I ran across this fascinating article yesterday by Dr. Amir Aczel (mathematics - UC Berkeley) about the origin of human consciousness. Now, I'm not using it to prove or disprove any evolutionary or theological argument. Aczel just states that consciousness is key to the whole discussion about the origin of man.
Link to full article at the bottom. Aczel writes:
"What do we learn from the fossil record? We clearly see here an evolution over time that is characterized by increasing size…the improved ability to walk upright, better manufacture and use of stone tools, emergence of the exploitation of fire, and a marked increase in the size of the brain.
And at some point in time - one that we have not identified - we become human. Becoming human entails a mode of symbolic thinking and making art, as evidenced through the cave paintings of early humans. Earlier hominids, while they fashioned stone tools that allowed them to kill and butcher animals, did not create art - at least not much of it. And this artistic capacity represents our unique ability to think symbolically - something that our nonhuman ancestors probably could not do.
When did consciousness arise? Where is the invisible boundary in evolution at which an animal-like creature becomes human-like? We have hardly any answers to these questions.
We don't know how and why and at exactly what point in evolution human consciousness became a reality. The inexplicability of such emergent phenomena is the reason why we cannot disprove the idea of some creative power behind everything we experience around us - at least not at our present state of knowledge.
Evolutionary science cannot indicate to us the location of the point on the continuous evolutionary scale - which Dawkins believes is there - at which human consciousness arises. The question about consciousness is key to everything we are discussing.
Why would evolution alone bring about such developments that appear to have little to do with the survival of an individual or a species?
The problem with consciousness is that we don't really understand what it is. There is a giant leap from the brain of a monkey or a dog to the brain of a human being.
We are face here with one of the greatest unsolved mysteries in the history of science: at what point in hominid development and evolution does human consciousness appear? What gives us the powers to create and to think symbolically and to develop language?
These may just as well be described as divine gifts."
So, what I am suggesting is that all of us - atheists and believers alike - should be developed enough as a species to check our egos, theories and philosophies at the door, and simply admit that we don't know the full answers. We should be big enough and honest enough to admit our lack of knowledge.
Between 3 million years ago, when it's estimated Man took his first upright steps to the oldest known cave paintings, estimated at 40,800 years ago, there's one helluva lot of wiggle room. Whether human consciousness is a matter of evolution, divine intervention, aliens or all of the above, we just don't know.
What I do know is that as a species, some people act more like bratty toddlers than mature adults. I've seen so many bashing blogs on the internet that it makes me weary. Like…get a life, eh?
Let me put it this way….as an accomplished musician, I'm much more interested in exploring the wide variety of global music styles than I am in arguing who was the greatest guitarist. Do you see what I mean?