March 6, 2009 | David F. Coppedge

The Evolution of Creationism and Other Intangibles

If you are a creationist, you can’t help yourself, because evolution made you that way.  It might have also made you moral and religious, especially if you are a woman.  These and other evolutionary stories are making the rounds.

  1. Evo-creationism:  New Scientist says humans may be primed to believe in creation.  Studies show that humans tend to see purpose in things.  That can only mean they evolved that tendency, said some psychologists at Boston University.  A good education can help cure them of this and show them that the world is really without purpose or design.
  2. Evo-religion:  Robert Roy Britt speculated on Live Science why more women tend to be religious than men.  Maybe evolution made males more apt to look for short-term thrills than long-term satisfaction (like heaven).  Britt did not overtly use evolution to explain this tendency, but quoted Rodney Stark, of all people, who appealed to biochemistry: “Studies of biochemistry imply that both male irreligiousness and male lawlessness are rooted in the fact that far more males than females have an underdeveloped ability to inhibit their impulses, especially those involving immediate gratification and thrills.”  Britt remarked, “Stark may have purposely overstated the case, but you get the point.”  The point seems to be that religiousness is a function of biochemistry, which is a function of biology (see 10/26/2008).
  3. Evo-morality:  Jonathan Haidt and two of his friends are evolutionizing morality again (cf. 05/17/2007).  They published another Perspective article in Science,1 entitled, “From oral to moral.”  Their idea, reporting on a paper by Chapman in the issue,2 is that morality evolved from the disgust response.  We find certain smells and sights disgusting, and transfer those responses to behaviors.  This is a little more specific than the theory of three UCSB profs reported here in 03/04/2003.  Chapman, Haidt et al suggest that responses to “violations of divinity”, such as righteous anger at profanity or blasphemy, began in the mouth, when the human animal learned unpleasant sensations during nausea, gagging, and loss of appetite.  One can only wonder how they would explain another scientist finding this thesis disgusting.

Each theory has anomalies.  A surprising anomaly appeared in Science Careers, a publication of the AAAS.  Imre Mikl�s Szil�gyi, one of the best upcoming young scientists in Hungary, is “far ahead of the average student or young researcher of his age in motivation and systematic work,” but he is a creationist.  Maybe he had a particularly beneficial mutation.  Whatever it was, he claimed it helped him become a scientist.  “My belief is very important for my career,” he said, “because this is the first thing that gives me my motivations so that I could work hard and I could achieve the best I can.”

1.  Rozin, Haidt and Fincher, “From Oral to Moral,” Science, 27 February 2009: Vol. 323. no. 5918, pp. 1179-1180, DOI: 10.1126/science.1170492.
2.  Chapman, Kim, Susskind and Anderson, “In Bad Taste: Evidence for the Oral Origins of Moral Disgust,” Science, 27 February 2009: Vol. 323. no. 5918, pp. 1222-1226, DOI: 10.1126/science.1165565.

Szilagyi, who takes the Bible literally, according to the article, feels that the “the debate over evolution, design, creation, supernatural intelligence, etc., is not a scientific question in the first place but the collision of worldviews, the confrontation of materialism and idealism.”  Evolutionists love collisions (05/13/2004, 01/26/2007).  Maybe this smashup will bring good ideas to life, like academic freedom for critics of Darwinism, and the extinction of others, like self-refuting fallacies (02/09/2009, 12/23/2008, 10/26/2008).

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Categories: Dumb Ideas

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