Does Darwinism Lead to Murder?

Pekka-Eric_Auvinen, Finnish Shooter

Pekka-Eric Auvinen, Finnish Shooter


Causing no little consternation as of late is a recent article in the Science section of the Sunday Times Online which chronicles the apparent link between the evolutionary (and once revolutionary) ideas of Charles Darwin, and the propensity for violence among youth.

The article in question, Charles Darwin and the children of the evolution, by BBC journalist Dennis Sewell suggests that a number of high school killers, specifically Columbine killer Eric Harris, and Finnish shooter Pekka-Eric Auvinen were motivated by Darwin’s idea of natural selection, however twisted their understanding of this idea was.

Another recent link was made from Darwinism to violent behavior in the pages of the science journal Nature. There author James Pusey explains the foundational role Darwinism played in the mega-murderous regime of China’s Mao. Most of this isn’t particularly surprising; I have written myself about the direct connection between Darwin and the early 20th century ideas about eugenics that led to so many deaths.

And of course is the same sort of argument that got Ben Stein in trouble over a year ago when he made it in the Intelligent Design documentary ‘Expelled’, which generated heaps of derision on Stein from the atheist/evolutionist circles. And the anger over these current articles is coming from the same quarters. Jerry Coyne, University of Chicago Professor of Ecology and Evolution (and not surprisingly atheist apologist) bemoans the connection Sewell makes between Darwin and bad behavior , and points out atheists are capable of being moral too:

Apparently Sewell hasn’t heard about the secular origin of morality, or the fact that, as even many theologians admit, we cannot philosophically ground right and wrong on divine fiat. And what’s wrong with accepting one’s morality as “matter of personal choice”? Isn’t it more admirable to act out of reasoned principles of morality than out of fear of eternal immolation for disobeying the Sky Dictator?

All of this rather begs the question about whether or not evolutionary theory is true; obviously if that is the case, then it is what it is, whatever morality it provokes. This being said, if evolution does provoke such behavior, then it perhaps deserves a scrutiny that other scientific explanations, less directly related to human behavior, might garner. Whatever the realities of dark matter for example, its existence is highly unlikely to incite dark behavior.

Beyond this though I think evolutionists wrongly deny, or are simply don’t realize that evolution is more than a mere scientific theory, even while they utilize it as a basis for their own metaphysical beliefs in agnosticism or atheism. Coyne exemplifies this when he says sarcastically in his response to the article, “I hadn’t realized that Darwinism was a “world-view.” Silly me — all along I thought it was just a theory meant to explain the development and diversity of life.”

Of course even a casual observer realizes evolution is both, and as much as there is dispute over evolution between various interests, I think the primary dispute comes down to the worldview evolution seems to suggest.

On one hand, narrowly understood evolution is a comprehensive theory composed of various natural events – mutations, natural selection, adaptation, speciation, etc., some more readily observable than others. The totality of these events is believed to be responsible for the origination of all life on earth – however that is not all evolution says about us as humans.

Because of evolution’s presumed critical role in the origin of humans, and all that defines us – our minds, our societies, our behaviors, our concepts of right and wrong behaviors – evolution forms a metanarrative, or a comprehensive explanation of human knowledge and experience. In short it claims to tell us what we are and how we came to be what we are, and as much as it does this it forms a basis for acting according to that narrative.

The very fact that strong evolutionists so consistently cling to a particular metaphysic (agnosticism or atheism) and so consistently cite evolution as the foundation of that belief demonstrates how evolution serves as a metanarrative. So it isn’t a great leap to consider that behaviors provoked by strongly held evolutionary beliefs might in turn be consistent under similar circumstances.

In fact, one might say it is obvious as the beak on a Galapagos finch.

12 Responses to Does Darwinism Lead to Murder?

  1. In the Nature article it states,

    In China, under the threat of Western imperialism, interpretations of Darwin’s ideas…

    Those aren’t Darwin’s ideas. His idea was that individuals that are well adapted to an environment will tend to leave more offspring. These offspring will be slightly different from the previous generation. Over time, the environment will change. So will the individuals, thus changing the species. What the Chinese said beyond that says nothing of evolution. Nor, mind you, does it indicate any moral position one must take on evolution. This whole post would be like you arguing that gravitational ideas have direct moral implications.

    ‘Expelled’, which generated heaps of derision on Stein from the atheist/evolutionist circles.

    All good scientists hated it, I believe.

    Jerry Coyne, University of Chicago Professor of Ecology and Evolution…

    And I was all ready to be the one to cite him. I wish I had have thought it earlier. He’s more concise than I am: “Silly me — all along I thought it was just a theory meant to explain the development and diversity of life.”

    All of this rather begs the question about whether or not evolutionary theory is true;

    No, it doesn’t. Everything Coyne said could be said by an atheist who, for whatever reason, didn’t accept evolution; his words were not based around anything to do with any scientific idea.

    Whatever the realities of dark matter for example, its existence is highly unlikely to incite dark behavior.

