March 15, 2005 | David F. Coppedge

Will Darwinian Law Protect the Unfit?

For the soccer moms, sports fans and teen girls with cell phones glued to their ears who think Darwinism is just an egghead scientific thing, a press release from Vanderbilt University connects evolutionary ideas to legal policies that could affect individual finances, private property rights, political correctness, social conventions, use of resources and public safety.
    Scholars from Vanderbilt and Yale argue that understanding the biological foundation of human behavior (i.e., human evolution) is critical to improving laws, yet they seem a tinge apologetic about past abuses.  Owen Jones and Timothy Goldsmith, publishing in the March issue of the Columbia Law Review, deny that “acknowledging biological causes of behavior somehow denigrates human free will or minimizes the importance of social and cultural conditions,” the article states.  Jones and Goldsmith also assure readers that proper understanding of biological causes can prevent misunderstandings and fear in the public mind:

“It may follow from demonstrably false dichotomies, such as ‘nature versus nurture,’ taking misleading hold in the public mind,” he [Jones] said.  “It may also follow from a variety of misunderstandings about how genes, environments and evolutionary processes interact with implications for behavior.  And it certainly has something to do with fears about what the political implications – for racism, sexism, genetic determinism and other evils – might be, based on the use or misuse of biological information.”   (Emphasis added in all quotes.)

Apparently the authors refer to the old Social Darwinism that simply ranked people as fit or unfit.  The new “evolutionary analysis in law” (a term coined by Jones in 1995), however, seeks only “to help inform the fields of law, economics and other social sciences with the latest scientific findings about human behavior.”  In what areas might “the biology of thinking” (e.g., behavioral biology, neurology, cognitive psychology) inform the law?  The article gives these examples:

Such an approach might enhance understanding why some penalties are more effective than others, how people make choices in areas such as environmental protection and retirement savings, and what the underlying causes of aggression are and how they help explain why young men are sometimes willing – even in the face of the severest penalties – to kill in reaction to threats to their status.

How could this evolutionary biological analysis affect lawmaking?

In the article, Jones and Goldsmith explore how an understanding of current behavioral biology research could improve the effectiveness of laws by – among other things – identifying behavior patterns that would be useful to understand when developing laws; revealing conflicts that exist between innate human behavior and public policy written to regulate that behavior; improving the cost-benefit analyses that are often used in developing laws; exposing unwarranted assumptions; assessing the effectiveness of legal strategies; and outlining deep patterns [i.e., biological patterns from evolutionary history] in the legal architecture.

The Dean of Academic Affairs at Vanderbilt is pleased that this paper, published in a prestigious journal, “indicates that the field of law and behavioral biology has momentum in legal scholarship.”  Though it is a “small but growing field,” evolutionary law will probably get a boost from this paper, and will foster “greater synthesis of life science and social science perspectives.”  Owen Jones has joint appointments in Vanderbilt’s law school and biology departments.  He founded the Society for Evolutionary Analysis in Law in 1997. 

Be afraid – be very afraid – when the Darwin Party writes the law.  Why?  Because they are biological determinists, moral relativists and elitists.  They do not believe that morals or responsibility exist except as phantom artifacts of mutations and natural selection acting over millions of years.  Jones and Goldsmith spout enough placating words to sound harmless, as if they have the best of intentions to merely prevent social evils (please define evil in evolutionary terms) like racism and sexism.  They just want to help the law be more effective, right?  But look down the road if consistent Darwinian theory were to be applied to the very areas they listed:

  • Effective penalties:  effective for whom?  The communists were experts in the development of “effective” penalties.  If the penal code becomes oriented for effectiveness instead of justice, be very, very afraid, because effectiveness becomes defined in terms of the goals of the ones in power, rather in terms of intrinsic right or wrong, justice, and mercy.  Such terms are undefined in the Darwin Dictionary.  Brainwashing and psychology can be very “effective.”  And what is a penalty, if not a deserved punishment for a sin?  It becomes a tool in the hands of a Pavlov, a force an elitist wields to elicit the response he wants from the human dog.  One of the scariest parts of the novel 1984 by George Orwell was when the inquisitor was able to get Winston, under torture, to lie about how many fingers he was holding up: and not just to lie, but to believe the lie.  Truth became whatever the powermonger wanted it to be.  By contrast, American law and English common law were built on the assumptions of natural rights from our Creator, and the existence of truth and absolute moral standards derived from the Judeo-Christian scriptures.
  • Environmental protection:  It is undeniable that evolutionary biologists, who are 100% Democrats (see 12/02/2004 entry), tend to view man as the villain in the ecology.  People will get the shaft in evolutionary law if the Elite Oligarchy, based on input from the Darwin Party soothsayers, determines that a certain gnat needs protection.
  • Retirement savings:  Here, the Darwinists view human vagaries between the desire for immediate gratification vs. long term planning as evolutionary artifacts of ape in our ancestry.  Since people are unwitting subjects of the evolutionary forces of the jungle, they cannot be expected to make sound choices on their own; they need the Elitists to help them.  And you thought that evolutionary theory had nothing to do with the current debate over Social Security.
  • Causes of aggression:  Carl Sagan used to talk about human tendencies toward aggression and territoriality as stemming from the “reptilian” part of our brain, another throwback to Haeckel’s recapitulation theory (see 03/08/2005 entry).  Darwinists cannot fathom a concept such as righteous anger or an axis of evil because these moral judgments are disallowed from “biological thinking” by definition.  Aggression is just a biological observation with no moral overtones, no different than a dog barking or a lizard hissing when threatened.  Humans are incapable of having moral motivations for aggression or for resistance to aggression, because such categories do not exist.  What happens in this line of reasoning?  It’s all about power, not about right and wrong.  The Darwinian Soothsayers tell the Elitist Oligarchy how mysterious Charlie Forces can help them win in the international pecking order, and what drugs to give the aggressive inmate to calm him down so that he is easier to control.  Being in control – that is the new righteousness.  It separates the elitists from the pawns.
  • Murder:  To a Darwinist, young men full of testosterone and ape in their brains are incapable of thinking rationally or make responsible choices.  So on the one hand, we cannot penalize them when they do what their biology makes them do (see 03/08/2005 entry again), and on the other hand, for the convenience of society, it might become necessary to sedate troublemakers to keep them compliant. 

