Evolution in modern humans

Regarding this:

“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.”

Klax asks:

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

Oh, that’s interesting. So, you think that you’re aware of the threat ERS poses to people who believe in and accept monotheistic Abrahamic religion and theology? It would be helpful then if you could articulate your awareness of this here, preferably in a new thread that you start. I haven’t seen this awareness from you yet, and it might be quite helpful to hear this from you, Klax, in case you really are “fully aware”, which I highly doubt.

ERS is one of the leading anti-Christian sub-disciplines in the Academy today. It has “to do with God in Christ” because it lowers peoples’ propensity to believe in Them. ERS essentially says: “Your religion is man-made, not divinely inspired. Your religion is ‘strictly natural’, so don’t worry about it.” Put that on a bus and you’ve got a Richard Dawkins campaign. Is that what you support, Klax, really? I don’t think so. But why would anyone need to depend on “evolutionary science” for that? A lot of them do so depend.

As I don’t know you from Adam, Klax, it’s hard to interpret what you’re saying. The “shrug” may be just apathy, or more likely a lack of awareness and proper positioning to be able to make a difference. A “real American hero” of the 21st century, LOL! So, you shrug about views that claim “religion is natural, not God-given” as if it’s unimportant when it’s actually quite impactful on a mass human-social scale.

Simply put, “human society” is not your field of professional or personal study, so you shrug? Do I understand you correctly, Klax? And then perhaps you call that “theistic evolution” or “evolutionary creation” too, letting all the ERS proponents off with a completely “free pass!” at BioLogos.

Forgive me for saying, Klax, but that appears to be a very strange tactically standoffish strategy! :relaxed:

I am not so certain that there is a single “BioLogos” position.

Biological evolution applies specifically to the change in populations of organisms over time. Because “evolution” is such a broad concept, in some ways it is challenging to put limits on it. I doubt that anyone who would reasonably qualify as TE or EC would have any problem affirming that biological evolution has its limits in explanatory power, although probably most would affirm that it is likely to have some relevance to anything involving humans.

A major problem is that the opponents of TE/EC do not generally seem interested in conversation, and rely heavily on god of the gap errors to promote their position, rather than accurately presenting the range of views. Certainly, there are examples of more or less TE exaggerating the role and impact of evolution as well.

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Hi Mitchell,

I’d like to try to play fair on this topic, if you’re willing. I’m wary that your “evolutionary Christianity” won’t allow you to see what is actually true on this topic. But I’m willing to try to raise your awareness from it’s current state.

You wrote:

  1. "I look for a list of famous evolutionary psychologists and I read about one theist after another .”

  2. “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.”

To be fair, more “could” have been done on your part than just using google → Wikipedia, with the term “famous”. Do you disagree?

“How can I be mistaken about what I see or do not see?”

You are mistaken about what you believe to be true that is not true. You said, “I read about one theist after another” working today actively in the sub-field called “evolutionary psychology”. But that simply isn’t true, is it Mitchell? If it were true, you’d be able to line them up alongside of Justin Barrett, who is an anomaly on the topic.

What would it take for you to accept that eVopsych is dominated by atheists and agnostics, perhaps more than any other subfield in the contemporary academy (comparable with “evolutionary religious studies”)? As for me, I haven’t yet seen a social survey of evolutionary psychologists, so that’s the evidence that’s lacking that you seem to require in order to believe. Do I understand you correctly that this is your demand? Otherwise, it’s actually not that hard to read the ideological and worldview commitments of evolutionary psychologists in their writings, in the majority of cases. Doing the reading will provide you with awareness about “evolutionary psychology” that you currently do not seem to have.

“I cannot even imagine where you think such an authority should come from.”

From a knowledge hierarchy? More specifically in this case, from sociology, which studies people and groups, the proper field for this inquiry. From insights gained and knowledge produced in the sub-field sociology of science, which studies (among other things) the worldviews of scientists and scholars themselves. I hope that helps your imagination, since this is not a new topic for some people, though it may seem surprising to you.

It doesn’t look like you’re actually claiming anything to do with content produced by “famous evolutionary psychologists” (just to suppose that they’re “famous”). It looks like you’re just retelling what is available on a Wikipedia page. The numbers beside names that you quoted above come from that Wiki page, is it right?

