July 14, 2011 | David F. Coppedge

Evolutionary Contradiction As Mental Illness

In their efforts to get their theory accepted, have some evolutionists crossed the line into irrationality?  It is mentally sound to espouse well-argued points of view, even if controversial.  What is marginal is arguing self-contradictory beliefs.  Let the reader judge whether any of these ideas from evolutionists make sense.

  1. Alien headgear:  Back in 2005, Bobby Henderson wrote a strange letter to the Kansas School Board opposing the board’s consideration of criticisms of evolution in science classes, which he interpreted to mean that intelligent design was threatening to gain a foothold in the science curriculim.  In a bizarre parody, he asked whether his new Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster should also be allowed as an alternative.  This parody took on a life of its own in the ensuing months and years, with mockers of intelligent design invoking the FSM symbol (also called Pastafarianism) on bumper stickers, signs and even books (Wikipedia).  Now, according to the BBC News, Niko Alm, a driver in Austria, has been granted permission to have his driver’s license photo taken with the symbol of his religion, pastafarianism, on his head – a pasta strainer. 
  2. The evolution of opposites:  Calling all moms.  Got a meek child?  Evolution did it.  Got an aggressive child?  Evolution did it.  This contradictory idea about living infants was presented matter-of-factly in Live Science alongside a photo of a crying toddler, “Evolution May Explain Aggressive and Meek Toddlers.”  Patrick Davies from the University of Rochestor linked cortisol levels in 200 stressed infants to opposite strategies of calming down (“doves”) or becoming more aggressive (“hawks”), which he argues “may have provided our human ancestors with adaptive survival advantages.”  But how can a scientific hypothesis account for opposite results?  The article justified the contradiction by stating that it challenges “the idea that there is only one way to be mentally healthy and normal.”  The article put a label on the phenomenon – divergent evolution – unaware that the adaptations occur within one species (Homo sapiens), with no sign that the two groups of infants are diverging into separate species.
  3. Evolutionize your life.  Religion is well known for offering people peace and meaning.  What does Darwin have to offer?  A lot, thinks one militant theistic evolutionist whose mission is to help Darwinian evolution gain acceptance in churches.  Michael Dowd and his wife Connie Barlow have produced a self-help course on a website called Evolutionize Your Life.”  Their “Essential Five-Week Course” promises, “Learn the scientific tools and practices to decode human behavior, eliminate self-judgment, and create a big-hearted life of purpose and joyful integrity” [emphasis theirs].  Dowd has taught his concepts to 100,000 people so far, saying, “Science has cracked the code not only for understanding but for working with our evolved human nature.”  One prominent heading in the presentation states, “Science Is Helping Spirituality Evolve.

It is not clear how one goes about evolutionizing one’s life, if evolution is a passive, unguided process that happens to the human race.  Does the verb evolutionize imply purpose and forethought – i.e., intelligent design?  It is also not clear how Dowd and Barlow can defend the idea that integrity, joy, or science itself evolved, much less that by following a purposely-designed course one can achieve them or know what has been achieved.  Further, his mission would seem to play into the hands of Darwin critics who argue that evolutionism has become a religion.  Nevertheless, his course has garnered praise from ardent evolutionists and skeptics, including well-known anti-ID skeptic Michael Shermer, who teaches a bonus session entitled, “Why the Science of Good and Evil Matters.

Apparently, Shermer is not turning his skeptical lens on himself or Dowd.  A good skeptic should be trained in elementary logic, which begins, “A is not non-A.”  The self-refuting fallacy errs by violating this basic premise of rationality, leading to self-contradiction.  Shermer needs to be reminded that an argument which refutes itself is necessarily false.  If evolution teaches that Stuff Happens, it is impossible to activate it by choice – to Happen-ize your Stuff. 

In the second item above, it appears that Patrick Davies never even considered that his notion of divergent evolution in living infants, by explaining opposite outcomes, explains nothing.  Every parent knows that both hawks and doves can be found within one family.  Not only that, doves can turn into hawks, and vice versa, at different stages in their development, without evolving.  And even it were possible, he certainly did not provide any evidence from genetics or fossils to trace the development of these opposite adaptive behaviors.  As such, it appears that trying to explain opposite outcomes with reference to “the evolution of” this or that has no more scientific explanatory power than invoking “the demon of” this or that. 

As for Niko Alm (first item), bless his spaghetti brain.  More power to him.  Let’s encourage him to start a trend.  Anybody want to donate the money for pasta strainers for his church?  This can be a win-win situation; it can help them feel a mystical purpose in life, and it can help the sane ones among us identify them easier.  Then, we can take them all to land donated by a benevolent society where they can carry on their Evolutionary experiments in peace, the Fun E-Farm.

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  • CharlesM says:

    “But how can a scientific hypothesis account for opposite results?”
    Easy – Because the proposed mechanism is RANDOMNESS, sorted out through ‘natural selection’ (i.e. if it ‘works’, keep it, if not, scrap it).
    Using the same logic, I can ‘predict’ with ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY, that if I toss a coin, it will land either heads or tails up. It is indeed a win-win situation.

    This is the main problem I have with the evolutionary ‘explanations’. Every other scientific field of study does its best to minimize or eliminate random effects. Only the ‘science’ of evolution elevates randomness to the status of God.

  • tjguy says:

    Agreed, Charles.  Plus, most of the time, when evolutionists do make predictions, those predictions turn out to be wrong.  Like junk DNA, vestigial organs, simple cell, etc etc. 

    Now if evolution could make some real predictions that are testable, that would be interesting.  But, alas, few, if any, predictions are forthcoming.  Mostly all we hear are stories to try and explain what has already happened.  This is convenient because no one can prove them right or wrong.

  • CharlesM says:

    Quite so, tjguy. Further, many disciplines (from insurance companies to quantum physics) manage to handle randomness by means of statistics & probability. Even THAT is lacking in evolutionary speculations.

    Maybe we can fill the gap, and thereby formulate what may be called Darwin’s 1st Law of Evolution:

    Somewhere, sometime, somehow, something may evolve and become more complex than it already is; but probably won’t.

    The same universal law can also be applied retrospectively – i.e. Somewhere, sometime, somehow, some dinosaurs evolved and became birds; but probably didn’t.

    How’s THAT for science? grin

  • Rkyway says:

    Re Flying spaghetti monster;
    The analogy has a fatal flaw; namely that hundreds of millions of people believe in God, while not a single person believes in the FSM.

    Why do people believe in a Creator? They do so on the basis of evidence and intuition. (No one believes in the FSM on the basis of evidence and intuition.)

    We also need to remember that atheists believe in a Materialist worldview on the basis of intuition. You can’t strictly disprove either materialism or creation.
    – If materialists want to deny the value of the theist’s intuition (of God), they’ve at the same time, denied the value of their own intuition (that there is no God).

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