Re: MD Chance and natural selection

From: Scott R (
Date: Tue Aug 19 2003 - 03:57:55 BST

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    > Scott, you said ...
    > If you keep the randomness, then it is very difficult to see why natural
    > selection would move things toward greater complexity. Amoebae are better
    > survivors than dinosaurs, etc. Complexity adds more things that can go
    > wrong, and so reduces the odds of survival (ask any computer programmer).
    > Ian says ...
    > Difficulty is no proof of falsity.

    I did not say the difficulty proves Darwinism false. I said it makes it
    implausible. I do in addition, though, consider Darwinism impossible as an
    explanation for the existence of consciousness, but did not give my reason.
    It is given below. I've presented it a couple of times in this forum, but no
    one has given an argument as to why it is not valid. (I do not assume it is
    unassailable, just that no one so far has assailed it). Nor has anything
    I've read in Dennett or Rorty or anywhere else addressed the problem it
    raises. If you know of a response, I'd like to know.

    I would also ask, why is an explanation that avoids purpose better than one
    that doesn't? Other than, of course, a prior commitment to a mindless
    materialism. Purpose obviously exists. Matter (which I would define as that
    which the senses can perceive) doesn't obviously exist outside the mind, or
    rather, it "obviously" (naively) exists, but analysis raises doubts. What we
    perceive is produced in the act of perception: we see trees, not photons. So
    why do materialists try to provide an explanation of how perception works in
    terms of what perception produces?.

    - Scott

    Here's the argument (taken from a Jan. 10 post):

    Consciousness, or even sentience, *cannot*
    evolve out of non-consciousness. To see the problem, take the normally
    accepted view of how visual perception works: light bounces off an object,
    stimulates the rods and cones in the eye, which stimulate nerve cells, and
    (much complexity later) we say "I see the tree". The materialist is forced
    to conclude that all that nerve cell agitation is the seeing of a tree. But
    this is impossible, if one assumes that space and time are the context in
    which all that is necessary to explain perception occurs.

    To see this, ask how the excitation of one electron being hit by one photon
    can have any *connection* to any other electron that is being, or has been
    hit by another photon. For this to happen a signal must pass from the first
    to the second, but that signal cannot carry any additional information than
    that of a single photon. So unless we assume an electron has memory, and can
    distinguish between one photon and another, there can be no greater
    experience than that which an electron experiences on absorbing a photon (or
    any other single interaction it can undergo, like being annihilated by a

    This argumentation applies at whatever level of granularity one tries to
    think it through. One nerve cell excites others. But unless the nerve cell
    itself has memory and is sentient, it cannot make distinctions or note
    similarity. But how can it if it has parts (separated in space). One or more
    of these parts must be responsible for holding a piece of the memory, but
    then that piece has to be combined with others....

    There is one out, and that is depending on quantum non-locality. But note
    that doing so says that reality is fundamentally non-spatio-temporal, that
    *all* spatio-temporal experience arises out of eternity. So teleology just
    means causation in a different temporal direction, and Darwinism becomes

    [Added now:]
    I've been considering whether an appeal to fields (e.g., the electromagnetic
    field) could provide another out. I don't see it. For one thing, fields are
    just mathematical models to describe the results of action at a distance.
    That is, there is action at a distance, and that is basically saying that
    space and/or time is transcended. So if we say these fields are real in
    themselves, and that perhaps consciousness is a very complicated nexus of
    fields, well, aren't we saying that fields transcend space and time? The
    question, then, is this still materialism, or are the goal posts being

    In any case, we would be saying that the electromagnetic field arising from
    one moving electron has to be conscious. Otherwise, adding and combining
    fields together won't add up to qualia.

    By the way, I am familiar with Dennett's and Hofstadter's "systems" response
    to Searle's Chinese Room thought experiment. This is not the same. It (my
    argument) is that spacetime separation means that there can be no larger
    awareness than that of the smallest unit of matter or signal one knows

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