Consciousness Arose as a SolutionMichael Graziano’s piece on how consciousness evolved in today’s Atlantic has a strange beginning:
Ever since Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species in 1859, evolution has been the grand unifying theory of biology. Yet one of our most important biological traits, consciousness, is rarely studied in the context of evolution
Perhaps it’s just me, but how can evolution be the grand unifying theory of biology if it doesn’t explain one of the most important biological traits?
Perhaps this doesn’t bother Graziano because he is about to announce that this particular shortcoming is coming to an end:
The Attention Schema Theory (AST), developed over the past five years, may be able to answer those questions. The theory suggests that consciousness arises as a solution to one of the most fundamental problems facing any nervous system: Too much information constantly flows in to be fully processed. The brain evolved increasingly sophisticated mechanisms for deeply processing a few select signals at the expense of others, and in the AST, consciousness is the ultimate result of that evolutionary sequence.
So maybe evolution wasn’t so grand, but that is now changing. A new sub hypothesis, the Attention Schema Theory (AST), might just explain how consciousness arose. Of course by “explain” evolutionists mean something along the lines of “and then a miracle occurred.”
For example, Graziano explains that a special neuron action called selective signal enhancement “probably evolved sometime between hydras and arthropods—between about 700 and 600 million years ago.” And how do evolutionists know that? Well because arthropods had it and hydras didn’t. So it must have evolved between them. After all, selective signal enhancement had to have evolved at some point. Didn’t it?
That is often what passes for an explanation in evolutionary theory.
Then there is the part of the brain called the tectum which “probably evolved around then [520 million years ago], during the so-called Cambrian Explosion.” Because, well, why not?
One reason explanations come so easily to evolutionists is that, though the theory technically is restricted to aimless mechanisms, in fact the thinking is teleological. Look at the explanation above for example. Consciousness, the professor explains, arose “as a solution” to the problem of too much information.
As a solution for a problem? That is teleological thinking.
Somewhere Aristotle is smiling.
And again, the brain evolved increasingly sophisticated mechanisms “for deeply processing” a few select signals.
For deeply processing? That, in this strange language we call English, is another version of the infinitive form. And as we have seen many times, when it comes to origins, the infinitive form is the essence of teleological language.
Religion drives science, and it matters.