    Unless, of course, a person, group, or nation is able to interpret the science behind dark matter into some temporal human affair.

    But again, “Silly me — all along I thought it was just a theory meant to explain the development and diversity of life.”

    even while they utilize it as a basis for their own metaphysical beliefs in agnosticism or atheism.

    Maybe you should read Coyne or PZ Myers or any atheist a little more. The reason they (and myself, and most atheists) reject the idea of a deity is because there is no evidence. If, for example, someone claims god X answers prayers, then we can test that and see if it’s true. In fact, that has happened. I’ll let you guess what the results were.

    In essence, the existence of an interfering being should yield particular observations. While Sagan said absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, it is also true that absence of what should be there is evidence of absence.

    I think the primary dispute comes down to the worldview evolution seems to suggest.

    Insofar as evolution suggests no god, yes, that is a key to the dispute (and not anything to do with science). But it does this because claims about gods are inconsistent with reality. Just as Zeus is inconsistent with how we know thunderbolts are generated, most other gods are inconsistent with how we know life diversifies.

    In short it claims to tell us what we are and how we came to be what we are, and as much as it does this it forms a basis for acting according to that narrative.

    This is an awful piece of logic. An “is” is far different from a “should”. You are saying that because evolution is a narrative for life, it (at least to be logically consistent) should act as a basis for how to behave. This is no different from saying that because Suzie was beaten by alcoholics that she should then behave in a way consistent with that. Why! alcoholism ‘tells her who she is and how she came to be, and as much as it does that, it forms a basis for acting accordingly to that narrative’.

    Sound.

  2. jackhudson says:

    Those aren’t Darwin’s ideas. His idea was that individuals that are well adapted to an environment will tend to leave more offspring. These offspring will be slightly different from the previous generation. Over time, the environment will change. So will the individuals, thus changing the species. What the Chinese said beyond that says nothing of evolution. Nor, mind you, does it indicate any moral position one must take on evolution. This whole post would be like you arguing that gravitational ideas have direct moral implications.

    Well, this is not necessarily an idea I disagree with – the problem is that repeatedly in the one hundred and fifty years or so since Darwin first proposed his ideas, others have utilized them to just such a purpose.

    Whether we consider eugenicists, or Maoists, or Stalinists, or even atheists like Dawkins and yourself, evolution seems to serve as a foundation of something more than just explaining biological phenomena – and I think the intellectually curious should consider why this is.

    All good scientists hated it, I believe.

    Certainly, like all True Scotsman.

    No, it doesn’t. Everything Coyne said could be said by an atheist who, for whatever reason, didn’t accept evolution; his words were not based around anything to do with any scientific idea.

    There is no such thing as an atheist who doesn’t accept evolution; at least not, as Dawkin’s claimed, an intellectually satisfied one.

    Unless, of course, a person, group, or nation is able to interpret the science behind dark matter into some temporal human affair.

    But again, “Silly me — all along I thought it was just a theory meant to explain the development and diversity of life.”

    Well, you made my point; there is no way to, “interpret the science behind dark matter into some temporal human affair”, but there are of course many ways to do so with Darwinism – which is why it is not simply a scientific theory.

    Maybe you should read Coyne or PZ Myers or any atheist a little more. The reason they (and myself, and most atheists) reject the idea of a deity is because there is no evidence. If, for example, someone claims god X answers prayers, then we can test that and see if it’s true. In fact, that has happened. I’ll let you guess what the results were.

    As someone who has had God answer prayers (and read Coyne and Meyers), I of course don’t have to guess – but such a test would be akin to concluding that if someone doesn’t answer their phone, they don’t exist. Not very scientific.

    Nonetheless, you again seem to be agreeing with me again – the reasoning of an atheist is that a modicum of scientific knowledge is sufficient to conclude God doesn’t exist – of course; this is neither logical, nor particularly scientific. Indeed, at best it would be an argument for agnosticism, something I myself once was.

    In essence, the existence of an interfering being should yield particular observations. While Sagan said absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, it is also true that absence of what should be there is evidence of absence.

    Well that actually can’t be the conclusion of the proposed tests – at best it is evidence that such a being doesn’t respond like a computer – but that I no sentient being that I know does.

    Insofar as evolution suggests no god, yes, that is a key to the dispute (and not anything to do with science). But it does this because claims about gods are inconsistent with reality. Just as Zeus is inconsistent with how we know thunderbolts are generated, most other gods are inconsistent with how we know life diversifies.

    Well, again you are agreeing with me that evolution does suggest such a thing. The problem is, evolutionists don’t simply suggest that evolution explains ‘diversity’, which I don’t think even the most vociferous creationists disagrees with, but evolutionists ultimately claim evolution explains why humans are what they are, from their mental capacities to their moral behaviors, to their spiritual inclinations. Now some of those claims are obviously inherently contradictory, but evolutionists advance them nonetheless.

