Evolution in modern humans

As a human, I find the combination of evolution and humans an interesting topic. Much of research on the topic inspects, or speculates about, what happened in the past. But what about evolution in modern human societies?

I have heard talks given by researchers that are studying the topic. I would like to hear your opinions about what they suggest.

150 years ago, before modern health care and birth control, most women got many children but the survival of small children varied much. Variation in the survival of children was greater than variation in the number of children. As evolution uses variation as a raw material, the survival of small children should have played a key role in evolution.

Now we have health care and most children born in rich western societies survive to adulthood. Use of birth control has dropped the average number of children but variation in the number of children is greater than variation in the number of surviving children. A growing proportion of women do not get a single child. This suggests that the number of children (getting children) now plays a more important role in evolution than the survival of children.

I have seen data that supports these claims. Assuming that these observations are correct, the direction of evolution in human societies seems to have changed during the last century.

Any opinions or comments?

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Nope, wrong term. NB: I’m a sociologist, so please don’t throw a dictionary at me in response. :relaxed:

Instead, the more deeply researched and unpretentious term, is simply “development”. Don’t let “development” get subsumed by “evolution”! Societies develop, they don’t “evolve” like turning the thinking about people over to (dirt-oriented, not people-oriented) biologists.

Human-social development is a non-evolutionary topic because choice, teleology, agency, and purpose are involved. There are different ways possible for thinking about “social change” (over time) than reverting to myopic “evolutionary” language from biologists.

Evolutionary social thinkers are almost entirely atheists & agnostics. Were you aware of this, knor Kai? The field of evolutionary religious studies is so terribly wrong, it’s not even wrong, and some protestants are heaping praise on mainly atheist views about “religion”. Would you support “evolutionary religious studies” by agnostics & atheists telling you how to think about “religion”?!

“the direction of evolution in human societies seems to have changed during the last century.”

This sentence is both empty of meaningful content & self-contradictory. Change is the master category. “Evolution” is meaningless here; wrong term. Development instead brings specificity. Likewise, “direction” = “telos” = “non-evolutionary” given the “directing” of natural history by agents.

There is some similar discussion in these older threads you might enjoy:

There are two relevant points from scientists in that latter thread:

As long as there is genetic variation and differential survival (and/or reproductive success) there will be evolution.


As long as there is genetic variation and a finite population size, there will also be evolution.

That seems plausible given reductions in child, especially during the first year of life, mortality.

Gregory and I have opposite (in some sense) approaches to this – in another sense we just draw the line in a different place. His outrage is so extreme, it is like he buys into the understanding of evolution as mechanical process and thus denies that the development of human society can be any such thing – arguing that the mechanism of evolution doesn’t describe social and cultural development very well. I, on the contrary, refute the understanding of evolution as a mechanical process to say that it is just the same essential living process of learning and development.

To be sure different information mediums are involved. For biological evolution information medium is organic chemistry – particularly DNA and RNA. For human society and culture the information medium is that of human communication – particularly language. But in both cases it is still a living process with learning, development, and an inheritance of information passed on to later generations.

What are the implications of drawing these lines in such different places? What hangs in the balance is the value of other living things other than human beings. Are they at least brethren to us in regards to our biology? And for that matter, are our bodies to be likewise despised as nothing more than material shells? I don’t this this sort of Gnostic-docetistic derision of the body and the living organisms of the world is heathy or sound.

It is enough that there is a profound difference in that we are alive in the whole different medium of human communication learning thousands of times faster and with vastly greater awareness than other living organisms and there is no need to repress the fundamental relationship of interdependence we have with other living things.

Unlike Gregory, I think you have the right idea. Evolution in modern humans is mostly not biological but social (and I would add technological). Evolution goes through different stages passing from individual to communal when the community begins protecting its weaker members. We saw this in the transition from single celled organisms to multicellular organisms and and many think something similar happened when we went from prokaryotic cells to eukaryotic cells earlier. For a long time we thought protecting the weaker members of society would inhibit evolution but I think it actually stimulates evolution by increasing the allowed diversity of individuals – we no longer have to be all Daniel Boones. Only then can we take specialized roles and develop a technological civilization.