This should then help provide some balance for you, coming from the same trust-level source: Criticism of evolutionary psychology - Wikipedia

“Seventh in the list is David Buller who Gregory would like because he has written a critique of evolutionary psychology. Clearly he is not an atheist and Gregory’s claim is now a solid failure… so maybe Gregory was just exaggerating.”

Buller’s worldview is not known to me. My hunch is that he’s an atheist or agnostic. He’s one of those who “critique Evolutionary Psychology”, while promoting “evolutionary psychology”. His promotion of eVopsych seems to be of the Australian Indigenous “white man know no dreaming” variety that one finds a LOT of in western psychology, sociology, anthropology & cultural studies departments nowadays.

Note that critiquing eVopsych can be done by atheists & agnostics also. Mary Midgley was stellar at this! One just finds the gap rather large where it doesn’t make sense to easily embrace a “sub-discipline” / ideology that from its foundation calls into question the very “divinity” on which their worldview is based. That’s kinda nonsensical as a matching problem for evangelicals, isn’t it, Mitchell? It’s hard to see how you could avoid this. In short, why embrace “evolutionary psychology” when it is quite obviously in the vast majority atheism- & agnosticism-oriented and dominated, which tries to “naturalize religion”?

Sorry, but you’re incorrect. Darwin said he wasn’t an atheist, and it’s a stretch to call him a “psychologist”.

There are 61 names on the Wikipedia page Mitchell linked to. I’m willing to stand by the # of 97% to adjust for Barrett. Would that be enough for Mitchell to come up with another name? He would in that case need to bring to the table some content himself – a name, and some texts they’ve written – instead of depending on others to do it for him.

This shouldn’t be too hard, after he reported:

I read about one theist after another

Really or is that a fake claim? So, then who are these “one theist after another” supposedly evolutionary psychologists, Mitchell McCain? This is me calling out your bluff, ready to be surprised by what you find.

“I can certainly see why atheists would be particularly interested in such a field”.

Why not expand on this? It might offer something constructive to the conversation that hasn’t been present so far with “evolution” still over-determined in your scientific mind.

“I am not so certain that there is a single “BioLogos” position.”

Yes, agreed

“I doubt that anyone who would reasonably qualify as TE or EC would have any problem affirming that biological evolution has its limits in explanatory power”

Frankly, David, with all good intention expected on your part, I’ve NEVER seen it done reasonably by a TE or EC. Could you please show me examples where you believe it has been done in print? From what I saw, Perspectives on an Evolving Creation by Miller et al. didn’t succeed at doing that. Do you disagree?

“A major problem is that the opponents of TE/EC do not generally seem interested in conversation”

Well, I am a multi-years consistent opponent of TEism/ECism and I’m open to conversation without “god of the gaps” interfering. Gracefully, politely opposing TEism/ECism. Surely you know that it’s not a level playing field with moderation here, David. If another venue were suggested, I would be interested in a conversation there also, though not at “Peaceful Science(tism)”. Do you have any suggestions?

“Certainly, there are examples of more or less TE exaggerating the role and impact of evolution as well.”

Yes, I’m ready and willing to discuss those examples with you for the greater good.

Granted, it’s been a decade or two since I read that book, but I think I remember its broad strokes, and I personally know the editor, Keith Miller. He / they would not have claimed any sort of monopolistic hegemony on behalf of biological evolution to explain everything. They have always (and continue to be) in the business of helping people see that science is not equipped to become some ‘one-and-only’ tool for the entire human project. That said, they have also been cheerleaders for science as being the best tool we have for developing our understandings of how the physical world works. In that regard they are not in the habit of trying to forecast in advance any artificial limits about where all the empirical sciences might bear fruit in our empirical and social realities. Such crystal ball ‘failure’ on their part might be distressing to you, Gregory; but forays of evolutionary language and/or actual concept into broader areas of research and discourse probably have the expected mixed track records of yeilding successful insight in some areas, and no doubt less success and even failure in others. Each endeavor will stand or fall to its own master. It’s unfair to think that any singular author or proponent will have such advance messianic foresight as to protectively fence in whatever territories you think ought to be some sacred preserve. I, for one, rather lean toward Maxwell’s credo of sorts, that there should be no field of inquiry left unplowed, no sacred turf not turned up finally for examination under such lights as we can bring to bear. What has the honest Christian to fear, after all? That we might discover our understandings are incomplete, or even wrong about something? Shouldn’t that be an opportunity of growth?