    This is an awful piece of logic. An “is” is far different from a “should”. You are saying that because evolution is a narrative for life, it (at least to be logically consistent) should act as a basis for how to behave. This is no different from saying that because Suzie was beaten by alcoholics that she should then behave in a way consistent with that. Why! alcoholism ‘tells her who she is and how she came to be, and as much as it does that, it forms a basis for acting accordingly to that narrative’.

    Well more particularly, because evolution acts as a metanarrative, it suggests there is no real basis for how we should act, and no ‘good’ per se except perhaps for that which is beneficial to survival. And this has not proved to promote what has traditionally been thought of as ‘good’; indeed, it has often wrought what most have previously considered to be evil. That is simply the historical reality of the matter.

  3. There is no such thing as an atheist who doesn’t accept evolution; at least not, as Dawkin’s claimed, an intellectually satisfied one.

    Atheists existed prior to Darwin, no? But that is beside the point. You could be right that it is necessary to accept evolution in order to reject gods. That doesn’t mean that anything Coyne said comes from anything to do with evolution. He was talking about morality – people have used secular arguments to explain it long before Darwin or Wallace.

    Well, you made my point; there is no way to, “interpret the science behind dark matter into some temporal human affair”, but there are of course many ways to do so with Darwinism – which is why it is not simply a scientific theory.

    Argument from Incredulity: You cannot imagine it, thus it does not exist/is not true.

    There are plenty of religions and beliefs which base themselves on energy and whatever can be related to it. In fact, I personally know an atheist who holds Tao-like beliefs centered around singular energy. I am sure she could fit dark matter (or, more to this point, dark energy) into her belief system.

    Or, to take an easier example, quantum mechanics is constantly used in spiritual/religious arguments, both for and against. People have an uncanny ability to use science to whatever ends, not just evolutionary science.

    As someone who has had God answer prayers (and read Coyne and Meyers), I of course don’t have to guess – but such a test would be akin to concluding that if someone doesn’t answer their phone, they don’t exist. Not very scientific.

    1) Anecdotal experience is not evidence, so my point stands firm.
    2) If I tell you that a person will answer his phone under particular circumstances and he does not, then you can conclude that my account of that person is false. He may still exist, but not as I described him. That is, not answering prayers over the course of dozens of studies is good evidence against the specific descriptions we get of specific gods. God(s) may still exist, but not in the form we’ve been told.

    Well that actually can’t be the conclusion of the proposed tests – at best it is evidence that such a being doesn’t respond like a computer – but that I no sentient being that I know does.

    Perhaps. It depends upon one’s theology. If the claim is that God answer’s prayers, that can be tested.

    Of course, there are plenty of other things we should see. For instance, natural selection should show some sort of foresight or be ultimately direction; it isn’t.

    Well, again you are agreeing with me that evolution does suggest such a thing.

    If you agree with me that our understanding of weather suggests the non-existence of Zeus.

    Well more particularly, because evolution acts as a metanarrative, it suggests there is no real basis for how we should act, and no ‘good’ per se except perhaps for that which is beneficial to survival. And this has not proved to promote what has traditionally been thought of as ‘good’; indeed, it has often wrought what most have previously considered to be evil. That is simply the historical reality of the matter.

    Evolution doesn’t tell anyone how to act. Again, it is an “is”, not a “should”. Derive what you will from it, but it isn’t saying that.

    But I always find it interesting that creationists like to avoid game theory and altruism is making claims about what evolution suggests. ‘It tells us to behave in a way that is often considered evil’. That’s extremely interesting since, aside from being false (again, it doesn’t say how to behave), it would seem that evolution actually suggests that not being a ‘cheater’ is most often the best route one can take.

  4. Bettawrekonize says:

    It would be nice if they would unban you from forums.christianity.com

  5. jackhudson says:

    It would be nice if they would unban you from forums.christianity.com

    Nice of you to say, Betta – beyond my control though. Feel free to start a petition drive. :)

  6. jackhudson says:

    Atheists existed prior to Darwin, no? But that is beside the point. You could be right that it is necessary to accept evolution in order to reject gods. That doesn’t mean that anything Coyne said comes from anything to do with evolution. He was talking about morality – people have used secular arguments to explain it long before Darwin or Wallace.

    I am not sure what difference it makes that Coyne is talking about morality – obviously atheists believe human morality evolved as well.

    And of yes people used secular arguments to explain morality before Darwin; the difference now they pretend those arguments are the product of science rather than metaphysics or philosophy.

    2) If I tell you that a person will answer his phone under particular circumstances and he does not, then you can conclude that my account of that person is false. He may still exist, but not as I described him. That is, not answering prayers over the course of dozens of studies is good evidence against the specific descriptions we get of specific gods. God(s) may still exist, but not in the form we’ve been told.

    Well, I would certainly conclude you were wrong, but it wouldn’t be a basis to conclude the person doesn’t exist; indeed, that would be a bizarre conclusion! Nonetheless, this is irrelevant, as no theology I know of claims God answers prayers as a matter of certain inputs like a machine. But again, no intelligence does.