Thanks for the comments. I missed the two earlier threads that include much interesting discussion.

The comments made me understand that my first post was unclear. The original question included in fact three different questions:

  1. do humans as a species continue to evolve? This question was discussed in the previous threads.

  2. is evolution affecting modern (human) societies? Although this is linked to the first question, it is a separate question.

  3. if evolution is shaping humans as a species and societies are changing, what is the direction of evolution - how different are the future generations and societies compared to what we see now?
    This includes the question whether the direction of evolutionary change has shifted during the last century?

Evolution cannot possibly be detected over so short a time frame of less than ten generations in a mesoscopic creature. Despite @Gregory’s denial of the fact of evolution, including of psychology, sociology and religion in the range of tens to hundreds of thousands of years, he’s therefore scientifically correct.

No, the poster used the correct term, since he or she was in fact asking about the biological evolution of modern humans.


We certainly continue to evolve. Some of that evolution is almost certainly adaptive evolution. In some places we’re probably still evolving toward better protection against infectious diseases, while in others we may well be evolving toward lower intelligence, although in this case the genetics is very mixed up with social factors so one should be wary of drawing firm conclusions. In much of the world, one trait that would be highly favored selectively is a desire to have lots of children but I don’t know of any evidence that it’s a trait with a genetic component.

Maybe. In the past, evolution has affected societies, e.g. the evolution of lactase persistence affected herding societies. But societies change much faster than humans evolve and the effects of the latter are likely small.

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“3. if evolution is shaping humans as a species and societies are changing, what is the direction of evolution - how different are the future generations and societies compared to what we see now?
This includes the question whether the direction of evolutionary change has shifted during the last century?”

Yes, this is more specific, and it helpfully distinguishes “species” from “societies”, the latter which “are changing”. We agree that societies change, that’s a good start. Is your question 3 more appropriate for a sociologist to answer, instead of a biologist or physicist, would you say Kai? Otherwise, if you’re really just asking about “biological evolution of modern humans”, to me its a much more boring and simple topic.

“what is the direction of evolution”

The “direction” part is more problematic for “evolutionary” thinking. For example, Donald Campbell’s “blind variation and selective retention” was a kind of agential smuggling into psychology. It gave up “direction” for “blindness” in society. That’s part of the mainstay of eVopsych up to the present; they just don’t know how & when to “turn evolution off” in their vocabularies! :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

Following this strain of thinking, one can go back to Robert Merton’s “The Unanticipated Consequences of Purposive Social Action” (1936).

“Evolution” continues to be the wrong term to use for societal change; it’s ineffective and distortive at what it tries to do. The conversation involving “what is the direction of evolution”, is actually instead a conversation about “human development”. That’s why they’re called “Human Development Goals” at the United Nations, rather than “human evolution goals”. Does it not make sense to speak this way, instead of adopting the “biological evolution of modern humans” conversation from BioLogos, Kai, when the topic is actually, when done properly, about “human development”, not “human evolution”?

Perhaps I’ve misunderstood your focus, Kai, as the study of biological (and surely, biologistic) sociology doesn’t interest me much. Thankful for you to address point #3.

That’s something we can agree on, Steve. :relaxed:

Sorry, it’s not the time for me to converse about this with Klax.

Just to clarify, the fields of psychology, sociology and religion obviously change-over-time. Speaking of their “evolution” reveals a “matching problem”, as Subrena Smith showed, among other problems with using it in those fields. My preference along with most colleagues in the human-social sciences, is to speak of “human development”, instead of “human evolution”. Human development is where the real action is, not some biologizing of the human-social sciences trying to promote to over-focus on “human evolution” with biological language as it’s source. Anyone aware of the 4 schools of anthropology in the English-language tradition will understand why the distinction between “biological anthropology” and “cultural anthropology” matters, and what difference it makes.

