April 28, 2020 | Jerry Bergman

The Origin of Human Consciousness Stymies Darwinists

Recent Research Confirms the Gap is Real

by Jerry Bergman, PhD

One of the most significant gaps, actually a chasm, between modern humans and their putative common ancestor is mind, often generally called human consciousness. The research reviewed here reveals an unbridgeable chasm exists between animal and human minds. Some animals have certain senses that are superior to humans, such as eyesight, but no animal can work algebra or trigonometry problems, write poetry, monographs, or even a short thoughtful letter to a friend. Nor can any animal calculate a Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient (PPMCC), let alone understand the meaning of statistical results.

Nor can they calculate stress loads on bridge trusses, or a thousand other problems that are a common part of school, business, and life, in spite of the fact that the lower primates have allegedly had a lot of evolutionary time to achieve some of these skills. The most recent estimate by evolutionists is that “modern humans appeared quite abruptly in eastern or southern Africa sometime between 150,000 and 200,000 years ago and went on to conquer the world.”[1] We can compare bones and make assumptions about human evolution, but

Paleoanthropologists increasingly recognize this transition [from ape to human] as indicating the dawn of the modern mind, when people who looked like us also began to think like us. It wasn’t just a technological revolution but a cognitive one too.[2]

This universally recognized cognitive chasm between animals and humans has stymied evolutionists from Charles Darwin’s day to today. In the first edition of On the Origin of Species (1859),  while Darwin claims creation cannot explain this chasm, Stephen Jacyna notes that Darwin Origin claims that natural selection can explain this gap. Ironically, Darwin’s Origin “contains only one reference to the brain in the form of the rhetorical question: ‘Why should the brain be enclosed in a box composed of such numerous and such extraordinarily shaped pieces of bone?’”[3]

Darwin’s Second Attempt

In Darwin’s 1871 book, The Descent of Man, the term brain and its cognates were mentioned over 50 times, but Darwin did not even attempt to explain the chasm between the most intelligent ape and the average human. He did rank human races and apes, claiming that the superior races of mankind will eventually replace the inferior races, causing them to become extinct.[4] This comment is now considered racist and incendiary, fomenting eugenics and the social Darwinism that followed.

Darwin wanted a seamlessly materialistic view of life. He claimed that “The brain, the most important of all the organs, follows the same law… the brain of man has its analogy in that of the orang.”[5] Even here Darwin did not attempt to explain the chasm between the two primates, except to note that “their brains do not perfectly agree for otherwise their mental powers would have been the same.”[6] Jacyna notes that

Darwin recognized the need to incorporate man into his theory. In particular, it was necessary to show how human mental powers could be explained in terms of an evolutionary theory. If the human mind was deemed to be a special, unique divine creation then the thoroughgoing naturalism at which Darwin aimed would be fatally undermined. Darwin, therefore, sought evidence for what he called a ‘materialist’ understanding of the mental powers that would erode the distinction between human mental capacities and those found in the lower animals. This ‘materialism’ also entailed that mental faculties be shown to have a bodily basis.[7]

Darwin was aware that many people would be scandalized by the idea that human minds came from ape brains. In fact, his co-discoverer of natural selection, Alfred Russel Wallace, could not accept it. Because “man differs so greatly in his mental power from all other animals,” Darwin knew that this chasm created big problems for evolution.[8] He felt obliged, therefore, to at least attempt to

show how the human mind could also be viewed as something that had evolved from more primitive types. To achieve this goal, Darwin relied on his previous contention that the growth of mind was dependent on the progressive development of its material substrate.[9]

This was a conclusion Darwin had no evidence for, nor has anyone since him.

His feeble and racist explanation, which will not hold water today, is as follows. After proposing the notion that the size of the brain is strongly correlated with intelligence (assuming larger brains indicated higher intelligence), Darwin went on to browbeat those who disagree. He said, no one “doubts that the large size of the brain in man, relatively to his body, in comparison with that of the gorilla or orang, is closely connected with his higher mental powers.”[10] Another tactic was to simply brush aside any objections. As Stephen Jacyna explains further, with reference to Darwin’s On the Origin of Species:

Darwin tried to address the question of why, if greater intelligence was of obvious advantage in the struggle for life, all organisms had not evolved the mental powers enjoyed by man. He concluded that a definitive answer ‘ought not to be expected, seeing that no one can solve the simpler problem why, of two races of savages, one has risen higher in the scale of civilization than the other; and this apparently implies increased brain-power.’[11]

It’s clear that Darwin, the founder of evolutionary theory by natural selection, purported to explain progress from simple cells to man, could not explain the chasm in between ape brains and human minds. Can the 160 years of intensive research on the question by scientists since Darwin explain it today?

Attempts to Differentiate Between Ape Intelligence and Human Consciousness

Tool Use       

One way to judge human cognitive skills is to evaluate tools made by long dead human craftsmen. In the search for ancient tool use, one of the best places to look is the Eastern Rift Valley in southern Kenya, specifically in an ancient lake bed in Olorgesailie, Kenya, that contains a treasure trove of stone tools. The transition between the most primitive tools and the next level of tool complexity is stark. As Richard Potts of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. observed after his work excavating the area, “We have layer after layer of hand axes then” what is found instead are far more sophisticated tools.[12]

The gap between the primitive tools and the more advanced ones can be explained in several ways, but the gap that needs explaining is that one between the so-called tools made by apes (at most a rock smashed against a much larger rock with a nut in between) and an obvious human constructed hand ax, such as those found in Olorgesailie. Potts, the Smithsonian paleoanthropologist, had no doubt that he had found progress in hand axe technology, indicated by increasing sophistication of tools compared to the earlier ones; this was likely due to experience and training from previous generations of human tool makers. Ape “tools” showed no progress despite longer times to invent them.


