Who Invited the Scientist in Here?
If you envision science in terms of white-coated lab chemists holding flasks, field biologists gathering bird eggs, astronomers peering through a telescope or geologists chipping rocks with hand picks, think again. Today’s science sweeps everything into its domain, including the human mind, intellect, emotions, will, creativity, and our most sincere beliefs and actions. When not explained in terms of evolutionary impulses from some animal past, they are often described in sterile, dispassionate terms, reducing our sincerely held beliefs, choices and partnerships into matters of neurotransmitters in the brain or impulses little different than the behavior of ants. Humanities departments should beware letting scientists in the door. They come in and take over.
- Moral calorimeter: A Harvard press release posted on PhysOrg analyzed moral decision making in terms of brain wiring. “It seems that our capacity for complex, life-and-death decisions depends on brain structures that originally evolved for making more basic, self-interested decisions about things like obtaining calories.” The scientists assumed that since the same brain circuits for moral decisions lit up in brain images as those for obtaining money or food, that therefore morality was an artifact of the evolutionary selection for self-preservation.
- Evangelical species: A Rice University press release posted on PhysOrg classified evangelical leaders into four categories with the coldness and aloofness of a museum worker pinning insects to a cladogram.
- Shame on poverty: An Oxford press release announced an international study to measure the relationship of poverty to feelings of low self-esteem, PhysOrg announced. This study did desire, however, to “tackle poverty effectively while simultaneously recognising the importance of promoting dignity and a sense of self-respect.” It is not clear, however, whether science can establish which is the cause, and which is the effect, if either.
- Evolution of crying: Several articles such as this one on SmartPlanet analyzed the evolutionary purpose of tears. Assuming anything that exists evolved, the article said, “according to scientists who study evolution, crying has likely evolved to be a tool – a leg up in natural selection – to help the species persist.” The reporter called NPR’s coverage of this idea a “great report” because it supposedly explains a human behavior as “an evolved mechanism to save relationships in distress.”
- Evolution of marriage: A press release from University of Chicago posted by PhysOrg analyzed the stress levels and hormones of married couples compared to singles, and classified human marriages right along with the animals: “in species of primates and birds where males assist females with rearing offspring … testosterone levels in males drop as they engage in more fatherly behavior.” The human subjects were subjected to saliva sampling before and after playing computer games.
- Religious patriotism: A press release from the American Sociological Association claimed, according to PhysOrg, that “People with no religious affiliation have less favorable views of the US.” It’s not clear whether the sociologists intended to state a cause-and-effect relationship between patriotism and three demographic factors (ethnicity, religious affiliation and nationality), or just wanted to state a pattern in the statistics. The press release was too brief to describe the instrument used. What does a national-pride-o-meter look like?
- TV Sex: A press release from Temple University published by PhysOrg claims that TV sex is not linked to early teen sexual activity. “There are many reasons to find the portrayal of sex in mass media objectionable,” the researcher remarked, “But let’s not confuse matters of taste with matters of science.” Apparently science is tasteless.
- Goys and birls: In a claim sure to cause furrowed brows among some parents, Michigan State University claims, “Boys and Girls Not as Different as Previously Thought.” The article on Science Daily admitted that “further research is needed to confirm the results by examining a single group of children over time.”
- Don’t tell dad: My, what would Mom and Dad think of a press release from the American Sociological Association that exonerates college unmarried sex on the grounds that it is “often harmless to their academics”? Read Science Daily if you dare. Apparently the opinions of parents, religious leaders, ethicists and counselors were irrelevant to this kind of “scientific” study.
- Mr. Wilson against Dennis the Menace: E. O. Wilson was at it again this week, explaining the evolution of eusociality (self-sacrificing group behavior, as seen in beehives and human charitable organizations). Science Daily summarize his latest Nature paper. The apostate Christian and his colleagues figured out a way to explain unselfish behavior entirely in terms of Darwinian natural selection. Part of the collateral damage of this view, if it becomes the new paradigm (not a new game; see 05/07/2002 and 08/26/2004), is that decades of Hamilton’s kin selection (inclusive fitness) theory, regarded as “one of the most (or even the most) important evolutionary insights of the recently finished century” gets tossed into the dustbin of history. For more on the “disturbing” legacy of W. D. Hamilton, see 03/07/2002 and 09/02/2004.
