Monday, April 12, 2010

The Pinky and The BRAIN

A huge part of the ID argument has to do with the human brain, and its amazing abilities. Humans are the only known organism to have "ideas." Ideas are a non-physical entity, so how is it possible that a physical organ can perceive them? Scientists and doctors can measure "brain-activity," but you can't measure "idea-formation." You can only infer that a certain amount of brain activity provides us with the ability of conscious thought.

Also, humans have the incredible ability of imagination. I can tell you to imagine a spherical chicken, and you can do it, but a dog cannot. It can be taught what a sphere is or a chicken, but it cannot combine the 2 concepts to imagine what a spherical chicken is.

What are some possible ideas that counteract this argument? Consider, can physical reactions between neurons really give rise to non-physical entities?


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  2. This is a somewhat difficult question to answer. In order to answer this question on ideas, I'm going to talk about the human conscious, something that animals don't possess as we do.

    Evolutionists and a scientists argument that the human conscious was formed in order to increase fitness (something that all adaptions should do). This was particularly in response to overcome other humans, predators, and prey through the use of anticipation and calculation. Also, John C. Eccles says that special anatomical and physical properties of the mammalian cerebral cortex gave rise to consciousness. This is the argument presented for evolutionists; naturally, the argument from creationists and intelligent design is that a greater being have blessed humans with the ability to think on a different level than regular animals.

    A counterargument against the one of imagination is that in order for an animal to think of an abstract idea, it must be able to identify things related to it to build it. For example, in the case of the humans, dogs, and spherical chickens, humans are able to think of such an idea because we are able to consciously label a chicken and a sphere. After we identify them, we the concepts into something that doesn't exist. A dog, on the other hand, is unable to identify a chicken or a sphere, rendering it unable to think of a spherical chicken.

    When scientists look at a chimp, they see hypothesize that, on some level, they have an imagination. By looking at nuts with the shell on, the chimp looks for tools to be able to crack the shell open. After selection of certain sticks and experimenting, chimps seem to understand which stick is best for breaking open that nut. Some call this thinking while others argue that it is still animal instinct.

    It is quite difficult to create solid evidence regarding the human ability to think of ideas and concepts because it isn't something that can be directly observed. When somebody or is thinking, the electrical signals in the brain can definitely be monitored. But it is difficult to identify if the subject is thinking as we humans do compared to a bird's brain activating a fixed action pattern of dancing in order to attract a mate. Was the bird thinking when it did this?

    The human's exclusive mind definitely seems to be different from the rest of the animal's in the world, which is why creationists and intelligent designers believe the human race as different. We may never know how our imaginations and minds function as they do.


  3. Answering a question about a concept that is little understood by scientists today is very difficult, but there are many ways in which what we view as "consciousness" can be observed. First, we must identify what consciousness is. On Wikipedia, it is defined as awareness, or executive control of the mind. We know that humans exhibit consciousness because we can make multiple decisions, imagine things, and do actions without a straightforward stimulus. In other animals however, scientists have difficulty discerning the difference between consciousness and simple responses to stimuli. For the most part, signs of consciousness include self-awareness, communication between the same species, and predicting, assessing future goals/phenomena.

    Animals such as chimpanzees and dolphins have already exhibited two of these examples that humans often rely on to define consciousness. Tests involving chimpanzees showed that they closely examined mirrors that displayed themselves, and also touched parts of its faced in response to seeing the mirror-image. Dolphins and elephants also show excellent communication and understanding of each other. The third, planning and prediction of future events, is actually displayed in many types of birds, such as blue jays, crows, and other types of birds. This could possibly have evolved because they often store nuts and worms, and they must plan ahead where/what place would be the optimal place to store them.
    Factors like the necessity to communicate in large pods (dolphins), the complexities of foraging food (chimpanzees), and the need to foresee what might happen from repeated events (several types of birds) demonstrates how human consciousness might have evolved.

    Biology Book
    Why Evolution is True

  4. The ID argument that we must have been designed is false because around 500 million years ago, ancestors of the sea anemone and jellyfish evolved the first nerve cells. These nerve cells helped them coordinate movement so it would be easier to catch food. Because it was an evolutionary advantage to be able to catch food more easily, the genes for nerve cells were passed along. (
    Neurons in early humans were probably far more advanced than the original purpose of better control over motor functions. Humans could now feel emotions through neural signals which then control the release of certain hormones. These hormones would induce a feeling, such as dopamine making you feel good. External cues would trigger the neurons to release the hormones, so, for example, dopamine would be released when holding your baby, this connection between caring for your offspring and dopamine would eventually lead to emotions, in this case, love.
    Emotions, then, would be focused over evolutionary time to create thoughts. Wonder or confusion about the day/night cycles would lead people to develop reasons; in Greek mythology, Helios drives the chariot of the sun through the sky, causing day/night. Simply put evolved our ability to think because it was evolutionarily beneficial to do so.
    Scientists use MRI scanners to detect usage of certain areas of the brain when stimulated. For example feelings of love show up as bright spots in the septal area, the frontal lobe, the amygdala and the hypothalamus. (
    Imagination is defined as the ability to form “mental images, sensations and concepts, in a moment when they are not perceived through sight, hearing or other senses.” One hypothesis for the evolution of human imagination is that it allowed conscious beings to solve problems (and thus increasing an individual's survival fitness) by use of mental simulation. (Example here: Say that the situation in the comic was reality, the main character would have a significant advantage if he was able to predict the moves of his opponents; thus his imagination would be passed on to his offspring.
    To disprove that animals do not have an imagination we would have to show that the animals is experiencing sensations without feeling them in real life. I think that dreams fit neatly into this category. We do not actually feel what is happening in a dream, but our minds still perceive the feelings. In humans, one fairly common sensation is the one where you feel like you are falling, but then your body suddenly jerks awake. (
    For dogs, this video ( shows a dog dreaming and then attempting to chase after something. Visual cues would prompt the dog to chase after the mailman (or ball or something), showing that the dog can clearly imagine the object even though it is not there.
    However, while dreaming, external stimuli may affect dream sensations such as urination while dreaming, which in real life is wetting the bed. This may mean that the dog is not imagining the mailman, and that a draft may cause it to think that he is running.
    This is something that is still debated by many scientists, and something that I don’t have a definite answer to
    It is probably near impossible to empirically determine the ability of a dog to create an image from two other images, but scientists have recently shown a limited ability to draw images from the brain ( This could be used to design an experiment where the imaginative capacity of the dogs is tested.
    While dreams and made up morphological constructs are in different realms of imagination, but I think it can be safe to say that dogs have a limited amount of imaginative power.
    Also, I would imagine a spherical chicken looks something like this: