What matters most about teaching Darwinism to schoolchildren? I think, what it tells them about themselves. And what it tells them I think can be very harmful. 

Here's why. Can you follow me?

1. I experience being conscious, having conscious experiences. Agreed?

2. Often while I’m conscious I'll consciously decide to do something, and then do it. This won't be just a physical reflex, I'll be doing it for the sake of some other conscious experience in the future. Suppose I buy a book about art. What matters to me is not buying the book, it's the effect that will have on my future conscious experiences. Conscious experience is what gives meaning to something physical like buying that book. For me, conscious experiences are at least as "real" as matter, and on the whole more meaningful. Agreed?

3. Thinking like this is basic to the arts and the humanities. They're usually about how what someone thinks and does today can affect what they'll experience in the future. Agreed?

4. That's true for the physical sciences too. Carrying out a scientific experiment involves a series of conscious operations like these:

Coming up with a question, creating alternative possible answers, designing an experiment to tell which of these hypotheses is more likely right, judging which of them the results confirm, and empathizing with others--assessing who’d like to be told. Questioning, creating, designing, use of reason, judging other people’s reactions—these are just as much the foundation of the sciences as of the humanities.

It's by thinking of mind and matter interacting like this that we make sense of ourselves and the world around us. Agreed?

5. But here's a strange thought: What's true of us must also be true of the universe we live in, since we're a part of that universe. In other words, if mind and matter can interact within us individually then logically they can interact outside us elsewhere in the universe too, right? It could have been through mind and matter interacting that we have both minds and bodies. By studying that, how we evolved to become conscious, we might discover where our conscious capabilities came from and how to enhance them further. 

 

Here we run up against the account of evolution that's taught to children in school--Darwinism, our shared origin story.

Most people I talk to say, all they know about evolution is what they were taught in school: we evolved through random mutations to our genes, followed by natural selection. No interaction of mind and matter here, these are both purely physical processes. 

What does this story tell children about themselves? To me it tells them that, since they're made by purely physical processes, they must be purely physical too. Imagine a smart kid asking, "What about consciousness?" According to today's science, because consciousness isn't made of atoms it's not physical, so it can't interact with anything that is made of atoms. It's not real like matter so it can't make anything physical happen. Now let's imagine, the kid's really stubborn: "Consciousness is real to me, I can make things happen just by thinking them." No you can't, science will reply. Thinking you can consciously make things happen is just an illusion. You're no different from everything else in the world, you're purely physical too, and everything you do is determined by the laws of physics. What you do is what your brain makes you do. In effect, you're a robot.

This is the physicalism that dominates today's science, believed in by most of the writers of school biology textbooks. I strongly disagree. I can’t live without conscious experiences being real, to some extent at least independent of today's physics. To me that's common sense. It's my mission to encourage you to insist that conscious experiences are real for you, too, and to agitate for some other story about how we evolved, that can account for our conscious experiences. 

Am I misguided? Show me to my satisfaction I am and I’ll be delighted to give up. Otherwise, for me, it's the logic behind today's theory of evolution that's misguided:

Scientists insist that accounts of evolution must stay within the limits set by today's physical laws. But they don't limit themselves to today's physics when what they want to account for is their own mental operations. Instead, to account for those mental operations they invoke future progress in science that they assume will follow along the lines of science today. But sciences able to account for scientists' mental operations could find similar operations in the processes of evolution. After all, those processes are obviously able to make creatures like us that are conscious, they can "transact" in consciousness somehow. Aren't those scientists guilty of defying logic in applying one limit to accounting for evolution and a different limit to accounting for their own mental operations? 

Today's purely physical theory of evolution, Darwinism, could be hideously wrong about almost everything. It could be holding back our understanding of the natural world. And what about us? Our decision-making seems crucially different from that of purely physical things--a volcano can't apply reason, it can't hold two hypotheses in mind while it plans an experiment to distinguish between them as a scientist can. An origin story that tells us our conscious experiences are illusions, that all our decisions are determined by physics, mightn't that have a corrosive impact on human nature over future generations? Should we be teaching that to our children? Isn't that a challenge the humanities should respond to?

Note, the issue isn't dualism or creationism, it's science's assertion that to account for both consciousness and what it means we evolved, all you need is today's physics. Are we sure enough about that to teach it, as the truth, to our children? Doubting Darwinism isn't anti-science if it leads science to abandon an arrogant reductionism it would be better off without.

What you can do for yourself now is look around this site and check out the "Theory of Everything" video, see sidebar on this page. For an alternative mind-focused theory of evolution pick up a copy of the book "Re-thinking What it Means We Evolved," take links also in the sidebar. Please comment below or email me through our contact page. Tell me, does this matter? If so, spread the word. It's a matter of common sense.

 

Comments   

#12 theodore koller 2018-08-11 09:05
Yep, lets stop teaching science. I mean children you need more FAKE news, right? Let's also do less math. Psychology doesn't need math. Neither does Christian school. Lots of love. Creationalism rules. Incorporate psychology with the bible you'll take over the school. Are aliens real, BTW?
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#11 David Munn 2018-06-25 05:44
Quoting Publisher:
A gallon of gas contains a lot of energy but I don't like to think it's conscious--I put it in my car and burn it! So for me energy isn't, can't be, conscious, intrinsically or otherwise.


