April 26, 2013 | David F. Coppedge

How Can You Punish an Evolved Criminal?

Left-leaning scientists have never given up on the 19th century notion that criminals are born, not made.  Other evidence suggests “innate tendencies” can be overcome.

PhysOrg says, “Evil gene would make punishment a tricky business.”  But is there really a gene for evil?  Someone is making that case again.

Are there evil genes or is it only people who can be evil? A recent story in The Age (“Deep Divide of ‘Evil Genes'”) raised the question of whether criminals might evade responsibility for their crimes by blaming their genes.

Acknowledging this is a “troubling notion” because it might excuse the Nazis, PhysOrg nevertheless gave author Julia Llewelyn Smith space to propagate an old view that criminals have genetic tendencies that make them more likely to turn to crime than others.  In this case, the gene in question has a name:

An example of a so-called “evil gene” might be the low activity MAOA gene. MAOA is a neurotransmitter in the brain and some research has suggested that those males who have low levels of the substance are particularly vulnerable to the effects of being maltreated when young.

The article wallowed in notions of criminal law and free will, but made it seem like society has no right to punish those who have genes that incline them toward crime.  Science Daily, similarly, claimed that psychopaths are “not neurally equipped to have concern for others.”  That may be, but if it’s due to a physical cause in the neurons, it is not mental illness.

PhysOrg then posted another article by two evolutionists, Jason Roach and Ken Pease, who wrote a book titled Evolution and Crime that tries to use evolutionary theory to explain criminal behavior.

An understanding of the evolutionary process – who we are as a species and where we have evolved from – can also explain how and why legal systems have developed, as a means of regulating competition between individuals. Dr Roach has also explored empathy and altruism – unique to human beings – and how they function as protective factors to mitigate anti-social behaviour.

Another article posted the same day on PhysOrg, however, called into question the models evolutionary behaviorists use to evaluate altruism.  Experiments with human subjects playing games often ignore other factors that bias the results, thus casting doubt on Roach’s confidence about “understanding of the evolutionary process.”

Notions that criminals are born, or that they evolved according to social game theory, fail to acknowledge the power to change.  Science Daily wrote, “Faith in God Positively Influences Treatment for Individuals With Psychiatric Illness.”  If psychiatric illness is innate like the “evil gene,” why would faith in God help?  But it does: “Belief was associated with not only improved psychological wellbeing, but decreases in depression and intention to self-harm,” a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School said.

Evolutionists need to get out of their ivory towers in academia and visit a church.  If they really want to see the power of God to change lives, they should look into some of the dynamic prison ministries conducted by Bible-believing churches.  The vibrant prison ministry at Grace Baptist of Santa Clarita, California is just one example.  The results of their bringing the gospel of Jesus Christ into minimum- and maximum-security prisons are so astonishing, city officials welcome them into the jails and want their efforts to expand all around Los Angeles.  Guards watch in amazement as former riotous, dangerous inmates turn meek as lambs, truly repentant for their crimes, hungry for the word of God, eagerly listening to the preachers and inviting their fellow inmates to come.  When they get out, most of them stay out, without the high recidivism rates that plague secular programs.  Lives are being transformed by the gospel every day. Even today, April 26, Grace Baptist church is helping reconcile inmate fathers with their children, bring tears of joy to broken families.

The late Chuck Colson with his Prison Fellowship ministry saw similar results around the world, in some of the worst prisons.  One particular prison in South America, known as a hopeless death trap, turned into a cathedral of light when the gospel came.  These stories were told by Colson and Nancy Pearcey in How Now Shall We Live?   Need proof of God’s existence?  Watch His power to make saints out of sinners through His gift of salvation and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.

What does evolution offer, by contrast?  “Tough Luck.  They can’t help themselves.  They’re genetically conditioned to do what they do, so don’t hold them responsible.  They’re pawns in evolutionary games.  It’s all just a big game anyway.  Turn ’em all loose.”  Failed evolutionary theories have left a long trail of suffering that blames society, leaves the victims heartbroken and angry, and offers no hope for the perpetrators.  You can read about the history of these useless, harmful, ugly theories and their bitter consequences in Darwin Day in America by John West.

Scientists can test physical laws in the lab, but they cannot fathom the human heart.  While evolutionists continue to write useless, speculative books about what they don’t understand, doing no good to anyone, Christian ministers are bringing the power of God into prison and are seeing miraculous results.  It makes sense that the Maker knows what man needs.   Darwin or Christ: choose you this day whom you will serve.

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  • We should remember the legacy of Clarence Darrow in the Leopold v. Loeb case, blaming evolution for a cold-blooded murder: “And yet there are men who seriously say that for what Nature has done, for what life has done, for what training has done, you should hang these boys.” And also remember, Oliver Wendell Holmes in his 1897 essay, “The Path of the Law,” arguing that law should be analyzed from the perspective of the criminal trying to escape punishment rather from moral principle: “If you want to know the law and nothing else, you must look at it as a bad man, who cares only for the material consequences which such knowledge enables him to predict.” He goes on to say that the “man of the future” for the study of law is the evolutionist and statistician who can best predict the consequences of human behavior. These are the influences that have created the secular, anti-Christian world that we live in today.

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