    Perhaps. It depends upon one’s theology. If the claim is that God answer’s prayers, that can be tested.

    Only if the claim is that God responds to prayer according to the whims of researchers; no theology I know claims that.

    Of course, there are plenty of other things we should see. For instance, natural selection should show some sort of foresight or be ultimately direction; it isn’t.

    I don’t know why natural selection would need to when the genome shows great foresight.

    If you agree with me that our understanding of weather suggests the non-existence of Zeus.

    Not only our understanding of weather, but our knowledge of Christianity as well. In fact it was Christianity that ended the reign of Zeus (and Jupiter, and Thor, etc), not science.

    Evolution doesn’t tell anyone how to act. Again, it is an “is”, not a “should”. Derive what you will from it, but it isn’t saying that.

    That isn’t my claim; I said, “it suggests there is no real basis for how we should act” – thus freeing us to act however we desire.

    But I always find it interesting that creationists like to avoid game theory and altruism is making claims about what evolution suggests. ‘It tells us to behave in a way that is often considered evil’. That’s extremely interesting since, aside from being false (again, it doesn’t say how to behave), it would seem that evolution actually suggests that not being a ‘cheater’ is most often the best route one can take.

    You have an odd propensity to respond to arguments not made. I said, it was historically factual that evolution has ,”often wrought what most have previously considered to be evil.” not because it ‘tells us how to act’ but because as a metanarrative, it undermines the basis for acting morally.

    And what is interesting about evolution (and the odd logic of evolutionists) is that evolution is understood to be the reason we cheat, and the reason we don’t. It’s the reason we are adulterous, and the reason we are faithful. It is the reason we are violent, and altruistic. And of course, evolutionists maintain these contradictions because integral to evolution is the idea that our cognitive equipment is by neccesity itself the product of evolution – ignoring this would also undermine our ability to reliably understand evolutionary theory!

    But internal consistency has never been a big selling point of evolution.

  7. Bettawrekonize says:

    “Nice of you to say, Betta – beyond my control though. Feel free to start a petition drive.”

    Like I already mentioned, it’s already been tried and the thread got shut down. Someone else started a thread, lots of people were saying that they want you back and some people were saying how they only come to read your comments alone and how it would suck without you there. Then the moderator shut down the thread demanding no one else mention you.

  8. I am not sure what difference it makes that Coyne is talking about morality – obviously atheists believe human morality evolved as well.

    And of yes people used secular arguments to explain morality before Darwin; the difference now they pretend those arguments are the product of science rather than metaphysics or philosophy.

    You aren’t going to hear Coyne arguing for extrapolating morality from evolution. He may well argue that it is best explained that way, but this is another “is”. Simply because morality is a product of evolution it does not mean that we automatically have some code by which we should live.

    Nonetheless, this is irrelevant, as no theology I know of claims God answers prayers as a matter of certain inputs like a machine.

    Currently 30 states see fit to protect the ‘rights’ of parents who choose to use faith healing in lieu of real medicine and treatments. Clearly, there are quite a number of people who believe that prayers have a positive real world effect as a direct result of some method of divine intervention. As this is within the scope of reality, its efficacy is measurable scientifically.

    Only if the claim is that God responds to prayer according to the whims of researchers; no theology I know claims that.

    Different studies use different methods. In all cases of which I know, the prayer itself is genuine. Researchers measure if anything changes as a result.

    I don’t know why natural selection would need to when the genome shows great foresight.

    The genome shows a lot of non-coding areas.

    Not only our understanding of weather, but our knowledge of Christianity as well. In fact it was Christianity that ended the reign of Zeus (and Jupiter, and Thor, etc), not science.

    Despite the undue credit I know you often give Christianity, I agree (at least in part) this time. Monotheism did prove to be the downfall of polytheism. (Beyond that, I offer no agreement or endeavor any claims.)

    So my point is that X is being claimed about Zeus. In order for that to be true, something we know about weather needs to be false. Since it isn’t false, this directly contradicts the existence of Zeus. The same idea is present in evolution since most modern gods are claimed to have either immediately created humans (false) or to have made humans inevitable (also false).

    That isn’t my claim; I said, “it suggests there is no real basis for how we should act” – thus freeing us to act however we desire.

    Well, you did say that evolution suggests we act in accordance with survival and that this generally isn’t considered “good”, but I digress.

    Evolution is not a moral system. It may make suggestions as to our basis for action, but it is not the arbiter. We can have any number of reasons for our morality – many of which can be justified without consideration given to evolution (as Coyne did).

    You have an odd propensity to respond to arguments not made. I said, it was historically factual that evolution has ,”often wrought what most have previously considered to be evil.” not because it ‘tells us how to act’ but because as a metanarrative, it undermines the basis for acting morally.

