Evolution in modern humans

“What do you mean with the word ‘development’?”

I mean a better term than “evolution” for describing societal change-over-time. It involves direction, aim, purpose, meaning, goal, intention, and importantly, responsibility, which are all at a discount in the “evolutionary” paradigm.

You said “evolution” had a “simple definition”. Ok, please provide this simple definition of “evolution.” Then at least we’ll be able to see what you mean.

I’ll go after you re: defining “development”, since you raised the topic of “modern human societies”, but seem to have only meant the mere physical-biological-natural change in people. Your question thus reveals highly suspect social thinking that in my experience no Abrahamic monotheist should adopt.

If it’s a lesson for a biologist about “societies”, then please say what you’re learning, as it’s hard to tell so far. You’re now aware, at least, that they’re not called “Human Evolution Goals”. But you haven’t given a SINGLE reason why the UN chose NOT to use “evolution”. Can you come up with anything, Kai, or is your “modern human societies” talk of “evolution” just biological bloat? I believe you will quit trying when you realize that the language of biology is largely irrelevant for discussing modern societal change. And then that you’ll revert to speaking loosely about “evolving societies” solely because of your own biologism, not because of good reasoning or having done any sociological reading.

I’ve spoken with many biologists who frankly have none or almost NO CLUE about ideology. They get no training about it and thus usually have little discernment about ideas outside of natural science. PhDs naive about humanity and human society sometimes dominate biology departments. Some biologists are sincerely open to learning, while others are so excessively proud of what they “know” about the biosphere that they simply won’t allow any “lessons” from a social scientist about what they think they know. What kind of a biologist are you, Kai? Are you a willing learner or simply stuck promoting biologism about society?

What is most surprising, it that the biologists I’ve met nevertheless ALWAYS advertise their ideologies rather quickly when discussing topics OUTSIDE of biology. It’s sadly rather widespread and chronic, these ideological biologists who honestly to themselves believe they have no ideologies. It’s a HUGE biologistic irony for these folks!! Have you not experienced this, Kai?

“in every epoch, naturalism presents itself as if it were the result of human progress” - Mariano Artigas

Can you imagine it, Kai, some people think “naturalism” isn’t an ideology?! :laughing:

“Evolutionary theory” is of almost NO HELP for understanding the changes in modern societies. What would it take for you to accept this, Kai? There’s a HUGE matching problem, as Subrena Smith showed. Let’s finally stop trying to force the concept of “evolution” into fields outside of biology & other natural sciences, shall we? Thankfully, @Sy_Garte would agree.

As long as the evolution of the genetically very hard wired human brain and its complexity at the heart of human behaviour including morality and therefore social morality is ever more taken in to account, the more emergent ‘spandrels’ of psychology and sociology are fine.

“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.”

I’ve yet to see a single soul at BioLogos make a halfway decent or anywhere near convincing argument that eVopsych 1) doesn’t suffer from the “matching problem”, which pretty much makes it invalid, and 2) isn’t a field led by 99% atheists and agnostics, many of whom use “evolutionary religious studies” as their basis for both accepting eVopsych and rejecting Abrahamic monotheism.

Have you seen it yet, Mitchell? If so, please provide the link to it. I haven’t seen anything constructive about eVopsych at BioLogos yet, and have been paying close attention. Justin Barrett has not been convincing, and he’s all BioLogos has in this area. What have you seen valuable from BioLogos about “evolutionary psychology”, Mitchell? Please be forthcoming so we can assess your analysis. Let’s start with that to see if you’re informed or uninformed.

You call eVopsych a “worthwhile field of study”. ROTFL! Please point to the best example of an eVopsych paper that you consider “valuable” and “worthwhile”. I doubt you’ll come up with anything specific. Indeed, I doubt you’ve read almost ANY eVopsych, and that you’re just “expecting” or opining from a distance that “evolution” SHOULD be applied in “psychology”, is it not true Mitchell?

“The difference is the accumulation of evidence.”