Owen Jones looks like a gentleman in his suit and tie, a calm and erudite man of peace, but his ideas are deadly and fallacious: fallacious, because if he just looked in the mirror he would see biology so complex just in his eyes that defy evolutionary explanation; deadly, because it is the utter absence of moral categories that makes “Evolutionary Analysis in Law” a prospect more fearful than communist psychopolitics.  Such beliefs feed right into an elitist mindset.

If Jones were right that we were just evolutionary products from an animal past, we would have to live with that eventuality and make the best of it.  But he isn’t right and he could not be right.  For proof he isn’t right, look at nearly five years of reporting from of the scientific literature right here in these pages – there is hardly any category of evidence, from fossils to genes, that does not challenge evolutionary theory at every level.  And he could not be right, because his arguments are self-refuting.  If mind and intellect are products of mutations acting on molecules, then truth and values have no ultimate validity.  It is therefore disingenuous for Jones to use words with moral connotations (like evil, false, misleading, misuse, improve, effective) or even to make truth claims about what exists.  He cannot escape the Judeo-Christian assumptions that we live in a rational universe, and that as souls possessing the divine image, we can make use of universal laws of logic to discuss issues on an intellectual and moral level.  Even evolutionists act as if truth matters and has eternal validity, external to our transient biology; otherwise, they could not even claim evolution is true.
    Does a creation basis rule out all behavioral study and consideration of human biological influences when devising law?  Of course not; if God created man as an eternal soul inhabiting an animal-like body, coexisting with other animals in the same world, it is to be expected that we will share certain behavioral attributes with animals, such as fight vs. flight responses (notice how adrenaline kicks in), imitation, fear, mob psychology, authority and submission, sexual and food desires, and other behaviors influenced by hormones and other biological factors.  Evolutionary reductionism focuses on the biology but ignores the reality of the soul, which is able to make a man or woman subjugate the biological urges and contemplate truth, good, beauty, purpose and destiny.  Humans are unique among physical inhabitants of earth: we communicate in language, we think abstract thoughts, we exercise true altruism (see 03/16/2005 entry), we use logic, and we contemplate our place in the grand scheme of things.  These distinctively human activities are all mediated through and modulated by our bodily faculties.
    Creation-based law can and should take biological influences under consideration; Solomon, for example, remarked that no one despises a thief who steals bread because he is hungry.  But only humans make laws, and most laws presuppose that the moral categories of right and wrong are self-existent, not biologically determined.  “We hold these truths to be self-evident,” the American founders wrote, “that all men are created equal, and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”  And to the protection of these rights they pledged their biology, their retirement savings, and (something evolutionists cannot fathom) their sacred honor.

Jones and Goldsmith would probably denounce, in the most vociferous terms, any association with Nazi and Stalinist ideologies or the nightmare scenarios of 1984.  But where is any essential difference in foundational concepts?  The worst mass murderers of the 20th century believed that the law needed to be informed not by absolute standards of right and wrong, but by evolutionary thinking.  These modern intellectuals, looking innocent in their academic gowns, might want to distance themselves from the atrocities committed under those regimes, but since the evolutionary assumptions are the same, they must be held accountable to what new horrors would follow from application of their misguided counsel.
    The law needs evolution like a shopping mall needs a terrorist.  Before the bloodbaths of communism and Nazism stained the 20th century as the worst mass-murder period in history, Christian scholar J. Gresham Machen warned of the deadly fallout of bad ideas, and advised thinking men of their priorities: “What is today a matter of academic speculation begins tomorrow to move armies and pull down empires,” he said.  “In that second stage, it has gone too far to be combatted; the time to stop it was when it was still a matter of impassionate debate” (Christianity and Culture, 1912, italics added).

To make an effective impassioned debate against evolutionary lawyers, one must be informed and skilled in strategic argumentation.  Sadly, many well-meaning creationists enter the fray naked and unarmed in both knowledge and tactics.  Evolutionists dismiss religious based arguments out of hand; such approaches put them into patronizing mode.  They need to be knocked off their paper ivory towers.  Challenge them, instead, with the scientific fallacies evolutionary theory and the logical fallacies of evolutionary philosophy: i.e., don’t let them make truth claims or give advice inconsistent with their own assumptions, or let them get away with borrowing Judeo-Christian values and terms.  Challenge also their attempts to exempt themselves from the consequences of their own worldview.  They are not allowed to act as intellectuals detached from the rest of the pawns of evolutionary forces.  Such tactics trip them up in their own nets, turn their bluffing arguments into hot air, and make them fall on their own sword.  Learn the art and science of intellectual engagement: master the Baloney Detector and keep up to date on the news right here.

If you want to take part in the most impassioned debate of our time – if you want a cause worth fighting for – now, before the armies march, before the empires are pulled down, is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their worldview.  Let Creation-Evolution Headlines be part of your daily basic training, and help recruit others.

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Categories: Politics and Ethics

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