    It is not historically factual that evolution has done any such thing. Hitler vaguely used Social Darwinism, which is itself a bastardization of evolution (again, notice how people so conveniently ignore altruism). What’s more, Christianity was used to justify much of Nazi Germany. (I do not believe religion had much of anything to do with Hitler, however. But he did invoke it often.) As for Columbine, I’ve been spending too much time looking for it, but there was a story some time ago which set a lot of the facts straight. I can’t recall all the details, so I’ll avoid claiming anything for now, but I do know one of the kids (the one who spoke of his misconception of natural selection) was deemed a psychopath. I would imagine that largely gets evolution off the hook in that case.

    evolution is understood to be the reason we…(so on so forth)

    It offers an insight to our tendency to act certain ways. For instance, evolution gives us some clues as to color bias by gender. That doesn’t mean that we are predestined or forced into liking blue if we’re male and pink if we’re female. Dawkins said it concisely: We are not our genes.

  9. Bettawrekonize says:

    “You aren’t going to hear Coyne arguing for extrapolating morality from evolution.’

    I think the point is that morality can’t be extrapolated from evolution & atheism and if morality can’t be extrapolated from such beliefs it begs the question, what can morality be extrapolated from if such beliefs are true?

  10. jackhudson says:

    You aren’t going to hear Coyne arguing for extrapolating morality from evolution. He may well argue that it is best explained that way, but this is another “is”. Simply because morality is a product of evolution it does not mean that we automatically have some code by which we should live.

    As Bettawrekonize alludes to above, this begs the question; if we are merely the product of evolution, there is no ‘should’, only what ‘is’; all notions of should are moot.

    Currently 30 states see fit to protect the ‘rights’ of parents who choose to use faith healing in lieu of real medicine and treatments. Clearly, there are quite a number of people who believe that prayers have a positive real world effect as a direct result of some method of divine intervention. As this is within the scope of reality, its efficacy is measurable scientifically.

    First off that particular ‘right’ isn’t an ascent to the ability of prayer to accomplish a certain thing within scientific parameters; it is an ascent to certain notions of 1st amendment rights. Whether or not this is a proper application of 1st amendment is another question – either way the exercise of 1st amendment rights doesn’t depend on the scientific veracity of the notion, nor can science disprove the notion that God is capable of healing people.

    For example, if a man gets a test, as my neighbor recently did, showing that his arteries are blocked to certain extent, and then he goes home and prays about it, and comes in again and the doctor says they no longer see the same blockage and no longer see the need for surgery, has that proved the efficacy of prayer scientifically? Can science prove or disprove that such an event was God’s work?

    Probably not in either case.

    Different studies use different methods. In all cases of which I know, the prayer itself is genuine. Researchers measure if anything changes as a result.

    The problem with saying ‘the prayer was genuine’ is that this isn’t a scientifically quantifiable prospect, so the experiment can’t be ‘scientific’.

    Nor does it accout for the will and intent of the person answering the prayer, namely God. It simply isn’t reducible to a scientific experiment, just as most of our life experiences aren’t.

    The genome shows a lot of non-coding areas.

    Which doesn’t negate the anticipatory aspects of the genome – indeed, the whole notion of useless genes has been much contradicted as time has gone on, just as one would expect if it were designed for a purpose.

    Despite the undue credit I know you often give Christianity, I agree (at least in part) this time. Monotheism did prove to be the downfall of polytheism. (Beyond that, I offer no agreement or endeavor any claims.)

    So my point is that X is being claimed about Zeus. In order for that to be true, something we know about weather needs to be false. Since it isn’t false, this directly contradicts the existence of Zeus. The same idea is present in evolution since most modern gods are claimed to have either immediately created humans (false) or to have made humans inevitable (also false).

    I agree as much as a particular claim is positively made, like ’Zeus is the only cause of lightning strikes’, disproving that claim contradicts the importance, perhaps even the necessity of believing in Zeus.

    One of the problems I have is, evolution says, “Evolution is the cause of existence of my mind”. Well, if that is true, it is also ultimately the cause of existence of my ideas about evolution. Or my ideas about whether God or gods exist; in which case we see how evolution has the potential to be self-defeating, in that it undermines the reliability of the very cognitive equipment that came up with the notion of evolution to begin with – indeed the whole notion of science to begin with.

    So there is a significant difference between considering the cause of something outside myself, upon which my very thoughts are not dependent, and accepting something as the cause of myself, which would be foundational to my ability to consider such things at all. Do you see the difference?

    Your ability to know the truth about evolution is dependent on evolution’s ability to produce that discernment in you – your ability to know the truth about lightening strikes is not. The reason I have confidence in the belief that an intelligence gave me the ability to discern reality is because that is the only belief I know of that allows me to claim I can reliably discern causes at all – a belief in evolution does not allow me to make that claim.

    I just prefer not to be self-defeating in my beliefs for consistency sake.

    Well, you did say that evolution suggests we act in accordance with survival and that this generally isn’t considered “good”, but I digress.

    Evolution is not a moral system. It may make suggestions as to our basis for action, but it is not the arbiter. We can have any number of reasons for our morality – many of which can be justified without consideration given to evolution (as Coyne did).

