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Darwinism: Adultery Rationalized

http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/discoveries/2006-01-03-infidelity-study_x.htm

Some men cheat on their partners. So do some women. Now researchers say it is more than a wandering eye that might cause a woman to stray.

This conclusion was based on two studies of college men and women using questionnaires where the test group was asked how they felt (how scientific) about other men/women outside of their steady relationships.

Studies from the University of California-Los Angeles and the University of New Mexico-Albuquerque suggest an evolutionary tendency toward infidelity during ovulation, which is the most fertile part of the menstrual cycle. The studies suggest the propensity is more likely if women don’t view their partners as sexy. [They needed a study for this???]

“Something biologically wakes up around high fertility and says, ‘Is your romantic partner the best sexual partner for you, given that you’re likely to conceive?’ ” says Martie Haselton, assistant professor of communication and psychology at UCLA’s Center for Behavior, Evolution, and Culture.

Along those evolutionary lines, men more than women desire a variety of sexual partners because genes carrying that trait were passed along in men, Haselton says.

The one thing the article didn’t make clear is whether they actually analyzed (selfish?) genes responsible–if only indirectly–for “men more than women desir[ing] a variety of sexual partners” or if they’re just extrapolating an evolutionary reason for human behavior.

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46 Responses to Darwinism: Adultery Rationalized

  1. It also explains monogamy. In fact part of the problem with Darwinism is that it explains everything. It’s kind of like God in that.

  2. Piggy-backing onto Jon Jackson’s last post, I would agree that Darwinism explains EVERYTHING. And, thus, it explains nothing.

    I liken Darwinism explaining everything to the hi-tech bubble in the stock market at the end of the nineties: a sign that the ‘real world’ is about to take over from the bubbling enthusiasm of the masses.

  3. mmm, yes Darwinism does a fantastic job of explaining digital code in the cell, the abrupt appearance of novel body plans in the fossil record, altruism, propositions,

    errr… wait, it doesn’t explain any of these things, sorry.

  4. NDE theorists have taken an ugly turn.

    Having built a theory that really is pure fantasy–life from non-life, random complexity, Mother Nature:Creator of the Universe–now they are *exploring* the implications of their theory.

    In the study from USA Today, Darwinist bats start with the conclusion they want–a “scientific” rationalization for promiscuity–and find in Darwinism a convenient authority to support the conclusion they already have.

    What? You don’t believe it?

    This quote from Dr. Witt’s site quoting Jonathan Rosenblum of THE JERUSALEM POST:
    http://www.jpost.com/servlet/S.....%2FPrinter
    “By contrast, Darwinists proceed by assuming the truth of the theory and then seeking empirical support. Studies of the fossil record that fail to buttress the theory are deemed “failures” and never published. The search for Darwinian common “ancestors,” according to Gareth Nelson of the American Museum of Natural History, proceeds on the assumption that those ancestors exist and then selecting the most likely candidates.”

    Just one more example, but now on the personal moral level.

  5. Yes, Red Reader, gotta love the circular reasoning. Presuppose it’s true and then force-fit the evidence into the presupposition.

  6. woctor wrote: “We are not obligated to give in to temptation simply because it exists, and there is no inconsistency when a Darwinian decides not to commit adultery because it would hurt his or her partner, the marriage, or the children. Evolution gave us brains, after all, and brains are useful for overriding desires when sating them would lead to problems in the long run.”

    So if, using our brains, we determine with a very high degree of confidence that neither our partner, nor our marriage nor our children will be hurt is there any reason in Darwin’s world why we should not give in to this temptation? (I do a lot of international business travel, and it would be quite easy for me to get away with a great deal. I know others who actually have done so.) In fact, wouldn’t I more effectively perpetuate the survival of my genes if I have as many kids as I can around the world? Wouldn’t neo-Darwinism predict that successful adulterers with travel benefits would more successfully reproduce than faithful stay-at-home guys?

  7. If pseudo-science has no place in the classroom, then Darwinism in general (RM&NS, gradualism, etc., as an overarching and thorough explanation for the complexity and diversity of living systems), and evolutionary psychology and behaviorism in particular, should easily qualify for elimination from the curriculum.

