Brain expansion (Evolution)

by David Turell @, Thursday, July 09, 2020, 21:45 (108 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: Right. All we have is timed fossils and timed artifacts. As for your bold, God speciates and our brain is His creation.. I expect nothing from you except to accept the facts about sapiens over the past 315,00 years. Little happened until the past 50-70,000 years. Big brain followed by little new uses (stasis as we have defined it).

dhw: Of course I accept the above facts, though I don’t know why you bring in your God's speciating. How do the facts contradict my theory? Brain expands 315,000 years ago – cause of expansion unknown – after which there is a long period of stasis caused by the fact that there are no new “big ideas”. Not for the first time, please tell us what is your point?

Long stasis in sapiens denies your idea that a new idea caused the expansion. Where is the new artifact?


dhw: I am only puzzled ... [why He]gave us more neural networks than we needed.

DAVID: To allow us to develop our own uses on our own, He gave us extra neuron networks and put automatic plasticity and complexification processes in our brain to handle the changes. Common sense interpretation of what God did.

dhw: And I suggest that if he exists he gave all cells the intelligence to “develop their own uses on their own”. In the context of the brain, we have agreed that plasticity and complexification did not begin with sapiens! And according to you, God gave us MORE extra neuron networks than we needed because he wanted “us” to get rid of them, although what got rid of them was not “us” (see below) but an autonomous mechanism for expansion, complexification and shrinkage.

DAVID: I agree 'we didn't do it', the brain did it with God's implanted mechanism.

dhw: Excellent. That is the theistic version of my theory: God implanted the mechanism of cellular intelligence, which autonomously engineered/engineers expansion, complexification and shrinkage. Agreement at last. Goodbye to divine dabbling. Except that you insist on continuing the argument as if you hadn’t agreed.

DAVID: I haven't agreed at all. The mechanisms in the brain follow specific informational instructions from God.

dhw: If the brain was following his specific instructions, perhaps you should tell us what they relate to, since you have now agreed that all three processes of expansion, complexification and shrinkage take place autonomously in the modern brain.

Strange question. Two processes follow implanted instructions. Our brain shrinks, not expands. I realize I misread your answer above. I've told you previously the brain does not expand but it can add some neurons.


DAVID: Our brain is the endpoint of evolution. No need for further changes.

dhw: Changes are taking place all the time. It is only overall expansion that appears to have stopped and has been replaced by enhanced complexification. Once more, if the modern brain has the autonomous ability to complexify and expand some of its parts, why could it not have done so pre-sapiens?

I'm sure God does it. Based on our brain the new cortex is somewhat oversized to allow plasticity and complexity from use. I don't think our arrival was that different from the past enlargements.


Under “brain complexity”: QUOTE: "A lot of people don't realize that the brain is made up not just of nerve cells, but also cells that keep the brain healthy, and even the space in between cells is packed with fascinating interactions."

dhw: A nice way of describing the cooperation of cell communities which lies at the heart of Shapiro’s and Talbott’s and my own proposal concerning how evolution works, including that of the brain.

DAVID: My counter thought is the cells all perform under God-given instructions.

dhw: So have you now abandoned the divine dabbling theory and gone back to your 3.8-billion-year-old computer programme for every evolutionary change past, present and future?

DAVID: How God offers the instructions is always debatable. How do you think God does it?

dhw: You have only offered us the computer programme and dabbling. If you find these hypotheses as far-fetched as I do, it’s up to you to provide alternatives. Mine is that he does NOT offer instructions for every life form, natural wonder etc. in the history of life, but – theistic version – has created the mechanism (cellular intelligence) that enables all organisms “to develop their own uses on their own”, as you so aptly phrased it.

And, as before, I think God runs a tight ship, and if He allowed self-inventions, they would be under strict guidelines. My view of God is not your view when you attempt to describe Him.


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