It sounds startling. Nearly 30 per cent of adults in the UK say evolution can’t explain the origin of humans. That rises to nearly 50 per cent for human consciousness. Does that mean we’re increasingly following a vocal minority in the US who deny the science on fringe religious grounds?
Unexpectedly, 44 per cent felt that evolutionary processes cannot explain the existence of human consciousness. It might be tempting to assume that this is just a reflection of the number of religious believers. However, while faith does appear to amplify individual doubts about evolutionary explanations, it is not the only factor at work. We saw similar trends across all respondents – religious, spiritual and non-religious. More.
So common sense is not limited to religious believers after all. Philip Cunningham, himself a Brit, writes to say,
It is not that anyone has a clue how consciousness can possibly arise from matter, much less provide a cogent evolutionary explanation towards the origin of human consciousness. No, not any science like that. It is that it simply must have happened that way or else you are branded a religious fanatic.
He offers some comments from philosophers and physicists:
I have argued patiently against the prevailing form of naturalism, a reductive materialism that purports to capture life and mind through its neo-Darwinian extension.” “…, I find this view antecedently unbelievable—a heroic triumph of ideological theory over common sense”. – Thomas Nagel, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False” – p. 128
No, I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness. – Max Planck (1858–1947), the main founder of quantum theory, The Observer, London, January 25, 1931
Consciousness cannot be accounted for in physical terms. For consciousness is absolutely fundamental. It cannot be accounted for in terms of anything else. – Schroedinger, Erwin. 1984. “General Scientific and Popular Papers,” in Collected Papers, Vol. 4. Vienna: Austrian Academy of Sciences. Friedr. Vieweg & Sohn, Braunschweig/Wiesbaden. p. 334.
But unfortunately, as a direct result of naturalism, reason is now a Convention refugee from most campuses and media organizations. Nothing need make sense in those venues any more and the inhabitants treat those who doubt their untenable theories with hostility.
*Note: Michael Shermer posted an update at his recent Scientific American column on campus intimidation of profs (focusing on Bret Weinstein at Evergreen):
*Editor’s Note (8/18/17): This sentence was edited after the print article was posted online. The original stated that students at Middlebury College “physically attacked” Charles Murray and his campus host, Allison Stanger. In fact, a police investigation determined that it appears several participants in the demonstration against Murray came from outside the campus community and that those wearing masks used “tactics that indicated training in obstruction and intimidation.” Although the attackers were never identified, and thus the police were unable to press charges, Middlebury maintains that the masked assailants were not students but outside agitators. It has also made an official statement that “the College disciplined 74 students with sanctions ranging from probation to official College discipline, which places a permanent record in the student’s file.”
See also: What? Questioning evolution is not science denial?
What great physicists have said about immateriality and consciousness
Philip Cunningham on morality: Objective and Real or Subjective and Illusory