Evolution by Natural Selection, if valid as a theory, requires certain starting conditions. It requires an organism with survival instincts. This implies consciousness or something close to it, and a consciousness inclined toward self-preservation at the expense of other conscious entities. It requires an environment where it has to compete to survive. It requires a reproductive system to replicate itself, to further it's 'selfish genes'. That system must be able to replicate the organism so that it's basic nature is retained but so that certain adaptions can develop which maintain or improve the viability of the organism. In case that sounds obvious, most random changes (mutations) of any significance to an organism would kill it. Only a very few fortuitous ones would benefit the organism and make it more sophisticated by adding useful structure. Why do so many evolutionary theorists blithely assume that an arbitrary copying mistake in a DNA sequence will translate into useful structure, or even a step toward useful structure? How is it that we can identify an error in genetic codes so readily as an error? And why is it that these errors are so often associated with a disease giving an often very negative survival advantage?
Back to the title point. To the material reductionist, consciousness is a by product of brain physiology and no more. Our organism under consideration undergoes a genetic mutation which is a stepping stone towards a structure or structural improvement which confers possible survival advantages. As I said in the last paragraph, it is a very big assumption that this will actually happen. Let's suppose it does. As the process proceeds over hundreds and thousands of generations, we start to develop neurological or similar structures which host the illusions of consciousness and identity. These commodities are of course meaningless illusions in the evolutionary scheme caused by chemical firings in the evolved brain. However, please note that evolutionists have a tendency to treat the language and facets of consciousness as things which have inevitably always been present. Things like fear, self-preservation, greed, ambition, hate. (I use these because evolution on the whole relies on negative instincts). Very very interesting! Why! We cannot arbitrarily confer consciousness in all it's magnificence on an organism before that organism has evolved sufficiently to host it. What came first, consciousness or the mechanisms that produce it? Classic Catch 22 stuff. Unless consciousness has some outside existence(!) it is a meaningless by-product of evolution. It is not something you can invoke from nowhere, as so many attempt to, as a starting condition required before evolution can proceed. Where then did it come from?
It is almost as if evolutionists have slipped up and acknowledged that the parameters of consciousness have some outside and eternal substance beyond the physical brain! Well I agree with them about that!
To summarize, it is illogical to arbitrarily assign sophistication of action associated with advanced consciousness to simple organisms in order to call upon aspects of that consciousness to theorize about how they might subsequently survive, mutate and evolve. Here, as in very many places, the Theory of Evolution is logical nonsense and therefore unscientific..
This paradox has been supposedly answered by some evolutionists by saying that an organism doesn't have to display any of the elusive essence of life in order to be selected for genetic continuance. It is merely subject to selection by the environment, they say. A little thought shows that this is no answer to the riddle of whether fitness to survive or survival unto fitness came first. The process of selection is indeed a simple concept which might be applied to an inanimate process like osmosis or diffusion, it is true. Selection, in this life science context, however, can only operate effectively because one creature is more fit in the situation we are considering. Here, the careful choice of words is merely an over-simplification of the realities necessary for evolution by natural selection to work. In other words, we need to define 'natural' carefully, and not just 'selection'.