Uh, yeah. And there are also different types of evidence and different ways to analyse evidence. There is no lack of evidence about how modern societies are NOT “evolving”, but rather “developing” with intention. What would it take for you to see this? We can look at societal development together, Kai, instead of making insinuations about how much biology has to teach sociology.

“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.”

You appear unable to grasp the power of ideas. “Naturalism” is NOT “the work of science”. Where did you learn such nonsense as that, so that we can work to remove it from the guilty teachers?

“Accusing any science of ‘ideological naturalism’…”

No, please pay closer attention, as that was not proposed or “accused”. Not all science done is done based on ideology, and not all natural sciences require ideological naturalism. This might seem difficult for you to parse, since you’re likely trained as a “naturalist”, both professionally and ideologically. That’s what is taught, after all, in biology classrooms! One must be free though, surely you must admit, Mitchell, to “accuse” ideology of being ideological. Do you actually disagree?

It may be that you simply don’t believe there are ANY ideologies, as this is a position that some biologists, untrained in ideology, hold. Thus, naturalism CANNOT be an ideology by definition, because some biologists have declared “there are no ideologies” and “biology cannot become ideologically corrupt”.

The most difficult part for the natural scientist is often simply that they may indeed have fallen prey to ideology that compromises their “objectivity”, yet without even realizing it! Biologists simply don’t know when they transition into ideologues, most of the time. It’s a typical blind spot of the discipline. Natural science and ideological naturalism are two separate yet overlapping concepts, and many natural scientists cannot make a coherent and worthy argument against ideological naturalism. Can you, Mitchell?

“which leaves any legitimate claim to science in ashes”

No, you mistake my claim, as I’m not taking things as far as your caricature. Science of many varieties is valuable and legitimate within limited domains. Too easily “science” nowadays is exaggerated beyond its proper domain, thereby becoming empty of meaning and illegitimate. People calling themselves “scientists” yet untrained in philosophy, however, often don’t like to think about the illegitimacy of their ideologies, which they masquerade as “strictly science.” This is why BioLogos rejects ideological scientism, even while some of its representatives promote scientism in their embrace of ideological evolutionism (which they of course deny, under the general umbrella of “theistic evolutionism”).

“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.”

Well Britannica, I disagree that naturalism is a “theory”. To me it is an ideology as that makes the most sense of how it is used both sociologically and philosophically. Otherwise, it looks like a philosophistic “fun house” right now in N. America about “evolution” and I have no idea what you call your “philosophy”, if you think “naturalism” is (only) a (mere) philosophy.

“to accuse science itself of excessive naturalism is a nonsensical absurdity”

Yes, and I would never do that. At least be fair in what you are accusing someone of, ok?

You may be aware that “science” isn’t a person, Mitchell, and only persons hold ideologies. Were you aware of that? “Science” itself thus can’t “be ideological”, any more than it can be “happy” or “sad”. Scientists, however, can be ideological, happy or sad. Do you acknowledge and accept this distinction?

I’m trying to help you see your ideological evolutionism can be either 1) shrunk considerably, or 2) overcome entirely. Do you think it’s possible, Mitchell?

What has Abrahamic monotheism got to do with the human brain? And theism and gnosticism? Apart from being products of it? And what has the classic probability “matching problem” to do with the evolution of the human mind?

What is ideological about nature? And why is it so funny?

Thanks for trying to explain. A better term. Ok, lets assume so. I get the impression that you are speaking of a term that includes a wide range of processes and mechanisms leading to societal change-over-time. I assume that these include both inherited (non-genetical inheritance) and other changes. Did I get it right?

Your mentioned purpose, goal and responsibility. Does this mean neutral observation of the purpose, goal and responsibility of those studied, or does it include some sort of idealism, like expectations that people and societies should behave in a certain way or they are somehow ‘inferior’?

Evolution is a change in the heritable characteristics of a population (group, society or anything like that) over successive generations. In a broad sense, this does include non-genetical inheritance.