Another way to judge mental sophistication is to evaluate artistic creations attributed to early man and compare the results to chimps. In this area no shortage of examples exist. For example, evaluations of the earliest known cave paintings, such as at Chauvet, France, dated at 30,000 Darwin years old, indicate artistic sophistication universally acclaimed by artists. The cave paintings of Chauvet remind me of one artist in particular, namely the French painter Paul Cézanne (1839-1906). The caption to a cave painting in the Lawton article notes, “Human creativity must long predate these 30,000-year-old cave paintings” because of the high quality of the art, but he implies that he accepts it, nevertheless, as the end stage of a long evolutionary process in humans.[13]

Compare Cézanne’s Rocks near Chateau Noir / 1904 [14] (to left) with the Chauvet cave painting to its right:

For more on the cave paintings found at Chauvet, see “Art Evolution Is Backwards,” 18 December 2003, “Early Art Confounds Evolutionists,” 18 August 2008, “Best Cave Art Is Still the Oldest,” 9 May 2012.

The Best Example is Written Language

A study of various written communication systems reveals the earliest known forms of writing show a high degree of development, indicating that humans from the very beginning of recorded history have been able to effectively communicate using the written medium.[15] The common view that the earliest form of writing, the pictograph, evolved into the ideogram and then into the alphabet is, at best, oversimplified and likely wrong. These very early forms of writing are not primitive, as is often assumed, but were as complex as required to meet the needs of the developed cultures that produced them.

This review agrees with Lecour’s conclusion that no evidence exists “that the human brain might have changed between the existence of ancient Babylon and modern Washington, D.C.”[16] As Oxford University Professor of Linguistics, Roy Harris, has written, no satisfactory account of the origin of writing existed when he did his research, and “the intervening centuries have seen remarkable little change in the notion of what a ‘satisfactory account’ would require.”[17] He concluded, after summarizing the evolutionary accounts, that, for several reasons: “None of these evolutionary accounts can satisfactorily identify the transition from pre-writing to writing.”[18]

From the very beginning of recorded history, humans have been able to effectively communicate by the use of complex written language. Furthermore, complex writing systems have existed from the earliest periods in recorded history.[19] Most of the changes in writing involved variations in one of the original dozen or so writing systems, often font-style changes and simplification of the symbols used to allow for more rapid transfer of written information from the mind to paper.[20]

The evidence falsifies the evolutionary model of the origin of writing that teaches writing evolved from crude scribbles to the complex systems we have today. In spite of long-term efforts and some dubious claims, the bridge between human and chimp language remains as wide as ever. Chimps have been able to respond to a simple written commands by operant conditioning with help from their trainers, but have not been able to learn to write as well as the average first grader – not even close!


From the evidence produced by physical records, specifically tools, cave paintings, and written language, a chasm exists between our claimed closest primate relatives and mankind dating as far back as our physical evidence will take us. Contrary to Darwin’s hopeful expectations in the 19th century, more research has only confirmed this gap.


[1] Lawton, Graham. 2020. What drove the evolution of the modern mind? New Scientist (3276):43, 1 April 2020.  [Special Issue–How We Became Human: the Epic New Story of Our Origins (How Our Modern Minds Evolved), New Scientist (Issue 3276), 4 April 2020.]
[2] Lawton, 2020, p. 43.
[3] Darwin, Charles. 1859. On the Origin of Species, London, UK: John Murray, p. 437.
[4] Darwin, Charles. 1871. The Descent of Man, London, UK: John Murray, p. 10.
[5] Darwin, 1871, pp. 10-11.
[6] Jacyna, Stephen. 2009. The most important of all the organs: Darwin on the brain. Brain. 132(12): 3481–3487, November 5.
[7] Jacyna, 2009, p. 3481.
[8] Darwin, 1871, p. 34.
[9] Jacyna, 2009, p. 3483.
[10] Darwin, 1871, p. 145.
[11] Jacyna, 2009, p. 3483. Quoted from C.R. Darwin, 1872., The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, 6th Ed., London, UK: John Murray, p. 181.
[12] Lawton,  2020, p. 43.
[13] Lawton,  2020, p. 43.
[14] https://www.art-prints-on-demand.com/kunst/paul_cezanne/paul_cezanne_Rochers-pres-des-grottes.jpg
[15] Clodd, Edward. 1900. The Story of the Alphabet. New York, NY: McClure, Phillips & Co.
[16] Lecours, Andre Roch. 1995. “The origins and evolution of writing,” Chapter 14, pp. 213-238 in: Origins of the Human Brain, edited by Jean-Pierre Changeux and Jean Chavaillon, New York, NY: Oxford University Press, p. 213.
[17] Harris, Roy. 1986. The Origin of Writing. LaSalle, IL: Open Court Publishing, p. vii.
[18] Harris,  1986, p. 74.
[19] Fischer, Steven R. 2001. A History of Writing. London, England, UK: Reaktion Books.
[20] Moorehouse, Alfred C. 1953. The Triumph of the Alphabet: A History of Writing. New York, NY: Henry Schuman Ltd.

Dr. Jerry Bergman has taught biology, genetics, chemistry, biochemistry, anthropology, geology, and microbiology for over 40 years at several colleges and universities including Bowling Green State University, Medical College of Ohio where he was a research associate in experimental pathology, and The University of Toledo. He is a graduate of the Medical College of Ohio, Wayne State University in Detroit, the University of Toledo, and Bowling Green State University. He has over 1,300 publications in 12 languages and 40 books and monographs. His books and textbooks that include chapters that he authored are in over 1,500 college libraries in 27 countries. So far over 80,000 copies of the 40 books and monographs that he has authored or co-authored are in print. For more articles by Dr Bergman, see his Author Profile.

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