On the Darwinian evolution of the mind-matter interaction
Not a spiritual evolution
A possible misunderstanding of natural evolution among some
spiritual people, is to interpret it as similar to or identified
with some idea of "spiritual evolution". Namely, something that
would feel like an educational process, an adventure of discovering,
experiencing, taking lessons and choosing to change one's behavior
out of lessons learned.
Somehow, we might indeed make such a parallel, and notice that it
indeed behaves this way. However, this is only valid in a very
metaphorical sense. Just an abstract mathematical comparison, which
has some operational status of a comparison in the eyes of
mathematicians and other scientists. However, this comparison would
fatally become a disastrous misunderstanding when reaching the minds
of spiritual people, because the very concept of what is a
similarity, has a very different meaning to them than to
This misunderstanding comes from the fact that spiritual people
approach any concept in an essentialist framework, in terms of how
it feels and what it is ultimately made of; while
scientists approach concepts in non-essentialist, structural terms.
Namely, natural (or artificial) selection, is a mere material
process only "educating" the NDA, and has no f***ing care for
the souls (feelings and wishes) of the individuals at stakes.
For example, if along centuries, pigs grow fatter, and cows evolve
into having bigger and bigger udders that give more and more milk,
it's not because cows are following a spiritual educative path
towards a better self-fulfillment (nor even towards a higher empathy
for humans) where they discover that having a bigger udder makes
them feel better, but because the selection process that is forced
upon them from the outside, happens to preferably reproduce this
Immaterial souls neither require nor produce intelligent design
Now that we presented both the defense of mind-matter duality and
Darwinian evolution without intelligent design, this combination
will seem odd to many readers, as few are the authors that promoted
it. And I admit that it also sounds odd to me.
Still, careful consideration shows no direct contradiction between
As has been observed in Near Death Experiences and other paranormal
experiences, it is possible for our mind as well as other spiritual
entities, to visit this universe (and also leave it) without any
material support such as a brain. Therefore, there is no reason to
think that consciousness ever had to wait for the emergence of
humans (or other animals of importance) for being here to observe
the development of life and interact with it. This possibility does
not oblige consciousness, that was here and eventually incarnated
into biological organisms, to have any well-designed, long-term
plans on where this evolution would be all heading.
Indeed: we don't have ourself any long-term plans about where life
will be heading in the next hundreds of million years, and we are
not dedicating our conscious efforts on this issue by any means. And
anyway, having such plans would be pointless, because... the future
does not exist yet, and cannot be predicted with certainty. But for
the same reason, why should (and how could) the actions of conscious
beings on Earth in the previous hundreds of million years ago, have
cared for us by any means ? They didn't.
Once admitted that the incarnation of souls in biological organisms
along evolution does not necessarily produce traces of intelligent
design in the many generic characters for health and ability that
have been studied, what about the development of the brain that
governs this mind-matter duality itself: did it require any
intelligent design, or could it be produced by blind Darwinian
evolution too ?
I think, there is no problem either for blind Darwinian evolution to
have produced these opportunities of mind-matter interaction with
their observed characteristics.
First, because there is no problem to imagine that nervous systems
could develop based on their selective advantage even with no soul
incarnated; while souls passing by could occasionally play with the
quantum indetermination of the behavior of these system, as a
primitive form of incarnation
Second, because there are a number of indications (from "spiritual
healings") that the mind can directly interact with and affect some
biological systems other than nervous systems.
So, there is no problem to imagine that some primitive forms of
incarnations of souls in biological organisms could start at some
time in the ancient history of life on Earth, with organisms that
could work (survive and reproduce) by themselves but that souls may
Some species may have developed characteristics where this
interaction took more and more importance in the behavior of these
organisms, and where it could have provided a selective advantage.
Souls there could have started to play the game of taking part in
such interactions, just because it was a funny adventure to guide
these organisms to their survival.
We have explained that consciousness has unique abilities to behave
in some sort of creative, intelligent ways that cannot be imitated
by mere mathematical calculations (which organisms with a nervous
system but no souls could be able of). This explains how
interactions with souls can give organisms a decisive selective
advantage over other organisms that would not host any souls.
Progressively, natural selection favored the characteristics of this
mind-matter interaction such that the mind became "enclosed" in the
body, attached to it with hardly any means to get out of it or
travel outside it, and thus with the impression of being identified
with this body. This is because this is the way to oblige the soul
to be most careful about protecting the survival and reproductive
interest of the body, in a merciless jungle where characters of
universal selflessness (or abilities to "leave the battle" by
curiosity for visiting something else) would defeat the reproductive
advantage of the bodies that would have them.
Now if you ask: which are the organisms that host souls ? Well, I
don't know. I guess that all vertebrates do, but I can't tell about
the case of insects and other arthropods. So what ? Rational
thinking does not consist in pretending to have answers to every
Still if I really had to make a guess whether insects have a soul or
not, I would say yes, for the following reason. When I was a child,
I sometimes happened to play with a fly, pulling its legs and wings
apart. And you know what ? I felt bad at doing so.
Darwinian selection may be seen as a form of empirical method for
developing complex structures able to cope with a huge lot of many
situations that may happen, both to the body and to the soul, and
which could hardly have been predicted in advance by pure theory -
even if can be deplored as so wasteful.
However, there is another aspect of the situation, which makes the
combination of mind-matter duality and absence of intelligent
design, more heavily paradoxical.
The problem is that, it would not even require any grand visionary
plans, nor any wonderful miracle, for a higher power (God, or the
community of spirits not currently incarnated, or anything like
this) to push the evolution forwards to the greater good, in a way
that would generate effective traces of intelligent design in the
evolution of life on Earth.
All it would take from such a higher power, is a combination of
common sense, elementary observations, discipline and morality, such
as we humans are already largely capable of.
The method would simply consist, for souls considering to find
incarnations in embryos, in "boycotting" the organisms with clear
genetic defects, while judging these defects on the clearly visible
troubles of health or behavior resulting from them - whatever the
way these troubles may be assessed. This would give a boost to
evolution, by completing natural selection with a sort of
intelligent selection. Even if it was not very intelligent, it could
already have effects.
If such things happened, they should be observable, not only by
their results as faster evolutionary progress in the ancient past
than could be naturalistically expected, but also as still happening
now. There should be many cases of sterility or miscarriage
correlated with circumstances that would justify them on moral
grounds. This should particularly happen in cases of overpopulation,
so as to prevent the risks of environmental crisis that
overpopulation could generate.
But this not what we observe. No such correlation between sterility
(or miscarriage) and any visible, justifiable circumstances could be
observed. Genetic defects keep spreading. Overpopulation happens
unstopped, the same with humans as with animals that reproduce so
quickly that they devastate their environment and all end up in
starvation. Bad people and criminals have no less children (that
often inherit these bad behaviors) than good people.
So many things happen as if the universe was governed by blind
natural forces with no influence from any conscious intelligence.
But, is everything really natural ?
Does life has a
purpose ? A fictional debate
mind/mathematics dualistic foundation of physical reality
(pdf, with comments