Brain expansion (Evolution)

by David Turell @, Saturday, June 20, 2020, 19:23 (15 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: You are forgetting stasis of use. A new-sized brain has more cortical neurons but new uses always take time. Where is the push to enlarge you seem to be describing? In your scheme of enlarging, there should be no stasis.

dhw: The push for pre-sapiens enlargement came from a requirement which could not be met by the existing capacity for complexification. Once the brain had enlarged, there was comparative stasis in the new “culture” in all instances, including sapiens, and so we can only assume that there were no new requirements, or those that there were could be deal with by complexification. You seem to think that once the brain had expanded, the dualist’s soul should have come up with millions of new ideas. Wrong way round, as usual: it is the soul’s new ideas that would earlier have required complexification and then expansion, and which in the modern brain cause complexification, which in turn is so efficient that it has caused shrinkage. The dualist’s brain does not produce ideas – it responds to the ideas conceived by the soul.

The bold is correct in my view. Our obvious difference is you think the soul can come up with concepts without using a brain during life, and therefore is able to push the brain to a new size so the brain can accommodate the drive for new thought. Obviously I think all of your paragraph is backwards, just as you claim about my thoughts. The red sentence is previously covered. We both agree to a stasis period but interpret it differently: you think a tidal wave of unrealized soul concepts forces expansion. My question is, as above, if that is true why does the appearance of those new concepts take so long?

dhw: […] Why do you insist that your God could not have given cells the intelligence to work out what they needed to do? Why does he have to tell ants how to build their cities, weaverbirds how to build their nests, stem cells how to add to their number? Back we go to the same question as before: if he could enable the brain cell communities to complexify themselves autonomously when needed, why couldn’t he enable them autonomously to add to their number when needed?

DAVID: Your comment simply shows that we totally differ in our concepts of God, when you are willing to consider God. As far as I am concerned God runs evolution with purpose.

dhw: Why do you think that a God who invents a mechanism enabling cells to expand their number autonomously = a God without purpose, whereas a God who invents a mechanism enabling cells to complexify autonomously runs evolution with purpose?

Binary fission is the standard automatic way cells reproduce and multiply, without change in the cells or their functions. True evolution requires change and controls.


dhw: So you do think the switch to large pelvises happened overnight. A group of homos woke up one morning and found that their brains and skulls and pelvises had suddenly got bigger. I’m afraid I don’t find that “much easier to accept” than the theory that there was a period of transition. But no, I don’t know how long it would have taken. It’s a shame that we don’t have a continuous record of fossils to cover the hundreds of thousands of years between smaller and larger skulls.

DAVID: All solved if you can see God does it simultaneously. Otherwise no advance, just death.

dhw: The only observable parallel we have is modern adaptations, from bacteria combating new medications to fish learning to live in polluted waters. Many die before the adaptation is complete. But of course you are welcome to believe that your God did an overnight operation on all those ancient homos’ brains, skulls and pelvises. What a shock they must have had when they woke up next morning!

Those examples you give are gradual adaptations over time, involving paired problems, as bacteria and new drug. In causing a gap in species we have three contributors, Mom's new pelvis shape, Dad's sperm input and Baby's bigger head, and in the gap from apes, the additional requirements for upright posture. Why don't you consider the problem of the whole continuum of evolution instead of bits and pieces? It is entirely obvious adaptation doesn't work. You can't have several adaptations going on at the same time and rate without careful coordination.


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