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Casey Luskin on Harari’s Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

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Yuval Noah Harari is a classic TED talk materialist historian and his 2015 book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind is vintage, as Casey Luskin explains:

“Evolution moulded our minds and bodies to the life of hunter-gatherers” (p. 378) — then there’s no reason to expect that we should need to evolve the ability to build cathedrals, compose symphonies, ponder the deep physics mysteries of the universe, or write entertaining (or even imaginative) books about human history. Why should these things evolve? He said it, not me: “Frankly, we don’t know.”

Here’s something else we don’t know: the genetic pathway by which all of these cognitive abilities evolved (supposedly). Now you probably won’t appreciate this fact if you read Sapiens, because Harari gives a veneer of evolutionary explanation which really amounts to no explanation at all. Here’s what he says:

“The appearance of new ways of thinking and communicating, between 70,000 and 30,000 years ago, constitutes the Cognitive Revolution. What caused it? We’re not sure. The most commonly believed theory argues that accidental genetic mutations changed the inner wiring of the brains of Sapiens, enabling them to think in unprecedented ways and to communicate using an altogether new type of language. We might call it the Tree of Knowledge mutation. Why did it occur in Sapiens DNA rather than in that of Neanderthals? It was a matter of pure chance, as far as we can tell. But it’s more important to understand the consequences of the Tree of Knowledge mutation than its causes. What was so special about the new Sapiens language that it enabled us to conquer the world?”

True, Harari admits that “We’re not sure” how all this happened. But he then proceeds to confidently assert that human cognitive abilities arose via “accidental genetic mutations” that “changed the inner wiring of the brains of Sapiens.” No discussion is attempted and no citation is given for exactly what these mutations were, what exactly they did, how many mutations were necessary, and whether they would be likely to arise via the neo-Darwinian mechanism of random mutation and natural selection in the available time periods.

Casey Luskin, “A Scientifically Weak and Ethically Uninspiring Vision of Human Origins: Review of Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens” at Discovery Institute (October 25, 2021)

Hey, where’s the turtleneck and the mike?

You may also wish to read: Michael Egnor’s take on Harari’s denial of free will: Is free will a dangerous myth? The denial of free will is a much more dangerous myth. It is the denial of free will, rather than the affirmation of it, that serves as the fundamental philosophical pretext for totalitarian oppression.

