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Christianity and Sociobiology: Synthesizing Just-so Stories

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Charles Darwin

Denis Noble

JP Rushton

Richard Lynn

L:inda Gottfredson

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1600 words

The story of Adam and Eve is critical to Christian thought. For many Christians, the story tells us how and why we fell from God’s grace and moved away from Him. Some Christians are Biblical literalists—they believe that the events in the Bible truly happened as described. Other Christians attempt to combine Christianity with ‘science’ in an attempt to explain the natural world. In the book Doing Without Adam and Eve: Sociobiology and Original Sin, Williams (2000) argues that Adam and Eve are symbolic figures and that they did not exist.

But suppose, as many Christians now do, that Adam and Eve are simply symbolic figures in an imaginary garden rather than the cause of all our woe. Suppose further that the idea od “the fall” from grace is not in Scripture? Does this destroy Christian theology? This book says no. This book says that doing without Adam and Eve while drawing on sociobiology improves Christian theology and helps us understand the origin and persistance of our own sinfulness. (Williams, 2000: 10)

How ironic is it for just-so storytellers to combine their doctrine with another doctrine of just-so stories? The Christian Bible is chock-full of just-so stories purporting to show the origin of how and why we do certain things. Stories such as those in the Christian Bible do serve a purpose—which explain why they are still told and why there are still so many believers today. In any case, Williams (2000) is replacing one way of storytelling with another: the combination of the doctrine of Christianity along with Sociobiology (SB), attempting to use ‘science’ to lend an air of respectability to Christian thought.

How ironic that Christian storytelling would be combined with another form of storytelling—one masquerading as science? SB was the precursor to what is now known as ‘Evolutionary Psychology’ (EP) (see Buller, 2005; Wallace, 2010). There, we see that what amounts to just-so stories today has its beginnings in E. O. Wilson’s (1975) book Sociobiology: The New Synthesis. Sociobiology is premised on the claim that both social and individual behaviors can become objects of selection which then become fixated as species-typical behaviors. SB, then, was crafted to explain human nature and how and why we behave the way we do today. If certain genes cause or influence certain behaviors and these behaviors increase group fitness, then the behavior in question will persist since it increases group fitness.

I have no qualms with the group selection claim (I think it is underappreciated, see Sterelny and Griffiths, 1999). But note that SB, like its cousin EP, attempts to explain the evolution of human behavior through Darwinian natural selection. But the problems with the assumption that traits persist because they are selected-for their contribution to fitness has already been shown to be highly flawed and wanting by Fodor (2008) and Fodor and Piattelli-Palmarini (2010; 2011). In a nutshell, if a behavior is correlated (coextensive) with another behavior (or a gene that causes/influences a behavior is coextensive with another that causes/influences a different behavior) that is not fitness-enhancing then selection has no way of knowing which of the correlated traits influences fitness and so, since both traits are selected, there is no fact of the matter (when it comes to evolution) about why a trait was selected-for. There can be to us humans, as we can attempt to find out which trait is fitness-enhancing and which takes a free-ride—but for our conception of ‘natural selection’, it cannot distinguish between the cause and the correlate since there is no mind doing the selecting nor laws of selection for trait fixation which hold in all ecologies.

In any case, even if we assume that natural selection is an explanatory mechanism, the Sociobiologist/Evolutionary Psychologist would still have a hard time explaining how and why humans behave the way they do (note that behavior is distinct from action in that behavior is dispositional and actions are intentional) as Hull (1986) notes. In fact, Hull has a very simple argument showing that if one believes in evolution, then they should not believe in a ‘human nature’:

If species are the things that evolve at least in large part through the action of natural selection, then both genetic and phenotypic variability are essential to biological species. If all species are variable, then Homo sapiens must be variable. Hence, it is very unlikely that the human species as a biological species can be characterized by a set of invariable traits.

This does not stop Sociobiologists/Evolutionary Psychologists, though, from attempting to carry out their framework premised under untenable assumptions (that traits can be ‘selected-for’ and that natural selection can explain trait fixation). This shows, though, that even accepting the Darwinian claims, they do not lead to the conclusion that Darwinists would like.