    I agree, evolution itself is not a moral system – it is however a basis for claiming that no objective moral system exists, and as much as that is true, acting in accordance with ones desires, however harmful to others, would not be contrary to any objective moral system (since none actually exist, as evolutionists must conclude).

    It is not historically factual that evolution has done any such thing. Hitler vaguely used Social Darwinism, which is itself a bastardization of evolution (again, notice how people so conveniently ignore altruism). What’s more, Christianity was used to justify much of Nazi Germany. (I do not believe religion had much of anything to do with Hitler, however. But he did invoke it often.) As for Columbine, I’ve been spending too much time looking for it, but there was a story some time ago which set a lot of the facts straight. I can’t recall all the details, so I’ll avoid claiming anything for now, but I do know one of the kids (the one who spoke of his misconception of natural selection) was deemed a psychopath. I would imagine that largely gets evolution off the hook in that case.

    Well, I will agree that most reasonable folks can consider school shooters (and Hitler) to be psychopaths; the question remains though whether such pathological thinking was motivated at least in part by Darwinism; it seems to have been, much as the thinking of Mao, and the eugenicists of most of the early 20th century were.

    An interesting question arises out of all this of course – if, as evolutionists claim, humans are the result of natural selection, why would such selective processes not suffice to continue human development in into the future? That is the question I think Mao, Hitler, the school shooters, and the 20th century eugenicists sought to answer – however repugnant we no find their methods of research to be.

    It offers an insight to our tendency to act certain ways. For instance, evolution gives us some clues as to color bias by gender. That doesn’t mean that we are predestined or forced into liking blue if we’re male and pink if we’re female. Dawkins said it concisely: We are not our genes.

    Well, Dawkins, as a materislist dispenses with the notion of free will all together, so while we may not be only ‘our genes’ we are what we are as the result of the processes that made us – and nothing in the materialist version of that process makes objective notions of morality real or neccesary.

  11. As Bettawrekonize alludes to above, this begs the question; if we are merely the product of evolution, there is no ‘should’, only what ‘is’; all notions of should are moot.

    This simplistic philosophy jumps the gun. There are plenty of good reasons for why we should do one thing or another. You’d need to delve into the secular reasons for morality in order to find the answers. Evolution isn’t going to tell you much.

    First off that particular ‘right’ isn’t an ascent to the ability of prayer to accomplish a certain thing within scientific parameters; it is an ascent to certain notions of 1st amendment rights. Whether or not this is a proper application of 1st amendment is another question – either way the exercise of 1st amendment rights doesn’t depend on the scientific veracity of the notion, nor can science disprove the notion that God is capable of healing people.

    The laws don’t do anything to add to the First Amendment. Freedom of religion is protected whether people are allowed legal shielding for potential child neglect/abuse or not. But what the laws do tell us is that an unhealthy number of people believe highly enough in prayer/faith healing to have seen fit to give it additional protection. They really think this stuff works.

    …has that proved the efficacy of prayer scientifically? Can science prove or disprove that such an event was God’s work?

    You can research how the studies are carried out. Your account is not how they are done; there are methods for measuring its efficacy. When the results show nothing more than chance, that is one piece of evidence against one particular (and popular) god people have described. They can always hide him or make up some apologetic, but they opened the door to this scientific scrutiny in the first place. They should have known better.

    Which doesn’t negate the anticipatory aspects of the genome – indeed, the whole notion of useless genes has been much contradicted as time has gone on, just as one would expect if it were designed for a purpose.

    You need to define “anticipatory aspects”. And most of your genome is useless baggage. Despite a few surprising bits, it is still widely accepted that the vast majority of genes do nothing and are there for no reason other than the fact that their existence isn’t substantial enough to be deleterious. If you’d like, my university will be offering its upper level genetics course again next fall. You can hear this exact same stuff there. Or in any university.

    in that it undermines the reliability of the very cognitive equipment that came up with the notion of evolution to begin with – indeed the whole notion of science to begin with.

    Well, then, you’ll just need to find a better way of knowing than science. One has yet to be introduced to humanity.

    So there is a significant difference between considering the cause of something outside myself, upon which my very thoughts are not dependent, and accepting something as the cause of myself, which would be foundational to my ability to consider such things at all. Do you see the difference?

    There’s no way you could know that your thoughts aren’t dependent upon your god. Indeed, their existence obviously would be. Beyond that, maybe you have free will. Maybe your god is tricking you. Toss a coin – unless he’s controlling that, too.

    But, importantly, we are not our genes. We can compare how our species operates in comparison to others to see how this works. We can see that we have a deep recognition of causality not present in other animals (though more present in more similar animals). And, of course, we can use our best tools to discover if what we think really matches up to reality. We do this every day; we use science because science has proved again and again that it works. The fact that evolution may undermine our ability to independently think does not outweigh the contrary evidence.

