Religion and Charity Evolved, Claim Darwinists

first_img“Charity begins at Homo sapiens,” quips Mark Buchanan in New Scientist, noting that only human beings exhibit “true altruism” (i.e., helping genetic strangers, such as those suffering from the Asian tsunamis) when such behavior cannot help the individual pass on his or her genes.  He evaluates the various theories that evolutionary psychologists have come up with to explain this Darwinian conundrum: why would a person in a survival-of-the-fittest world sacrifice himself for the good of others?  Some think altruism was a maladaptation – a bad mutation – an evolutionary dead end that is destined to fade (and is fading) in the unpredictable path of human social evolution.  Others try to find some evolutionary good in it.  After reviewing competing ideas without arriving at a consensus, he says,These findings suggest that true altruism, far from being a maladaptation, may be the key to our species’ success by providing the social glue that allowed our ancestors to form strong, resilient groups.  It is still crucial for social cohesion in today’s very different world.  “Something like it had to evolve,” [Herbert] Gintis says.   (Emphasis added in all quotes.)How Jesus evolved to teach that one should do good deeds in secret (Matthew 6), he does not explain.  Buchanan provides discussion notes for teachers who may be confronted by students with theological questions:3. TO PLEASE TEACHERS (AND GODS)Despite our altruism, generosity may not be in our genes.  If true altruism has evolved through competition between groups, as some researchers maintain (see main story), then it is more likely to be the product of cultural evolution.  Genetic evolution works by selecting individuals with traits that are well adapted to their environment, but it has a far weaker grip on traits that benefit the group.  So altruism is more likely to be learned.  After all, every human culture invests considerable effort in instilling children with moral norms that help further cooperation.  Often these are enshrined in powerful religious beliefs and reinforced by promises of salvation and threats of eternal damnation.Either way, genetically or culturally, charity just evolved, he concludes.  Religion is just an artifact of social evolution to reinforce the interplay of behaviors – cooperation, defection, punishment, reward – that arose by unguided processes of evolution over millions of years.    A related claim about the evolution of religion was made on EurekAlert.  The article, entitled “Nature helps create religious adults,” reports on work published in the Journal of Personality by Laura B. Koenig et al..  They studied pairs of twins to see how their “religiousness” varied over time.Religiousness was tested using self-report of nine items that measured the centrality of religion in their lives.  The twins graded the frequency in which they partook in religious activities such as reading scripture or other religious material and the importance of religious faith in daily life.  They also reported on their mother’s, their father’s, and their own religiousness when they were growing up.  They were also asked to report on the current and past religiousness of their brother.  The factors were divided into subscales— external aspects of religion, like observing religious holidays, that might be the most susceptible to environmental influence and internal aspects, like seeking help through prayer, that might be the most susceptible to heritable influence.  The external items were found to be more environmentally and less genetically influenced during childhood, but more genetically influenced in adulthood.  The internal scale showed a similar pattern, but the genetic influences seemed to be slightly larger in childhood compared to the external scale and so more consistent across the two ages.  “Like other personality traits, adult religiousness is heritable, and though changes in religiousness occur during development, it is fairly stable,” the authors conclude.Although this article does not mention evolution or Darwinism specifically, the implication is clear: “religiousness” is a heritable trait passed along either through genetic or cultural evolution.Gintis gets Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week for his sound bite, “something like it [altruism] had to evolve.”  To understand how just how absurd and self-refuting these claims are, turn the tables on the researchers.  Let’s perform a statistical study on evolutionists about their Darwinishness.  What social, genetic and family influences contributed to the centrality of Darwinism in their lives?  We could break the factors into external aspects of Darwinishness, like observing Darwin Day and telling just-so stories at evolutionary conferences, that might be susceptible to environmental influence, and internal aspects, like seeking help through meditating on The Origin of Species that might be the most susceptible to heritable influence.  Checkmate.    Apart from the highly questionable statistical validity of any study based on self-reporting by human children, who are far too complex and manipulatable to provide any sound conclusions, and the contradictory and fallacious ideas built on game theory (see 02/10/2004, 09/17/2003 and 09/05/2003 entries), these articles represent the epitome of evolution as religion – a worldview reducing everything in the universe to its philosophical assumptions.  What these researchers are claiming is appalling.  Pastors, churchgoers, missionaries, teachers and anyone with a genuine faith in God based on sound doctrine and evidence should rise up in horror over this kind of nonsense and oppose it vigorously: first, because it is false; second, because it is illogical; third, because it is elitist, and most of all, because it is dangerous.  If our deepest beliefs and desires, our most merciful actions, our most fervent prayers and our highest moral values are all evolutionary artifacts of mutations acting on genes, resulting in social glue that evolves in unpredictable ways, and if people really started believing and acting on these assumptions, not even an evolutionist would want to live in the kind of society that would result.    Not angry yet?  See also the next entry on ethics: how Darwinism is influencing the law.(Visited 12 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img

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