To Evolutionists, Cheating Is Natural
If people are Pavlovian subjects, why are scientists exempt?
Evolutionists, including the theistic kind, are materialists in the sense that anything beyond matter doesn’t matter. If there is a God, he had no involvement whatsoever in the natural outworking of matter in motion. Thoughts of a Creator, or of intelligent design at all, play no role in scientific explanations; everything is reducible to physics. How thoughts about physics escape the reductionism of modern materialists is one of life’s mysteries. Somehow they just know that matter is all there is.
The materialist worldview has detrimental effects on society because it undermines any basis for morality. If neural circuits in a brain predominate to produce cheating behavior in a human, or a monkey, so be it. Whatever is, is right. Who can preach to him that he should stop cheating? “Thou shalt not!” is excluded in Darwin’s world. The behaviors of cheaters and cooperators reduce to exercises of power.
Evolutionists fail to understand their predicament. They seem to realize that cheating is “wrong” somehow, but if they are materialists, they have no recourse to call it wrong. They resort to “game theory” to explain it as a behavioral outcome, or else they divide people into cheaters and cooperators based on differences in brain chemistry. Three scientists at Erasmus University in the Netherlands give us the latest example of cognitive dissonance in evolutionary explanation:
- Sebastian P. H. Speer, Ale Smidts, and Maarten A. S. Boksem, “Cognitive control increases honesty in cheaters but cheating in those who are honest.” PNAS first published August 3, 2020 https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2003480117
Notice the implicit sense of right and wrong in their opening sentences. They know that cheating is bad. At least it is costly for the majority, and that’s bad, isn’t it?
Considering the immense economic costs associated with dishonest behavior, such as tax evasion or music piracy, reducing dishonesty is of great relevance to policy-makers. However, targeting dishonesty with interventions requires a thorough understanding of the underlying (neuro)cognitive processes. We combine neuroimaging with a task that pioneers in measuring the neural mechanisms underlying (dis)honesty. While replicating previous findings that greed drives dishonesty, we reveal that self-referential thinking processes promoted honest behavior. Moreover, we found that cognitive control does not serve the same purpose across individuals but facilitates honest decisions for cheaters, whereas it enables cheating for honest participants. We thus observe that different processes prevent dishonesty for different individuals, which can prove instrumental in the development of more effective interventions.
The reductionism in their materialist worldview becomes clear in the Abstract. Watch how quickly they go from the image of the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other to the image of neurons inside the brain producing “default” behaviors. If your neurons are making you cheat, you’re not really cheating, are you? Who are “you”?
Every day, we are faced with the conflict between the temptation to cheat for financial gains and maintaining a positive image of ourselves as being a “good person.” While it has been proposed that cognitive control is needed to mediate this conflict between reward and our moral self-image, the exact role of cognitive control in (dis)honesty remains elusive. Here we identify this role, by investigating the neural mechanism underlying cheating. We developed a task which allows for inconspicuously measuring spontaneous cheating on a trial-by-trial basis in the MRI scanner. We found that activity in the nucleus accumbens promotes cheating, particularly for individuals who cheat a lot, while a network consisting of posterior cingulate cortex, temporoparietal junction, and medial prefrontal cortex promotes honesty, particularly in individuals who are generally honest. Finally, activity in areas associated with cognitive control (anterior cingulate cortex and inferior frontal gyrus) helped dishonest participants to be honest, whereas it enabled cheating for honest participants. Thus, our results suggest that cognitive control is not needed to be honest or dishonest per se but that it depends on an individual’s moral default.
A little cognitive control (i.e., thinking) reveals how incoherent this paragraph is. What is a “good person” to a materialist? What is a temptation? What is cognitive control? What is a cheater? What is morality? These are phantoms that disappear into cells of the brain where neural activity is occurring. Stuff happens; it happens one way in “honest” people and another way in cheaters.
In this view of humanity, nobody is really accountable for their actions. They just act out what their neurons do. People are automatons; they are zombies. They don’t need cognitive control to be honest or dishonest; they just act out their “moral default.” Yet these authors know innately that this is a problem. There are moral standards. They cannot escape the fact.
