Brain expansion: different theories about rapid expansion (Evolution)

by dhw, Sunday, August 30, 2020, 08:47 (31 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Engineering pre-sapiens expansion means, in my mind, the obvious enlargement but also the designer's anticipation of how that enlargement will be used, as the users learn to used it. But think about it, God does not dictate to use it or how to put our brain to work. God did not tell use to invent cricket or other games. We invented the piano, He didn't. Our brain has the adaptability to react to any and all physical and mental and emotional demands we place on it. It is God given. […] All hominin/home enlargements are in anticipation of what might be achieved/accomplished by the new species.

dhw: “The designer’s anticipation of how that brain will be used” can only mean that your God anticipated our invention of cricket and the piano and our reaction to any and all physical and mental and emotional demands. The same would apply to the brains of all our ancestors. So according to your theory, when he performed his operations on them and us, he also gazed into his crystal ball to see what they and we would come up with.

DAVID: The phrase in no way meant God knew specifics of what we humans would invent. You imply I accept the Biblical 'all knowing God". I always said no.

All-powerful, always in total charge/control, but not all-knowing? Good. That human attribute opens the door to my alternative proposals: experimentation, new ideas, and creating an unpredictable spectacle. Thank you. Back to our subject: if the designer did not tell us how to use our brains but anticipated how the enlargement would be used and what all hominin/homo enlargements might achieve, please tell us what he did anticipate if he didn’t anticipate what we achieved.

dhw: The key here, though, is “God does not dictate to use it or how to put our brain to work”. Exactly. What he did (if he exists) is give us and our ancestors the means to do our own independent, autonomous thinking.

DAVID: Exactly.

I'm glad we agree.

dhw: All the brains performed the same functions, and whatever the mechanism may be, the brain - as you so rightly observe - REACTS to all the demands put on it by our ancestors and by us. This is confirmed by studies of the modern brain: it changes as we REACT. And so it is perfectly feasible to argue that pre-sapiens changes, including enlargement, were all reactions to whatever demands were made on the brain. New demands would have resulted in complexification until the brain needed greater capacity, and so the same mechanism would have supplied the new cells.

DAVID: You ignore our knowledge about our brain. Neurogenesis in our brain is rare, confined primarily to the hippocampus. Reaction by shrinking offers no support. The extra cells allowed us to sculpt our brain to our uses with a God-given mechanism but without His input or understanding as to what we might invent. In the beginning teh sapiens brain was hardly used. Think if Michelangelo creating David.

You are the one who ignores even your own knowledge about the brain: “Our brain has the adaptability to react to any and all physical and mental and emotional demands we place on it.” These reactions take place without your God’s intervention and would also have taken place in each pre-sapiens brain. Same mechanism, same autonomy. And yet apparently your God had to operate on all pre-sapiens brains to give them more cells that would enable the SAME mechanism to perform the SAME functions as they reacted to new requirements. Do you really think the same autonomous mechanism is incapable of providing itself with more new cells, even though it still does so on a minor scale?
We have covered the stasis argument a hundred times. Once the pre-sapiens brain had expanded, there were no major new ideas until about 280,000 years had passed. There were similar periods of stasis after earlier expansions. It appears that our brains began to change again about 35,000 years ago, when there was a sudden burst of innovative activity. That fits in with my theory. The brain REACTS to new requirements, not in anticipation of them.

Under “Jumping genes and rapid expansion”:

dhw: Nobody knows how all these evolutionary processes work, but the component parts of the mechanism - the transposable elements - “have been remodelling our ancestral genome since the dawn of time”, i.e. the same mechanism has shaped the whole of evolution, not just the brain. I agree that chance is very unlikely, and my own proposal (cellular intelligence, which would organize the transposable elements) includes the possibility of God as the designer.

DAVID: And you offer no source of 'cellular intelligence' but jump to inferring God MIGHT have done it. Again you offer a God with no purpose or end point goal. The bold forgets my discussions of molecular errors. In advancing evolution God can not trust a DNA design mechanism totally on its own!

I offer a possible source, and our subject here is how the brain expanded. I propose that cellular intelligence is the mechanism for this and for the whole of evolution. Our subject is not the existence of God, his possible purposes, molecular errors, or his lack of trust in the mechanism he designed. You agree that the brain reacts to new requirements. See above for all the implications of this observation.


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