Evolutionary psychology Intelligent Design

At Mind Matters News: There is no such thing as a fossil mind

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A chapter on evolutionary psychology in The Comprehensive Guide to Science and Faith: Exploring the Ultimate Questions About Life and the Cosmos (2021) looks at the curious discipline of evolutionary psychology

I wrote one of the chapters, “What is evolutionary psychology?”. It concerns the effort to understand human psychology by appealing to a prehuman (“evolutionary”) past. As such, it explains a large variety of human behaviours as the unconscious enactment of a Darwinian survival scenario among not-quite humans. Thus, the reasons we do things are not at all what we suppose:

Denyse O’Leary, “There is no such thing as a fossil mind” at Mind Matters News

Evolution explains, for example, why we shop: “Gatherers sifted the useful from things that offered them no sustenance, warmth or comfort with a skill that would eventually lead to comfortable shopping malls and credit cards.” Or gossip “Back in the day, if you didn’t care to find out what was going on, you were more likely to die and less likely to pass on your incurious genes.” Oh, and anger over trivial matters was once key to our survival.

As the examples above illustrate, EP does not explain puzzling human behavior so much as it offers Darwinian survival-of-the-fittest explanations for conventional behavior, which supplant traditional ones. For example, why we are sexually jealous (not fear of abandonment, but “sperm competition”); why we don’t stick to our goals (evolution gave us a kludge brain); why we developed music (to “spot the savannah with little Pavarottis”); why art exists (to recapture that lost savannah); why many women don’t know when they are ovulating (if they knew, they’d never have kids); why some people rape, kill, and sleep around (our Stone Age ancestors passed on their genes via these traits), and why big banks sometimes get away with fraud (we haven’t evolved so as to understand what is happening).

Of course, people are free to accept these ad hoc evo psych explanations if they wish. Like astrology and palm reading, they make good conversation pieces, But the claim that they are “science” does not strengthen them and should not give them more credibility.


Takehome: If our behavior is said to stem from our prehuman past, not from our present circumstances, evolutionary psychology is a discipline without a subject.

You may also wish to read: Philosopher flattens evolutionary psychology. Rejecting evolutionary psychology means realizing that we cannot both claim to represent “Science!” and refuse to be bound by its standards.

3 Replies to “At Mind Matters News: There is no such thing as a fossil mind

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    As to “There Is No Such Thing As A Fossil Mind”

    While it is clear that there can never be fossil evidence for that which is immaterial, specifically there can never be fossil evidence for an immaterial mind per se, none-the-less, we do have fossil evidence for when human intelligence first appeared.

    And that fossil evidence is not comforting to Darwinian narratives, i.e. ‘just-so stories’, that would have human-like intelligence gradually appearing in the fossil record prior to the appearance of humans in the fossil record.

    As Noam Chomsky, Professor of Linguistics at MIT, and Robert Berwick, Professor in the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems at MIT, both stated, “There is no evidence of significant symbolic activity before the appearance of anatomically modern humans 200 thousand years ago (kya).22,,,
    There is no evidence that great apes, however sophisticated, have any of the crucial distinguishing features of language and ample evidence that they do not.48 Claims made in favor of their semantic powers, we might observe, are wrong. ”

    The Siege of Paris – Robert Berwick & Noam Chomsky – March 2019
    Excerpt: Linguists told themselves many stories about the evolution of language, and so did evolutionary biologists; but stories, as Richard Lewontin rightly notes, are not hypotheses, a term that should be “reserved for assertions that can be tested.”4
    The human language faculty is a species-specific property, with no known group differences and little variation. There are no significant analogues or homologues to the human language faculty in other species.5,,,
    How far back does language go? There is no evidence of significant symbolic activity before the appearance of anatomically modern humans 200 thousand years ago (kya).22,,,
    There is no evidence that great apes, however sophisticated, have any of the crucial distinguishing features of language and ample evidence that they do not.48 Claims made in favor of their semantic powers, we might observe, are wrong. Recent research reveals that the semantic properties of even the simplest words are radically different from anything in animal symbolic systems.49,,,
    Why only us?,,, We were not, of course, the first to ask them. We echo in modern terms the Cartesian philosophers Antoine Arnauld and Claude Lancelot, seventeenth-century authors of the Port-Royal Grammar, for whom language with its infinite combinatorial capacity wrought from a finite inventory of sounds was uniquely human and the very foundation of thought. It is subtle enough to express all that we can conceive, down to the innermost and “diverse movements of our souls.”
    https://inference-review.com/article/the-siege-of-paris
    Robert Berwick is a Professor in the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems at MIT.
    Noam Chomsky is Institute Professor and Professor of Linguistics (Emeritus) at MIT.

