Can Evolution Account for Reason?

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There are many online claims about the power of evolution to create new biological traits. Some evolutionists have speculated that evolution can account for altruism, but I exposed the deficiency in the “explanations” here. And while evolutionists claim that “nothing in biology makes sense except in light of evolution”, they have swept under the rug evolution’s inability to explain biological software.

This week, I asked a God-denier to explain how “reasoning” could be explained via natural causes. This God-denier posted a link which was supposed to provide evidence and confirmation that evolution can explain the origins of reasoning. Bing the intrepid ApoloJedi that I am, I read through the contents of the article and have analyzed it to see if it could make good on its claims. Of note, I regard this article to be poorly formatted and absent of any explanatory power, so I expect there will be a future blog post entitled “Can Evolution Explain Reason – Part 2?” when a subsequent God-denier doubtlessly posts another wild assertion that naturalistic causes can explain the origins of reasoning.

The article in question has been cited 10 times and accessed over 1000 times and much of it is hidden behind a paywall (remaining unanalyzed). There are 30 notes organized in a list. In the analysis I quote the pertinent piece from the note above in Italics and my comment below each is in Bold. Without further delay, here’s the analysis

Abstract:
I conjecture that reasoning evolved primarily because it helped social hominins more readily and fully align their intentions
Conjecture indeed

The Primary Naturalist Assumptions include purposelessness and amorality
  1. “first article”
    Hidden (hidden like evidence for evolution) behind a pay wall
  2. “purpose of reasoning”
    Purpose/teleology is a concept that is incompatible with the primary naturalist assumptions AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  3. Nothing in this note explains the origin of reasoning from non-reasoning sources
  4. “argumentative posturing”
    Assumes that reasoning already exists AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  5. “moral emotions…loyalty, gratitude, sympathy”
    Morality is a concept that is incompatible with the primary naturalist assumptions AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  6. “Imagine…reasons”
    Imagine indeed AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  7. “likely”
    Not evidence AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  8. “those with a preference for going right will often capitulate by joining the majority”
    This very clearly shows the absence of reason AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  9. “The odds of surviving might be enhanced, for example, by keeping mum about a fruit tree discovered while scouting”
    While evolutionists crone about how empathy drive social advancements, this note is literally contrary to that assumption AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
    Also, in conflict with Note 14
  10. “team agency” & “team reasoning” & “gestational reasoning” & “group’s collective intent”
    Purpose/teleology is a concept that is incompatible with the primary naturalist assumptions AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  11. “giving of reasons counts as a kind of reasoning”
    Circular. Tautology. Assumes that reasoning already exists AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  12. “My claim here is that the faculty of reason played—and continues to play—a critical role”
    Assumes that reasoning already exists AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  13. “By calling manipulative reasoning…”
    Assumes that reasoning already exists AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  14. “collaborative reasoning” & “When reasoning together”
    Assumes that reasoning already exists AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
    Also, in conflict with Note 9
  15. Nothing in this note explains the origin of reasoning from non-reasoning sources
  16. “may have been made possible by the prior emergence of basic reasoning aptitudes. The claim is conjectural, but worth further exploration”
    Conjecture indeed AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  17. “it is not incorrect to speak of intention alignment as the primary utility or purpose of reasoning”
    Pragmatism is insufficient AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  18. “I take it up presently”
    It IS an important question AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  19. ” ‘mind writing’ involves intentional or deliberate alteration”
    Assumes that reasoning already exists AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  20. “The ethical implications of IAM are significant, and well worth exploring”
    Assumes that reasoning already exists AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  21. Another article behind a paywall, but the abstract does not explain the origins of reasoning from non-reasoning sources
  22. “if we could be sure that a bee’s nervous system supported something properly described as a mind”
    Humans did not evolve from bees AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  23. “complex social practice built atop basic reason-giving propensities”
    Difficulties with the naturalistic origins brought up AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  24. Another article behind a paywall, but the abstract does not explain the origins of reasoning from non-reasoning sources
  25. “my aim here is not to decide the question, but make a preliminary case that IAM belongs in the discussion”
    An introduction to a hypothesis AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  26. Nothing in this note explains the origin of reasoning from non-reasoning sources
  27. Nothing in this note explains the origin of reasoning from non-reasoning sources
  28. Nothing in this note explains the origin of reasoning from non-reasoning sources
  29. Nothing in this note explains the origin of reasoning from non-reasoning sources
  30. Nothing in this note explains the origin of reasoning from non-reasoning sources

As you can clearly see, this linked article has given us no explanation for the naturalistic origin of reasoning via evolutionary forces. We did see some internal contradictions, and it was strong on assertions, but ended up be short on both evidence and justification

Disclaimer: Because God has revealed in his eternal Word that He has is the Source of reasoning, we know that the answer to the question “Can Evolution Explain Reason?” is most assuredly no. But as has been the case with other posts in this series, I have taken the claims of the naturalists and analyzed them within their own worldview, to see if their claims are valid. And just like the other posts, their claims are shown to be severely lacking.

Can Evolution Explain Software? 2.0

The guys at Stuff You Should Know Podcast released a recent episode called Dragons: As Real as Mermaids. They always have interesting topics, and I thought this episode would be a good topic for listening during a lunchtime walk around the neighborhood with the family dog, Diego

Following is a near-quote from one of the hosts. If you don’t like that “near-quote” qualification, feel free to listen to the podcast, put in what you think I was missing, and quibble at the edges of this presentation rather than bringing an argument against the REAL substance of this article, but your protestations will be swept aside as nitpicking.

Humans evolved and primates evolved with the fear of 3 predators basically: snakes, big cats & eagles. It sorta makes sense that every culture sorta has a dragon myth because you might combine the 3 scariest things into 1 super scary thing: a dragon….David Jones: His premise is that we have these ancient fears of these things & as we evolved & became humans we told each other stories, these things combined into this 1 big mythological monster which is basically the sum of our most primal fears

Having recently completed a post entitled Can Evolution Explain Software? that quote above left me with even MORE questions about a process that is claimed to be able to explain all of biology and that nothing in biology makes sense except in light of evolution.

  • What evolutionary mechanism produces heritable code for “primal fears” and “learned behaviors”?
  • What is the proof of this mechanism?

A note about proof – Sufficient proof would be:

  1. DNA and/or epigenetic code in a creature that does not have fear of snakes, big cats, and eagles
  2. DNA and/or epigenetic code in a creature that is an immediate descendant of the creature above that does have fear of snakes, big cats, and eagles
  3. Comparison of the DNA/epigenetic code that is quantifiable
  4. Repeatable proof of the mechanism that produces the quantifiable changes to the heritable material
  5. Repeat for as many creatures as possible to avoid the idea of a one-time miracle. This will validate a patterned process in nature.

As always, the disclaimer: This site maintains the presupposition that God is the Creator and that revelation in creation, in the Bible, and through the incarnation are the only sufficient justifications for all of reality. Because God revealed in the Bible that animals (including the code for their behavior “software” was preprogrammed by the Almighty Engineer) are a product of his direct creation according to their kinds. God’s revelation is in direct conflict with the claims made by evolutionists that gradual and rare accumulation of information through a process of death and suffering (evolution) prior to the sin of mankind are false. But we (as Christian apologists) are encouraged to “Answer the fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.” Proverbs 26:5. Therefore, in the following paragraphs, I will do a very brief skeptical analysis of the claims of the evolutionist in conjuring up the answers to the questions above

As noted above, the podcast hosts got much of their opening thoughts from an author named David Jones. Following the sourced and linked materials to this wiki page only raises more questions and inconsistencies. Words & phrases like “claims”, “argues”, “hypothesis”, “proposes”, “suggests”, “lack of evidence” and “it cannot be demonstrated that the fears of ancestral hominids are coded in the human brain” litter the article. But perhaps the links included within the article will shed more light on the claims of the evolutionists…

