Evolutionists Tell Us What Nature Intended
Can nature intend anything? A true materialist lacks access to the concept of purpose and intentionality. Whatever is, is. Nevertheless, some staunch evolutionists avail themselves of the purpose-driven life by telling us what evolution intended.
Meredith Small tells us on Live Science, for instance, that nature did not intend single parents. Having become one herself recently, she can vouch for the fact that single parenting is hard. She used the subject to tell us that evolution intended for us to be social, cooperative creatures. She got this inspiration not just from experience but from reading a book by evolutionist Sarah Hrdy, entitled Mothers and Others; The Evolutionary Origins of Mutual Understanding.
The idea that we need each other goes against what has become the accepted theory about the evolution of behavior. For decades, evolutionary biologists have claimed that all organisms are basically selfish. The game of reproductive success, they have explained over and over, is won by those who are successful at passing their genes on to the next generation. As such, every animal, including humans, should be self-centered. At the most basic, the biologists say, our selfish genes compel us to stay alive, find the best mates, and have the most babies, and to always think of ourselves before others.
Hrdy, a staunch evolutionist, is the first to admit that this now traditional view of individual behavior is ready for revision. The new view, she and others claim, must include the fact that cooperation, not just competition and selfishness, is also part of our nature.
Her thesis is simple: We are social animals that need each others [sic] to survive, and so humans are born with the ability to understand how others feel (empathy), and to aid others, even if we don’t share genes in common.
Ms Small visualized ancient ancestors needing one another to share in the caring for needy babies and small children. Everyone in the tribe participated in caretaking as well as getting food. This helped the tribe survive. It did more than that: it instilled her with a sense of purpose in life:
Given this history, my life as a single mother is at odds with how I, and my child, are designed to operate. I am supposed to have a band of others to help out, and my child is supposed to be caught by that net of friends and kin.
With this in mind, I’ve decided to act on Hrdy’s advice next time I am pressed, and I do know several friends, good humans all, who are clearly willing to give their time and services to co-parent with me when I need it. And this deal will work, because they know I, too, am the kind of good human who will respond and take care of their kids when they need help as well.
Can Ms Small act with free will on an evolutionary instinct? She did not explore that question. She also left it unstated whether evolution had endowed Sarah Hrdy with the ability to divine an unseen history and to give advice. Maybe it was really another trick of the selfish genes to fool them both.
Another book on the subject of life history on human evolution was reviewed on Forbes.com by Harvey Mansfield, but with less alacrity. Mansfield, a professor of government at Harvard and a distinguished research fellow at the Hoover Institution, took evolutionary anthropologist Richard G. Bribiescas to task for contradictions in his book Men: Evolutionary and Life History. Bribiescas, like Hrdy, explains human nature with reference to our evolutionary life history. The first contradiction was one Bribiescas ignored: the opinion of cultural anthropologists that culture, not biology, makes men different from women. “The charm of his book,” Mansfield smirked, “is that he utterly ignores the opinion, or prejudice, against it [i.e., biological determinism] and proceeds as if all he has to do is explain, and you will agree.”
In describing another contradiction, Mansfield became downright sarcastic against the presumptuousness of evolutionists like Bribiescas who glibly adjust their explanations to dodge falsification:
The science in question here is the current version of Darwin’s evolutionary theory. That theory says that human beings (for the book title speaks of men, not males) are dominated in their lives by the need to get their genes into the next generation. If you can do this, you have “survived,” even if or despite the fact that you die.
The difference between survival as staying alive and as reproducing–not one’s self but one’s genes–is a theme of Bribeiscas’s book. It leads him to introduce the recent theory of “life history” into evolutionary theory so as to elaborate on the trade-offs, throughout human life, between expending energy to stay alive vs. devoting it to reproduction. Those trade-offs have a kind of rationality enabling the twin goals to be satisfied even though they are at odds. This addition, one might say, is an adaptive mutation intended to maintain Darwinian theory against one of the many threats to its survival arising from its environment of inconvenient facts.
After showing evolutionary theory to be a late-comer to already known facts about men and women, Mansfield criticized the author’s philosophy of science. “Like many scientists,” he said, “Bribiescas lives under the yoke of a crude positivism which denies that scientific fact has any ethical implications.” Saying something doesn’t make it so. Bribiescas may claim that evolutionary theory supports no moral stance, “But of course it does. The trouble is not that Darwinian theory has no implications, but that it contradicts itself with two opposing implications.” If passing on one’s genes is the purpose of a man’s life, he would not devote himself to science. Mansfield has caught Bribiescas in a contradiction: he’s fighting his own evolutionary history:
Yet as a scientist, a human male would have quite an opposite duty. A man of science does not take the view of his own sex but rises above it to consider the views of both sexes. He would be devoted to science, not to his own private genes. He would not favor his own child at any cost but would support other children if they showed better promise of becoming future scientists–future Darwinians….
Evolutionary theory is at odds with itself: It cannot accept that man is a special being, raised above all others in evolutionary history, and it cannot deny that only man is capable of science, which allows him to transcend his animal selfishness.
Mansfield made a key disclaimer in his last sentence. “In closing, I note that I have made no reference to religion but only brought out the inner contradiction of Darwinism.”
Mansfield has shown the way to confront the dogmatic Darwinists. No appeals to religion are necessary to confront Charles the Dictator who ruined science. All that is necessary to unravel his false clothing is to pull on the thread of logical consistency. Once exposed as self-contradictory, Darwinism is finished: nothing that is self-contradictory can possibly be true. You can see both Hrdy and Bribiescas guilty. Both said that our human nature is determined by our evolutionary life history, but then both appealed to higher, nobler motives, namely, science – the desire to pursue understanding. One can only watch self-proclaimed sharpshooters shooting their own feet for so long before deciding to find people who know how to shoot straight.