Animal minds Intelligent Design

Do we really understand what intelligence in life forms is?

Thinking about Jeff Hawkins’s new book, A Thousand Brains: A New Theory of Intelligence (Basic Books 2021), championing the mammalian neocortex, for example, one might ask, what does the iconic mammalian neocortex do that equivalent systems in birds and octopuses can’t do? That’s not clear. And human intelligence is something different again.

Animal minds Darwinism Evolution Intelligent Design

Oldest (so far) cephalopods discovered at 522 million years old?

Wait a minute. Many cephalopods (octopuses, squid, and cuttlefish) are considered very intelligent though it is unclear how they got to be so. So, not only is this another instance of stasis (complex life forms emerge early and remain complex) but there is a real possibility that a high level of intelligence emerged early. Assuming that any intelligence at all could originate via a Darwinian mechanism, early origin followed by stasis does not sound like a Darwinian program for intelligence.

Animal minds Evolution Intelligent Design

Does evolution help us understand why some species in the same genus are significantly smarter than others?

One could simply say, “Evolving more intelligence helped the animal to survive.” The trouble with that explanation is, many free-roaming life forms would probably survive more readily if they were more intelligent. But they do not develop greater intelligence on that account. There must be more to the story.