Here are a few snippets with analysis… This is a long one…
"Nicholas Humphrey believes it was 'natural selection' that gave us souls. God, he insists, had nothing to do with it"[Hmmm… They're off and running.]
"...nearly 40 years later, he has reached a grand theory of how consciousness might have arisen in a Darwinian world, and why it might give us reasons to live."[I’d like to see the reasons Darwinian evolution gives us a reason to live other than “Eat or be Eaten” this article doesn’t elaborate on this as much as I was hoping.]
"He has been a media don, a campaigner against nuclear weapons and the holder of a chair in parapsychological research who was dedicated to debunking even the possibility of telepathy or survival after death."[This looks like a possible bias that he held prior to his research. Does that rule out all his research, probably not. Does it expose his motives, yes. So, rigid preconceptions before analyzing data gives you the result you want. Zach Kapfer emailed me this quote of Mark Twain today that relates, "Get your facts first, then you can distort them as much as you please." Looks like Mr. Humphrey’s conception of what fact is [namely Darwinian evolution] determined how he manipulated what he perceived as fact.]
" As an ambitious young man, he set his sights on the biggest biological mystery he could find - human consciousness - so he switched to psychology, and began to work with monkeys under Larry Weiskrantz."[I find this interesting…He set his sights on the biggest biological mystery he could find…”human consciousness.” So where does he start, but by “working with Monkeys.” Now maybe I’m crazy but that’s a non sequitur. Monkey’s as far as I know do not have “human consciousness.” Once again he’s working from a bias of what he perceives as truth, namely “Darwinian Evolution.”]
"Humphrey was part of the team that first discovered how to record the activity of single nerve cells in a monkey's brain. Two other members later got Nobel prizes for this work, which underlies an enormous amount of subsequent research, since it made it possible to trace the ways in which the visual cortex receives and processes signals from the eyes. It was known in principle what was happening, but now the exact brain cells involved in image processing could be found and monitored."[Once again…I might be wrong, but this appears to be another non sequitur. How do monkey’s “single nerve cell activity” allowing us to “trace the ways in which the visual cortex receives and processes signals from the eyes” relate to “human consciousness?” Here’s a definition of “consciousness” from wikipedia…Consciousness is a quality of the mind generally regarded to comprise qualities such as subjectivity, self-awareness, sentience, sapience, and the ability to perceive the relationship between oneself and one's environment. It is a subject of much research in philosophy of mind, psychology, neurology, and cognitive science.
Wouldn’t “consciouness” entail more than just the visual sense?]
"His next project was even more ambitious: to work on the aesthetic senses of a monkey."[Once again studying monkey’s instead of humans. This does encompass the other senses that I was questioning on my last quote. But this bring up another question. Monkey's cannot communicate what they are experiencing through their senses, so how do "scientists" explore "consciousness" with a animal that cannot speak and then pigeonhole that humans are exactly the same way? I don't think you can.]
"Again, the question of what made us different arose: what had been the spur, or the reward, for human evolution, for our language and our consciousness."[Once again he’s making the assumption that “Darwinian Evolution” is correct, when it is not. Maybe “consciousness” was given to men by God?? If we were to write that consciousness was given by God we would be accused of making an assumption on “Creation.” That would be the same accusation I’m making against him. So, who is correct? Well, I believe I am because I’m relying on the authority for all life and godliness, namely the Bible. I'm a fool for Jesus! The "foolishness of God is wiser than men [1 Cor 1:25]," count me as one of the fools then! Besides depraved minds can't even completely understand themselves, let alone experiments by depraved minds trying accomplish depraved agendas and purposes. I find the Bible to be more trustworthy than human ingenuity.]
"Consciousness, in this theory, is a knowledge of what is going on in our own minds, and we have it so that we can better understand what is going on in the minds of those around us, so that we can manipulate them and avoid being manipulated in our turn. This fits human consciousness into a normal biological framework: it offers the possessor of bigger and better brains the kind of advantage that natural selection can see and work on."[Bigger and better brains have not always allowed men to “manipulate” and avoid being “manipulated.” Some of the most idiotic people who have lived have come out on top in this regard. I’m not making the connection of how control of people has to do with consciousness…namely one’s awareness of self. Also, a "maniputlator" might just end up "manipulating" ones self...now what are we to make of that?? Natural selection? I think not, try "Depravity."]
"He likes to quote Lord Byron: 'The great object of life is sensation - to feel that we exist, even though in pain.'"[This is true, I believe. Only I would say it like this, “The great object of life is sensation, to feel and know that we exist to glorify God and enjoy Him forever – even though in pain.” I like that:o) I took that mostly from the Westminster Shorter Catechism #1.]
"In the mid-1990s he was able to move back to Cambridge, to a chair devoted to parapsychological research: since the whole burden of his interest in the subject was that he did not believe in it, he wrote Soul Searching, a book arguing that telepathy must be in principle impossible, and that Jesus was a conjuring charlatan like Uri Geller."[Wow… is this a self contradiction?? Seems so. He was in a chair of “parapsychological research” because he didn’t believe in it. So he is the very definition of what he calls Jesus “a conjuring charlatan.” Here’s how I interpret that phrase… To evoke to mind [conjuring] elaborate, fraudulent, and often voluble claims to skill or knowledge; a quack or fraud [Charlatan].]
"Yet, at the same time, he was developing a new and more complex theory of consciousness, which puts something like the soul at the centre of human existence. In his new theory the clue to the "hard problem" of consciousness - the problem of why and how minds appear from matter - is attacked head-on. The fact that we find it so difficult and so threatening to believe, as he says, "that there is nothing more to human experience than the churning of chemicals and electrons within the brain" seems to him to contain the kernel of the solution to the hard problem. If it is so difficult for us to think that way, then the difficulty might in some sense have been designed by natural selection."[This phrase is interesting…”If it is so difficult for us to think that way, then the difficulty might in some sense have been designed by natural selection.” How can “natural selection” design anything. Isn’t the very definition of “natural selection” pretty much randomness? So how can a logical disagreement with the thought "that there is nothing more to human experience than the churning of chemicals and electrons within the brain" be natural selection. Seems to contradict once again.]
"The theory is, like every other theory of consciousness, extremely controversial. After 200 years in which science has appeared to dethrone God and deny the possibility of the soul, Humphrey is the first man to claim that science can agree that we have souls - but that it was natural selection, not God, which gave us them."[Here’s the punchline…wow! “Science has appeared to dethrone God,” and, “it was natural selection, not God, which gave us them [souls],” well that has been science’s attempt, but it’s ending up to prove the existence of God. Because there’s no authority that can prove that naturalistic science is completely true. They’ve tried, but how do you think postmodernism came about? Well, because modernists’ theories aren’t holding up. It is interesting that he’s the first man trying to harmonize the existence of the soul with modernistic science. I like that he’s at least honest in the fact that there’s something more to human existence and consciousness than just scientific rationalism, problem is that he’s trying to discover and experiment with scientific rationalism. I’ve never heard of a mystic modernistic scientist before:o) Maybe he’ll be the first one! Chances are that his definition of what a soul is is different than mine. Very interesting article!]
I am by no means a scientist, and am open for any correction. Those are just my thoughts. Have a great Monday!