In the wiki page for instinct, we find only hypotheses and post hoc fallacies attempted explanations. As we continue in the chain of sources to find the elusive mechanism and proof, I followed the link to Genetic Memory

This wiki page left us with this gem:

It is based on the idea that common experiences of a species become incorporated into its genetic code, not by a Lamarckian process that encodes specific memories but by a much vaguer tendency to encode a readiness to respond in certain ways to certain stimuli

No explanation. No mechanism. No proof. Just a big “vaguer” claim. Maybe the included link to Epigenetics would solve the mystery

Nothing here, except the realization that (at best) epigenetics has control over only physiological phenotypic traits. They also seem unaware the epigenetics eviscerated evolutionary theory when it was discovered a few years ago. Might the link to Behavioral Genetics answer our questions?

Here we find some correlations between some behaviors and epigenetic markers, but no mechanisms or proofs. Surely, THIS next one is the one!!!


Evolutionary Neuroscience! That sounds like a solution to most any problem. But…nothing to see here either except:

  • “the evolution & function of the human cerebral cortex is still shrouded in mystery”
  • “the organization of the brain cannot be ascertained only by analyzing fossilized skulls”
  • “Visual cues & motoric pathways developed millions of years earlier in our evolution”

They’ve inadvertently “hidden” their inability to answer with the vague and ambiguous terms: “developed” “millions of years ago” and “evolution”. Large on claims. Short on substance

Clearly, this exercise was a brief introduction into the murky waters of testing the claims of the evolutionists. But a pattern is emerging – Keep digging because SURELY SOMEONE has this whole thing figured out. SURELY someone has ironclad proof of the claims that at one point, there was no coded information for primal fears in creatures…and then there WAS coded information for primal fears within creatures. And this heritable information was produced by some naturalistic mechanism. Right?

I predict that one kind lazy evolutionist will post a reply to this article saying “You didn’t research deep enough, [insert relevant epithet]”

The other kind of lazy evolutionist will say, “just because evolution doesn’t have the answer to your questions today, doesn’t mean your preferred deity did it.”

To which I would reply, then why do you propose that “nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution”? And I’ve already told you that my God did it…I’m just showing you why your naturalistic “deity” (evolution) is short on actual answers.

A more robust evolutionist will post a peer reviewed article behind a paywall and say “See, proof” without going into details or revealing the answers to the questions…and once actually read, that article will be devoid of the answers requested

A last brand of evolutionist might say, “but some Christians believe in evolution. Are they wrong too.”

To which I would reply, why would a Christian espouse a godless mechanism that invokes death & suffering for biology in place of the miracle that God ACTUALLY revealed?

God is worthy of praise because He is good. We can clearly see his eternal power and divine nature in what He has made, and because we can trust what He has revealed about the past – we can trust Him with our future!

Evidence for Evolution

I recently found this blog and was reading a few of the previous articles about creation/evolution. It struck me as odd that this Christian blog would remark on the reasonableness of evolution and then essentially says, “Well, even though this evidence confirms atheism, I’m still gonna’ be a Christian.”

For one, the evidence (as will be shown below) was impotent in proving evolution, but most importantly, the writer did not understand the importance of our starting point being revelation from God . If God and his revelation are not the starting point from which we interpret all evidence, then there is no precondition for intelligibility. We can only know things if the Creator revealed himself as a self-authenticating authority.

We must first start with the presupposition that God exists, and to know anything for certain, he must have revealed himself. Since he revealed himself as the Creator in his Word, we can know some things (not everything as he has not revealed everything). And since his revealed word also has definite things to say about the history of the universe and mankind, we can trust those things.

