Friday, May 27, 2022

The Missing Ingredient in Daniel Dennett's "Darwin's Dangerous Idea"

A couple months back I wrote Dr. Daniel Dennett hoping for a response, but to no avail.  So, I've rewritten the letter and have resent it and I figured I might as well post it over here, to see if any other deep thinker might want to give it a shot.

Dear Dr. Daniel Dennett, (& others it may interest),

I read your “Darwin’s Dangerous Idea” a couple decades back.  These past few months I’ve been revisiting it.  It’s a beautiful tour of the evolution of scientific thought regarding Evolution.  One I completely embrace and I commend you for all those helpful citations.  Even after a quarter century the book is worth recommending to young students of Evolution because of how well it documents the evolving ideas and arguments up to that point.  

The only problem is that you left out a crucial ingredient early in your introduction that I’d like to ask about.  You were transitioning from earlier religious thought into evolving scientific thought and the rest of your story.  

I have to wonder why didn’t you stop a moment to review the most fundamental fact of our human condition?  A reality that cuts straight to the heart of both our so-called "Hard Problem of Consciousness" and the Origin of God question - namely the “Physical Reality ~ Human Mindscape divide”?

What’s so special about having an appreciation for the “Physical Reality ~ Human Mindscape divide”?  Well, for one, it leads to an inevitable understanding that our very existence is proof that our Universe and Earth unfolded down one, internally consistent cascade, and only one.  No matter what we self-absorbed human creatures are capable of imagining. 

For me, it also brought into focus that Earth herself is my touchstone with reality.  This in turn, led to a deep down realization that Earth’s biological processes created creatures and eventually humans along with our human mind.  (This is undisputed by science and rational humans - correct?)

From there it becomes self-evident that our Gods are created from within our own minds and bodies, driven by biological, evolutionary and cultural experiences, the ebb and flow of life.  Each one of our Gods tailored to our own particular personality and circumstance. Ignoring that, leaves us without a benchmark for sorting out our thoughts, as Donald Hoffman’s "Case Against Reality" flailing exemplifies.  

The notion of Evolution is given much lip service, but it seems to me that it seldom rises above a post card superficiality.  To recap:

Science seeks to objectively learn about our physical world, but we should still recognize all our understanding is embedded within and constrained by our minds. 

Religion is all about the human mindscape itself, with its wonderful struggles, fears, spiritual undercurrents, needs and stories we create to give our live’s meaning and make it worth living, or at least bearable. 

What’s the point? 

Religions, Science, political beliefs, heaven, hell, math, art, even God they are all products of the human mindscape, generations of imaginings built upon previous generations of imaginings, all the way down.

That's not to say they are the same thing, they are not!  Though I think they're both equally valid human endeavors, still one must recognize they are fundamentally qualitatively different.

Religion deals with the inside of our minds, hearts and souls, Science strives to objectively understand the physical world beyond all that, doing its best to factor out human ego from the deliberations.

Dr. Dennett, I realize you are an extremely busy man with a thousand demands upon your time.  Still I’m hoping you might take the above seriously enough to offer some critique or feedback.



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