To explain human nature through scientific principles is the aim of SB/EP. Indeed, it was what E. O. Wilson wanted to do when he attempted his new synthesis. Though, Dorothy Nelkin—in the book Alas, Poor Darwin: Arguments Against Evolutionary Psychology (Rose and Rose, 2001)—has pointed out that Wilson was a religious man in his early years. This may have influenced his views on everything, from genetics to evolution.

When Harvard University entomologist Edward O. Wilson first learned about evolution, he experienced, in his words, an ‘epiphany’. He describes the experience: ‘Suddenly — that is not too strong a word — I saw the world in a wholly new way … A tumbler fell somewhere in my mind, and a door opened to a new world. I was enthralled, couldn’t stop thinking about the implications evolution has … for just about everything.’

Wilson, who was raised as a southern Baptist, believes in the power of revelation. Though he drifted away from the church, he maintained his religious feeling. ‘Perhaps science is a continuation on new and better tested ground to attain the same end. If so, then, in that sense science is religion liberated and writ large.’ (Nelkin, 2001)

The Sociobiological enterprise, though, was further kicked-off by Richard Dawkins’ publication of The Selfish Gene just one year after Wilson published Sociobiology: The New Synthesis. This is when such storytelling truly got its start—and it has plagued us ever since. How ironic that the start of what I would call ‘the disciplines of storytelling’ would be started by a religious man and an atheist? The just-so storytellers are no better than any other just-so storytellers—Christians included. They have a ‘religious bent’ to their thinking, though the may vehemently deny it (in the case of Dawkins). Nelkin claims that, though Dawkins rejects a religious kind of purpose in life, “Dawkins does [find] ultimate purpose in human existence — the propagation of genes.”

Nelkin goes on to argue that Dawkins is “an extreme reductionist” and that our bodies don’t matter but what really matters is our DNA sequences—what supposedly makes us who we are. Nelkin puts Dawkins’ view simply: our bodies don’t matter (the material doesn’t matter), but our genes are immortal and what explains behavior is our selfish genes attempting to propagate by causing/influencing certain behaviors. These kinds of metaphors are pushed by geneticists, too, with their claims that DNA is ‘the book of life’. Nelkin also quotes Wilson stating that “‘you get a sense of immortality’ as genes move on to future generations. Like the sacred texts of revealed religion, the ‘evolutionary epic’ explains our place in the world, our relationships, behaviour, morality and fate. It is indeed of truly epic proportions.”

Nelkin then claims that Evolutionary Psychologists are like missionaries attempting to proselytize people from one ‘religion’ to another. They have the answer to the meaning of life—and the meaning is in your genes and to propagate your genes.

[Evolutionary Psychologists] are convinced they have insights into the human condition that must be accepted as truth. And their insights often come through revelations. Describing his conversion experience, Wilson notes that his biggest ideas happened ‘within minutes … Those moments don’t happen very often in a career, but they’re climactic and exhilarating.’ He believes he is privy to ‘new revelations of great moral importance’, that from science ‘new intimations of immortality can be drawn and a new mythos evolved’. Convinced that evolutionary explanations should prevail over all other beliefs, he seeks conversions. (Nelkin, 2001)

Conclusion

It is ironic that Williams (2000) is attempting to reconcile Christian theology with Sociobiology. The parallels between the two are strikingly evident. Christian theology is based on faith just like SB/EP just-so stories are (since there can be no independent verification for the hypothesis). Christians have missionaries who attempt to proselytize new converts and so do those who push the doctrine of SB/EP. Anyone who agrees with my doctrine is wrong; I am right. ‘Natural selection’ cannot explain the propagation of behavior today. The attempt to explain human nature through evolution and by extension natural selection was inevitable ever since Darwin formulated the theory of natural selection in the 19th century. However, if one believes in evolution then it is illogical to believe that there IS a human nature; if one is a good evolutionist then they believe that human nature is fairy tale and that our species cannot be characterized by a set of invariable traits (Hull, 1986).

How ironic it is for theists and scientists to have similar kinds of beliefs and convictions about the beliefs they hold near and dear to their hearts. The attempted synthesis of Christian theology and Sociobiology (an attempted synthesis itself) is very telling: it shows that the two groups who propagate such explanations are, in actuality, cut from the same cloth with the same kinds of beliefs—though they use different language than the other.