It’s nice that we agree that “evolution can’t be detected over so short a time frame”. That’s another good reason why I and many, many others in the human-social sciences choose not to use it.

There are better options, more accurate, precise, or just more suitable, than forcing “evolution” into the wrong conversation. You may not like or respect our choice, Klax, but some of us have carefully and deeply thought this through. And it makes a lot of sense to put our feet down against “evolutionary universalism” somewhere, right? More people ought to try that, even just as an experiment, around here, one might think.


Another way to form @knor’s question would be: “what is evolution in modern humans limited to?” or “what is the scope of the evolution of modern humans?” These would both allow for a much larger conversation about human development, when the topic climbs up (or down) the ladder of knowledge from biology, human physiology, and anatomy, to anthropology, sociology & psychology.

Once you say “in societies”, the topic is not biology, but rather sociology with human beings; us.

The topic of “evolution” is a rather small and insignificant one in certain fields; this should be understood from the start, or much distortion will happen to the meanings and proportions involved, and thus much confusion will likely ensue.

Indeed, it makes a lot of sense to say “the direction of development in human societies [or / direction of human development] seems to have changed during the last century”. That would enable many discussions within the human-social sciences, the proper fields, to address the topic, without succumbing to biologism or requiring the adopting of biological language or naturalistic language and ideology to discuss properly human-social topics. Do we agree on this Kai?

People inquiring about “humanity” shouldn’t rightly choose to go to biologists to talk about anything more than the biological layer of “human beings”, right? People shouldn’t look to biologists as experts to discuss sociology, psychology, or anthropology, in most cases, or at least they must be careful when doing so.

Most people I speak with about the limits of evolutionary thinking, scholars and non-scholars alike, find moderation to be a rather well-balanced approach here, rather than extremism or fetishized usage of “evolution” involving human beings on the “cultural” or “social” (non-biological) levels. Nevertheless, some dispute arises when the terms aren’t well defined, which is sadly all too often.

It’s not a matter of choice. And what’s not to like? The evolution of the ape brain to the point of intentionality in, as humans happened hundreds of thousands of years ago and may have continued if behavioural modernity emerged within the last hundred thousand, i.e. up to that point. If behavioural modernity emerged with speech only as recently as 40-50 thousand years ago, that would have been the last significant evolutionary change. I strongly suspect it’s easily older even than 80,000 years ago and twice and quadruple that and more gradual. Either side of biological evolution, the term is an analogy and I agree it’s best not used in the psychology and sociology of the past 100 thousand years, or done so in inverted commas. However the evolved biological basis of psychology and sociology including religion will have plateaued by then and must be explicated.

If we define evolution as change in the heritable characteristics over successive generations, the evolution of human societies would mean that some key behaviors within societies have a genetic basis (relatively high heritability). I am not aware of such a link between key behaviors and genes.

However, if certain behaviors lead to much higher fitness than others, I assume that such behaviors would become more common, either through genetic or non-genetic inheritance. If we include non-genetic inheritance, then changes could happen faster and could affect whole societies. Evolution of human societies would be a more probable phenomenon.

Evolution at the level of human societies assumes some form of group selection. Some societies are more successful than others and spread or send more dispersers than others.
This assumption also views societies, or certain key behaviors within societies, as something that is relatively static, in the sense that the key features do not change often.

This kind of thinking reminds me of the processes acting in metacommunity dynamics. Metacommunity is a set of local communities that are connected through flows of dispersers and matter. The key processes are local selection and dispersal, although in the long term also ecological drift and speciation affect community composition. The relative strength of local selection and dispersal determines whether community composition is mainly driven by local conditions or by what happens in the surrounding landscape.

