Theology Thursday: Evolutionary Psychology vs Christianity

I love Evolutionary Psychology. Not many people, let alone Christians, would freely admit that statement. My love for such craziness though is not because I think Evolutionary Psychology is actually true. Evolutionary Psychology reminds me that even heretics get something right.

Evolutionary Psychology is defined as the approach to understand memory, perception and language as a product of evolutionary theory.

My first real grasp about evolution and psychology was a discussion about bonobo monkeys, chimpanzees and apes sexual practices.

The issue that I find over and over again is that according to Evolutionary theory there is an internal evolutionary reason for all the various “sins” we commit. Whether it’s the reasons why men are unfaithful, why we chose our partners, our honesty or lack there of. Evolutionary Psychology has some reason from our past that helps us understand why we do what we do.

The funny thing about Christianity, is there is the fundamental idea that man has a sin nature. Why do people lie? Sin. Why do men have affairs? Sin. Why do people perform heinous acts against each other? Sin. The Christian belief about a sin nature, doesn’t say that men always sin or that men are evil to the core. The doctrine of the sin nature says that men has a propensity evil and cannot change that.

Evolutionary Psychology diverts the moral dilemmas regarding man’s propensity to evil. Evolutionary Psychologists don’t just accept that men are evil, but seeks to explain the evils of society. This runs contrary to the views that all men are good by nature and if put in the right circumstances will always chose good.

Objective Truth From Formal Logic

There is an idea that you can prove the premises of an argument by creating valid arguments whose conclusion’s are the premises of the original argument. For example, if I have a 2 premise argument with a conclusion, and I want to prove the premises, I will create two more arguments whose conclusion’s are the premises of my original argument. You can see that this becomes problematic very quickly. This method of proving leads to two things; an infinite regress of arguments (which is impossible) or a circular argument.

So what do we do? I recommend that you introduce axioms. If axioms must exist so we can prove things then certain things need to be true for anything to be true. If these truths are not objective they will not fulfill the consequent of the conditional above. Thus objective truths must exist. QED

Does the bias in science affect the results?

This week I read Kathleen Okruhlik’s article “Gender and the Biological Sciences” where she suggests that the sexist nature of science, specifically biology had epistemic consequences at one point in time. Since the hypothesis started with a sexist question, the bias would then nullify any results. However, in the quest to find biological evidence that men were more intelligent than women, we failed. So did the scientific method work? Even with the biased question, did they arrive at an objective answer by the standards of science?

Evolution and Naturalism: The Epistemic Consequences

A few weeks ago I attended a workshop that was entitled “Becoming Human: A Brief Evolutionary History of Man”. At the end of the workshop we were assigned a paper of which we had a week to complete. The paper had to be about evolution. So I asked my professor “I am a philosophy major, so can I really write ANYTHING about evolution?” When he replied in the affirmative I was excited and it got me thinking about the very problem we are to discuss in this post.

This topic has been put forth by theist and atheist philosophers alike, the idea is that if evolution and naturalism are both true then “the probability of having reliable cognitive faculties is low.”1 Alvin Plantinga, Richard Taylor, Stephen Clark, J.P. Moreland, etc. all have somewhat similar arguments, and while I could be persuaded otherwise, I don’t believe any of them are correct. Is it fair to speak of probabilities of that which you have no empirical evidence for? I would be weary of jumping on that boat too quickly since the justification of that belief doesn’t seem to strike me at face value. So I considered a more mathematical or formal approach with logic.I performed a proof by reductio ad absurdum (if anyone wants to see the formal proof in symbols let me know in the comments) and I arrived at contradictions.

We are starting by assuming evolution and naturalism are both true. From here we have only two options 1.) We either evolved the illusion of rationality or 2.) We did in fact evolve rational brains.

1.) Asserting the truth of this premise means all of logic is only an illusion. This also means that mathematical truths, logical truths, and metaphysical truths are accidental by-products of a brain that was trying to evolve with traits best fit for survival but not brains best fit for making necessary truth claims. This defeats both naturalism and evolution since they are also by-products of an irrational mind.

2.) This premise means we did, by accident, evolve an objective rationality that lets us know necessary truths, including mathematical, logical, and metaphysical truths. This means that mathematical truth claims are true. Since mathematical claims are true this means that numbers exist (this is a because you can’t make truth claims about things that do not exist 2). If numbers exist then at least one set of abstract objects exists. If at least one set of abstract objects exists then naturalism is not true.

The conclusion is, in my opinion,fairly modest. Either evolution is not the case or naturalism is not the case (or both). But neither of them, it seems, can be true at the same time. To assert the truth of both of them is to arrive at contradictions.