A subjective ‘materialist’ is possibly just dumber than the ‘better’ scientists, but the standpoint offers a fairly solid toehold for someone arriving from a religious devotional background. ‘Materialism’ is the branch of evolutionary thinking which describes me simply as the physical object that I am: a teacup is a teacup; a mind, really,  is just a brain. This isn’t as sticky as it might sound. The demonstrations are very good. If you poke a certain brain spot, your leg will jerk, and you can call that the ‘jerking leg spot.’ The spot quite verifiably governs the jerking. Just imagine your pleasure emotions – or your fear, or your envy – as mental variations on leg jerking, and by examining the physical structure of your brain you can understand everything that you are.

Materialism’s devotional arrangement is identical to Christianity’s: conscious focus is assigned to rigorous conviction, and doubts are excluded as simply unapproachable. When reality is confusing, we single-mindedly search the data. The answer must be there somewhere.

So, I’ve been reading about cooking, and there are impressive observations suggesting I’m the man I am because an ape learned how to make a fire. I’m persuaded. The relationship between the size of my mouth, the weight of my guts, and the necessary blood supply which powers my brain makes it very clear this physical structure requires cooked food. Cooked food releases far more energy per unit consumed than raw food, and our species couldn’t replicate without it.

If we accept this concept – that humans evolved after apes started cooking – a great many things are explained. Our brains had a new supply of blood to grow larger on, and that brain was needed to figure out how to prepare, and most of all defend, our little piles of cooked food. The particulars are a good read in Richard Wrangham’s ‘Catching Fire.’ Go see for yourself. Cooking has produced both our bodies and our subtleties. It’s the reason we don’t grow hair. It explains the human female’s general willingness to contrive sexual arrangements wherever discretion permits, and the male’s bumbling efforts to overtly impose the same. Cooking is what we’re about.

Since I do arrive from a different background, I hesitate to embrace the first evolutionary ‘model’ I run into. The materialist model is the one everywhere on Internet news. It’s what the Creationists will argue against from their pulpits. But I feel it’s ignoring something. From its own explanation, it doesn’t wind up seeming that we, individually, ‘evolved.’ The species did. Everything about the theory is sensible when we’re talking about whole lots of animals reproducing over a very long time, but clearly: we were simply born. Our equipment has a history, but the latest automobile has a steering wheel that can turn it off a cliff. We’ve arrived as both the driver and the ‘wheel,’ and we’re observably not constrained by eons of cooking or anything else.

I understand there are alternatives to the ‘materialist’ model, which also genuflect toward Science. I’ve come across references to ‘neuronal Darwinism,’ and, even, the ‘quantum theory of mind.’ I’m going to do a little more looking around before deciding on a church.


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