    The reason I have confidence in the belief that an intelligence gave me the ability to discern reality is because that is the only belief I know of that allows me to claim I can reliably discern causes at all – a belief in evolution does not allow me to make that claim.

    Certainty based upon philosophical axioms does not ergo lead one to something which is true. “If X is true, then I can know Y and Z.” That’s great, but we still don’t know if X is true, so the point is moot.

    I agree, evolution itself is not a moral system – it is however a basis for claiming that no objective moral system exists, and as much as that is true, acting in accordance with ones desires, however harmful to others, would not be contrary to any objective moral system (since none actually exist, as evolutionists must conclude).

    Yes. But morality need not be objective to exist.

    An interesting question arises out of all this of course – if, as evolutionists claim, humans are the result of natural selection, why would such selective processes not suffice to continue human development in into the future? That is the question I think Mao, Hitler, the school shooters, and the 20th century eugenicists sought to answer – however repugnant we no find their methods of research to be.

    The selective pressures which resulted in humans are not the same as the ‘selective pressures’ humans impose upon anything. One is a natural process, one is human-driven.

    And I greatly disagree with your suggestion that any of these people had great concern for overall human development. They were concerned with power and a narrow sliver of humanity.

    Well, Dawkins, as a materislist dispenses with the notion of free will all together…

    As far as I know, he doesn’t dispense with free will.

  12. jackhudson says:

    This simplistic philosophy jumps the gun. There are plenty of good reasons for why we should do one thing or another. You’d need to delve into the secular reasons for morality in order to find the answers. Evolution isn’t going to tell you much.

    I was previously an agnostic and evolutionist, so I am familiar with the inclinations and desires of materialists; there is no ‘should’ there – there can’t be.

    The laws don’t do anything to add to the First Amendment. Freedom of religion is protected whether people are allowed legal shielding for potential child neglect/abuse or not. But what the laws do tell us is that an unhealthy number of people believe highly enough in prayer/faith healing to have seen fit to give it additional protection. They really think this stuff works.

    What it has to do with the first amendment (and with parental rights) is the fact that such laws are intended to prevent undue intrusion of the government into a home and family, creating a chilling effect on the ability of families to practice their religion.

    If for example various legislators were to adopt a ‘Dawkin’s like’ view of religion, that it is delusional and dangerous, and that children should be free of being influenced by their parents in terms of the their religious beliefs, it would invite the government in to act as a guardian ad litem, having a chilling effect on the practical practice of religious belief in our society. Perhaps some laws err on the wrong side of caution when addressing medical issues, but there are dangers to our liberties by going too far the other way.

    You can research how the studies are carried out. Your account is not how they are done; there are methods for measuring its efficacy. When the results show nothing more than chance, that is one piece of evidence against one particular (and popular) god people have described. They can always hide him or make up some apologetic, but they opened the door to this scientific scrutiny in the first place. They should have known better.

    Well, again, one cannot apply such techniques and expect to apply consistency to the actions of a person; if I chose for example to give money to people in need on occasion for personal reasons known only to me, no experiment could determine reliably when I would and wouldn’t do so. But that would not prove I had not done so, or that I was incapable of doing so. In short, science is inapplicable to the reality of the personhood of God, that is that He is a being who makes moral choices according to His own mind, not according to a regular set of conditions.

    You need to define “anticipatory aspects”. And most of your genome is useless baggage. Despite a few surprising bits, it is still widely accepted that the vast majority of genes do nothing and are there for no reason other than the fact that their existence isn’t substantial enough to be deleterious. If you’d like, my university will be offering its upper level genetics course again next fall. You can hear this exact same stuff there. Or in any university.

    Well, first I would counter the notion that most of the genome is ‘useless baggage’ – increasingly genetics is finding that what was once thought to be useless is now found to be useful, often critical, for example:

    Sequencing Method Yields Fuller Picture

    One Man’s Junk May Be A Genomic Treasure

    Probing Question: What Is Junk DNA, And What Is It Worth?

    UCSD Study Shows ‘Junk’ DNA Has Evolutionary Importance

    Not ‘Junk DNA’ After All: Tiny RNAs Play Big Role Controlling Genes

    ‘Junk’ DNA Has Important Role, Researchers Find

    ‘Junk’ DNA Cut-and-Paste Protein: Discovery May Prove Invaluable In Quest For Gene Therapies

    Saved By Junk DNA: Vital Role In The Evolution Of Human Genome

    ‘Junk’ DNA Proves To Be Highly Valuable

    Of course the idea that the genome is mostly junk is an evolutionary one, and so that is what is expected, and of course this was what was initially assumed, but increasingly this is being shown not to be true – and thus we actually have one of the few testable hypothesis of evolution. Of course, from a design perspective one would expect there to be function and purpose in the genome – that certainly appears to be the trend of the findings, and I am willing to put the theory of design on the line and say if the genome proves over time to actually be useless, then design seems less likely – are you willing to put evolution to that test?

