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Tom Bethell: Denigration of the human race has become fashionable, constant and, in the academy, almost obligatory.


In “Why humans are unique” (Washington Times, February 28, 2012), Tom Bethell reflects,

… denigration of the human race has become fashionable, constant and, in the academy, almost obligatory. Sagan derided “our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe.” Evolution theorist Stephen Jay Gould made similar comments.

It’s as though we go around sounding like Mohammed Ali: “We’re the greatest!” But who say such things? Sagan and Gould never identified them. In most cases, I think, the real target is not human boasting but faith in God. Often, the complaints are made by those who have lost their own faith. What really upsets the Darwinians is not that we think we are so great, but that we still think God is greater.

You wonder why all these academics do not seek their salaries from bonobos instead, out of pure principle.

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Barb, What drives me crazy is the imaginative storytelling that pervades Darwinian explanations. Prominent in these stories is the "musta" element. For example, there "musta" been extinct and undiscovered intermediate steps in human evolution that made language / mathematical aptitude / reasoning ability / etc. to have provided incremental reproductive advantages. This has been called the "Darwin of the Gaps" method. Conversely, the lack of change in "living fossils" is explained as their environment "musta' been isolated and remained virtually unchanged for millions of years. Yep, no question. It musta. This might be called "the Grace of Darwin" method. It reminds me of Paul Bunyan's Goofus birds that fly backwards. "It doesn't give a darn where it's going, it only wants to know where it's been." Likewise, Goofus Darwinius is terrible at predicting anything, only at explaining how what has already been found fits perfectly into the theory of evolution, which is also modified if needed. Querius
Premonitions, telepathy, etc would seem to be other forms of infused knowledge. Axel
"At the 11:50 minute mark of this following video world 21 year old Chess champion Magnus Carlsen explains that he does not know how he knows his next move of Chess instantaneously, that ‘it just comes natural’ to him." I believe such knowledge is directly infused by the Holy Spirit, who also coordinates the strands of our intelligence, insofar as we will allow him to do so. It's not difficult to see God teaching risibly intellectually-pretentious atheists, via the less intellectually able 'savants', the folly of imagining themselves to be the ultimate super-rational, intellectual hot-shots. Man has zero to boast of before God; least of all his worldly intelligence. Axel
Querius notes, "Also, humans are also not “special” because humans have bodies just as animals do. Also animals have intelligence. So, nothing special there."
Academics might feel this way, but there really are profound gulfs between animals and humans. “The prefrontal cortex . . . is most involved with elaboration of thought, intelligence, motivation, and personality. It associates experiences necessary for the production of abstract ideas, judgment, persistence, planning, concern for others, and conscience. . . . It is the elaboration of this region that sets human beings apart from other animals.” (Marieb’s Human Anatomy and Physiology) We certainly see evidence of this distinction in what humans have accomplished in fields such as mathematics, philosophy, and justice, which primarily involve the prefrontal cortex. Why do humans have a large, flexible prefrontal cortex, which contributes to higher mental functions, whereas in animals this area is rudimentary or nonexistent? The contrast is so great that biologists who claim that we evolved speak of the “mysterious explosion in brain size.” Professor of Biology Richard F. Thompson, noting the extraordinary expansion of our cerebral cortex, admits: “As yet we have no very clear understanding of why this happened.” Could the reason lie in man’s having been created with this peerless brain capacity? Other parts of the brain also contribute to our uniqueness. Behind our prefrontal cortex is a strip stretching across the head—the motor cortex. It contains billions of neurons that connect with our muscles. It too has features that contribute to our being far different from apes or other animals. The primary motor cortex gives us “(1) an exceptional capability to use the hand, the fingers, and the thumb to perform highly dexterous manual tasks, and (2) use of the mouth, lips, tongue, and facial muscles to talk.”—Guyton’s Textbook of Medical Physiology. Chimpanzees have been taught some limited sign language, but their use of it is essentially limited to simple requests for food or other basics. Having worked to teach chimps simple nonverbal communication, Dr. David Premack concluded: “Human language is an embarrassment for evolutionary theory because it is vastly more powerful than one can account for.” We might ponder: ‘Why do humans have this marvelous skill to communicate thoughts and feelings, to inquire and to respond?’ The Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics states that “[human] speech is special” and admits that “the search for precursors in animal communication does not help much in bridging the enormous gap that separates language and speech from nonhuman behaviors.” Professor Ludwig Koehler summarized the difference: “Human speech is a secret; it is a divine gift, a miracle.” Sir John Eccles referred to what most of us have also observed, an ability “exhibited even by 3-year-old children with their torrent of questions in their desire to understand their world.” He added: “By contrast, apes do not ask questions.” Yes, only humans form questions, including questions about the meaning of life. Barb