Mixing of societies through dispersal was earlier mainly regional or national but is now increasingly global. Also the spread of ideas that could form non-genetic inheritance is much faster through media and internet. As people move more often long distances, dispersal is likely to override local selection. This leads me to the conclusion that only such inherited characteristics that are changing within most societies are likely to prevail at the local scale.

To conclude, I assume that evolution of human societies through genetic inheritance is not likely to play a key role in the short term (within a century or two). Non-genetic inheritance could play a more influential role.

Sociology and biology are two viewpoints to societal change. I think we need both.

‘Evolution’ has a simple general definition. The meaning of ‘human development’ is not obvious to me - I’m a biologist, not a sociologist, and English is a foreign language for me. What do you mean with the words ‘human development’?

You are correct, and your usage was fine. Gregory likes to police people’s use of the word evolution according to rules he made up himself that ignore the broad range of contexts in which typical English speakers use the word. Don’t second guess your English skills over this.


It’s always a welcome opportunity to give lessons to biologists about “social science” when they ask about it, since they don’t usually get much of it in their training at university. Thus, some of their amateur sociology can be quite right, while other major parts of their sociology are so bad they’re not even wrong, yet still not laughable because usually the biologist is sincere in trying to find an authentic social or cultural ground for their questions.

“I assume that evolution of human societies through genetic inheritance is not likely to play a key role in the short term (within a century or two).” – Kai

Yes, we are agreed. That’s why I used the term “development” instead. It’s a far more widely used term among scholars than “evolution” when discussing change-over-time of human societies. It’s not biology-centric or gene-centric, but rather humanity & society-centric, and sometimes just about economics. Do you wish to challenge this claim as an outsider to the human-social sciences? I was specifically intended toward “the short term (within a century or two)” when I responded to “modern societies”.

One of the reasons to reject or avoid the term “evolution” when speaking of “modern (human) societies” is due to improper (translation of) time scales. My definition of “modern societies” means “within a century or two”. Thus, to me “evolution in modern societies” is largely irrelevant, according to your nature-oriented meaning. It’s the kind of topic only a biologist or geologist would ask about, from the back of the social sciences classroom, during a brief departure from the longer “more human” conversation, which takes up the majority of community time. Do we understand each other, Kai, biologist to sociologist and back again?

“Non-genetic inheritance could play a more influential role.” – Kai

Also agreed. And not only “could”, but “does”. There’s no doubt about that. Yet “inheritance” is a low-order, marginal category in most human-social thinking. Are you aware we don’t use that biological inheritance and indirect “population” language? We use instead sociology and “community” or “group” language. Have you heard of the extended mind thesis, for example? Do you know what “grounded theory” means in the social sciences? “Genetic inheritance” in (modern) human societies thus might indeed seem to be or even be an interesting bio-social topic for some people. It just isn’t of interest for me as a sociologist exploring human development, societal change, and social movements, who steadfastly rejects calling development “evolution”.

“societies change much faster than humans evolve and the effects of the latter are likely small.” – Steve

Again, we are agreed. This is where I’d like to invite Prof. emeritus @Sy_Garte in here to clarify and specify where he draws the line in ceasing to use “evolution” outside of “strictly natural science” applications. I’m quite intrigued that he seems to be trying to do this the right way, though haven’t seen him articulate himself widely on the topic in writing. If Sy were to explain to BioLogos what he sees as unwise in using the term “evolution” outside of natural sciences, for example, in the cultural study of human societies, then perhaps some new awareness might be raised. Would you welcome Sy’s explanation of how & why he limits using the term “evolution” and “evolve” to biology and other natural-physical sciences, Kai & Steve, fellow biologists to Sy?

