positivist scientism.

Also, the fact that you persist in referring to our ordinary human consciousness—our ordinary consciousness as directly experienced by ourselves, which is ALL I’m talking about—as a “supernatural, nonscientific religious concept,” which for you are words of derision, shows further how you are in the grip of an ideology that refuses to look at facts, starting with the primary, irreducible fact of our own experience.

Every person has this experience: “There is the physical world outside myself, and here is my awareness of that physical world, which is different from that physical world.” That is the universal experience of all mankind. In the name of “science,” you deny that universal experience of all mankind, including your own experience, by adding onto it various artificial CONSTRUCTS such as, “What the person THINKS is his experience as distinct from the material world surrounding him is really just an action of neurons that produces in him the ILLUSION that his experience is different from matter. Science knows better. Science knows that what people think is their ordinary experience is really a religious, supernatural delusion.”

Just looking at it from a commonsense perspective, which makes more sense: the ordinary human experience that our experience of the material world is something different from the material world we are experiencing; or the materialist CONSTRUCT of this non-material experience into a material event which a supernatural delusion is telling us is non-material?

On second thought I take back what I said about your comment being a waste of time. You have given us persuasive evidence of how profound is the alienation produced by the materialist ideology.

Dana replies:

You really are always nasty. I am sorry you always read so much tone into my missives—I will not try again.

LA replies:

I’m sorry you take it that way. I take these points seriously. Apparently it doesn’t occur to you that you are being nasty when you refer dismissively and contemptuously to other people’s rationality as some supernatural illusion. As I’ve said to other materialist commenters, when they characterize reason-based, reasonable statements made by anti-Darwinists as the product of mere faith and mystical superstition, as something having no basis in reason, that’s something I won’t stand for. For example, there was the reader who persisted in describing ID proponents as people whose arguments were based in nothing but faith, and there was OneSTDV who told me that my consciousness doesn’t exist. And I cut them off, because, as I told them, I’m not going to allow people to comment here who deny my consciousness and reason, or that of other reasonable people on my side. So when you made your initial comment, you were waving a red flag at me, which you had to have realized.

If you don’t like it when I am disrespectful toward you and your side, then you could start by having basic respect for me and my side. And the way to do that is to take my arguments as good faith arguments made by a rational person, not telling me that I am under a superstitious delusion.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 27, 2009 06:24 PM | Send

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