I’m not saying that energy or inorganic matter has thoughts or feelings.

If someone meditates, the idea is to turn off all thought and all input from the senses, but they still remain conscious. They don’t go into a coma. They call this “universal consciousness”. They are conscious, but they are not conscious of anything.

Conventionally, the idea is that consciousness somehow emerges from the complexity of the nervous system. What I’m asking is whether it was actually there all along and the nervous system is what gives it something to be aware of.

Evolution can’t explain the formation of matter from energy in the beginning, because matter doesn’t have survival advantage over energy, since energy can’t be destroyed and matter can.

Natural selection gives a method whereby experiments which don’t work are eliminated. What is harder to understand is why organisms become more complex.
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#10 Publisher 2018-06-24 20:16
I think both you and I are crackpots. We both appeal to magic. For me the magic lies in evolution, for you it lies in energy. You say "What if energy itself is intrinsically conscious?" I think this is probably not true. A gallon of gas contains a lot of energy but I don't like to think it's conscious--I put it in my car and burn it! So for me energy isn't, can't be, conscious, intrinsically or otherwise.

So calling energy "conscious" to me is just you wanting there to be magic. You say "Physical sensations are conscious energy flowing through the constraints of a nervous system... Thought is conscious energy flowing through the more complex nerves of a brain." Those two ideas can be true if something magical--conscious energy--makes them true. "There is something intrinsic to energy that causes it to form more complex patterns where this is possible." I think evolution is more likely to account for complex patterns forming than something purely physical like energy.
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#9 David Munn 2018-06-24 06:30
Quoting Publisher:
What do you think?


I have a theory, but I'm no scientist.

What if energy itself is intrinsically conscious. What some call "universal consciousness".

Physical sensations are conscious energy flowing through the constraints of a nervous system.

Thought is conscious energy flowing through the more complex nerves of a brain.

There is something intrinsic to energy that causes it to form more complex patterns where this is possible. The most complex pattern may be the human being and the human being is only possible in a place where certain conditions have been met, beginning with distance from a form of organised energy we call a "star", etc.

Does consciousness drive the process? How could raw consciousness without emotion or thought (both of which appear to require nerves) be the motivation for anything? Perhaps it is an observer which gains motive as that which it inhabits gains complexity.
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#8 Publisher 2018-06-23 17:49
Quoting David Munn:
(Animals') fitness to the environment, which is the determinant of whether they survive, is a matter of how they consciously respond to that environment... the evolution of animals has been a function of the interplay of their consciousness with their environment.


Greater intelligence can lead to greater fitness and be selected for by natural selection, true. But is that true of consciousness, independent of intelligence? Do they automatically come together? If not, and if consciousness isn't physical, can it cause physical changes natural selection can select, for it to be selected for? I wrestle with these questions. What do you think?
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#7 David Munn 2018-06-23 06:09
Quoting Publisher:
Darwin's mechanism of natural selection is a purely physical process. It's the kind of physical process that could sort small stones on a beach. I don't see how that kind of purely physical process could lead to the evolution of consciousness, something that isn't physical in the same way? And since, as you say, "our consciousness guides our behaviour," that behavior could drive evolution as well as natural selection. But Darwin doesn't allow for it, surely a major omission.


If, by consciousness, we mean awareness, then surely animals are conscious and their fitness to the environment, which is the determinant of whether they survive, is a matter of how they consciously respond to that environment. Organisms are not dead mindless objects like stones. Plants are different, but the evolution of animals has been a function of the interplay of their consciousness with their environment.
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#6 Publisher 2018-06-22 17:21
Quoting David Munn:
I don't see Darwin's theory of natural selection... contradicting the fact that we have conscious experiences and that our consciousness guides our behaviour.


Darwin's mechanism of natural selection is a purely physical process. It's the kind of physical process that could sort small stones on a beach. I don't see how that kind of purely physical process could lead to the evolution of consciousness, something that isn't physical in the same way? And since, as you say, "our consciousness guides our behaviour," that behavior could drive evolution as well as natural selection. But Darwin doesn't allow for it, surely a major omission.
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#5 David Munn 2018-06-20 15:49
I don't see Darwin's theory of natural selection, or the variations on it which have come about from our advancing knowledge, contradicting the fact that we have conscious experiences and that our consciousness guides our behaviour.

It is a way of explaining how one species produced another species. Presumably this was not a conscious choice.

Evolutionists will be quick to point out that our domination of the planet is due to our facility with conscious thought.

Evolutionists don't deny this consciousness, because they also talk of evolutionary change which has come about through mate selection, something which is a matter of conscious volition.
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#4 Publisher 2018-06-15 00:26
Yes, teaching anything but Darwinism in the school science classroom is regarded in the USA as a scandal. Currently the State of Arizona is considering experimenting. Opposition is gathering.
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#3 baniissa ghalib 2018-06-14 20:44
hi
do darwinism still teached even these days in your region?
what is the evidences that we must give it to our students to believe it?
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