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 scientists.
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 feature.

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 these claims.

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 occasionally influence.
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 question.
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 ?

Related pages:

Argument from design
Does life has a purpose ? A fictional debate
A mind/mathematics dualistic foundation of physical reality (pdf, with comments at fqxi)