June 19, 2010 | David F. Coppedge

Evolution Tries to Figure Out Dads

Why did evolution produce fathers?  After male adult humans deliver their genetic component of the zygote, what are they good for?  This is a subject in which the Darwinian and the Judeo-Christian concepts of fatherhood begin at opposite poles.  But they have to converge on the practical observations of what fathers do best when they are at their best.

  1. Speak with authority:  To an evolutionist, male traits are all about attracting a mate and fighting off rivals.  Ewen Calloway of New Scientist reported on a theory by UC Santa Barbara psychologist Aaron Sell who tried to relate a man’s voice with his upper body strength.  Why?  Sell sold the idea that voice is a signal of fitness: “You can tell a lot about a man by his handshake, but his voice may give away even more,” Calloway wrote.  “Both men and women can accurately assess a man’s upper body strength based on his voice alone, suggesting that the male voice may have evolved as an indicator of fighting ability.”  Dr. Sell recorded 200 men’s voices, and then tested their upper body strength.  Next, he had his students predict their strength based on their voices alone.  The students accurately predicted the outcomes, even though strength did not correlate with pitch or timbre.  The article showed a photo of a man lifting weights.
        The missing ingredient in the Darwinian angle was whether the men with better upper body strength had more sons, who also retained the trait and remained fitter in their populations.  Keeping the trait going would also presuppose that women are more attracted to men with more upper body strength.  Yet it seems questionable whether males are being selected for marriage on that basis alone, at least in modern society.  If the Darwinians reply that the preference is a holdover from some evolutionary past, when the voice-to-upper-body-strength correlation mattered (e.g., when fighting off rivals in the cave signaled better chance for bearing live young), how long is the lag time before natural selection catches up with current selection pressures?
        Exceptions outnumber rules in many studies like this.  Charlemagne was a valiant warrior and fathered four sons, but was said to have a wimpy, high-pitched voice.  Perhaps we can all think of exceptions the other way, too: men with macho-sounding voices (some bass-baritones, radio announcers) who are not exactly images of physical fitness.  It is not clear that the fittest men always have the most kids, too; if the trait is sex-linked, they would have to be sons.  There seems to be a lot of leeway for just-so explanations of any observation found.  Maybe there is some correlation between a man’s larynx and his pectorals, but it is not clear Dr. Sell has done a good Darwinian job in establishing a correlation between male vocalizations and fecundity.
        A Bible theologian would look to the design in a man’s body as part of the package that the Creator pronounced good – good for the purposes He had in mind.  Those purposes could include, but are not restricted to, signaling to women, children and other men that here is a man with strength and authority, worthy of dignity and respect.
  2. Protect the weak:  It is no secret that the decline of fatherhood presence in poor families, particularly American black families, has become a social crisis.  An article in Science Daily this week reinforces the value of fathers for protection and nurturing of young children.  “Studies have shown fathers who are active in their children’s upbringing can significantly benefit their children’s early development, academic achievement and well being,” the article began.  “Now, a new study by University of South Florida researchers suggests that a father’s involvement before his child is born may play an important role in preventing death during the first year of life – particularly if the infant is black.”
