Sunday, May 19, 2013

Darwinism must be false because matter cannot produce consciousness.

If matter cannot produce consciousness, Darwinism must be false. Darwinism, the theory of evolution by natural selection, is a theory of how organisms, such as conscious human beings, evolved from simpler forms of matter through natural processes. If matter cannot produce consciousness, than it is impossible for conscious human beings to have evolved through natural selection and so Darwinism must be false.

This concept was explained by Gary Gutting in Nagel's Untimely Idea on This article contains three reviews of Thomas Nagel's book Mind and Cosmos. Gutting writes:

Why does Nagel insist on a radical rejection of the materialist metaphysics rather than endorsing Chalmers’s dualistic supplement to it? Because, Nagel maintains, materialist accounts rely on Darwinian evolution, which is not capable of explaining the origin of consciousness from matter.

But why is it impossible for consciousness to originate from matter? One line of reasoning that explains why matter cannot produce consciousness is suggested in the same article by physicist Stephen M. Barr:

Even if one knew all the variables of a physical system, their values at one time or at all times, and the equations governing them, there would be no way to derive from that information anything about whether the system in question was conscious, was feeling anything, or was having subjective experiences of any sort.

Barr is saying that the experience of consciousness, what you are feeling, what sensations feel like, is unexplainable by physics.

You can describe brain states in terms of neurotransmitters and cell organization, and neuron firing patterns, and in as much detail as you like, but you will never be able to understand from that what it is like to feel happy or what it is like to see the color red. A physical description of brain a state is fundamentally different from an experience. You can't explain what an experience is like through brain states. You might be able to say such and such a brain state produces the feeling of happiness, but you can't explain, based on a description of brain states, what it feels like to experience being happy, or what it is like to experience seeing the color red. Consciousness is something that is fundamentally different from any material process.

There are many other lines of reasoning and many independent forms of evidence that indicate that matter cannot produce consciousness. I have written about several of them on this blog and on my web site. Most of what I have written on the subject can be accessed from my article Materialism Cannot Explain Consciousness. This article links to discussions of philosophical arguments and also to several independent forms of empirical evidence that consciousness survives death. If consciousness can exist after the brain has died, then the matter in the brain cannot be responsible for the production of consciousness.

Since matter cannot produce consciousness, conscious beings like humans cannot have arisen through any purely material process such as Darwinian evolution. Therefore Darwinism must be false.

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