Marfin Sandy- With or without Christ`s power , it still has to be a freewill act .
:) It is a free will act. You have free will when you try yourself to escape a vice and you can't. You have free will when you ask Jesus to liberate you from a vice and Jesus do it. Where is the lack of free will? Sandy
Sandy- With or without Christ`s power , it still has to be a freewill act , if not, then we are not choosing to follow or not follow , Christs command`s . and it has to be our choice , or how could we be held accountable over something we have no control(freewill)over. Marfin
@Marfin: You missed "...is impossible ...by our own forces". Christ: "for apart from me you can do nothing.” Sandy
Sandy- I think you are on shaky ground on that one ,as someone may try give up smoking 20 times and fail and you may say see no free will to stop, but on the 21st time they succeed so why on the 21st try did their free will kick in. The apostle Paul speaking in Romans tells us we do the very thing we don`want to do "the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak" but that does not mean we dont have free will it just means we are not excersizing our wills . To me its akin to you saying I cannot run 100 metres in 9 seconds so I have no free will , I want to run 100 metres in 9 seconds but my body fails me so will in this matter is not free its determined by my bodys limitation. Sin is not the same if you are determined enough and act on your free will you can overcome, sure if you were determined enough all you would need to do for most of the sins you mentioned is lock yourself in a room and have your food passed under the door, then you could not get drunk, smoke , commit adultery, etc as you would have no opportunity to do so. But you would need to act on your free will if that will was set on doing whats right at all cost`s. Marfin
Marfin Sandy , not sure I am reading you right, are you saying that because we act on our vices, that we have no free will in the matter.
Yes. There is a gradual process and there is a certain point from where is impossible to return to a free will by our own forces Sandy
Sandy , not sure I am reading you right, are you saying that because we act on our vices, that we have no free will in the matter. Marfin
ChuckDarwin knows something that is true about no free will but he didn't catch all the truth. Indeed there are people who have done repeatedly again and again what Christians call :"the sin" and they have no more free will to stop the vice. They can't controll themselves anymore in doing a bad thing. The sin can be on body and/or on soul side. On body: killing, stealing,drinking alcohol,doing drugs, eating food like is no tomorrow,sexual vices, etc. On soul side : pride, vanity, anger,rage,sloth,etc. When you see an atheist that reject plain logic in your face that means s/he has no more free will to follow the truth where it leads like a drunkard or drug addict that knows what is good but can't help himself HAS NO FREE WILL ANYMORE. I've seen many people astonished by atheists lack of logic but this is something normal . When you play with vice you will pay a high price. Sandy
ChuckD believes that no one can be held to account for anything, yet he chided Egnor for making a mistake. Origenes
Chuck D - Do you honestly believe there is no such thing as free will, just think about every single thing we do, believe ,and think now remove freewill from it and see does what we do, believe ,and think now make any sense. How possibly can you make one single argument for or against anything, and I mean anything ,if there is no such thing as free will . If there is no free will ,nothing makes any sense whatsoever. Chuck D you will reply to this you have no choice ha ha Marfin
Read Harari a while back. Have a copy on my self. Thankfully I didn't pay for it. Damn depressing book. At least Harari is following materialism exactly where it leads. EDTA
Bornagain77 @9 This is indeed a gem. To those who seek the truth reasoning is sacred. And if one starts compiling a list of items necessary for succesful reasoning——for finding the truth——one will be amazed. Origenes
Here is a gem of a quote from C.S. Lewis towards the end of Luskin's article:
"All possible knowledge, then, depends on the validity of reasoning. … Unless human reasoning is valid no science can be true. It follows therefore that no account of the universe can be true unless that account leaves it possible for our thinking to be a real insight. A theory which explained everything else in the universe but which made it impossible to believe that our thinking was valid, would be utterly out of court. For that theory would itself have been reached by our thinking, and if thinking is not valid that theory would, of course, be itself demolished. It would have destroyed its own credentials. It would be an argument that proved no argument was sound — a proof that there are no such things as proofs — which is nonsense." C.S. Lewis - Miracles - , P. 26 - A Scientifically Weak and Ethically Uninspiring Vision of Human Origins: Review of Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens - Casey Luskin - Oct. 25, 2021 https://www.discovery.org/a/review-of-yuval-noah-hararis-sapiens/
OldArmy94 Sandy, it’s the same irony faced by the materialist who also believes that mankind can somehow rise above the evolutionary fray to “protect the planet” from humans.
:) Materialists don't think something noble like that they only use noble ideas to destroy people and damage lifes and when they can't do that they try at least to make some people angry. Sandy
Sandy, it's the same irony faced by the materialist who also believes that mankind can somehow rise above the evolutionary fray to "protect the planet" from humans. OldArmy94
Yes the atomic irony bomb: an atheist trying to convince people that they have no free will. PS: Atheists seem to have a strange kind of color blindness I mean logic blindness. Maybe it's the same like the problem of a missing software driver. They lack a driver. :) Sandy
Those who demand understanding, those who seek the truth, must assume to be free persons . For if, instead, understanding is something that is forced upon us by something other than us, if understanding is not our own, then we understand nothing. If we are not free, if something outside of our control determines the state "I understand X", then all rationality is lost. Origenes
ChuckyD,@2 Am I then to believe that you did not make that post of your own free will or follow the link to Dr Egnor’s article. But you were compelled too by the random jostling of your atoms and now your here trying to convince others they have no free will without even a whiff of irony that under such a worldview, such a thing would not be possible. Seekers
ChuckyD, the atheistic claim that free will is an illusion, like practically everything else within the atheist's worldview, is a blatantly self-refuting claim: Perhaps no better example for this blatantly self refuting claim exists than the following statement that Jerry Coyne made about the 'illusion' of free will, ”Free will is an illusion so convincing that people simply refuse to believe that we don’t have it.”
THE ILLUSION OF FREE WILL – Sam Harris – 2012 Excerpt: “Free will is an illusion so convincing that people simply refuse to believe that we don’t have it.” – Jerry Coyne – professor emeritus at the University of Chicago in the Department of Ecology and Evolution https://samharris.org/the-illusion-of-free-will/
That statement from Coyne should literally be the number one example of a self-refuting statement that is given in philosophy 101 classes. Of supplemental note:
Sam Harris's Free Will: The Medial Pre-Frontal Cortex Did It - Martin Cothran - November 9, 2012 Excerpt: There is something ironic about the position of thinkers like Harris on issues like this: they claim that their position is the result of the irresistible necessity of logic (in fact, they pride themselves on their logic). Their belief is the consequent, in a ground/consequent relation between their evidence and their conclusion. But their very stated position is that any mental state -- including their position on this issue -- is the effect of a physical, not logical cause. By their own logic, it isn't logic that demands their assent to the claim that free will is an illusion, but the prior chemical state of their brains. The only condition under which we could possibly find their argument convincing is if they are not true. The claim that free will is an illusion requires the possibility that minds have the freedom to assent to a logical argument, a freedom denied by the claim itself. It is an assent that must, in order to remain logical and not physiological, presume a perspective outside the physical order. http://www.evolutionnews.org/2012/11/sam_harriss_fre066221.html Michael Egnor: Jerry Coyne Just Can’t Give Up Denying Free Will – April 27, 2020 Excerpt: Someday, I predict, there will be a considerable psychiatric literature on the denial of free will. It’s essentially a delusion dressed up as science. To insist that your neurotransmitters completely control your choices is no different than insisting that your television or your iphone control your thoughts. It’s crazy. https://uncommondesc.wpengine.com/intelligent-design/michael-egnor-jerry-coyne-just-cant-give-up-denying-free-will/
So I checked out Egnor's article "Is Free Will a Myth" linked to this article. I found this gem:
4. While scientific experiments do not entirely settle the matter, an objective review of the neuroscientific evidence unequivocally supports the existence of free will. (my emphasis)
Contrast this with a Wiki article entitled The Neuroscience of Free Will:
The field remains highly controversial. The significance of findings, their meaning, and what conclusions may be drawn from them is a matter of intense debate.
And then there is the original statement by Egnor that, oh by the way, the scientific experiments "do not entirely settle the matter." No kidding.... chuckdarwin
The Savannah Sabertooth crap doesn't even match where humans actually like to live. As far back as we can trace, people have lived in villages with commerce and division of labor, and people have settled near rivers and coasts for water and trade. Plains were largely unoccupied until roads and railroads created new trade routes, but water is STILL a serious constraint. polistra

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