Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Evolutionary Psychology


Evolutionary Psychology takes its roots from Darwinism, combining psychology and evolution to form a basis that psychology, or the function of the mind, is directly related to the function of the brain. In-other-words, that the way we have learned to process and think has developed evolutionally as our brains have developed physically. Our minds evolved along with our brains.
The basic problem with this can instantly be seen. It means that what we think, as a part of natural selection, is the best of us, or at the least the best of our evolved thinking.  Because natural selection does not allow weaker traits to pass along genetically, then according to Evolutionary Psychology, our thinking should also eliminate lesser or undesirable traits in the psyche as well.

This can be seen in the Evolutionary Psychologist’s attempts to explain erratic and sometimes criminal behavior. How else could abhorrent behaviors be explained by the psychologist?  If the brain has evolved, eliminating less desirable traits, how then can psychosis still exist? While at the same time as sad as it is ironic, one such debate revolved around the subject of rape. The authors of a book on Evolutionary Psychology speculated that rape is not a pathology, biologically speaking. [1]  They contended that rape was a biological desire for reproduction, and if consent was not granted, rape was a product of the desire for this biological function. Because natural selection had not eliminated the act, it must not be a weaker or undesirable trait.[2]  The authors called rape, “a natural, biological phenomenon that is a product of the human evolutionary heritage, akin to a leopards spots of a giraffes elongated neck.”[3] This horrible example of Evolutionary Psychology is to ethics an anathema. As eminent (infamous, more likely) philosopher and Darwinian champion Peter Singer writes, “(we) must face the fact that we are evolved animals and that we bear the evidence of our inheritance, not only in our anatomy and DNA, but in our behavior too.”[4] Evolutionary Psychologists are pressing hard for the thought that we are not only biologically evolved, but moralistically and ethically evolved as well. There is not room for the total depravity of man (Romans 3:23), much less the ethical depravity. Evolutionary Psychology is then a pseudoscience that allows for an anything goes society.

As for the Mind Body Problem (MBP), this concept is nebulous and abstract and rather “heady.” Nonetheless, there are parts that can be argued for or against. First, the dualist expression of a duality of soul and body is a legitimate point, scripturally and psychologically.  As Beck writes, most clinical psychologist practice a dualistic model, whether they would admit to it in professional circles or not.[5]

The ground work was done by Rene Descartes. In his work he basically came up with a theory that states (in my very down-to-earth language) that the mind and body are an integrated unit. While they are two substances, they are intertwined and affect one another. i.e. it is possible for the body to be so damaged it causes the mind to loose rational thought.  This dualist nature, often aligned with Cartesian Dualism, shows that there is a “mind”, (the old stand-by: I doubt / therefore I am.) Because we know there is a body by empirical means, the only remaining question is, does the body HAVE to have a soul? J. P. Moreland would surmise that the answer is yes. While Descartes would say the body and soul are together, but that they are aggregate. A better understanding is that the body REQUIRES a soul for life.

As for the assertion that God cannot be empirically seen, he is correct. And there is a reason for that. Faith is the foundation (hupostatsis) of things of which we are confident (elipso), the evidentiary proof of things that cannot be empirically seen. There is no need for faith if we can see God visually. But we can see the activity of God. One cannot see the wind, but the presence can be clearly seen, (leaves blowing; pressure on our neck, etc). To deny God because of a lack of empirical evidence is the essence of unbelief. However, this works toward his demise as well. You cannot disprove a negative. He cannot, prove that God is a chemical reaction, and therefore, scientifically, he cannot say definitively that there is no God. As Soren Kierkegaard wrote, “faith, when properly observed, evokes awe, not explanation.”[6]

[1] Pearcy, Nancy. Total Truth. Wheaton, Crossway Books. 2004. 210
[2] Ibid. 211
[3] Ibid. 211
[4] Singer, Peter. A Darwinian Left. New Haven. Yale Press. 2000. 6
[5] Beck , James and Bruce Demarest. The Human Person. Grand Rapids, Kregel. 2005. 178.
[6] Kierkegaard, Soren. Fear and Trembling. translated by Alister Hannay. New York, Penguine Press. 1982. 107.