Please note that I have nothing against sociology and I do not think that biology as a branch of science is somehow superior to sociology. My questions aim to better understanding. ‘Development’ is a word that could be used in many ways so it is not self-evident what you mean with the word.

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I feel like I am talking to a creationist arguing that evolution isn’t true because nobody has convinced them of this, while declaring that anyone supporting evolution is an atheist. LOL This shifting the burden of proof onto everyone who disagrees with them is SO typical! I don’t don’t see why I should care about any matching problem, let alone accept your assertion this has ANYTHING to do with the value of evolutionary psychology. I see no evidence of your claim that 99% are atheists or agnostics. I look for a list of famous evolutionary psychologists and I read about one theist after another. But of course, since they disagree with you about the value of evolutionary psychology, they must be atheists according to you.

Nope. Instead I have seen evolutionary psychologists like Jordan Peterson using it to argue for the value of Christian religion.

I have no need whatsoever to overcome my understanding of the value of the theory of evolution since this is the only reason I find Christianity worthy of any consideration. And no I do not think it is possible for you “help” me overcome this.

I’m trying to help you see your that your ideological hostility to evolutionary psychology and evolutionary theory in general is quite unreasonable.

I took a look at the article of Justin Weinberg and my criticism is that this argument for a matching problem suffers a common problem with many philosophical arguments of confusing words and language with reality itself. All this babble about having to be the same “kind” sounds totally ridiculous to me. I also do not see the relevance of all this talk of “mental structures” which I would assume to be linguistic and conceptual, immediately granting these have nothing whatsoever to do with evolution. I object that human behavior is not exclusively a function of such “mental structures” but also have to do with brain functions which are clearly biological and have everything to do with evolution.

The whole thing, sounds to me, a bit like arguing against anti-depressants because that is chemistry rather than the mind …which is an overly simplistic and ideological approach to psychology. As much as I would abhor the reduction of psychology to chemistry and biology – requiring it to be completely divorced from chemistry and biology is just as unreasonable and absurd.


Discussions on biological evolution and the dynamics and structures (political and cultural) of human communities are extremely difficult to conduct in a rigorous manner, as a great deal of subjective beliefs are inevitable in these activities, whereas scientific theories may be subjected, to various degrees, to tests and analysis.

An additional complication, as far as I can observe, stems from taking areas that are of interest, and ignoring important contextual aspects. An example that comes to mind is that of Kierkegaard’s philosophy, which is solidly grounded in his religion. I am by no means schooled in his philosophy, but having read some of his material, I am convinced of his deeply held religious beliefs, which he equated with his self and life (we may say embodied).

Yet I have come across some material on the web in which atheists have gladly secularised his writings and then used them within an atheist’s setting.

For example, freedom of choice, or freedom of the will, potentially means that a person is free to choose for themselves whom they will be. From this he discusses Adam and Eve and sin. I cannot see how atheists can get past this! furthermore, Kierkegaard’s stages on life’s journey include a kind of increasing awareness where the self experiences an “inward deepening” of increasing spiritual (and psychological) awareness, which leads to the ethical, and of a truer self. But this has its limits as we are both finite and sinful.

I have considered human freedom and societal interactions and have realised that any biological theories cannot enable a deeper understanding of what it is to become a truer self, nor that the complexities and difficulties we have faced historically to be made more comprehensible from our biological insights.

My point, if I can make it, is that religion that makes us increasingly aware of sin and the need for salvation in Christ through faith and grace, are central to humanity finding a way out of destruction, evil and death. Those who feel they can remove these aspects from writing such as Kierkegaard’s (and Patristic writings) and rely on scientific, psychological, and social theories, would be greatly mistaken.

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Nothing to see, except that the use of the word evolving with respect to societies have nothing to do with mechanism of change in genetic material, and it is your prickly reaction to this use of the word which looks excessively ideological to me.

Looking for the laws of nature which explain things certainly is the work of science. Ignoring my explanations of my own words to wordsnatch isn’t helping anything, nor are the rants you begin based on doing this.

