The problem with Coyne’s spandrel/epiphenomenal hypothesis [about consciousness] is that even if the Darwinian mechanism (“survivors survive”) were a meaningful scientific inference, it can only explain the survival of consciousness, not the arrival of consciousness. To figure at all in evolution, consciousness must first exist and the Darwinian mechanism can’t explain its origin. At best, Darwinism can only explain changes in consciousness over time.
Furthermore, if human consciousness did indeed “evolve,” it had to be present in some way in inanimate matter as a substrate on which natural selection could act. Thus, the assertion that consciousness “evolved” is either empty (it doesn’t explain the arrival of consciousness, only its survival) or it presupposes panpsychism—the presence of consciousness in inanimate matter. Panpsychism is anathema to materialists like Coyne, who desperately try to eliminate Mind from nature.Michael Egnor, “Did consciousness evolve?” at Mind Matters News
Here are some of neurosurgeon Michael Egnor’s earlier reflections on consciousness:
Can we engineer consciousness in a robot? One neuroscientist thinks we need only “simple guidelines.” His underlying assumptions are just wrong
Neuroscientist Michael Graziano should meet the p-zombie. A p-zombie (a philosopher’s thought experiment) behaves exactly like a human being but has no first-person (subjective) experience. The meat robot violates no physical principles. Yet we KNOW we are not p-zombies. Think what that means.
Did consciousness “evolve”? One neuroscientist doesn’t seem to understand the problems the idea raises. Darwinian evolution must select physical attributes. If consciousness evolved as a mere byproduct of physical brain processes, it is powerless in itself. Thus Graziano’s theories of consciousness are themselves mindless accidents.
Did consciousness evolve to find love? It’s an attractive idea but it comes with a hidden price tag If consciousness is a mere tool of human sexual selection, it is mere plumage, a pretty enticement, of no meaning or import otherwise. But then what becomes of Dr. Graziano’s own intellectual labors?
Also: Bernardo Kastrup: Consciousness cannot have evolved. How many joules of consciousness would make you a human instead of a chimpanzee? How many more joules of consciousness would make you a genius? Computer scientist and philosopher Bernardo Kastrup argues that evolution deals with things that can be measured quantitatively but consciousness cannot be quantified.