    Evolutionary psychology is transparently a Himalayan-sized pile of silliness, and reflects on the underlying silliness of the general theory.

  8. I actually was the an RA for the project at UNM and helped run the expirement. The questionair was only one part of a lot different elements tested (including genetic) and the actual expirement is just one in a series of MANY that point to the cyclical effects women’s fertility have on what they find attractive and how the mating strategies they use. I would suggest reading the actual studies by Gangestad and Thornhill (Garver is the other author I believe) rather then a summation from USA today, aren’t you guys the ones always talking about how the simplicfication of the media hides the real science?

  9. Hey Trent,
    Are the study references available online? If not can you provide the full citation?

    Excellent point, woctor. Most people believe that “survival of the fittest” means who is the stronger/fiercer, etc. But what fittest actually means is those individuals whose offspring survive long enough to successfully reproduce.

  10. DaveScot:

    I am assuming, then, that my questions above count as trolling?

    Some of them were okay but you’re in “time out” until you stop flooding the blog with so many comments. Come back in a couple of days and slow it down. I promise the blog will still be here and evolution will still be the biggest hoax in the history of science.

  11. woctor

    “This research hardly “rationalizes” adultery. It merely offers a reason that adultery is tempting to people.”

    Au contraire! Rationalizing adultery is exactly what it does. No need to feel guilty about cheating – evolution programmed you to cheat! Cheating is nature’s fault. Patrick made a perfectly valid point.

  12. Neotoma

    “But what fittest actually means is those individuals whose offspring survive long enough to successfully reproduce.”

    BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZT!!!! Wrong.

    What fittest actually means is those individuals who produce the most offspring.

    If you use the word survive in the definition of “fittest” then the phrase “survival of the fittest” becomes a stupid tautology “survival of the survivors”. I’m sure you didn’t want that, right?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fitness_%28biology%29

  13. Can someone please help me. I once read an an article on genetic manipulation of a type of rodent. The rodents are super faithful and only stick to one partner. The scientists deactivated a gene that cause the males to .. eh .. stray. Does someone perhaps have the link?

    I don’t think the study makes any claims as to if evoltion gives you reason to commit adultery. Fact is, adultery is a VERY common thing in our lives. The explanation as the WHY there might be a tendency seems very rational. Or do you propose as an alternative that “the devil tempts them”? Or then, were they designed to commit adultery?

  14. By the way, the bit about “kin selection” in the wiki article on fitness is a bunch of crap. It’s one of a plethora of ad hoc modifications made to Darwinian theory to explain its failed predictions.

    If it was all about similar gene sets in genetically close individuals then you have to come up with yet another ad hoc modification to explain symbiosis. Kin selection is no more or less than a mutually beneficial relationship between individuals of the same species.

    If you want some really cool insight into this consider it in light of Nash Equilibrium in an N-person game where the object of the game is to maximize the number of offspring and the players are any number of physically interacting organisms of the same or different species. On the remote chance someone reading this isn’t familiar with Nash Equilibrium read about here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nash_equilibrium

  15. I’d be more interested in pushing things back a bit and hearing how Sexual dimorphism arose in the first place, under a Darwinian model. If the mechanism by which a trait is inhereted is that it conveys a survival advantage to the possessor, then why are we not all self-fertile hermaphrodites, like earthworms? Dimorphic sexuality – male and female – has no reason to ever arise under evolution since every organism would already have within itself the seeds of its own survival.

  16. “I’d be more interested in pushing things back a bit and hearing how Sexual dimorphism arose in the first place, under a Darwinian model.”

    Specialisation. If one half of the species can focus on producing sperm, and the other can focus on incubating the resultant zygote, it means that neither half needs to have a full complement of equipment. That’s just good design (evolutionary or otherwise).

  17. corkscrew

    “neither half needs to have a full complement of equipment”

    Actually the female has all the required equipment for reproduction and she can gynogenetically produce offspring of both sexes.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gynogenesis

    Don’t you just love science? I know I do. Can you feel the love here?

