A fossil spirit does not exist

This month the The Complete Guide to Science and Faith: Explore the ultimate questions about life and the cosmos (Harvest House 2021) appeared. The basic theme of the manual, as described by the publisher design theorist Guillaume Dembski and Joseph holden is “Science and Christianity are often presented as opposites, when in fact the order of the universe and the complexity of life bear powerful testimony to intelligent design.”

I wrote one of the chapters, “What is Evolutionary Psychology?” “. It is the effort to understand human psychology by appealing to a (“evolutionary”) pass. As such, it explains a wide variety of human behaviors such as the unconscious implementation of a Darwinian survival scenario among humans not quite wired into modules of our brains.

So the reasons why we do things are not at all what we assume:

Evolution explains, for example, why we buy: “Pickers sifted the useful from things that offered them no food, warmth, or comfort with a skill that would ultimately lead to comfortable malls and credit cards.” Or gossip “Back then, if you didn’t care what was going on, you were more likely to die and less likely to pass on your incurable genes. Oh, and anger for trivial things once was key to our survival.

As the above examples illustrate, EP does not explain so much puzzling human behavior as it offers Darwinian fittest survival explanations for conventional behavior, which supplant the traditional ones.

For example, why are we sexually jealous (not fear of abandonment, but “sperm competition”); why we don’t stick to our goals (evolution has given us a kludge brain); why we developed music (to “spot the savannah with the little Pavarottis”); why art exists (to find this lost savannah); why many women don’t know when they ovulate (if they knew it, they would never have children); why some people rape, kill and sleep (our Stone Age ancestors passed their genes through these traits), and why big banks sometimes escape fraud (we haven’t evolved to understand what’s going on).

EP too dream count (they increase reproductive capacity), false memories (there could be a tiger in these tall grass …), menopause (men chasing younger women), monogamy (control of females or prevention of infanticides), premenstrual syndrome (breaks infertile relationships), romantic love (a “wired” reader to reproduce), rumination on hurt feelings (our brain has evolved to learn quickly from bad experiences but slowly from good ones), smiling (previously a recoil reaction), and marvel at the universe (explained by the way primitive man lived).

In this chapter, I offer many more examples of the current effort to explain aspects of human life or behavior in a narrow, “Darwinian” way. These explanations satisfy a need felt by many for a “scientific” account of their behavior. But often the science behind evo psych is nothing more than the fact that the people offering the explanation have degrees in one or another area of ​​psychology – and a knack for coming up with an idea that’s easy to market. in the popular media. The release sparked great skepticism.

Of course, we are free to accept these ad hoc evo psych explanations if they wish. Like astrology and palm reading, they make great conversation pieces, but pretending they’re “science” doesn’t make them stronger and shouldn’t give them any more credibility.

Subrena E. Smith

American philosopher Subrena E. Smith recently launched a bitter attack on evo psych. She points out that neuroscience has never identified the brain modules or systems that would allow evo psych to make sense.

Here’s the problem in a nutshell: A woman can feel irritable because of PMS Neither she nor her man feels that the relationship should end because she is infertile. Or even that she is infertile. Maybe they weren’t trying to have a child anyway. The evo psych account of his discomfort would only make sense if something other than his discomfort – a modulus or system in his brain perhaps, inherited from prehuman ancestors because it led to more fertility – explained his irritability. But no one has ever found this module or system. A more reasonable explanation for his irritability remains the conventional explanation: fluctuating hormones will.

And, in the absence of the postulated module – or of a surviving prehuman ancestor that we could study – evolutionary psychology is a subjectless discipline.

By far the biggest fish evo psych tries to fry are compassion and religion. And that’s where the wheels come off.

Next: Compassion and religion: the pop science itch you should always scratch

You can also read: The philosopher flattens evolutionary psychology. To reject evolutionary psychology is to realize that we cannot both claim to represent “Science!” and refuse to be bound by its standards.


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