The evolutionary worldview differs sharply from what has been revealed in God’s Word, so we know that they are not true, and all evidence will show this. For a more complete rebuttal of the Grand Theory of Evolution, you can check out my Creation Manifesto. But below answers, what the writer of the Isaiah53 blog says is the emperor’s clothes best evidence for evolution:

  1. DNA – The universal common genetic code is strong evidence for a single designer. Information does not coalesce by natural processes. Specified complexity requires a designer. As a database administrator, I understand the critical nature of coded information being correct, and I reject the idea that the hard work I put in to formulate thousands of lines of code could be thrown together by natural forces like gravity, erosion, or combustion. As DNA is far more complex than the most sophisticated computer code, it is beyond logic to expect genetic code to have been formulated or improved by natural processes absent a designer. As far as all genetic code being similar, it only makes sense that the code be very similar but not exactly the same since all organisms were intended to be nourished by the same food source: plants. Plants, while classified as “alive” today are really just self-replicating food sources. Genesis 1:29-30. Since all genetic code is similar, it can be nourished by the same food source. If genetic code were wildly different, the only thing that humans would be able to eat for nourishment would be ourselves.
  2. Fossils – The fossil record shows variation within the same families of animals, but any theoretical transition between kinds of animals is missing. The fossil record however, is a strong indication that the Bible is true. In Genesis 7, God brings a catastrophic worldwide flood upon the surface of the earth that killed every living thing that was not on the ark. So Christians would expect to find billions of dead things buried in water-sorted rock layers. That is exactly what is found! So, why have human remains not been found with dinosaur remains? Would you live in the vicinity of dinosaurs? Probably not. Neither did pre-flood humans. They are buried in different layers, not because they lived at different times, but because they lived in different places. As far as the existence of fossils goes, it is an insurmountable problem for evolutionists to explain. Why are the rock layers perfectly flat with no erosion markers between the layers? Surely after each layer is exposed for thousands/millions of years there would be erosion between the layers. Why is there no bioturbation (root/worm-path fossils) in the layers? Why are the layers sorted by soil type? After thousands/millions of years soil types would be mixed and jumbled. Why are there fossils across multiple layers of rock? Did these dead animals/plants/trees lay exposed for millions of years while it was waiting to be buried by multiple layers of rock? To get fossilized material at all, an organism has to be buried quickly to avoid scavenging and decomposition, so the existence of fossils is actually unexpected from an evolutionary worldview that relies on slow, destructive processes. Fossils and the geologic layers are actually strong evidence for a catastrophic worldwide flood.
  3. Genetic Commonalities – This is pretty-well covered in item 1. But to further show that this is a false indication of evolution, the most recent research of DNA is showing that the genetic code is orders of magnitude more complex than originally thought. Junk DNA has been shown to be a false prediction of evolution as the entire DNA strand is now proving to be useful for the organism…exactly as one would expect if an omnipotent Creator designed everything from the beginning. For anyone interested in doing more research on this issue, check part one of this six part issue. A great quote from the article says, “If ENCODE is right, then Evolution is wrong.” Hint: ENCODE is right.
  4. Common Traits in Embryos – This line of reasoning was disproven over 100 years ago. Let me say that again, so it sinks in: Common traits of embryos was disproven over ONE HUNDRED years ago!!!! This was based on the fraudulent drawings made by Haeckel in the 1800s and recognized for the lie that they were within years of his submission. It’s absolutely irresponsible for this line of reasoning to be used as evidence for evolution. Gill slits??? Please!
  5. Bacterial Resistance to Antibiotics – This has nothing to do with microbes to microbiologists evolution. As stated, there are a few individuals present in bacterial colonies that are already resistant to antibiotics. So, in the presence of antibiotics, these mutants will thrive and be able to produce more offspring. As is required by evolution, no new information is added…only the gene pool is thinned by antibiotics, which is natural selection in action. Natural selection thins the gene pool; it does not create anything new. People have misunderstood what natural selection means, but it is an expectation that is perfectly in line with a biblical worldview. For more information on antibiotic resistant bacteria, you can check out this article.

So, as you can clearly see, these “evidences” for evolution are completely misunderstood or misrepresented. They are actually strong evidence that the Creator can be trusted in his revealed word. Since God can be trusted about the past, we can put our faith in Him completely for our future!