MercyMe - Beautiful - music http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vh7-RSPuAA bornagain77
bornagain77, I am afraid this dogmatic and almost pathological self-hate is impervious to evidence. What is interesting is that derision of human nature (and all those who think humans are inimitable) is done in the name of reason and/or science which are uniquely part of human condition. Go figure! inunison
Although the Copernican mediocrity principle has been overturned by advances in physics:
Centrality of Each Individual Observer In The Universe and Christ’s Very Credible Reconciliation Of General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics Excerpt: I find it extremely interesting, and strange, that quantum mechanics tells us that instantaneous quantum wave collapse to its ‘uncertain’ 3-D state is centered on each individual conscious observer in the universe, whereas, 4-D space-time cosmology (General Relativity) tells us each 3-D point in the universe is central to the expansion of the universe. These findings of modern science are pretty much exactly what we would expect to see if this universe were indeed created, and sustained, from a higher dimension by a omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, eternal Being who knows everything that is happening everywhere in the universe at the same time. These findings certainly seem to go to the very heart of the age old question asked of many parents by their children, “How can God hear everybody’s prayers at the same time?”,,, i.e. Why should the expansion of the universe, or the quantum wave collapse of the entire universe, even care that you or I, or anyone else, should exist? Only Theism offers a rational explanation as to why you or I, or anyone else, should have such undeserved significance in such a vast universe: Psalm 33:13-15 The LORD looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men. From the place of His dwelling He looks on all the inhabitants of the earth; He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works. https://docs.google.com/document/d/17SDgYPHPcrl1XX39EXhaQzk7M0zmANKdYIetpZ-WB5Y/edit?hl=en_US
Another very strong indication that humans are uniquely set apart from animals, even 'special, indeed an indication that we are 'made in the image of God', is that man can uniquely generate functional information:
Darwin’s mistake: Explaining the discontinuity between human and nonhuman minds: Excerpt: There is a profound functional discontinuity between human and nonhuman minds. We argue that this discontinuity pervades nearly every domain of cognition and runs much deeper than even the spectacular scaffolding provided by language or culture can explain. We hypothesize that the cognitive discontinuity between human and nonhuman animals is largely due to the degree to which human and nonhuman minds are able to approximate the higher-order, systematic, relational capabilities of a physical symbol system. http://www.bbsonline.org/Preprints/Penn-01062006/Referees/Penn-01062006_bbs-preprint.htm Origin of the Mind: Marc Hauser - Scientific American - April 2009 Excerpt: "Researchers have found some of the building blocks of human cognition in other species. But these building blocks make up only the cement footprint of the skyscraper that is the human mind",,, http://www.wjh.harvard.edu?/~mnkylab/publications/rec?ent/mindSciAm.pdf Earliest humans not so different from us, research suggests - February 2011 Excerpt: Shea argues that comparing the behavior of our most ancient ancestors to Upper Paleolithic Europeans holistically and ranking them in terms of their "behavioral modernity" is a waste of time. There are no such things as modern humans, Shea argues, just Homo sapiens populations with a wide range of behavioral variability. http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-02-earliest-humans.html Geometric Principles Appear Universal in Our Minds - May 2011 Excerpt: Villagers belonging to an Amazonian group called the Mundurucú intuitively grasp abstract geometric principles despite having no formal math education,,, Mundurucú adults and 7- to 13-year-olds demonstrate as firm an understanding of the properties of points, lines and surfaces as adults and school-age children in the United States and France,,, http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/05/universal-geometry/
