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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Instincts and Preprogramming


We have Basement Cat. I like to watch what I call the "feline machine" in action. She likes to stalk the birds on the porch through the screen door and will occasionally lunge at them, causing a flurry of avian panic. But she's never been an outdoor cat and never been the fierce huntress that she considers herself. One time, I put my hand in something wet on the porch railing (I think it was squirrel pee) and wiped it off. There was still a faint smell on my hand even after rinsing. I was petting Basement Cat later, and she started biting me. Not the playful bites, either. Eyes dilated, all that. She wanted blood; the predatory instinct kicked in.


Basement Cat using e-book reader as a pillow, picture by Robert Sorensen © 2014
No instinct here, just cuteness.
Humans and animals are born preprogrammed with an assortment of reflexes and instincts. They could not have been learned many behaviors, but they do things anyway. There is no rational evolutionary explanation for this. Like a computer with a basic operating system, we are given certain instincts from our Creator, and then build from there.
As a newborn infant, how did you know to do the things that you were never taught?

At first that question might strike you as nonsense. Perhaps you’re thinking, “Huh? Babies don’t know anything they didn’t actively learn. We’re all born with a brain that’s a blank slate, and after we’re born, we begin to learn through experiences, through environment, and through lessons taught by others.”

However, the notion that humans (or animals or insects) are born with a brain that is devoid of knowledge, simply waiting for a chance to sponge it up, is incorrect. To draw a rough analogy, a computer can be assembled with every physical component in place down to the last screw, but it can accomplish nothing until information is installed onto its motherboard.
You can read the rest by clicking on "Ready-Made Instincts".

1 comment:

Clifford said...

Since you're a religiously themed blog I was wondering how you felt about Pope Francis and how he's changing the institution of the Catholic Church? Do you approve or not? Do you like what he's doing?