Communication is difficult when you ignore what I say. Looking for the laws of nature which explain things is the work of science. But the idea that an ideology or philosophy of naturalism (which equates reality itself to these laws of nature discovered by science) can somehow poison science is just plain incoherent.

ah… maybe… what you can complain about is confusing the philosophical position of naturalism with science. They are indeed not the same thing at all.

Huh? what does a training in philosophy have to do with being a scientist? …oh I see… you have created confusion with your un-called for challenge to actually being a scientist… and perhaps you just need to work on that sentence a little.

For example… Richard Dawkins is clearly a scientist. But… not only is he lacking of training in philosophy but he has put up his opinions in the field of philosophy with the implications that they are somehow scientific – which, of course, they are not. And thus we can challenge the validity of calling himself a scientist in that particular work of philosophical opinion. Is that kind of what you are getting at?

What is sin? What awareness does religion give of it that anyone needs? How does sin, whatever it is, stop us being saved, whatever that is. From what? And how do faith, whatever that is, in what, and grace, whatever that is and whose, find us a way out of destruction, evil and death? How is being rational, open, honest, walking naked, admitting our weakness and ignorance and yet being Rogerianly positive whilst tending toward justice inferior to those stories? Mistaken?

You forgot to mention death in your rhetorical flourish. :laughing:

If I can make sense of this, it would be that anyone who seeks and finds what is good in life and considers her neighbor with charity and good will would be ok.

I was trying to point out that excluding a religious life and outlook from the writings of people such as Kierkegaard, are missing a lot of what he is presenting.

Oh death! See emphasis above. Why wouldn’t those who don’t be OK? Kierkegaard presents nothing more than the leap of faith out of the absurd meaninglessness of existence. If I’m going to leap it’s for faith in the most competent God. I’m in free fall until I die. One thing’s for sure. I won’t be disappointed.

Competence, faith, saving from destruction and death, these are all revealed in Christ. The growth in Christ like attributes by those who live by faith takes us out of the absurd meaningless existence. Again, to mention Kierkegaard (hopefully for the last time) the writings that I have read show a man who provides us with additional insights that enable us to better understand ourselves (and others) within the context of the Gospel and the persons we wish to become (our true self).

On death, I meant to indicate that Christ came to bring us life and with joy and hope, in spite of the difficulties that we face each day (a way of life and wrt death, faith in the risen Christ).

I hope this ends this conversation.

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That’s entirely up to yo @GJDS, just when we’re getting somewhere. What Christ and Kierkegaard faltering with privilege in His steps revealed is living faithfully according to all others being worthy inversely to their power. I read an account recently of Kierkegaard being horrified at a state church service where the powerful nodded to the beatitude of the blessed poor, as if in regret that they couldn’t partake of that blessed state for which they were responsible. I think the irony angered, depressed and hysterically amused him. It does me. Like William Wilberforce, Kierkegaard was nonetheless deeply conservative. His greatest contribution is existentialism not by name, in that the subjective is real. It takes phenomenology and Karl Rogers to make use of that constructively. If real, Jesus is transcendent icing on that cake. If not, then He’s still the first and best deist humanist.

The problem is the non-apostolic arrogance of Christianity claiming to have something superior everyone else needs whilst not being able to point to it.

“any biological theories cannot enable a deeper understanding of what it is to become a truer self, nor that the complexities and difficulties we have faced historically to be made more comprehensible from our biological insights.”

Yes, agreed.

“taking areas that are of interest, and ignoring important contextual aspects”

This does often cause complications.

“Those who feel they can remove these aspects from writing such as Kierkegaard’s (and Patristic writings) and rely on scientific, psychological, and social theories, would be greatly mistaken.”

I believe you are quite right about that.

A solid book to explore this is a comparison of four existentialists: Dosteoevsky, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche & Kafka by William Hubben (1952). Kierkegaard is the closest to the Orthodox, without being Orthodox; a Lutheran who refused the last rites of an “institutional” priest; a “profoundly Lutheran” anti-Lutheran. His books in the Dewey decimal classification system sit right beside Russian philosophy.

