Brain Expansion (Evolution)

by dhw, Sunday, April 19, 2020, 17:53 (192 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: I will have to stick with your dualism for simplicity’s sake. The only concrete examples we have of the way brain plasticity works are those observed in the modern brain, which complexifies and/or enlarges in certain sections IN RESPONSE to the new tasks which the soul asks it to perform. And yes, bigger brains are found with bigger artefacts but, for the umpteenth time, we are asking why the brain got bigger in the first place, and that is why I suggest that the FIRST artefacts of each phase were produced through the EFFORT of the smaller-brained homo to implement his new concept – using the plasticity of the brain as explained above. New concepts would follow till the next big idea demanded expansion.

DAVID: Exactly backward.

What is backward? Do you deny that modern brains change in response to new tasks and not before them? Why is it backward to suggest that the first artefacts might have followed the same process: the smaller brain RESPONDED to its new tasks by changing itself – but in this case by major expansion and not by complexification and minor expansion?

DAVID: All this boils down to is frantic attempts thinking forces a brain to expand by huge amounts and then spending lots of years figuring out how to use the expansion the thinking created. Logic tells us this method logically should not have gaps in time, but the gaps are there.

What on earth is this “figuring out”, and learning how to use it etc.? How do you learn to do something? Did God give courses for 260,000 years before anyone could pass the exam? Did he issue an instruction manual 3.8 billion years ago, but no homo thought of switching it on for 260,000 years? You can of course learn to use something by using it and learning from your mistakes, but according to you nobody used it anyway. So what’s your theory? And once again, why do you think your omniscient God expanded it before anyone used it? Ditto every other expansion which was followed by a similar period of stasis. It’s YOUR theory which logically should leave no gaps between any of the expansions. In fact logically your God, who can do whatever he wants whenever he wants, shouldn’t have had to bother with any of these inbetween stages since his one and only purpose was to directly design H. sapiens!

DAVID: Long stasis of advanced intellectual ability interrupts your thought that thinking drives major brain enlargement.

Of course it doesn’t. If there are no new concepts demanding new uses of the brain, then there will be no enlargement! Now please explain (a) how you think sapiens “learned” to use his brain, and why your omniscient God, who must have known it wouldn’t be “used” for 260,000 years, expanded it when he did.

dhw: Of course expansion is an issue, but you keep choosing articles that don’t deal with it. Nobody knows the cause, but I’ve told you that common theories include the use of fire and cooked food, and bipedalism.

DAVID: Entirely backwards: fire, cooked food, sharply shaped stone tools are all equated with the size of the brain found when the event happened. Bipedalism and brain size developed concurrently, either created by God or what is your proposal. One did not directly cause the other.

I keep saying that nobody knows the cause, but unlike you I have quoted articles that try to tackle the issue. Both fire and bipedalism can fit into my theory, as they could lead to new concepts and progressively provide new information and new tasks ultimately leading to expansions. You still don’t seem to have grasped the idea that new concepts can arise out of existing information (held by the smaller brain), and it is the implementation that drives expansion. “Concurrent” is exactly right, since the process of expansion accompanies the development of the concept and does not precede the concept, which is your theory. NB I am referring only to the FIRST artefacts; after them, the new brain would not have expanded until the next big idea.

dhw: if your God gave us a brain mechanism that now complexifies and expands in certain areas without his intervention, how can you discount the possibility that the same mechanism would have expanded the earlier brain for the same reason: that brains must change in order to perform new tasks?

You have never answered this question.

dhw: I’d better forestall the next objection: my theory does not in any way exclude God. If God exists, my theory is that he created the mechanisms to allow for this “naturalistic” process.

DAVID: Your usual sop to bring in your God-lite image of him. Of course I repeat my mantra, God did it. Surprise, I believe in God.

dhw: Why a “sop”? Why do you always insist that the only possible God is one who dabbles absolutely every step in evolution apart from the odd one which he preprogrammed 3.8 billion years ago? It is perfectly possible for other people to believe in God and not to share your views on his nature, purpose and method.

DAVID: As you think you can imagine any sort of God. It is well accepted God is only inferentially known to us.

And that applies to your version just as much as to mine. So why is my different version a “sop”?


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