  18. Quick points:

    This study does give a biological rationalization for why people may be more prone to adulterous actions at certain times. It does not have ANYTHING to say about whether such actions are right, apppropriate, or excusable. Just because our genes tell us to do something does not give us a justification for doing that. Whether lustful feelings are biological in origin or come directly from God is completely irrelevant when we attempt to make a moral decision about those feelings.

    The phrase “survival of the fittest” was the media buzz phrase in the 19th century that regretably was popularized as a quick summation of natural selection. Even more regretably it continues to be popularly used today. Being fit or strong may have nothing to do with the survival of genes. “Fitness” is totally context dependant. A huge variety of traits could make your genes “fit.”

    Increasing reproductive success in your life to the detrement of your future generation’s prospects for reproduction could definitely be “bad” for your genes because they could dead end. Natural selection in human society favors, among other things, strong family units that raise competent and emotionally sound children. These children are in turn likely to find good responsible mates and continue the cycle. Highly promiscuous people are more likely to have dysfunctional families with emotionally dysfunctional children redulting. This could lead to future problems for finding a good mate affecting that and future generation’s chances for successful continuation of your genes. Now given the right circumstances the opposite could concievably be true. Some 40% of Mongolians are descended from a simgle male that lived at or around the time of Ghengis Khan. It is not unreasonable to suppose that this male was the Khan himself given his access to reproductive opportunities. At that time being the ultimate alpha male was an excellent way of ensuring your gene’s future success. Fortunately for the vast majority of us, civilization plays by some more “civilized” rules these days. That may not always be true but for the time being being a loving and attentive monogamous partner increases your gene’s chances for survival through future generations.

  19. By the way that last sentence is in no way a moral reason for being loving caring and monogamous. Your moral reasons should form your the basis of your decision as whether or not to be monagamous. Whether morality is a direct product of God or a natural byproduct of human society doesn’t matter. The fortunate fact is that behaving morally allows us to get along with eachother and makes it possible to form life long relationships.

  20. All humans have an ethical system of some kind. This is true for people of all religions and for those with no religion at all. In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis builds his case for Christianity by first appealing to this universal ethical system.

    In addition, we are all tempted to violate our own ethical system from time to time. That’s human nature. It’s also human nature to rationalize wrongdoing and/or blame someone or something. You don’t need to know about Darwin’s theory to do something you know is wrong and then rationalize it. When Buckingham and Bonsell lied under oath at the Dover trial, you can hardly attribute that to belief in evolution!!!

    Evolution can teach us important things about our natural urges, but should not be co-opted as an excuse for cheating. That is simply beyond the scope of science.

    But now I’m curious. According to ID theorists, where does our ethical system come from? I mean, does it come from the designer? Is there a way to determine that?

  21. ID theorists may have their own personal opinions on the subject but ID is limited in scope as of now and doesn’t say a thing about ethics.

  22. ftrp

    “Just because our genes tell us to do something does not give us a justification for doing that.”

    If someone is looking for a scapegoat this certainly provides a convenient one for them. A similar situation is the so-called “gay gene”. If there is such a thing then it takes the wind out of the sails of those who say homosexuality is a conscious lifestyle decision and puts it on a level of something that nature chooses for us instead of our own personal choice. It’s exactly the same thing with adultery and this study. Sure, through the power of reason we can overcome behaviors that evolution programmed into us but it makes such overcoming a more difficult thing and thus provides a handy excuse for not overcoming it.

  23. I don’t understand the reasoning behind posting this story. ID, by itself, is simply not yet far-enough advanced to begin to even address the question of whether or not adultery can even be rationalized -and may never be. All that science can say at this point is that the causes of adultery are more that simply just a question of morals versus instinct. The natural urge to procreate certainly has much to do with it, though one must bear in mind that procreation is not simply a matter of producing the most offspring; the quality of the offspring is just as important.

  24. If ID is limited in scope for now, and doesn’t as of yet address ethics, what about our mating instincts? Is a designer responsible for them? (This would exclude our ethical system which tells us whether or not it is acceptable to act on those instincts.)

  25. As Patrick noted, ID is quite modestly the detection of Specified Complexity in Biological systems. It cannot identify the designer nor determine where ethics/morality comes from.