    And as Naom Chomsky further stated in this following 2017 article, “The capacity for language is species specific,,, One fact appears to be well established. The faculty of language is a true species property, invariant among human groups, and unique to humans in its essential properties. It follows that there has been little or no evolution of the faculty since human groups separated from one another,,,
    There is little evidence of anything like human language, or symbolic behavior altogether, before the emergence of modern humans.,,,
    The evolutionary origin of such concepts is a complete mystery.,,,”

    The Galilean Challenge – Noam Chomsky – April 2017
    Excerpt: The capacity for language is species specific, something shared by humans and unique to them. It is the most striking feature of this curious organism, and a foundation for its remarkable achievement,,,
    There has been considerable progress in understanding the nature of the internal language, but its free creative use remains a mystery. This should come as no surprise. In a recent review of far simpler cases of voluntary action, neuroscientists Emilio Bizzi and Robert Ajemian remark, in the case of something so simple as raising one’s arm, that
    “the detail of this complicated process, which critically involves coordinate and variable transformations from spatial movement goals to muscle activations, needs to be elaborated further. Phrased more fancifully, we have some idea as to the intricate design of the puppet and the puppet strings, but we lack insight into the mind of the puppeteer.”8
    The normal creative use of language is an even more dramatic example.,,,
    One fact appears to be well established. The faculty of language is a true species property, invariant among human groups, and unique to humans in its essential properties. It follows that there has been little or no evolution of the faculty since human groups separated from one another,,,
    There is little evidence of anything like human language, or symbolic behavior altogether, before the emergence of modern humans.,,,
    Our intricate knowledge of what even the simplest words mean is acquired virtually without experience. At peak periods of language acquisition, children acquire about a word an hour, often on one presentation.26 The rich meaning of even the most elementary words must be substantially innate.
    The evolutionary origin of such concepts is a complete mystery.,,,
    — Noam Chomsky is Institute Professor and Professor of Linguistics (Emeritus) at MIT.
    http://inference-review.com/ar.....-challenge

    Noam Chomsky and Robert Berwick are hardly alone. In 2014 a veritable who’s who list of leading Darwinian experts in this area of language research stated that, “Understanding the evolution of language requires evidence regarding origins and processes that led to change. In the last 40 years, there has been an explosion of research on this problem as well as a sense that considerable progress has been made. We argue instead that the richness of ideas is accompanied by a poverty of evidence, with essentially no explanation of how and why our linguistic computations and representations evolved.,,,”

    Leading Evolutionary Scientists Admit We Have No Evolutionary Explanation of Human Language – December 19, 2014
    Excerpt: Understanding the evolution of language requires evidence regarding origins and processes that led to change. In the last 40 years, there has been an explosion of research on this problem as well as a sense that considerable progress has been made. We argue instead that the richness of ideas is accompanied by a poverty of evidence, with essentially no explanation of how and why our linguistic computations and representations evolved.,,,
    (Marc Hauser, Charles Yang, Robert Berwick, Ian Tattersall, Michael J. Ryan, Jeffrey Watumull, Noam Chomsky and Richard C. Lewontin, “The mystery of language evolution,” Frontiers in Psychology, Vol 5:401 (May 7, 2014).)
    Casey Luskin added: “It’s difficult to imagine much stronger words from a more prestigious collection of experts.”
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....92141.html

    Thus, although, as News pointed out in her article, many Darwinists are proficient at telling evidence free ‘just-so stories’ about how this or that particular trait of human behavior may have gradually evolved, we find that when the rubber meets the road, and Darwinists try to put hard evidence to these ‘just-so stories’ that try to account for human behavior, especially these ‘just-so stories’ that try to account for human intelligence, we find that the fossil evidence itself undermines the Darwinian “notion that we gradually became who we inherently are over an extended period, in either the physical or the intellectual sense.”