25 Comments

  1. dealwithit says:

    stop being a retarded faggot.

    AUTHENTIC “christianity” isn’t what you think it is.

    it’s cool to be an atheist if by “atheist” the atheist means he thinks all religions are retarded.

    it’s totally NOT cool if one means by “atheist” that he thinks that natural science can answer every question or that some religions aren’t better than others.

    the one holy catholic and apostolic church is the oldest continuously existing institution on earth, and it was founded by jewish virgin…

    why?

    the smartest man who has ever lived in terms of what he accomplished in his time and short life is a southern-ish italian…

    thomas aquinas.

    the dude was the arnold of the brain.

    Like

    • sillyolyou says:

      “it’s totally NOT cool if one means by “atheist” that he thinks that natural science can answer every question” – RR doesn’t believe this.

      Like

    • dealwithit says:

      religion interpreted at the highest level of abstraction is no different from philosophy.

      but philosophy is too hard for semites and most europeans.

      A. christianity doesn’t make any science claims.

      B. the ultimate explanation for why things are as they are and not another way must be a just so story.

      C. rr is making a category mistake confusing religion with natsci and confusing the method of natsci with the only means of knowing or explaining anything./

      richard dawkins and daniel dennett are 11 year old girls.

      dumb 11 year old girls.

      so are protestants.

      Like

  2. dealwithit says:

    Christian theology is based on faith…

    only a retard would say such a thing.

    faith in what rr?

    faith in the way the world is?

    why is it as it is and not another way?

    you’re 31 years old and think like an 11 year old girl.

    rr is confusing his picture of reality with reality.

    he is confusing epistme with ontos.

    rr sees a picture on a wall and thinks, “that’s reality!”

    he never axes his-self whose wall it is, let alone whose picture.

    once again rr proves that he is NOT italian.

    he is some mixed race POS who wishes he was italian.

    Like

  3. dealwithit says:

    ἐπιστήμη — what i know or what i imagine i might know by the means of knowing i have defined for myself

    ontos — what is, whether i know it or can know it given the limits i have imposed on me by nature and by my model of my own mind

    to assume that these two are identical is pure autistic faggotry.

    There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
    Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

    what is truth? what is it really? why is “the truth” what it is and not something else?

    only autistic faggots believe in truth.

    the rest believe in facts, but…

    Those who idolize “facts” never notice that their idols only shine in a borrowed light.

    you’re not trying hard enough paisan.

    EPSTEIN DIDN’T KILL HIMSELF.

    Like

    • King meLo says:

      Yup. RR likes to mistake the map for the territory. That’s why he’s a degenerate who supports dualism

      But also Aquinas was gay as fuck, and so are his dick riding apologists.

      Epstein didn’t kill himself, that’s as obvious as russiagate.

      Like

    • dealwithit says:

      religion interpreted at the highest level of abstraction is no different from philosophy.

      but philosophy is too hard for semites and most europeans.

      A. christianity doesn’t make any science claims.

      B. the ultimate explanation for why things are as they are and not another way must be a just so story.

      C. rr is making a category mistake confusing religion with natsci and confusing the method of natsci with the only means of knowing or explaining anything.

      richard dawkins and daniel dennett are 11 year old girls.

      dumb 11 year old girls.

      so are protestants.

      Like

    • King meLo says:

      Look at you, saying smart things.

      Never thought I’d see the day.

      Like

    • RaceRealist says:

      A. christianity doesn’t make any science claims.

      The conception of Christianity pushed by Williams does.

      B. the ultimate explanation for why things are as they are and not another way must be a just so story.

      A just-so story is an ad hoc hypothesis.

      rr is making a category mistake confusing religion with natsci and confusing the method of natsci with the only means of knowing or explaining anything.

      What makes you believe that I subscribe to scientism?

      Like

    • dealwithit says:

      i repeat myself.

      here three atheists discuss why atheism is retarded and gay.

      the marx moment and the heidegger moment are moments in the weltgeist’s coming to know itself.

      why do you KNOW that the death of your family members and your own death is only apparent?

      why?

      one reason is you KNOW that right and wrong are categories of REALITY.

      Be of good cheer about death, and know this of a truth, that no evil can happen to a good man, either in life or after death.

      the “brute fact” is like that guy on the dance floor in the gay club scene from American Gigolo

      it’s GAY!