        Although this article did not discuss evolutionary theory, the implication is clear that male involvement in human offspring must involve more than passing on genes.  Evolutionists and theists will have vastly different perspectives on how the need for fatherly involvement arose, but no one can doubt, given the societal cost of fatherless homes on children, that governments need to promote two-parent families on strictly pragmatic and economic grounds alone, if not on moral and charitable grounds.  Who could not be moved with compassion at Dr. Amina Alio’s concluding remark, “When fathers are involved, children thrive in school and in their development.  So, it should be no surprise that when fathers are present in the lives of pregnant mothers, babies fare much better.”
  3. Fulfill your destiny:  Men may suppress it, but they can get really torn up inside by feelings of inadequacy, failure, purposelessness, aimlessness, and loneliness.  That’s why three times more men than women commit suicide.  A study by University of British Columbia researchers has shown that the male desire to be strong and protect the family can be a key to preventing depression that can lead to suicide.  Science Daily said, “The study suggests that men can best counter suicidal thoughts by connecting with others namely intimate partners and family – to regain some stability and to secure emotional support from others.”
        It was as if men were finding fulfillment in their traditional masculine ideals: “Here, men’s strong sense of masculine roles and responsibility as a provider and protector enables men to hold on while seeking support to regain some self-control,” the article said.  But when they tried to be the stoic warrior and hide their feelings, failing to reach out to other men for support, it could have bad effects, like leading to alcohol and other forms of escapism.  The psychologists recognized “spirituality” as an ingredient: “Support from friends and connecting to other things including spirituality is often the conduit to men seeking professional help to overcome the suicidal thoughts that can accompany severe depression.”  Theists might disagree on the sequence of causes, effects, definitions and treatment options listed, but no attempt was made in the article to explain the evolution of responsibility, masculinity, or spirituality.
  4. Be involved with your kids:  A strong but gentle dad of African-American descent, smiling as he carries his daughter on his back, adorns an article on PhysOrg titled, “Even if they are absent from the home, men can learn to become better fathers.”  The University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration is making the point that social workers need to wake up to the fact that fathers are important.  For too long, their focus has been on the needs of mothers.  Much of the crisis in the black community, though, stems from absentee fathers – young men becoming dads before they are ready, boys in fatherless homes growing up without male role models, poverty and crime, and single moms having bad attitudes about their children’s fathers.
        The study listed a number of remedies, like: “Female social workers should not immediately negatively judge men’s capacity to be fathers and should encourage single mothers to involve their children’s fathers.”  That was mentioned as if it must be a common response; perhaps social workers are a big part of the problem.  In addition to the stating the obvious idea that fathers should be encouraged to take more of an active role in their children’s lives, a study leader said, “We must provide opportunities for these young men to see and embrace healthy notions of masculinity and fatherhood.”