    And as one who has taken university level genetics, I can assure you will get old information unless you invest sometime reading the current literature on the issue.

    As to the anticipatory nature of the genome, a couple of examples, and links to others:

    First, the anticipatory existence of genes for nerves in sponges:

    Origin of Nerves Traced to Sponges

    Sponges are very primitive animals. They don’t have nerves cells (nor muscles nor eyes nor a lot of other things we commonly associate with animals). So scientists figured sponges split from the tree of life before nerves evolved.

    A new study has surprised researchers, however.

    “We are pretty confident it was after the sponges split from trunk of the tree of life and sponges went one way and animals developed from the other, that nerves started to form,” said Bernie Degnan of the University of Queensland. “What we found in sponges though were the building blocks for nerves, something we never expected to find.”

    In humans and other animals, nerves deliver messages to and from the brain and all the parts of a body.

    Next, the existence of intercellular adhesion and communication in single cell organisms:

    Our Single-Celled Ancestors

    King’s earliest experiments helped confirm that choanoflagellates are indeed closely related to animals. Next, she and her colleagues surveyed the organism’s genes at a high level and quickly discovered that it contains genes that were previously thought to only exist in animals. The big surprise was that two of those genes are actually used by animals to express proteins for cell adhesion and cell communication. In other words, a single-celled animal is making proteins that are seemingly essential only to multicellular animals.

    “It’s amazing.” King says. “We interpret that as evidence that some of the protein machinery for multicellularity actually evolved before the origin of animals, before multicellularity itself. The proteins predated their current function in animals.”

    This of course is just the tip of the iceberg; in numerous ways it appears the information found in ancient genomes anticipated the existence of organisms that would come later – another prediction evolutionists never imagined:

    Conquest of land began in shark genome
    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2007-08/uof-col081407.php

    Shock: First Animal on Earth Was Surprisingly Complex

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/videos/2007/0304-sea_urchins_reveal_medical_mysteries.htm
    Sea Urchins’ Genetics Add To Knowledge Of Cancer, Alzheimer’s And Infertility

    Evo-Devo : Variations on Ancestral Themes

    New Evidence That Ancient Choanoflagellates’ Form Evolutionary Link Between Single-Celled And Multi-Celled Organisms

    Earliest Animals Had Human-Like Genes

    That should suffice for now; there is much more out there. I fully expect all of this will be blithely dismissed by you with a handwave; of course that will b a measure of the lack of seriousness with which you consider the facts.

    There’s no way you could know that your thoughts aren’t dependent upon your god. Indeed, their existence obviously would be. Beyond that, maybe you have free will. Maybe your god is tricking you. Toss a coin – unless he’s controlling that, too.

    Actually I agree with you, in that if God was ‘tricking us’ we could never know it – but that is irrelevant to the point for that very reason. The only way we could assert we had the ability to discern truth was if it were given to us; evolution gives us no such certainty.

    But, importantly, we are not our genes. We can compare how our species operates in comparison to others to see how this works. We can see that we have a deep recognition of causality not present in other animals (though more present in more similar animals). And, of course, we can use our best tools to discover if what we think really matches up to reality. We do this every day; we use science because science has proved again and again that it works. The fact that evolution may undermine our ability to independently think does not outweigh the contrary evidence.

    It’s true we have an ability animals don’t have – the ability to form and consider beliefs about the world around us. What you can’t claim is that evolution gave us the tools to reliably discern the whether those beliefs are true, and since science is a product of the same cognitive equipment as any other intellectual endeavor, and is itself based on certain beliefs, it wouldn’t be any more reliable than any other human belief system. Unless of course some claims their minds were imparted the ability to discern true beliefs.

    Certainty based upon philosophical axioms does not ergo lead one to something which is true. “If X is true, then I can know Y and Z.” That’s great, but we still don’t know if X is true, so the point is moot

    It is a matter of inherent consistency, which is a philosophical necessity – I can discern a true belief because I have been given a mind which is capable of discerning a true belief – this is inherently consistent. Evolution can’t make that claim, and thus is inherently contradictory. I am not claiming proof that that I have been given such a mind, merely that it is consistent with the claim that I can discern a true belief; all thought process start with such assumptions, even science.

    Yes. But morality need not be objective to exist.

    Actually, it does – or it is merely preference, not truly a a moral claim.

    The selective pressures which resulted in humans are not the same as the ’selective pressures’ humans impose upon anything. One is a natural process, one is human-driven.

    And I greatly disagree with your suggestion that any of these people had great concern for overall human development. They were concerned with power and a narrow sliver of humanity.

    Interestingly, Darwin would disagree with you – he based much of his evolutionary ideas on the effects of domestication and breeding. And those, like his cousin Francis Galt based eugenics directly on what Darwin had shared in this regard, and the eugenics movement certainly saw itself as benefiting all mankind.

    As far as I know, he doesn’t dispense with free will.

    He is rather coy about it, but his view appears to be that we don’t have free will, but we feel like we do, so we may as well act as if we do.

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