As well, although Tattersall and Schwartz, the authors of the fairly recent 'Evolution of the Genus Homo' paper, appear to be thoroughly mystified by the fossil record, they never seem to give up their blind faith in evolution despite the disparity they see first hand in the fossil record. In spite of their philosophical bias, I have to hand it to them for being fairly honest with the evidence though. I especially like how the authors draw out this following 'what it means to be human' distinction in their paper:
"although Homo neanderthalensis had a large brain, it left no unequivocal evidence of the symbolic consciousness that makes our species unique." -- "Unusual though Homo sapiens may be morphologically, it is undoubtedly our remarkable cognitive qualities that most strikingly demarcate us from all other extant species. They are certainly what give us our strong subjective sense of being qualitatively different. And they are all ultimately traceable to our symbolic capacity. Human beings alone, it seems, mentally dissect the world into a multitude of discrete symbols, and combine and recombine those symbols in their minds to produce hypotheses of alternative possibilities. When exactly Homo sapiens acquired this unusual ability is the subject of debate." - Tattersall; Schwartz - Evolution of the Genus Homo
The authors of the 'Evolution of the Genus Homo' paper, Tattersall and Schwartz, try to find some evolutionary/materialistic reason for the extremely unique 'information capacity' of humans, but of course they never find a coherent reason. Indeed why should we ever consider a process, which is utterly incapable of ever generating any complex functional information at even the most foundational levels of molecular biology, to suddenly, magically, have the ability to generate our brain which can readily understand and generate functional information? A brain which has been repeatedly referred to as 'the Most Complex Structure in the Universe'? The authors never seem to consider the 'spiritual angle' for why we would have such a unique capacity for such abundant information processing. i.e. They never seem to consider the reason why we have such a unique ability to process information may be that we were indeed created to have a unique relationship with God:
Genesis 2:7 the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Genesis 3:8 And they (Adam and Eve) heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day... John 1:1-1 In the beginning, the Word existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.
And indeed 'information' is found to be the foundation of the universe:
Why the Quantum? It from Bit? A Participatory Universe? Excerpt: In conclusion, it may very well be said that information is the irreducible kernel from which everything else flows. Thence the question why nature appears quantized is simply a consequence of the fact that information itself is quantized by necessity. It might even be fair to observe that the concept that information is fundamental is very old knowledge of humanity, witness for example the beginning of gospel according to John: "In the beginning was the Word." Anton Zeilinger - a leading expert in quantum teleportation:
Moreover, besides man having a unique capacity to understand functional information, and the 'spooky' correlation that the foundational level of the universe is found to in fact be information, there is the spooky correlation of 'consciousness' preceding quantum wave collapse:
“I’m going to talk about the Bell inequality, and more importantly a new inequality that you might not have heard of called the Leggett inequality, that was recently measured, it was actually formulated almost 30 years ago by Professor Leggett, who is a Nobel Prize winner, but it wasn’t tested until about a year and a half ago (in 2007), when an article appeared in Nature, that the measurement was made by this prominent quantum group in Vienna led by Anton Zeilinger, which they measured the Leggett inequality, which actually goes a step deeper than the Bell inequality and rules out any possible interpretation other than consciousness creates reality when the measurement is made.” – Bernard Haisch, Ph.D., Calphysics Institute, is an astrophysicist and author of over 130 scientific publications. “What drives materialists crazy is that consciousness cannot be seen, tasted, smelled, touched, heard, or studied in a laboratory. But how could it be otherwise? Consciousness is the very thing that is DOING the seeing, the tasting, the smelling, etc… We define material objects by their effect upon our senses – how they feel in our hands, how they appear to our eyes. But we know consciousness simply by BEING it!” - APM - UD Blogger
Moreover, the argument for God from consciousness can be framed like this:
1. Consciousness either preceded all of material reality or is a 'epi-phenomena' of material reality. 2. If consciousness is a 'epi-phenomena' of material reality then consciousness will be found to have no special position within material reality. Whereas conversely, if consciousness precedes material reality then consciousness will be found to have a special position within material reality. 3. Consciousness is found to have a special, even central, position within material reality. 4. Therefore, consciousness is found to precede material reality.
