Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 7th Jun 2016 06:51 UTC
Geek stuff, sci-fi...

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. Theories of consciousness come from religion, from philosophy, from cognitive science, but not so much from evolutionary biology. Maybe that's why so few theories have been able to tackle basic questions such as: What is the adaptive value of consciousness? When did it evolve and what animals have it?

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. If the theory is right - and that has yet to be determined - then consciousness evolved gradually over the past half billion years and is present in a range of vertebrate species.

I know this really isn't what you'd generally expect to be posted here, but the concept of consciousness - one of a small set of words in the English language I cannot spell from the top of my head without making errors - is one of those things that, when you think too deeply about it, you enter into a realm of thinking that can get deeply uncomfortable and distressing, like thinking about what's outside the universe or what "existed" "before" (quotes intentional) the big bang.

Personally, I'm one of those insufferable people who ascribes the entire concept of consciousness to the specific arrangement of neurons and related tissue in our brain and wider nervous system - I don't accept religion or some other specific magical thing that makes us humans (and dolphins? And chimpansees? And whatever else has some level of consciousness?) more special than any other animal in terms of consciousness.

I also don't like the controversial concept of splitting consciousness up into an easy and a hard problem, because to me, that just opens the door to maintaining the religious idea that humans are somehow more special than other animals - sure, science has made it clear some other animals have easy consciousness, but humans are still special because we are the only ones with hard consciousness. It reeks of an artificial cutoff point created to maintain some semblance of uniqueness for homo sapiens sapiens so we can feel good about ourselves.

You can take the whole concept of consciousness in every which way, and one of my recent favourites is CGP Grey's video The Trouble With Transporters, which, among other tings, poses the question - if you interrupt your consciousness by being teleported or going to sleep, are you really the same person when you rematerialise or wake up?

Have fun!

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Bah Humbug!
by knightrider on Tue 7th Jun 2016 14:35 UTC
knightrider
Member since:
2006-12-11

We were given consciousness and set apart from animals by a higher power. This Darwinism is causing confusion. Why did humans develop a higher consciousness while monkeys didn't? They weren't created with it. It's that simple. Humans were created to be special and set apart from other animals and to have dominion over everything created after them.

Meat is important for it's protein content but that's no excuse to load your plate. Proper portioning is key. Ideally it should be 25% meat, 25% rice/starches, and 50% vegetables. This is healthy and also reduces the volumes of farmed animals needed to fill the demand.

Reply Score: -2

RE: Bah Humbug!
by ilovebeer on Tue 7th Jun 2016 15:09 in reply to "Bah Humbug!"
ilovebeer Member since:
2011-08-08

We were given consciousness and set apart from animals by a higher power. This Darwinism is causing confusion. Why did humans develop a higher consciousness while monkeys didn't? They weren't created with it. It's that simple. Humans were created to be special and set apart from other animals and to have dominion over everything created after them.

We don't know to what degree other animals have consciousness. There's no evidence pointing towards monkeys lacking the `higher consciousness` of humans.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Bah Humbug!
by darknexus on Tue 7th Jun 2016 15:18 in reply to "RE: Bah Humbug!"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

By arguing with a hard core creationist (which the OP clearly is given their choice of wording), you've already lost. Don't encourage them. It's attention and validation they want, not intelligent discussion.

Edited 2016-06-07 15:19 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Bah Humbug!
by knightrider on Tue 7th Jun 2016 16:24 in reply to "RE: Bah Humbug!"
knightrider Member since:
2006-12-11

"We were given consciousness and set apart from animals by a higher power. This Darwinism is causing confusion. Why did humans develop a higher consciousness while monkeys didn't? They weren't created with it. It's that simple. Humans were created to be special and set apart from other animals and to have dominion over everything created after them.