      Like

    • dealwithit says:

      this is what “i am the truth” means.

      despite it’s now being the largest and oldest institution on earth…

      “mere christianity” is too subtle for almost everyone.

      the brute fact vs what is good and right.

      who wins?

      Ego sum qui sum.

      Credo quia absurdum.

      paisan got derailed by the medigans.

      sad.

      Like

    • dealwithit says:

      ego sum qui sum is from exodus where the God of what is good and right speaks to moses from the burning bush saying “i am who am”.

      credo quia absurdum is from tertullian. it means, “i believe it because it is absurd.” this has two interpretations.

      a. christianity is too ridiculous to have been made up, truth is stranger than fiction, truth is stranger than fiction CAN EVER be.

      b. the idea that things REALLY are as they should be and not just a brute fact is an absurd, crazy idea for most people in this sublunary realm.

      Like

    • dealwithit says:

      “i am who am” means inter alia that what is good and right is what is REAL, despite appearances.

      AND the so-called “hard problem of consciousness” is NOT hard because consciousness, the “i am”, IS the fundamental reality.

      Like

  4. dealwithit says:

    rr will masturbate to this (from wikipedia):
    To reject the existence of brute facts is to think that everything can be explained. (“Everything can be explained” is sometimes called the principle of sufficient reason).
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brute_fact

    Hamilton identified the laws of inference modus ponens with the “law of Sufficient Reason, or of Reason and Consequent” and modus tollens with its contrapositive expression.[10]
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principle_of_sufficient_reason

    Like

  5. kn83 says:

    This is pure semantics. You failed to supply any empirical evidence against the claims of Sociobiology.

    Also, Sociobiologist/ Evo-Psych specialist ALREADY work with the assumption that there isn’t a single human nature but multiple human natures:
    http://evoandproud.blogspot.com/2011/06/human-nature-or-human-natures.html
    https://hbdchick.wordpress.com/tag/race-its-not-just-a-social-construct-anymore/

    Even with that said, human universals have been proven to exist:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_Universals

    Nature is anything that is innate or characteristic of something. Just because something changes or has in-group diversity doesn’t mean it has no nature. Your arguments are the same fallacies used by Blank-Slatists.

    Your entire anti-HBD turn is driven purely by denialism, your fear of the social implications of HBD and relativism.

    “since there can be no independent verification for the hypothesis”

    This bullshit argument is the same one used by Creationist to dismiss the very idea of Evolution in general (despite mountains of empirical evidence).

    Like

    • sillyolyou says:

      “This is pure semantics. You failed to supply any empirical evidence against the claims of Sociobiology.” – no need, there’s no empirical evidence for sociobiology.

      Sociobiologist/ Evo-Psych specialist ALREADY work with the assumption that there isn’t a single human nature but multiple human natures: – the concept of human nature is incoherent. See Hull

      Even with that said, human universals have been proven to exist:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_Universals

      Species-typical behaviors aren’t evidence for design.

      Nature is anything that is innate or characteristic of something. Just because something changes or has in-group diversity doesn’t mean it has no nature. Your arguments are the same fallacies used by Blank-Slatists.

      Innateness is incoherent – https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1929-03074-001

      Your entire anti-HBD turn is driven purely by denialism, your fear of the social implications of HBD and relativism.

      No, RR still has basically the same social views.

      This bullshit argument is the same one used by Creationist to dismiss the very idea of Evolution in general (despite mountains of empirical evidence).

      There is mountains of evidence for common descent http://www.talkorigins.org/pdf/comdesc.pdf

      Not so for evolutionary psychology

      Like

    • RaceRealist says:

      Kn83,

      Also, Sociobiologist/ Evo-Psych specialist ALREADY work with the assumption that there isn’t a single human nature but multiple human natures

      One person said this. If Evolutionary Psychologists/Sociobiologists already “work with the assumption that there isn’t a single human nature but multiple human natures” then you can surely point me to more references from the aforementioned people.

      Even with that said, human universals have been proven to exist:

      Therefore… EP claims are true and not just-so stories?

      Nature is anything that is innate or characteristic of something. Just because something changes or has in-group diversity doesn’t mean it has no nature.