    “A number of hominid crania are known from sites in eastern and southern Africa in the 400- to 200-thousand-year range, but none of them looks like a close antecedent of the anatomically distinctive Homo sapiens…Even allowing for the poor record we have of our close extinct kin, Homo sapiens appears as distinctive and unprecedented…there is certainly no evidence to support the notion that we gradually became who we inherently are over an extended period, in either the physical or the intellectual sense.”
    Dr. Ian Tattersall: – paleoanthropologist – emeritus curator of the American Museum of Natural History – (Masters of the Planet, 2012)

    And the reason for the failure of Darwinists to ever be able to give an account for the gradual appearance of human language and/or human intelligence is simple enough to understand.

    Specifically, human language and/or human intelligence, are both profoundly abstract, i.e. immaterial, in their foundational essences, and therefore it is, obviously, futile for Darwinists to ever try to account for that which immaterial with their materialistic explanations, i.e. ‘just-so stories’.

    As Stephen Meyer explained, “One of the things I do in my classes, to get this idea across to students, is I hold up two computer disks. One is loaded with software, and the other one is blank. And I ask them, ‘what is the difference in mass between these two computer disks, as a result of the difference in the information content that they posses’? And of course the answer is, ‘Zero! None! There is no difference as a result of the information. And that’s because information is a mass-less quantity. Now, if information is not a material entity, then how can any materialistic explanation account for its origin? How can any material cause explain it’s origin?”

    “One of the things I do in my classes, to get this idea across to students, is I hold up two computer disks. One is loaded with software, and the other one is blank. And I ask them, ‘what is the difference in mass between these two computer disks, as a result of the difference in the information content that they posses’? And of course the answer is, ‘Zero! None! There is no difference as a result of the information. And that’s because information is a mass-less quantity. Now, if information is not a material entity, then how can any materialistic explanation account for its origin? How can any material cause explain it’s origin??And this is the real and fundamental problem that the presence of information in biology has posed. It creates a fundamental challenge to the materialistic, evolutionary scenarios because information is a different kind of entity that matter and energy cannot produce.?In the nineteenth century we thought that there were two fundamental entities in science; matter, and energy. At the beginning of the twenty first century, we now recognize that there’s a third fundamental entity; and its ‘information’. It’s not reducible to matter. It’s not reducible to energy. But it’s still a very important thing that is real; we buy it, we sell it, we send it down wires.?Now, what do we make of the fact, that information is present at the very root of all biological function? In biology, we have matter, we have energy, but we also have this third, very important entity; information. I think the biology of the information age, poses a fundamental challenge to any materialistic approach to the origin of life.”?
    – Stephen C. Meyer – Ph.D. in the History and Philosophy of science from Cambridge University
    – Intelligent design: Why can’t biological information originate through a materialistic process? – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqiXNxyoof8?

    And as Dr. Michael Egnor, who is a brain surgeon, explained, “Human beings have the power to contemplate universals, which are concepts that have no material instantiation. Human beings think about mathematics, literature, art, language, justice, mercy, and an endless library of abstract concepts. Human beings are rational animals.
    Human rationality is not merely a highly evolved kind of animal perception. Human rationality is qualitatively different — ontologically different — from animal perception. Human rationality is different because it is immaterial. Contemplation of universals cannot have material instantiation, because universals themselves are not material and cannot be instantiated in matter.,,,
    It is a radical difference — an immeasurable qualitative difference, not a quantitative difference.
    We are more different from apes than apes are from viruses.,,,”