Further notes: At the 11:50 minute mark of this following video world 21 year old Chess champion Magnus Carlsen explains that he does not know how he knows his next move of Chess instantaneously, that 'it just comes natural' to him.
Mozart of Chess: Magnus Carlsen - video http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7399370n&tag=contentMain;contentAux A chess prodigy explains how his mind works - video What's the secret to Magnus' magic? Once an opponent makes a move, Magnus instantaneously knows his own next move. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504803_162-57380913-10391709/a-chess-prodigy-explains-how-his-mind-works/?tag=segementExtraScroller;housing Is Integer Arithmetic Fundamental to Mental Processing?: The mind's secret arithmetic Because normal children struggle to learn multiplication and division, it is surprising that some savants perform integer arithmetic calculations mentally at "lightning" speeds (Treffert 1989, Myers 1903, Hill 1978, Smith 1983, Sacks 1985, Hermelin and O'Connor 1990, Welling 1994, Sullivan 1992). They do so unconsciously, without any apparent training, typically without being able to report on their methods, and often at an age when the normal child is struggling with elementary arithmetic concepts (O'Connor 1989). Examples include multiplying, factoring, dividing and identifying primes of six (and more) digits in a matter of seconds as well as specifying the number of objects (more than one hundred) at a glance. For example, one savant (Hill 1978) could give the cube root of a six figure number in 5 seconds and he could double 8,388,628 twenty four times to obtain 140,737,488,355,328 in several seconds. Joseph (Sullivan 1992), the inspiration for the film "Rain Man" about an autistic savant, could spontaneously answer "what number times what number gives 1234567890" by stating "9 times 137,174,210". Sacks (1985) observed autistic twins who could exchange prime numbers in excess of eight figures, possibly even 20 figures, and who could "see" the number of many objects at a glance. When a box of 111 matches fell to the floor the twins cried out 111 and 37, 37, 37. Electrical genius Nicola Tesla was born in Serbia in 1856,,, his father was a clergyman. Excerpt: While walking in Budapest Park, Hungary, Nikola Tesla had seen a vision of a functioning alternating current (AC) electric induction motor. This was one of the most revolutionary inventions in the entire history of the world.
The boy in this following video rivals, or surpasses, Nikola Tesla as an example of innovative ideas coming fully formed to the mind without any need for trial and error:
Bluejay: The Mind of a Child Prodigy – video http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7186319n
Then, of course, Sir Isaac Newton stated this:
I have a fundamental belief in the Bible as the Word of God, written by men who were inspired. I study the Bible daily.... All my discoveries have been made in an answer to prayer. — Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727), considered by many to be the greatest scientist of all time.
The denigration of humanity that Tom Bethell notes is a philosophical extension of the Copernican mediocrity principle. The Earth is not "special" because, as everyone knows, special things are At The Center. If the Earth was special then it would be at the center of the solar system and the solar system would be at the center of the Milky Way galaxy, which would be the center of the universe. Wait. According to the big bang theory, everything is at the center, but that doesn't count. Also, humans are also not "special" because humans have bodies just as animals do. Also animals have intelligence. So, nothing special there. The point of all this is related to the Carl Sagan argument that I read somewhere: 1. Viewed from way far away, the earth looks like a pale blue dot. 2. Therefore, God doesn't exist. You see, Carl Sagan also discovered that being At The Center was not the only quality of being "special". This involved numbers with lots of zeros. To be special you need to be Really Large or Very Rare. Our sun is not Really Large or rare at all. None of this is Science in my opinion. Querius

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