Remember Abraham Maslow? He was the evolutionary psychologist who devised the iconic pyramidal diagram called the “hierarchy of needs” (physical needs, safety, affection, esteem, and self-actualization). According to Arizona State University, that was a good start, but the pyramid needs an upgrade to take into account evolutionary psychology. PhysOrg reported that the ASU researchers flipped out their need-o-meters (maybe it’s an app on the Droid) and concluded they had a need to replace self-actualization with some evolutionary needs that Maslow overlooked – “mate acquisition, mate retention and parenting.” Now that they are considering evolutionary needs, they hope they can take Maslow’s “wonderful idea” and “get it right” this time.
It’s time to turn the tables on these Yoda wannabes again. According to their own belief systems, they are evolved animals, too. No fair excluding oneself from the population. If they want to treat the rest of us as lab rats, we can ask for reciprocation, so here goes. These evolutionary researchers go through these scientific motions because they use the same brain circuits for getting food and money. We can divide them into four categories: the dogmatic, hilarious, circumlocutious and brazen. Their affluence causes a lack of shame. Their atheism causes their unfavorable attitude toward their country. They are stressed out because their marriages are either unstable or non-existent. Justifying TV sex is an evolutionary defense mechanism they employ to cover up their own dalliances. Their scientific conclusions are artifacts of their hormones and gender identities.
Why not let the humanities teachers, philosophers, theologians and preachers turn their measuring instruments on the denizens of the science department? It would not be hard to envision G. K. Chesterton, C. S. Lewis or Billy Sunday having some rather colorful rhetoric to explain the propensity of evolutionary psychologists to be predominantly atheist, leftist, intolerable, arrogant reprobates. Undoubtedly, the sin meters of some of these poor scientific scoundrels would be so active, they could be used on hot days as a fan.
What happens when scientists leave the lab and presume upon the domains of other modes of inquiry is that they become caricatures of themselves. Like the proverbial carpenters with a hammer seeing every problem as a nail, they start hammering the water, the air, the language, and the music. It looks pretty silly to hammer a Mozart concerto. One thing they never do, though, is hammer their own heads. Maybe they should. Somehow they need their sense knocked back into them, so that they can “experience” the psychology of self-refutation.
Notice how the evolutionary psychos leapt onto the Maslow pyramid to evolve it better. What is this “hierarchy of needs”? Who was Abraham Maslow to presume to prescribe what his fellow creatures need most? Even if he had not been a new-age mystic, he got it wrong – his hierarchy was the complete opposite of what the Manufacturer commanded. We don’t need self-actualization; we need self-sacrifice! Jesus said, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33) and all your other needs would be added to you. Paul admonished believers to present themselves to God as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1-2) and have our minds renewed by the word of God. Jesus told his followers to deny themselves and take up their crosses and follow him, not to seek self-actualization. Without question the nobility of Jesus Christ, and the life He lived, is incomparably more to be desired than the whims and myths of this joker Maslow who put his puny little self at the center of the universe. Like all the other leading-light psychologists, he appeared on stage briefly to give his short soliloquy, garner some applause, and then disappear into the wings, out of a job, along with Freud, Jung, Rogers, and all the other pretenders.
It’s time to unmask the charlatans who misuse the good name of science to hawk their deceptive wares. The know-nothing Yodas described above are only fallible people. Their hammer works good on physical nails, but not on the mind and the things of God. Call their bluff, pastors; be bold! We need some modern-day Elijahs, unaffected by labels and histrionics and costumery, to challenge these priests of Darwin-Baal and show who can draw down the true fire. One good Elijah is all it takes.