“the poster used the correct term, since he or she was in fact asking about the biological evolution of modern humans.” - Steve

Carry on discussing “the biological evolution of modern humans” with Kai then, and I will absent myself from that conversation, if that’s all Kai meant to inquire about. My concern instead is with claims about so-called “evolution” when it comes to “modern societies”, as that’s a field I’m trained in. My belief that it is the wrong term to use “evolution” there must be faced on sociological grounds, not on biological or linguistic (semantic) grounds. There are other more accurate terms to use to understand how, when, where, and why societies change. If you don’t want to discuss human societal change, but only animal “societal” change or plant “societal” change (or linguistic “societal” change), then please carry on with me absent also.

Kai seemed to be alluding to more than “just biology”, however, when he asked, “But what about evolution in modern human societies?”. But maybe Steve’s right, and it was just a “biological view of human society” that Kai was speaking about, and thus only a fraction of a portion of a conversation about “modern societies” that all sociologists, and other social scientists are accustomed to.

Shall we call a spade a spade and recognize that the question was biologistic in orientation and not well stated? In any case, it could both please Steve and raise immediate and easily explainable concern with me.

“Either side of biological evolution, the term is an analogy and I agree it’s best not used in the psychology and sociology of the past 100 thousand years, or done so in inverted commas.” - Klax

We are agreed in removing “evolution” when talking about “modern societies” for “the past 100 thousand years”. That would improve the conversation immensely! :hugs:

So, what is the argument then really about here? Is it about how (some/most) biologists strongly wish to have their voices heard by co-defining “modern societies” with sociologists? Or is it asking a sociologist to defer to the language of a biologist in describing “modern societies”? (Or is it for some here mainly about how a linguist can always enter a conversation with “gracious anger” and “police” peoples’ words involving biology and sociology as a form of “moderation”?)

We’ve heard talk of “evolution of modern societies” before with E.O. Wilson’s sociobiology, right? Did BioLogos like sociobiology? Probably not, but perhaps not really. Where is it’s position on sociobiology explained, one way or another?

Can we agree that “[biological e]volution in modern societies” is a marginal nature-oriented specialist topic that barely addresses the varieties of human-social change happening around us? Kai, why do you think they’re called “Human Development Goals”, instead of “Human Evolution Goals” by the United Nations? It would be VERY helpful if you would answer this question directly as a practising biologist. Would you please share your thoughts about this with us? :+1:

“Sociology and biology are two viewpoints to societal change.” – Kai

Well, they’re “fields of knowledge” or “disciplines”, at least, not just “viewpoints”, don’t you think? What is being requested of you, Kai, is to step up your game acknowledging the “edge of fields of knowledge” that you’re familiar with, educated as a biologist, which requires some philosophy of you (did you do your PhD in biology, or a master or bachelor?). Once/if this is done, then “evolution” becomes a more humble natural scientific theory (cf. fact of natural history), instead of a universalistic ideology that sucks in non-biological disciplines, like with the arrival of a Wilson, or a Wilson or a Jablonka/Lamb or a Laland or Mesoudi. Without doing that, since none of those are Christian paths, you instead to me as a sociologist sound ideological promoting “evolution of modern societies” as a biologist who doesn’t primarily study how, when, where, and why human societies change. That’s “ivory tower” distance from reality that biologists sometimes commit, unfortunately. Please be gentle in response if you find that to be an unfair characterization of this “evolution in modern humans” thread.

It’s a question of weights and measures regarding human change & who studies it primarily vs. who studies it peripherally, or as a hobby in their spare time. My suggestion is: listen to the people who study “societal change” primarily, as their main focus of work, rather than those who study it peripherally, or who just repeat pop academia on the topic, instead of showing and sharing a more informed and inquisitive understanding.

In short, my argument is that between biologists and sociologists, by “weight” and “concentration”, it is the sociologists who are the scholars trained to study, both in the field and wrestling with theories, social and societal change. Biologists largely learn about or study “human societal change” peripherally, as that is not the primary focus of their field of study, while studying “biological change” primarily. Do you disagree, Kai, Steve, or Mitchell?