Imagine a friend sends you a link to a website where you can illegally stream recently released movies for free. Would you decide to stream the movie which you otherwise would have paid for? If so, how many movies would you stream? On a daily basis we are faced with the conflict between the temptation to violate moral standards to serve our self-interest and to uphold these moral standards, but how the brain resolves this conflict remains elusive.
Here, they recognize that people face moral conflicts and make decisions. They know that certain actions are illegal. They know that moral standards exist that can be violated. But the “self” faced with a decision to do the right thing disappears when they say, “the brain resolves this conflict” in some way. Do materialists understand their answer? No! “how the brain resolves this conflict remains elusive,” which being translated means, “WE are clueless how morals emerge from the material brain.”
In the rest of the paper, they play games. They treat fellow human beings like Pavlov’s dogs, seeing what happens when they give out rewards for “honest” behavior and rewards for “cheating” behavior, to see what happens to brains that are so rewarded. Then they studied the subjects’ brains with functional MRI (fMRI). Apparently these authors didn’t get the message that fMRI studies are inherently unreliable (see 4 June 2020).
Another questionable practice by these three scientists was tempting subjects to cheat. Did they not consider the downstream effects of their experiments on the personal ethics of the subjects? Where are the ethicists in science condemning such a practice? Why do “scientists” get away with things that would put other people in jail? Another recent paper exposed men to pornography in order to see how many they could classify as “bisexual” based on the reaction of their genitals. This, too, treats their fellow human beings like Pavlov’s dogs instead of free moral agents. What lasting harm could have been caused in the minds of those who were “experimented on” as if they are mere machines? Scientists with a Yoda Complex lose their consciences as they cause potential real harm to their fellow human beings.
Nobody thought to put the scientists in the fMRI machine to see what their “moral defaults” were. In fact, chances are the scientists were cheaters themselves. This means the whole paper has nothing to do with “science” or “understanding” at all. It was an outworking of activity in their nucleus accumbens, posterior cingulate cortex, temporoparietal junction, and medial prefrontal cortex. Since there is no real difference between honesty and cheating in the materialist view, the paper collapses, the fMRI machine shorts out, and it’s game over.
Why is it so hard for materialists to see this fatal flaw in their thinking? The Netherlands was once a flourishing community of Protestant preachers, in a country that protected religious liberty. It was the homeland of great Bible-believing scientists like Christian Huygens and Antony van Leeuwenhoek, who used science against materialism. Ever since Darwin, the materialist worldview has been turning scientists into zombies. Materialists retain the brain programming from creation that knows how to mouth words of morality, but there is no heart and soul behind it. Writing papers about morality brings rewards to their neurons, and so the neurons make them write papers like this. The totalitarian system of Big Science issues rewards to the zombies and punishments to those who think – those who think that thinking is immaterial.
The Bible has an explanation for this situation: the sons of Adam are dead in sin. Spiritual death affected the mind. It seared the conscience. Materialists like these 3 Dutchmen still have brains able to put together sentences and operate fMRI machines, but they are incapable of making sense of their existence and the origin of the world (Romans 1:21-22). That’s why they are blind to their own self-refutation. Any parts of this paper that do appear to make sense (e.g., the talk about temptation and the harm of cheating) have been plagiarized from the Christian worldview, where morality is real and people are accountable. Zombies use those concepts as mere window-dressing. Their core argument that cheating is a product of brain chemistry cannot possibly be true, because it refutes their own ideas. If people are Pavlovian subjects who only act on the basis of reward and punishment, so are scientists! Truth is irrelevant.
We hope this example shows why the creation/evolution issue is about much more than scientific evidence. It affects people’s hearts and souls. It impacts the whole society’s policies about good and evil. If this paper were taken seriously by enough rulers, criminal justice would be a matter of what majority at a given time is holding the power pieces in a game played by neurons. Take note that this nonsense was published in one of the most prestigious “scientific” journals in the world!
What these Dutchmen need to escape their zombie state is to be born again, because they are the walking dead, pumping out nonsense. They need a supernatural rebirth. Christ can reverse the curse of Adam for those who come to him. Peter said, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit” (I Peter 3:18). The old-time gospel is as relevant as it has ever been. Drs Speer, Smidts and Boksem, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15).