      What do you mean by “innate”?

      Your arguments are the same fallacies used by Blank-Slatists.

      Here’s a challenge for you that I’ve been asking people who use the term “Blank Slatist” for over a year to answer:

      (1) Name three “Blank Slatists.”
      (2) Quote them “blank slating.”
      (3) Explain how the quotes imply “blank slatism.”

      Your entire anti-HBD turn is driven purely by denialism, your fear of the social implications of HBD and relativism.

      My “denialism” is backed by sound argumentation. The social implications of believing something that isn’t true and then applying policy derived from what isn’t true would lead to undesirable occurrences, no? So if something is false and people discuss it as if it’s true and further discuss policy implications that supposedly follow from what is false then yea i would have a fear of “social implications of HBD.” Surely the same things were said to phrenology-denialists back in the 18th and 19th century.

      This bullshit argument is the same one used by Creationist to dismiss the very idea of Evolution in general (despite mountains of empirical evidence).

      If it’s bullshit, here’s another challenge for you.

      (1) Name an EP hypothesis.
      (2) Describe a prediction the hypothesis makes.
      (3) Explain how the prediction follows from the hypothesis.

      Like

    • RaceRealist says:

      Silly,

      No, RR still has basically the same social views.

      Correct. But I’m talking about the application of HBD to policy decisions in America—no matter if I would agree with the policy or not we shouldn’t direct policy based on pseudoscience.

      Like

    • sillyolyou says:

      Fair enough – insofar as people think that policy should be based on science (that’s a big debate in philosophy of science), then surely we shouldn’t base policies on bad science (e.g. the psuedoscience of evolutionary psychology)

      Like

  6. dealwithit says:

    faire enough — rr is a bodybuilder an dpersonal trainer and sillyolyou is a transsexual.

    INSTANT GULAG!

    Like

  7. Rotofolio says:

    I like how Hull’s argument is inadvertently, an appeal to race realism, unless he was talking about sex differences but EP already does those. Mental disorders perhaps? But EP looks at those already. I suppose he could have been talking about each individual person but I think you’d need to prove that humans are so radically different, at the individual level, that we have nothing in common that could hope to meet the standards of human nature (and EP talks about personality differences and the like already). Doubt you’d succeed but whatever. So, yeah, it’s an inadvertent appeal for EP to be open to the concept of race realism, or otherwise I have no idea what Hull means. Which is weird because I swear sociobiology was bashed for buying into race realism (maybe I am misremembering). Catch-22 really.

    “There is mountains of evidence for common descent http://www.talkorigins.org/pdf/comdesc.pdf

    Not so for evolutionary psychology”

    However this would still fall to the issue of underdetermination – since we cannot know what the past was like, we cannot, so the argument goes, claim any trait moved to fixation for a particular reason. This is the same argument made against EP, that we can never know why a trait evolved and thus it’s story-telling all the way down. I haven’t seem any proof that evolutionary theory is not underdetermined (as all scientific theories are) so the objection to EP applies to evolutionary theory. So the acceptance of evolutionary theory but dismissal of EP just strikes me as bizarre. This is especially strange since people will accept that the brain evolved and that the mind is even effected by the brain, they just say it’s all unknowable after that.

    Indeed the whole thing is a bit weird because, as I understand it, science is an inherently probabilistic exercise and the truth of the predictions never, ever, in any way, shape or form, confirms the truth of the hypotheses – the article sillyolyou links even notes that science is based on probabilities as well. Unfortunately people never go into detail on this for me. So we end up doing away with everything bar philosophy and mathematics (like there’s a difference). Oh well.

    I appreciate that extreme scepticism about anything is a valid philosophical position (though I always wonder how it’s adherents are even still alive) but I think demolishing all of science so you can bring down EP is a bit extreme. It’s like the Samson option but for philosophy nerds.

    Like

    • dealwithit says:

      I appreciate that extreme scepticism about anything is a valid philosophical position (though I always wonder how it’s adherents are even still alive)

      there’s a very easy aufhebung for non-retarded people.

      what is called “real” or “really real” is just whatever threatens or might threaten my continued and comfortable existence in this sublunary realm.

      MAN IS THE MEASURE OF ALL THINGS.

      REALITY IS GAY.

      Like

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