    The Fundamental Difference Between Humans and Nonhuman Animals – Michael Egnor – November 5, 2015
    Excerpt: Human beings have mental powers that include the material mental powers of animals but in addition entail a profoundly different kind of thinking. Human beings think abstractly, and nonhuman animals do not. Human beings have the power to contemplate universals, which are concepts that have no material instantiation. Human beings think about mathematics, literature, art, language, justice, mercy, and an endless library of abstract concepts. Human beings are rational animals.
    Human rationality is not merely a highly evolved kind of animal perception. Human rationality is qualitatively different — ontologically different — from animal perception. Human rationality is different because it is immaterial. Contemplation of universals cannot have material instantiation, because universals themselves are not material and cannot be instantiated in matter.,,,
    It is a radical difference — an immeasurable qualitative difference, not a quantitative difference.
    We are more different from apes than apes are from viruses.,,,
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....00661.html

    In short, Darwinists ultimately seek to ‘scientifically’ explain everything that exists in purely materialistic terms. i.e. Reductive materialism and/or Methodological Naturalism. And yet, if something is not composed of particles and/or does not have any physical properties (e.g., length, mass, energy, momentum, orientation, position, etc), it is necessarily abstract, i.e., immaterial, and is therefore irreducible to the materialistic explanations of Darwinists

    It is amazing how many things fall into that abstract, immaterial, category even though most of us, including Darwinists (“Darwinists” also happens to be an abstract term itself), swear that they really do exist.

    Mathematics, logic, truth, justice, morality, beauty, species, person, information, etc.. etc.. all fall into this category of being abstract and immaterial.

    For instance, take the abstract concept of species. The term species is an abstract property and/or definition of the immaterial mind that cannot possibly be reduced to any possible materialistic explanations. i.e. How much does the concept of species weigh? Does the concept of ‘species’ weigh more in English or in Chinese? How long is the concept of species in millimeters? How fast does the concept go? Is the concept of species faster or slower than the speed of light? Is the concept of species positively or negatively charged? Or etc.. etc.. etc… ?..

    Again, the reason why Darwinists can never give a proper ‘scientific’ definition for what a species actually is is because the concept of species turns out to be an abstract, i.e. immaterial, conceptualization of the immaterial mind.

    As Logan Paul Gage states in the following article, ”a crucial feature of human reason is its ability to abstract the universal nature from our sense experience of particular organisms.”,,, ” this denial (of true species) is a grave error, because the essence of the individual (the species in the Aristotelian sense) is the true object of our knowledge.”

    Darwin, Design & Thomas Aquinas
    The Mythical Conflict Between Thomism & Intelligent Design by Logan Paul Gage
    Excerpt:,,, In Aristotelian and Thomistic thought, each particular organism belongs to a certain universal class of things. Each individual shares a particular nature—or essence—and acts according to its nature. Squirrels act squirrelly and cats catty. We know with certainty that a squirrel is a squirrel because a crucial feature of human reason is its ability to abstract the universal nature from our sense experience of particular organisms.
    Denial of True Species
    Enter Darwinism. Recall that Darwin sought to explain the origin of “species.” Yet as he pondered his theory, he realized that it destroyed species as a reality altogether. For Darwinism suggests that any matter can potentially morph into any other arrangement of matter without the aid of an organizing principle. He thought cells were like simple blobs of Jell-O, easily re-arrangeable. For Darwin, there is no immaterial, immutable form. In The Origin of Species he writes:
    “I look at the term species as one arbitrarily given, for the sake of convenience, to a set of individuals closely resembling each other, and that it does not essentially differ from the term variety, which is given to less distinct and more fluctuating forms. The term variety, again, in comparison with mere individual differences, is also applied arbitrarily, for convenience’s sake.”
    Statements like this should make card-carrying Thomists shudder.,,,
    The first conflict between Darwinism and Thomism, then, is the denial of true species or essences. For the Thomist, this denial is a grave error, because the essence of the individual (the species in the Aristotelian sense) is the true object of our knowledge. As philosopher Benjamin Wiker observes in Moral Darwinism, Darwin reduced species to “mere epiphenomena of matter in motion.” What we call a “dog,” in other words, is really just an arbitrary snapshot of the way things look at present. If we take the Darwinian view, Wiker suggests, there is no species “dog” but only a collection of individuals, connected in a long chain of changing shapes, which happen to resemble each other today but will not tomorrow.
    What About Man?
    Now we see Chesterton’s point. Man, the universal, does not really exist. According to the late Stanley Jaki, Chesterton detested Darwinism because “it abolishes forms and all that goes with them, including that deepest kind of ontological form which is the immortal human soul.” And if one does not believe in universals, there can be, by extension, no human nature—only a collection of somewhat similar individuals.,,,
    https://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=23-06-037-f

