Evolution and humans: brain plasticity ; learning to read (Evolution)

by dhw, Saturday, October 06, 2018, 12:27 (44 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: [...] if all you intended to say was that the plasticity of the brain must have been designed, I’m sure Tony would agree, and I shan’t disagree, but will leave open my options as to what did the designing.

DAVID: Yes, what did the designing is the issue : logically only a thinking mind can do that. But you try to evade that logic by proposing panpsychism and thinking committees of cells. The design we see requires God.

I don’t think you raised the subject because you wanted me yet again to go into all the details of why I find it impossible to believe in ANY of the three hypotheses you have listed. You wrote: ”This explains why we developed complex spoken language perhaps 50,000 years ago and written and read language only 5,000 years ago. We had to develop the connections in different functioning parts of our brains.” My point is that it was the new concept of reading and writing that created the new connections. They didn’t “develop” in advance. Tony pointed out that the “networks” already existed, and the 45,000-year gap was better explained by the fact that there was no need for reading and writing. It was the invention of reading and writing that caused the changes to the network – not a 45,000-year process of rewiring.

TONY: Well, actually, I disagreed with the idea that 'reading' was pre-programmed, not the language centers. I have no reason, scientific or otherwise, to think that our early ancestors were incapable of spoken language.

I agree completely. The point is that the brain responds to needs; it does not change in anticipation of needs. This has been a major subject of disagreement between David and myself, who believes that his God changes organs and organisms in anticipation of - rather than their changing in response to - new needs and concepts.

DAVID: The article does not say that reading was pre-programmed. The brain was given the ability to change called plasticity. Humans developed language when the larynx was dropped, the roof of the mouth arched and the tongue provided with different use of its muscles, long before reading and writing.


You wrote that “our brains had to be designed with plasticity in anticipation of the requirement the addition of language would bring.” The example under discussion was the new brain connections established through reading and writing (not the anatomical changes required for oral language, which we have already discussed in detail elsewhere). Once more: It is not the argument for design that is under discussion, but the argument that the brain changes described in the article were “developed” in anticipation of the new concept and not in response to it.


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