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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RE[2]: Bah Humbug!
by cacheline on Fri 10th Jun 2016 17:35 UTC 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[3]: Bah Humbug!
by darknexus on Fri 10th Jun 2016 19:52 in reply to "RE[2]: Bah Humbug!"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

Uh huh. But I think your so-called God forgot about the dinosaurs. Did you attend Liberty Baptist College or something?

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[3]: Bah Humbug!
by Gargyle on Sat 11th Jun 2016 07:41 in reply to "RE[2]: Bah Humbug!"
Gargyle Member since:
2015-03-27

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.


*If* they prove one of the current model is feasible, then we can use that model as the current candidate for what might have happened in the past. If at any time proof surfaces that contradicts the currently accepted model, then that model will be rejected and the search for a better model starts over. This is the way of science.

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.


There are enough scientists involved in thinking about and coming up with tests for those models about how life might have started on our earth. Why wouldn't they be concerned with that? And if they aren't, what does it say about them? It's just not in their current scope then, since as a scientist you cannot be concerned with everything at the same time.

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.


Exactly so. But it isn't the blind faith that is usually related to religious people. It's more the hope that your model will fit and will stand the test of time. It's not at all the same as faith that you talk about in religious context, so you shouldn't bring it up.

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.


You say that like it's an unrefuted fact, but unfortunately it isn't. Again, you say that the current scientific understanding of evolution and abiogenesis hasn't been proven so you reject it, but then you go on and just put this here, without any scrutiny. Where is your scientific method now?

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.


What do you mean by the degree of precision required for life on earth? You mean the temperature, available resources, the protective magnetic field and resulting atmosphere, etc?

Do you believe in luck or general chance for that matter? Do you think it's impossible to win the lottery without the help of a higher power?

Any reasonable person *will* state there is no god, because we cannot accept the premise of its presence before it has been proven. We can try models, but we cannot see them as correct until they have been proven and haven't been refuted by other evidence in the meanwhile. Until then: sorry, but no god. If you do want to believe in a god without any evidence to back it up, you might as well believe in a tea pot flying through space or the flying spaghetti monster as your supreme deity.

(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.


Just because you say it, doesn't make it true. Instead of saying it, why don't you provide the evidence?

They just have their evidence constantly ridiculed and ignored.


I'm sorry, but it is not creationists but scientists whose evidence is constantly ridiculed and ignored, by religious nutters that think they can use science against itself while dismissing their own warped views, while it is clear that they are just stupidly ignoring reason and sanity.

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.


That's not a fair tool in discussion: blaming others for not seeing reason, while it is you that deviates from the path of the scientific method.

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.

I'm finding it hard to let you convince me of your point of view, but I'm giving it a try. Beware, though, that I will not fall for dogma or false truth. I think the truth I accept is the truth that fits the reality the best, and if another truth is found that fits the reality even better, then that original truth must be discarded and replaced. This last bit is what religion lacks: it does not accept the premise that it might be wrong, it just clings and clings trying to keep itself alive and in power. That's the wrong way.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[3]: Bah Humbug!
by BallmerKnowsBest on Sat 11th Jun 2016 19:39 in reply to "RE[2]: Bah Humbug!"
BallmerKnowsBest Member since:
2008-06-02

While modern evolutionists may not be concerned with origins of life, without life, there could be no evolution.


It's not that "evolutionists" are unconcerned with the origins of life, they simply recognize that it's separate from the way life diversified and changed over time.

So, building evolution w/o understanding our origins is like building a skyscraper w/o a foundation.


No, it really isn't. That's akin to arguing that you can't conclude that a person changed as they aged unless you have a video record of their birth.

So, determining origins requires a degree of faith. Not necessarily a "blind faith", but an educated faith based on available evidences.


Ah yes, evidences - and don't forget about the datums from research projectae.

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.


That sounds like a decent description of how science is - or should - be practiced. But for the life of me, I can't figure out how you get from there to your next statement:

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.


...LOL WUT? I'm gonna give a big 'ol [citation needed] on that one.

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.


Actually, reasonable people understand that natural phenomena tend to have natural, non-magical causes.

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.


Claims presented without evidence should be assumed to be false -- and to an actual reasonable person, both claims fall short of that standard.

I have to say, though -- aliens? Why is that you (and so many other creationists) so determined to assume that "Aliens dunnit" is any kind of mainstream belief amongst "evolutionists"? Pro-tip: the panspermia hypothesis has nothing to do with the Ancient Astronauts/"Chariots of the Gods" BS.

(2) Because that only shows the origins of life on Earth, not in the universe (or multiverse, however you want to look at it).


Amusingly, the only group that criticism actually applies to are the IDiots... sorry, I mean "Cdesign Propontentists".... sorry I mean "Intelligent Design" advocates. By insisting that ID is not religious, and that abiogenesis & evolution is impossible, the only possibilty they leave is aliens. Which just restarts the debate by raising the question of "where did the alien life come from?"

Creationists do no lack evidence.


For example...?

They just have their evidence constantly ridiculed and ignored.


Probably because most creationist "evidence" has been either debunked decades ago, or is dishonest quote-mining of legitimate scientists -- or is just out-and-out fallacy-laden apologetics.

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.


...who are/do what? Your sentence seems to be missing it's conclusion. Oh, and... WHAT evidence?

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.


A site with "apologetics" in the name doesn't exactly inspire confidence -- correct, accurate claims that are positively-indicated by evidence don't need apologetics/ists.

Since you didn't bother linking to any specific articles to backup any of your individual claims, tell you what: how about you save us all some time and answer me one question. Are there ANY claims on the site you linked that haven't already been refuted in numerous places - E.g. the "Foundational Falsehoods of Creationism" series (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmQZ4f9f_Yw)?

Reply Parent Score: 2