“science as being the best tool we have for developing our understandings of how the physical world works.”

No, not “distressing”, Merv. I’m just a lot more balanced and diverse than you are, since you have demonstrated inability to think socially, while being a “(natural) science teacher”. It’s not that surprising, at the end of the day. It’s just not a limitation I’m willing to accept, when observing the broader picture.

The “physical world” you speak of is not the “only world” that can be studied by “science.” In that, it’s quite clear you are mistaken, Merv.

“no doubt less success and even failure in others.”

The “no doubt” seems to signify that you don’t know because you haven’t looked. Instead, Merv, I’ve looked at the failures to learn from. Won’t you try it?

“What has the honest Christian to fear, after all?”

Apparently, anti-theistic evolutionism and anti-evolutionary creationism. But no honest Christian should really fear that conversation, should they, Merv?

As I said Gregory, what does it have to do with God in Christ? What is anti-Christian about nature? About reality? Religion is a human, anthropological, emergent, social, culture defining construct. Religions are the largest, most enduring artefacts humanity has produced. They outlast yet preserve, and transcend languages despite being inextricably rooted in them. Unless there were a major development in the evolution of the human brain, we’re stuck with it. (Roman and Orthodox Catholic) Christianity, Islam, Hinduism are with us until the next age age at least. As for emergent postmodern Christianity, it can only benefit from scientific study of the development of religion in cultures and individuals. And reactionary Christianity is thriving in those who deny reason. So what’s the problem?

Sorry, Klax, you misunderstand my views of “nature”. Nature is not “anti-Christian”. Reality is not “anti-Christian”. Huh?!

Evolutionary religious studies mocks “God in Christ”, naturalizes it, makes it a “delusion”, as if “on a scientific basis”. That’s the Conclusion of the Entry of ERS into the Academy. Hello?

Do you have any idea why this article was retracted? https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-1043-4

I don’t need to look, because I’m already aware that science consists of mostly failure and very small part then - of the finally celebrated successes.

That’s right! And here you are … carrying on that conversation right here on our unlevel playing field! We won’t apologize for trying to stay biased towards honest weights and measures - honest assessments of what others have or haven’t said. We tend towards wanting to hold each other accountable that way - and let reality reveal whatever inclines that come into view.

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I don’t need to look, because I’m already aware that science consists of mostly failure and very small part then - the finally celebrated successes.

That’s right! And here you are … carrying on that conversation right here on our unlevel playing field! We won’t apologize for trying to stay biased towards honest weights and measures - honest assessments of what others have or haven’t said. We tend towards wanting to hold each other accountable that way - and let reality reveal whatever inclines that come into view.

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I think you have too little knowledge about what I believe to make that claim. I think you make up too many things, like when you claim I said ANYTHING about people "working today actively in the sub-field called evolutionary psychology.

What I believe is that personal beliefs are irrelevant to scientific investigations. And thus your attacks on science based on the personal beliefs of the scientists don’t make any sense at all.

Yes and I already explained this in my posts above and you just have to read it.

I think the principle problem here is that we are talking past each other because you are obsessed with “eVopsych” naming atheist rhetoric on the origin of religion, while I have been talking about the science of evolutionary psychology, which has been discovering aspects of our evolved brain function which plays important roles in human psychology.

It is one of the most important lessons in the history of the relationship between science and religion that people in religion understand and acknowledge the value of work in science rather than clinging so possessively to an imagined authority from their religion. Otherwise, the objections look like little more than whining about scientists asking questions which those in religion don’t want them asking.

What would it take for you to accept that evolutionary psychology does have things contribute to our understanding of human beings?

To be fair, you should be the one to provide evidence to back up your own claims. And no – a compromise doesn’t do it. The point was that no matter how superficial my investigation was, we can see good reason to demand that you produce evidence for the claim you made. Let’s remember that I wasn’t the one making a claim either way, just investigating your claim to see if there was anything to it. Perhaps the solution, considering your continued failure to produce any evidence, is a more vague claim like “the vast majority of evolutionary psychologists are atheist or agnostic.” Then from what I see, the Wikipedia list can even be considered rough evidence… though someone still needs to finish the job I started, going through the names on the list and finding out if any can be identified as atheist or otherwise.