    Within their reductive materialistic framework, Darwinists simply have no firm foundation on which they can ground the abstract, i.e. immaterial, concept of ‘species’.

    You don’t have to take Logan Paul Gage’s word for it. In 2019, a Darwinist honestly admitted that “The most important concept in all of biology, (i.e. species), is a complete mystery”

    What is a species? The most important concept in all of biology is a complete mystery – July 16, 2019
    https://theconversation.com/what-is-a-species-the-most-important-concept-in-all-of-biology-is-a-complete-mystery-119200

    And as the following 2020 article pointed out, Darwinists simply have no rigid, ‘one size fits all’, demarcation criteria for what actually constitutes a species.

    At New Scientist: Questioning The Idea Of Species – Nov. 2020
    Excerpt: Take the apparently simple organising principle of a species. You might have learned at school that a species is a group of individuals that can breed to produce fertile offspring. But this is just one of at least 34 competing definitions concocted over the past century by researchers working in different fields.,,,,
    https://uncommondescent.com/darwinism/at-new-scientist-questioning-the-idea-of-species/

    Even Charles Darwin himself honestly admitted that he did not have a rigid definition for what a species actually was when he stated, “I look at the term species as one arbitrarily given, for the sake of convenience,”

    “I look at the term species as one arbitrarily given, for the sake of convenience, to a set of individuals closely resembling each other, and that it does not essentially differ from the term variety, which is given to less distinct and more fluctuating forms. The term variety, again, in comparison with mere individual differences, is also applied arbitrarily, for convenience’s sake.”
    – Charles Darwin

    As should be needless to say, if you can’t even provide a rigid ‘scientific’ definition for the abstract and immaterial concept of ‘species’ in the first place, (in your theory that adamantly claims to be the ‘be all/end all’ scientific explanation for the ‘origin of species’), well then, so much for your claim that you have scientifically explained the ‘origin of species’. i.e. Scientifically speaking, your claim is, as Pauli put it, ‘Not even wrong’.

    Quotes and verse

    “There is a moral or metaphysical part of nature as well as a physical. A man who denies this is deep in the mire of folly.,,”
    – Letter from Adam Sedgwick to Charles Darwin – 24 Nov 1859

    “I have tried to make this intentional plan in the organization of the animal kingdom evident, by showing that the differences between animals do not constitute a material chain, analogous to a series of physical phenomena, bound together by the same law, but present themselves rather as the phases of a thought, formulated according to a definite aim. I think we know enough of comparative anatomy to abandon forever the idea of the transformation of the organs of one type into those of another.”
    Letter from Louis Agassiz To A. Sedgwick. Neuchatel, June, 1845. In Elizabeth Cary Agassiz (Ed.). 1885. Louis Agassiz: His Life and Correspondence. Houghton, Mifflin and Co: Boston. P. 388 – 390

    1 Thessalonians 5:21
    but test all things. Hold fast to what is good.

  2. 2
    Fasteddious says:

    Of course there are fossil minds; those are the ones who believe in materialistic, Darwinian evolution.

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    Fasteddious at 2, well played

    🙂

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