All the stories above speak of fatherhood as a healthy thing.  The last one spoke of “healthy notions of masculinity and fatherhood” as if those notions are intuitively obvious.  Perhaps they are, or should be, as innate parts of the male constitution.  The origins of those notions, however, and what they entail, will have radically different explanations depending on whether one is a creationist or an evolutionist – and so will the proposed societal remedies when men fail to live up to the healthy notions of masculinity and fatherhood.

We need social workers and psychologists to solve fatherless families like we need ACORN to clean up street prostitution.  If you want to get really angry, read this history of the welfare state and backfiring liberal policy toward inner-city blacks in City Journal by Kay S. Hymowitz, “The Black Family: 40 Years of Lies.”  Inner-city blacks, 70% of whom grow up in fatherless homes, have been the victims of decades of lies and counterproductive social policies perpetrated by leftists in academia, feminists and social liberals who attributed inner city problems to the wrong causes.  For some of them to be coming around now and saying, “Oh, we think that fatherhood is a good thing” is like a pimp telling his girls that virginity and motherhood are nice.
    Why is there this unspoken presumption in these articles that the solution to societal ills resides in academia and among social workers?  Good grief; where are the preachers?  Are there no churches that know how to open up and explain the Operations Manual provided by the Manufacturer?  There are many good churches in the inner city (the ones that have not been swallowed up by liberals and neo-communists).  That is what the black families need.  Get the young black absentee dads into church to hear the Word of God from a strong, masculine, black preacher that commands respect; get them saved, and you will see lives changed.  Lives changed will produce healed families and healed communities, and healed cities without the “help” of government, psychologists, social workers and academics; why?  Because their God is strong, and has the power to heal.
    There’s nothing more admirable than a strong, virtuous, masculine black father loving his kids and teaching them to be good citizens.  At CEH we applaud all those who buck the trend of their culture and take their roles seriously – especially those who try to make a difference and reverse the awful toll that liberalism has taken on the African-American family for 40 years.  Of course there is nothing innate in any minority group that makes them prone to this kind of problem.  It is the policies that certain self-appointed leaders bring, saying, “We just want to help you.”  You don’t need their help.  You need a right relationship with your Maker.  You need to follow the directions in the Operations Manual he gave you, and you need to stand up like a man and take responsibility for the role he created you to fulfill.  Guess what: things work when you follow the directions.  (Guys, when will we ever learn that?)  Stop listening to the “help” of those who don’t follow the directions.  Stop voting for them.  Take away their power, and tell them to skedaddle out of town.
    The evolutionary tale robs men of their dignity.  It turns guys into sperm donors with attitude.  Darwinists try to make us like glorified elk or bighorn sheep knocking heads with each other (well, there is the Rams football team).  They make us “merely” hunters and gatherers that evolved from apes, cavemen with nothing more to do than evolve, eat, fight, mate, and die.  No wonder men taught that way act that way.  But neither should men and women deny their multi-faceted natures.  The key is to become integrated persons, fulfilling the roles we were given by our Creator.  Consider a couple of things: (1) Embrace your created physical nature (not the sin part).  We are creatures.  You are not a god; you are not becoming a god; you will never be a god.  We share a lot with the other creatures God made.  That’s OK; that’s good.  National Geographic has a photo gallery for Father’s Day of “Best Animal Dads” showing all the funny, cute, and amazing things that male animals do for their young.  Think of what an Emperor Penguin goes through.  Cool.  But we are not merely animals – we have a spiritual, intellectual nature that is unique.  If your sin is forgiven, you can share in the divine nature through Christ and be one with him.  No other animal can do that.  We still have to eat, carry out our bodily functions, have sex, work, and do all the physical things required to live on a planet with the animals, but we have a destiny beyond this world, too.  The physical part underwent a curse.  It isn’t the Garden of Eden any more, but it’s still quite good.  If something is clean and God made it, and not forbidden, God gave it to us to enjoy (I Timothy 4:1-8).  Just enjoy it in moderation and don’t make anything an idol.
    (2) Exercise your unique spiritual nature.  Become a hunter and gatherer for Truth.  It’s the beyond-animalness that gives joy and depth to our lives.  Integrity, responsibility, leadership, hard work, perseverance, virtue – these are manly values you can exhibit and teach to your children.  Ideas, missions accomplished, character qualities – not possessions – are things your family members and colleagues will appreciate most about you.  They are also the things that will give you direction and purpose, and steer you away from depression.  Your work has dignity because everything you do is part of a witness of God’s work in the world.  Most of all, your personal walk with your Creator will keep you one foot in eternity till it’s time to leave your bodily tent behind.
    Evolutionists mock all this, of course, which is the main thing they know how to do, but let’s turn the tables a bit, and ask them about this fatherhood business.  If you are a Darwinist, you presumably had parents, unless you were born in a test tube and raised by robots or wolves or in an orphanage – regardless of what happened in your case, are you either glad you had parents, or did you wish you had good parents?  Are you attempting to be a good parent, or would you like to become one?  Why do you feel that way?  Is it because of some evolutionary pressure that happened among a hominid population a million years ago that turned out good for the offspring then, and continues today by some kind of genetic inertia?  Are you under any obligation to follow that pressure now?  Why not do your own thing?  Should the government promote healthy families in the inner cities, or do you care?  Why do you care?  You should ask these questions.  What is that tug in your soul to care about things, even about evolutionism or creationism?  Where did it come from?  Did caring evolve?  How would you ever know?  Why are you even thinking about the question right now?  What is thinking?  What is a thought?  Is it made of molecules?  Was thinking inherent in the big bang?  You’re ascribing a lot of fatherhood to an explosion right now.  One might say you’re making it kind of a god.  Why not choose a god that is purposeful, wise and caring, instead of one that is pointless and dumb?

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