June 9, 2008 | David F. Coppedge

Evolution’s Tinkerer Creates the Brain that Creates Evolutionary Theory

A tinkerer usually implies a human being with a brain.  A man in his garage, for instance, might look around for spare parts to arrange into some new contraption.  What would he think if he were told that his own brain was made that way?  That’s what evolutionists commonly teach: our bodies and our brains were organized not by design or plan, but by nature’s tinkerer: a blind, aimless physical process that somehow cobbled parts together to allow us to think, and tinker, and even design master plans.
    A good example of this tendency in the popular press was published in Science Daily and PhysOrg.  They reported on the “Genes to Cognition Programme” at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, a group attempting to discern connections between genes and brains (see original press release).  The team concluded that brain size alone was not the deciding factor in human cognition.  More complex synapses – the junctions between neurons – had to evolve first.  Surprisingly, some of these complex junctions appear in yeast and other organisms we think don’t think.  Some of these junctions humans use in learning and memory.
    The first arrival was the most impressive: “The number and complexity of proteins in the synapse first exploded when multicellular animals emerged, some billion years ago.”  That’s even before the Cambrian explosion, when all life was single-celled.  Another explosion occurred at the arrival of vertebrates, they said.
    This all suggested to the researchers a vision of the human brain as an example of tinkering.  The view was best expressed by team member Richard Emes, lecturer in Bioinformatics at Keele University.  He said, “It is amazing how a process of Darwinian evolution by tinkering and improvement has generated, from a collection of sensory proteins in yeast, the complex synapse of mammals associated with learning and cognition.”  The project head, Seth Grant, used his tinkered brain to think that this is bringing human cognition closer to understanding its origins.  “This work leads to a new and simple model for understanding the origins and diversity of brains and behaviour in all species,” he said.  “We are one step closer to understanding the logic behind the complexity of human brains.”  He did not specify how many steps have been traversed, how many lie ahead, or what direction to go, assuming he himself is tinkering with ideas that emerged from a product of tinkering.  Can such a product have any assurance its cobbled neurons are capable of understanding anything?
    The tinkering metaphor was echoed in another context by Meredith Small at Live Science.  She was trying to explain why men have breasts and nipples.  Her explanation combined immiscible concepts: that we were produced by an aimless process, yet are somehow capable of thinking rationally about that process:

In fact, men’s breasts are a good lesson in the higgledy-piggledy way that evolution works.  Natural selection chooses for and against body parts, but there is no master plan that aims for the perfect creature.  Men have boobs, women get facial hair, and we all stand in front of the mirror asking, “Why?”
    Each person is, in fact, a Rube Goldberg sort of organism pieced together by biology and made up of good parts, bad parts and parts that are inconsequential.

She also claimed that we all start out as women in the embryo, but males only become male after testosterone kicks in about the sixth week of development.  She called femaleness the default or “fallback” position of the human form.  How she could know any of this was an unasked – and unanswered – question.
    Ironically, philosopher and astronomer John Herschel ridiculed Darwinian theory as the “law of higgledy-piggledy” after reading The Origin of Species.  He was not speaking of how natural selection works.  He was speaking of the concept of natural selection itself.  Proposing a “law of nature” that depends on higgledy-piggledy ways is a higgledy-piggledy scientific idea, he meant; a law that acts haphazardly is no law at all.

Some day these evolutionary explanations are going to sound so stupid, students will shake their heads in disbelief that smart people could have believed such things.  Let’s hasten the day.  Did it occur to Ms. Small that Rube Goldberg designed his comical devices by intelligent design, not by chance?  As kludgy as they looked, they were quite effective.  How much more effective are her eyes, hands and brain?  It seems highly inconsiderate for her to employ them with finesse and then call them hodgepodges of bad parts.
    These scientists have convinced themselves that there is no master plan.  Nothing in reality was designed.  Everything is the result of happenstance.  Parts emerge from the void.  New neurons appear in unthinking cells, without any foreknowledge that some day scientists will employ them to think rationally.  From the growing garage of various parts that emerged from the void, Tinker Bell, the goddess of evolution, sets to work, cobbling brains and breasts and everything else, and presto – here we are.  How on earth can Meredith Small and her friends have any standards of rationality to know this is true?  How can she have any standard of ethics to call parts good or bad?  How can a cognitive “I” emerge from this mess to ask “Why?” or any other question, and believe itself capable of finding an answer, let alone comprehending it?
    If this mythology gives some comfort to the evolutionist, well, it’s a free country.  We would like to just tug on their garment and say, ahem; by thinking, you are refuting your story.  Yes indeed: stand in front of the mirror and ask, “Why?”  Why do Meredith Small and Richard Emes and Seth Grant believe they are in touch with reality?  Why do they claim an ontology that grounds an epistemology?
    Think, and think that your thinking matters, and you are now dealing in concepts.  Concepts are not physical.  Thought is not reducible to neurons, proteins and genes.  Thought can employ material objects; it can even tinker with them and be influenced by them.  But the moment you employ concepts, you cannot look in the mirror and see the image of Tinker Bell.  You see the image of God.  Whether you see or understand His Master Plan is debatable.  But by thinking, you acknowledge that one exists. 

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Categories: Dumb Ideas, Human Body

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