Why evolutionary theory contradicts materialism

19 Replies, 779 Views

Why evolutionary theory contradicts materialism

Richard Oxenberg

Quote:Evolutionary theory not only fails to account for the putative emergence of consciousness from a non-conscious, material substrate, but it also outright contradicts materialism by implying that subjective states have causal powers in and of themselves, argues Dr. Oxenberg. His argument is explicit, conceptually clear, original, compelling, and we could not find a way to refute it. It is an argument not against evolutionary theory, but precisely based on it. Dr. Oxenberg then goes on to conclude that “the truth of evolutionary theory is consistent with a fully informed and rational spiritual faith.”

Quote:...What we would expect, on materialist assumptions, is that there would be no subjective states at all. Of course, we know this not to be the case. In the face of the undeniable fact of subjective states, then, materialism maintains that these states are mere ‘epiphenomena,’ i.e., irrelevant to the causal nexus of the material world. But this is just what natural selection shows is not the case. If subjective states were irrelevant to material causality, they would have no correlation with survival-relevant behavior. We would expect a random distribution of these states, and expect them to have no affect on, or association with, behavior.

But we do not find a random distribution of subjective states; rather, we find that positive (i.e., desirable) states are, by and large, associated with survival-promoting behavior and negative states with survival-threatening behavior. Again, this could only result from natural selection if these states can reach into the physical world and change it. But if they can, then this means the subjective—i.e., the non-material—must have physical efficacy. This altogether contravenes the assumptions of materialism.

The materialist would likely counter that these states are not merely subjective, but have material counterparts in the brain or nervous system. Neurological study leaves little doubt that this is so. On this basis, the materialist would argue that it is not the subjective quality of the state that affects physical behavior but its material, neurological counterpart. This would allow all causality to remain on the material plane. Fair enough. But then how to account for the fact that these subjective states have just these subjective qualities...
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


[-] The following 4 users Like Sciborg_S_Patel's post:
  • stephenw, nbtruthman, Typoz, Ninshub
Though of course social media sites don't lend themselves to proper discussion, I was wondering how others were responding. Out of curiosity I had a quick look on social media sites where this article is posted. Most of the comments did not address the content at all. A few were simply opportunistic sharing of completely unrelated religious texts from various world religions. A few said they didn't agree but failed to explain why.
[-] The following 1 user Likes Typoz's post:
  • Sciborg_S_Patel
This is interesting as a philosophy of mind argument and seems airtight. However in my opinion it is no stronger than the more science-based arguments such as the specific beneficial random mutations wait time problem (especially as extended to include the functional non-deleterious protein fold configuration wait time problem), and Behe's explication of the inherent RM+NS genetic data loss problem, all of which I am more comfortable with.
[-] The following 1 user Likes nbtruthman's post:
  • Sciborg_S_Patel
(2023-05-11, 07:48 PM)Sciborg_S_Patel Wrote: Why evolutionary theory contradicts materialism

Richard Oxenberg
I'm a "hell yah" to the line of thought.  Causal subjective states of mind are based on meanings detected by living organisms.

Quote: Again, this could only result from natural selection if these states can reach into the physical world and change it.

As soon as motivation is measured as data delineating the flow of decision-making, it is solid science.

Back to my thoughts of yesterday, if understanding/Psi is not the basis of intuition and instinct, what is.

Darwin had a lot to say about mental evolution and natural selection of instinctive behavior, as part of learning and communication in local environments. 
[-] The following 1 user Likes stephenw's post:
  • Sciborg_S_Patel
(2023-05-12, 02:59 PM)nbtruthman Wrote: This is interesting as a philosophy of mind argument and seems airtight. However in my opinion it is no stronger than the more science-based arguments such as the specific beneficial random mutations wait time problem (especially as extended to include the functional non-deleterious protein fold configuration wait time problem), and Behe's explication of the inherent RM+NS genetic data loss problem, all of which I am more comfortable with.

Which is fine, I just find myself the opposite "side" in terms of which arguments I like but ultimately it leads to the same "place" - that RM + NS cannot fully account for the existence of consciousness...
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


(This post was last modified: 2023-05-12, 06:09 PM by Sciborg_S_Patel. Edited 1 time in total.)
I think the author does not realise just how underpowered evolutionary theory is. There is no need to resort to arguments about sentience and the like. The whole argument can be based on the statistics of RM+NS.

Arguments about sentience are valid but will inevitably draw counter arguments (that I don't agree with) that AI is/is approaching/will soon be sentient.

As you go back in time - to a time before ribosomes and DNA/RNA (maybe in a simplified form) evolution by natural selection can't even operate! There is a chicken and egg argument that evolutionists like to ignore.

David
[-] The following 1 user Likes David001's post:
  • nbtruthman
(2023-05-12, 06:57 PM)David001 Wrote: the statistics of RM+NS.

See my reply to you in another thread.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


(2023-05-12, 07:03 PM)Sciborg_S_Patel Wrote: See my reply to you in another thread.
I'm getting lost here among multiple threads and multiple slightly different arguments against RM+NS.

Maybe if you still think there is a way to claim that evolution by natural selection is still sound, it would help if you extracted one line of thought that we could reasonably discuss.

However maybe we are all in agreement that RM+NS is a busted flush.

David
(2023-05-12, 06:57 PM)David001 Wrote: I think the author does not realise just how underpowered evolutionary theory is. There is no need to resort to arguments about sentience and the like.

I'm not disagreeing with the rest of your post on that approach to evolution. I personally think this argument in the OP is highly relevant because consciousness itself is important. I don't think it need be an either/or. Addressing consciousness directly like this is a good way to deal with the epiphenomenon topic for one thing.
[-] The following 1 user Likes Typoz's post:
  • Sciborg_S_Patel
(2023-05-12, 07:10 PM)David001 Wrote: I'm getting lost here among multiple threads and multiple slightly different arguments against RM+NS.

Maybe if you still think there is a way to claim that evolution by natural selection is still sound, it would help if you extracted one line of thought that we could reasonably discuss.

However maybe we are all in agreement that RM+NS is a busted flush.

David

I think there's a something missing in the RM + NS account, I don't think ID is a convincing argument about what is missing because it gets lost in the weeds of probabilities that are not easy to follow and happen to be heavily contested even among theists. Some theists think ID doesn't point to God as Creator, others say it isn't even a legitimate science. So for me such arguments don't inspire confidence.

Admittedly there are arguments related to Information and if the materialist conception of DNA lacks an account of what it means to hold Information, but these seem more in line with the argument I linked to in the opening post of this thread than the statistical arguments of ID.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell



  • View a Printable Version
Forum Jump:


Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)