Saturday, August 15, 2009

New Research: Teleology is Built Into the Brain

New research reveals teleology in the design of the human brain. It has long since been known that the brain processes and categorizes different types of objects in different parts of the brain. A steak sandwich and a predator, for example, activate different areas of the brain. But the new research indicates that such differentiation is not merely for the purposes of processing different types of visual images. Instead, our cranial categories distinguish objects based on their inherent properties--objects are not categorized by mere appearance but, as one reporter put it, by the "subsequent consideration they demand."

An interesting example is the division between living and non living objects. Living things tend to look different than non living things, but people who have been blind since birth tend to distinguish these objects in the same way as sighted people. As one researcher concluded:

We think these findings strongly encourage the view that the human brain's organization innately anticipates the different types of computations that must be carried out for different types of objects.

But can evolutionary theory account for such smarts? The short answer is yes, of course it can, because evolutionary theory employs just-so stories. Free ranging speculation based on low-probability events can explain just about anything.

But the evolutionary origin of these cerebral smarts is a long shot. We would have to imagine mutations occurring that somehow set up these distinctions and the mapping of them to different areas in the brain, and the appropriate differences in the cognitive handling of the concepts. Such a hypothesis is not motivated by scientific evidence but rather by the assumption that evolution is true.