Reading Kierkegaard and asking questions that he did “strictly scientifically” would be a waste of time. It does not seem the humanities and social sciences are what BioLogos was designed to explore, though, do you agree @GJDS? Thus, the (sometimes very large) gap here in understanding (or even being able to engage) those fields is understandable.

“having read some of his material, I am convinced of his deeply held religious beliefs”

Yes, it’s the opposite conviction one gets when reading the materials of evolutionary psychologists. The first question is simply: who here has actually tried it? It seems this is a gap at BioLogos, perhaps so not among the commenters?

p.s. as per below, I wouldn’t say the same of Jordan Peterson at this point, as what you say about Kierkegaard, regarding “deeply held religious beliefs”, sadly.

“I see no evidence of your claim that 99% are atheists or agnostics. I look for a list of famous evolutionary psychologists and I read about one theist after another.”

I believe you are mistaken, Mitchell. Perhaps it’s because you haven’t done enough research and reading, or discussing this topic yet with other people? Or would you claim some level of subject matter expertise about eVopsych?

Which “list of famous evolutionary psychologists” that shows “one theist after another”? This would be very helpful to see at BioLogos. Please do show this list you say you consulted.

Let me give an example of one of the folks promoting evolutionary psychology, evolutionary anthropology & evolutionary religious studies, each so clearly (at least possibly!) misnamed, as Subrena Smith so capably showed.

“Now, if you are an atheist like myself (but not a neo-atheist!), let’s agree that gods don’t exist. How could the belief in them spread? Well, once large-scale societies appeared, for reasons I have dwelt upon elsewhere, a problem arouse. Cooperation requires trust, but how could you trust people whom you didn’t know, and never heard about? You couldn’t trust just any stranger. On the other hand, if the stranger sincerely believed in Big Gods, she wouldn’t cheat you, because she didn’t want to burn in Gehenna for an eternity, for example. Or be reincarnated as an earthworm. So groups, in which the belief in moralistic, all-knowing punishers became rooted, would be much more cooperative than the atheistic ones. Whereas people behaved prosocially in small-scale societies in which they were watched by acquaintances and neighbors, in large-scale anonymous societies they had to be good because they were watched by gods.” Peter Turchin From Big Gods to the Big Brother - Peter Turchin

It seems that you’re not an atheist, Mitchell. Hence the question arises: do you actually endorse and support this kind of “evolutionary religious studies” and “evolutionary anthropology”? Are you just neutral about it, or just wish to protect its “right to exist”, without endorsing it? Or do you directly and intentionally oppose it, just as the spreading of heresies is taught as something to oppose, intentionally by believers?

If the issue here is just that you’re soft on heresies, then that’s probably enough to be known by readers.

“I’m trying to help you see your that your ideological hostility to evolutionary psychology and evolutionary theory in general is quite unreasonable.”

Sorry, but I don’t acknowledge your authority as a mere “scientist” to say that, while at the same time you are scrubbing the floor with your ideologies right in front of us (and perhaps think it’s not visible?). It is entirely untrue to suggest I am “hostile”, yet indeed I am calmly and patiently focused on what is indeed a reasonable and logical conclusion to draw: “evolution is over-extended” in the Academy and society today.

“I have no need whatsoever to overcome my understanding of the value of the theory of evolution since this is the only reason I find Christianity worthy of any consideration. And no I do not think it is possible for you ‘help’ me overcome this.”

Yup, you’ve expressed this perception of yours before. Well, if it “can’t be helped”, then that’s that. Peace of the day to you!