How do I misunderstand that you find evolution, i.e. reality, nature at least as far back as abiogenesis, anti-Christian? Unless you’re fully rationally OK with it and I’ve misunderstood that plain truth.

And I’m not spending $8.99 to find out, so do tell.

Sorry Merv, but if you really were honest, you’d look at the Literature and discuss it directly, instead of just trying to shame and throw shade on almost everything I write here.

That would be the best way to go about this, which is why I keep asking for names & articles from you, not opinions about nothing specific, as you’re wont to do on this topic.

Again, this is not a high school classroom in which you’re teaching about “science & faith”. We are adults here. I’ve been working on this at the PhD level and have published multiple articles, which you’ve never allowed yourselves to discuss here. So, Merv, you throwing shade on facts doesn’t sway me at all, since I am confident that the evidence and the people doing the relevant studies are what and who I’m validating in what I write here.

If you’d looked more closely at ERS, Merv, then you’d have some actual awareness to share about it, instead of just opinions at a distance. When you do finally look more closely at ERS and eVopsych, please return to the conversation in humility with questions and ideas to explore, instead of claims and statements. Thanks.

Dunno. I just told you that’s not my view. Yours is a mind I wouldn’t claim to understand, Klax.

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What’s that got to do with answering the question?

By the way, I can easily come up with a range of perfectly rational, natural explanations for the gospels and Acts with nothing but goodwill to all concerned, ranging from Jesus being as real as can be shorn of the miraculous to Him being mythical as can be. So what? How does that endanger the proposition that He’s the real deal? God incarnate. It doesn’t matter either way does it? We can’t possibly know and He’s still worth having for His radical, inclusive, aspiration for the peaceful outcome of social equality, for being in our consciousness as a higher power for personal accountability and therapy and the only possibility of transcendence.

What’s the problem?

[Oooh, so you’re fine with evolution! Great. So what’s your problem? And where did you tell me in the… gallop?]

That’s pretty rich, Gregory … you accusing me (or anyone here) of being the ones “throwing shade.”

Nope. I’ve already taken all the time I intend to even making this much exchange, because I think I’m fairly inoculated to your baiting tactics by now.


You live in the USA, is that correct? It’s one of the most unequal nation-states on the planet. How do you square that with your seemingly evangelical buffet recommendation? To me, it’s fugazi advice.

I see ERS & eVopsych as direct weapons against belief that “He’s still worth having”. That should give at least a few people here pause to consider what ERS & eVopsych are, for those learning or still unaware. Education is a good thing here, Klax.

I live 200 m from the most culturally diverse street in the UK. Please feel free to educate me as to the anti-intellectual dangers of ERS & eVopsych. I’m modernist and scientismic enough to know that the more we can find out from the evolution of humans the better for our psychology on out, and I’m glad you are too.

So what’s the problem?

I’m a poor man, Merv, to your worldly richness.

Between us, it’s one side doing actual research, offering names, articles, and arguments, while the other side denies there’s “anything there”. It’s the classic finger in the ears tactic on your part, Merv, that shouldn’t have to be called out. The Literature is available, if you’d only read it.

Simply put, it would be better if you didn’t speak on things you have little to no training on. ERS & eVopsych are dangerous, Merv. That’s said as someone who’s looked at them closely, not from a distance, or barely touched them, as you appear to be currently.

Sorry, but you having no awareness of this topic doesn’t change the facts on the ground. It’s a telling sign that I’m the one being “scientific” and “dispassionate” here, while you’re accusing me of “baiting”, while revealing ideology from a position of moderator power.

There are limits to evolutionary thinking and dangers to ideology, Merv. You just seem not to have recognized them yet.

Sorry, got you confused with Mitchell, who bleeds good ole red, white & blue across the ocean from you. The topic of “evolution” is WAY down the list of interesting topics involving “modern humans” when addressed by scholars in social sciences and humanities, for good reasons. Wrong time scale, obviously right off the bat. Theology also, though that “discipline” might be hard to find these days in the UK. :face_with_monocle:

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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