We don't know to what degree other animals have consciousness. There's no evidence pointing towards monkeys lacking the `higher consciousness` of humans.
"

There is no evidence pointing towards monkeys having the "higher consciousness" either....Humans are the only "animals" with this "higher consciousness" my friend. Evolution can only explain so much and no more.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: Bah Humbug!
by Morgan on Wed 8th Jun 2016 00:51 in reply to "Bah Humbug!"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

a higher power


Alien, or Abrahamic?

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: Bah Humbug!
by Gargyle on Thu 9th Jun 2016 07:08 in reply to "Bah Humbug!"
Gargyle Member since:
2015-03-27

We were given consciousness and set apart from animals by a higher power.

I reject your premise on the basis that it lacks any proof whatsoever and that claims must be proven (or failed to be falsified while still being falsifiable) before being accepted.

Alas, insert coin and try again.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[2]: Bah Humbug!
by cacheline on Fri 10th Jun 2016 17:35 in reply to "RE: Bah Humbug!"
cacheline Member since:
2016-06-10

The same goes for origins of life from naturalistic processes. We have never observed abiogenesis in a lab. Further, even if we did, that would at most proved it could happen, not that it did happen.

While modern evolutionists may not be concerned with origins of life, without life, there could be no evolution. So, building evolution w/o understanding our origins is like building a skyscraper w/o a foundation.

So, determining origins requires a degree of faith. Not necessarily a "blind faith", but an educated faith based on available evidences. We create one or more models, just like for any scientific theory, and the model that best fits the data should be accepted, unless and until evidence points more towards another model.

The model that best fits the evidence is a creator, God, who did not use macro-evolution, but created everything in six 24-hour periods. The degree of precision required for life on Earth is so stringent, a reasonable person would not conclude it occurred by mere chance or accident. Nor, would any reasonable person then state that there's no God, but that aliens planted life here. (1) Because we have no evidence of aliens doing so. (2) Because that only shows the origins of life on Earth, not in the universe (or multiverse, however you want to look at it).

Creationists do no lack evidence. They just have their evidence constantly ridiculed and ignored. And quite often, in my own discussions, I find it is by those who are unaware of the specifics of the evidence, and have no desire to educate themselves. For instance, http://www.apologeticspress.org, gives many evidences, both for the existence of God and for reasons to doubt evolution and the big bang. And lest someone think it's just some Bible-thumping preachers writing a personal blog and making up stuff: the articles have bibliographies pointing to the scientific literature backing their statements, so you can look it up yourself instead of summarily dismissing it.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[2]: Bah Humbug!
by cacheline on Fri 10th Jun 2016 21:33 in reply to "RE: Bah Humbug!"
cacheline Member since:
2016-06-10

Then do you reject the claim that life began through abiogenesis?

We have never seen it in experiments. And even if we did, at most, that shows it could occur, not that it did occur. I.e., we never saw the alleged event, so it's mere speculation that it has occurred.

And if so, how did life begin? Either it was God or it was naturalistic processes*.

* Even the claim of aliens planting life on Earth fails to fully answer the question. It would only explain origins of life on Earth, not life in general. You'd end up needing to know how life started for the aliens. You could say a 2nd set of aliens planted life for the first set of aliens, but then you're just moving the problem farther and farther back, not answering the original question.

I'd rather have a model with 1000's of pieces of evidence pointing in its direction, even if there's no conclusive proof, than one that's speculative and masquerading as scientific. Namely, the model of creationism. Apologetics Press is a good site to check for many of those evidences. It has bibliographies for all of its articles. Many, if not most, of those bibliographical references pointing to reputable scientific journals and publications.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE: Bah Humbug!
by dionicio on Thu 9th Jun 2016 14:20 in reply to "Bah Humbug!"
dionicio Member since:
2006-07-12

Hey, midnight cowboy: If punching accept the punchings.

Arrogant Bullies not welcomed here.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Bah Humbug!
by dionicio on Thu 9th Jun 2016 14:23 in reply to "RE: Bah Humbug!"
dionicio Member since:
2006-07-12

Binary Minds...

Reply Parent Score: 2