“Instead I have seen evolutionary psychologists like Jordan Peterson using it to argue for the value of Christian religion”

First, no, Jordan Peterson is not an “evolutionary psychologist.” He’s a clinical psychologist. You likely know also that he’s not / doesn’t call himself a Christian; perhaps a kind of “generic theist”. True, he does accept evolutionary biology, like most normal people, but he’s in conflict with eVopsych in several important ways. I’ve started working on this topic re: Peterson’s relationship with evolution, which he calls a “killer theory”, for discussion in another venue. But go ahead here with another thread, @mitchellmckain, if you think JBP is a good supporter and representative of eVopsych and quote directly from him please (e.g. Intro & first chapter to his 12 Rules, or scattered through Maps of Meaning), instead of paraphrasing his words, as many of his sycophants get Peterson wrong because they don’t listen or think carefully.

Second, what does “argue[ing] for the value of Christian religion” using “evolutionary psychology” mean to you, Mitchell? Just trying to understand your motivation & perception here.

Again, for the record, I am not a “creationist”, Mitchell’s suggestiveness aside. From my shoes, it does not seem like Mitchell has done the research needed to speak with confidence about eVopsych, so should practise more humility at this point. He likewise seems unaware of the threat “evolutionary religious studies” poses to both monotheistic Abrahamic religion and theology, the way people communicate and live it nowadays.

What about those of us that are fully aware of it and shrug? What does it have to do with God in Christ?

Apologetics? Please clarify what “it” signifies that you twice ask about?

Your last sentence.

How can I be mistaken about what I see or do not see? I see no evidence that 99% of evolutionary psychologists are atheists or agnostics, and this is probably because you haven’t presented any such evidence. LOL

Sorry, but I don’t acknowledge your authority to require us to accept your word that 99% of evolutionary psychologists are atheists or agnostics. I cannot even imagine where you think such an authority should come from. I am clearly NOT a “mere scientist,” but science doesn’t operate on authority but on evidence, as a scientist I certainly demand to see the evidence of a claim like this. All I could do was google “famous evolutionary psychologists” and I reported what I saw. I do not claim that what I saw proves anything. But it does suggest that you should provide evidence before you can reasonably expect us to accept YOUR claim.

Furthermore, I find it bizarre that you think someone needs some kind of authority in order to say something. Sound to me like you don’t want to hear anything except your own words. And this is another way in which you sound like a creationist. This and elsewhere is not to say you ARE a creationist, but only that you use the same sort of unreasonable tactics. Demanding that everyone else prove you are wrong! Sorry… but… NOTHING of the sort is required for people to disagree with you no matter how many times they say it. Proof and evidence is only required if we expect you to agree with us. And I think we left behind all possibilities of that expectation, along with any expectation that creationists (and other who care nothing about evidence) would agree with us either. The burden of proof is on those who expect us to agree with them. We have seen no evidence from you and thus no reason for a reasonable expectation that we should agree with your claims. But as for what you choose to believe… by all means, you can go on your merry way with whatever you have chosen to believe.

I do not believe that religion (let alone any search for heresies) has any place in any science. I am not an atheist, but neither am I hostile to atheism. I will even defend it, not only as a rational alternative, but as quite possibly God’s new chosen people in the modern world doing what right for its own sake rather than trying curry favor, thus showing they have the law of God written on their hearts. Though, I will definitely take issue with them on a few things where I think they have taken an irrational position.

It is one thing to think Christianity is basically correct about how things are and quite another to think that Christianity is the only rational way of thinking. I think it is the first of these which makes one Christian and being Christian does not require the latter.

The point was that Jordan Peterson has presented results from evolutionary psychology that does not jibe with many aspects of the anti-religious culture and defended the value of religion including Christianity. And no he isn’t the typical Christian any more than I am… I certainly don’t see him defending the defining beliefs of Christianity as I have. …on the other hand, he has conducted quite a few Bible studies – which I haven’t done.

from Wikipedia

In a 2017 interview, Peterson was asked if he was a Christian; he responded, “I suppose the most straight-forward answer to that is yes.”

I don’t know how he defines that label in order to say yes. As for me, I go by the earliest creed of Nicea 325AD as the definition, and thus judge I fit the label. Furthermore I find my religious beliefs to be within the Bible and the worldwide spectrum of Christianity.

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