It would be great if we could at least agree it is a good idea to “listen to the specialists” who primarily focus on “modern societies”, instead of the amateurs with their sometimes wild ideas, unless only “biological humans”, instead of “modern societies” is what Kai really meant to address in this thread.

p.s. Happy non-evolutionary Thanksgiving to those giving thanks today!

In response to this, I spent some time this morning looking into the differences between our cells and that of insects. It was an interesting exploration. It is currently important because it is promising utility in the manufacturing. The biggest difference talked about in this news is the tendency of insect cells to be infected by a type of virus called baculoviridae. This along with a lower metabolism can make insect cells useful for the industrial production of amino acids and mammalian proteins. But the point I am making here is that the differences are subtle ones rather than huge. All multicellular organisms have the same kind of cell called eukaryotic and the differences between all the multicellular species have to do with interactions and specializations.

What does this have to do with the topic of human evolution? I am drawing an analogy here. Just as the changes in individual cells hasn’t been the focus for the evolution of multicellular organisms in the last 3 billion years, changes in individual human beings hasn’t been the focus of the evolution of the homo sapiens species in modern human civilization. To be sure there have been subtle changes in the last couple million years, supporting the importance of language for example. And such subtle changes are enough to transform our lives radically by enabling us to take specialized roles in a community for the development of specialized skills and technology.

Nothing could be further from the truth to say that human evolution has practically halted. Quite the contrary the changes in human existence keep coming faster and faster. But it is primarily social rather than individual. If anything the condition of individual human biology has been far from promising, but we are compensating for such problems with technology. But again the analogy with the development of multicellular organisms shows that this is tried and true part of the process of evolution as our individual cells have become less and less capable of living independently as well.

I would certainly agree that we have no call to think that biology can replace sociological and psychological sciences as some recent trends might look like they are moving in that direction. I agree that this sort of reductionism is a serious mistake.

I can understand how many in the softer sciences sociology and psychology might long for the concrete solid ground of the physical sciences so they can stop blowing in the wind according to the most recent faddish paradigm. AND perhaps their investigations of the connections with biology will help them find that solid ground. But I really do not think that reducing sociology to biology is the answer in the long run.

This is a positive step forward, Mitchell.

“I would certainly agree that we have no call to think that biology can replace sociological and psychological sciences … I agree that this sort of reductionism is a serious mistake … I really do not think that reducing sociology to biology is the answer in the long run.”

We are agreed. Yes, reductionism is one of the problems with such a “replacement” approach. “Nice ‘soft’ social science can be replaced with higher value ‘hard’ natural science"; you are correct, Mitchell, that this is the attitude that actually needs replacing.

“I can understand how many in the softer sciences sociology and psychology might long for the concrete solid ground of the physical sciences so they can stop blowing in the wind according to the most recent faddish paradigm. AND perhaps their investigations of the connections with biology will help them find that solid ground."

It seems you’re misunderstanding then. Any sociologist or psychologist “longing for the concrete solid ground of the physical sciences” is just trying to turn their back on the inevitable reflexivity of the human-social sciences. Anyone seeking the “positivism” you speak of isn’t actually a very good sociologist, or a psychologist worth their salt. Collecting empirical evidence in the social sciences is also helpful, while depending on or limiting social science to empiricism is to be avoided. Do you see the difference between our ways of thinking, Mitchell, or is this a hard struggle for you?

The emotionally cold (as opposed to “soft”) sciences of the natural and physical world suffer from meaninglessness without the “soft sciences” to add meaning to them. This is a key conclusion we are required to draw from the “hard/soft” view of “sciences”. An ongoing fact/value distinction to take back to the philosophers. So, “soft sciences” are seen as “add-ons” to the “real deal”, which is curiously called “hard” sciences, while not implying “harder” or “more difficult” sciences, the sciences that study nature and the physical world. Soft(er) scholars study soft(er) sciences too, while emotionally cold people who detach themselves “objectively” from what they study, study the natural-physical world only. This seems to be required of the outdated “soft/hard” division. Not all that flattering of a division of labour requirement, it seems. Do you remember which philosopher you got that soft/hard distinction from, as if it is now some kind of “standard view” among natural scientists towards the social sciences and humanities, Mitchell?

“the most recent faddish paradigm”

The dichotomy “soft sciences vs. hard sciences” is apparently still a “faddish paradigm” held by natural scientists. Most aware and awake social scientists have advanced beyond that primitive fad already. Even natural scientists get caught up in “paradigms” too, Mitchell, and ideology is not escaped among the emotionally cold hard sciences.

“perhaps their investigations of the connections with biology will help them find that solid ground.”

Not likely. And not really wanted except for proportionally. Will you invite proportionality, Mitchell? Biologism is not proportional and not invited by this sociologist.

Biology is indeed much “softer” than geology, chemistry or physics, of course you agree also, right Mitchell? What is wise in sociology is not to “seek shelter” in biology or physical anthropology, or some other “outside” field of study, certainly not one committed to ideological naturalism. Instead, “solid ground” comes from doing good reflexive sociology with people, which involves first and foremost communications, ideas, and relationships, as much as only “physical, natural or material” resources. Turning to biology for explanations has become a trap for many sociologists, through behaviourism, sociobiology, and now evolutionary psychology, which openly embraces ideological biologism. Do you disagree with any of this, Mitchell, or is it simply not on your radar to notice one way or another?

This was the question that was asked if you agree or disagree, in line with my concern about the title and aim of this thread. To the following statement, I don’t yet see agreement from you, Mitchell:

“Biologists largely learn about or study “human societal change” peripherally, as that is not the primary focus of their field of study, while studying “biological change” primarily.”

So, then do you disagree?

Not really. The biologist can most of the time put their object of study under the microscope. And with genetics it can perhaps even be argued the biology is becoming more of a hard science than geology and physics. Few sciences have the history of their object of study written down in code for all to read. Compare that to cosmology for example. (ok… ok… not too unlike, for cosmology we have light from distant sources, and in geology we have a strata of rocks, but for biology the genetic code is in addition to the fossil record)

I do not disagree with that. I can see how it can be a trap. But just because there are traps doesn’t mean a forest should not be explored or that there is nothing of value to be found there. So I while I agree that evolutionary psychology should not replace psychology, I disagree with the claim that evolutionary psychology is not a worthwhile field of study.

The difference is the accumulation of evidence. No change of theory can make the evidence go away. So the first test of general relativity was to see if it reproduced Newtonian physics in the regime where Newtonian physics was working. Only then can we see if it also correctly predicts those things where Newtonian physics was getting it wrong.

But a science where the evidence is scarce, hard to connect with conclusions, or blurred by the blunt tool of statistics, there is no accumulation of evidence to give it any hard ground for its conclusions. Thus the newest paradigm easily rules the science. AND YES, the appeal to biology and evolution can indeed be considered such a paradigm. But I would agree with you in so far as hoping that the stumbling efforts to explore doesn’t end there.

Naturalism is the work of science – science is all about looking for the laws of nature which explains things. Accusing any science of “ideological naturalism” just looks like an excuse to employ “ideological religionism,” which leaves any legitimate claim to science in ashes.

From encyclopedia Britannica

Naturalism, in philosophy, a theory that relates scientific method to philosophy by affirming that all beings and events in the universe (whatever their inherent character may be) are natural.

This makes it clear that naturalism is all about reducing philosophy to an extension of science but to accuse science itself of excessive naturalism is a nonsensical absurdity.

Human Development Goals is a limited list of topics with a defined goal. Development is to eradicate poverty and hunger, to achieve universal primary education, to promote gender equality, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, combat disease, ensure environmental sustainability and develop a global partnership for development. A nice list, I can support these goals.

Yet, if this would be a definition of development, research on development would be a very limited branch of science and anything but neutral. I assume that your definition is a wider one.

What do you mean with the word ‘development’?

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