    My personal belief is that true morality cannot exist without an absolute moral standard with which to juxtapose it. It is arbitrary and illusory otherwise.

  26. That’s really all of ID– identifying fancy complex components that a designer added to pre-existing organisms? A kind of Evolution Plus? There has to be more to it than that! What about instincts? What does ID say about instincts? I had asked earlier about mating instincts specifically, but I’m interested in instincts in general.

    If ID doesn’t address ethics or morals, I’m wondering why this thread– Darwinism: Adultery Rationalized– was posted. It seems to be just an attack on evolution, with no alternative offered. (It’s true that evolution can be exploited and twisted to justify wrongdoing, but so can just about anything else, including the Bible.)

  27. It seems to be just an attack on evolution, with no alternative offered.

    I won’t tell if you don’t. ;)

  28. Karen says:
    That’s really all of ID– identifying fancy complex components that a designer added to pre-existing organisms? A kind of Evolution Plus?
    ….
    Besides specified complexity, there is also irreducible complexity: there is no “pre-existing”; the organism functions as a working unit from its inception or it doesn’t work and can’t survive. “Pre-existing” can only be accessed imaginatively which we think is the basis and the whole problem with Darwinism in the first place.

    Karen says:
    What about instincts? What does ID say about instincts? I had asked earlier about mating instincts specifically, but I’m interested in instincts in general.
    ….
    As with ethics, as Patrick wrote earlier: “ID theorists may have their own personal opinions on the subject but ID is limited in scope as of now….” There is nothing unscientific about saying that within the scope of ID development to date, the issue of instincts–to my knowledge–hasn’t been addressed. There is nothing wrong with indentifying some or many areas that a theory, any theory, has not explored.
    That said, I will offer an opinion. Given the fact that ID has in fact identified certain complex structures in nature-—from miniature machines to the fine-tuning of physical constants-—that are best explained as the result of an intelligent cause, then YOU are FREE to ask Who or What the intelligent agent may be. Upon asking that question, you will have opened the door to several viable possibilities with over 6,000 years of writings to back them. You may explore the writings of Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddists, Diests. The only authorities you will have foreclosed are anti-theists. Feel free to explore the works of intelligent men and women from the beginning of recorded history.

    Karen says:
    If ID doesn’t address ethics or morals, I’m wondering why this thread– Darwinism: Adultery Rationalized– was posted.
    ….
    ID doesn’t address ethics of morals: one of the glaring weaknesses if not absurdities of evolutionary logic is that it does. Hence the thread.

    Karen says
    It seems to be just an attack on evolution, with no alternative offered. (It’s true that evolution can be exploited and twisted to justify wrongdoing, but so can just about anything else, including the Bible.)
    ….
    The alternative to undirected evolution is intelligent design. Explore.

    If ID is true, an expansive and historical world of thought is available to you. Unlike evolution, ID doesn’t have to reinvent every wheel so it will fit the theory. Evo MUST reinvent ethics, morals, faith, law, science, mathematics, perception itself. Rather than a theory that meshes seamlessly with every field of study operating independently of the theory, Darwinian evolution must make every field of study conform. ID doesn’t have to do this.

    If ID is true, most of what has been written in the fields of ethics and morals, for example, from the beginning of recorded history already address these issues. We don’t NEED to spend precious time and research dollars reinventing them.

    Yes, just about anything can twisted: that’s an issue that has been addressed. See for example: C.S. Lewis.

  29. Thuner says
    Can someone please help me. I once read an an article on genetic manipulation of a type of rodent. The rodents are super faithful and only stick to one partner. The scientists deactivated a gene that cause the males to .. eh .. stray. Does someone perhaps have the link?
    ….
    Thuner, to put it bluntly, this is a tired and wearisome tactic that serves only to put every one on notice that you are not very good at tricking people into thinking you are honest.

    Thuner says:
    I don’t think the study makes any claims as to if evoltion gives you reason to commit adultery. Fact is, adultery is a VERY common thing in our lives. The explanation as the WHY there might be a tendency seems very rational. Or do you propose as an alternative that “the devil tempts them”? Or then, were they designed to commit adultery?
    ….
    Pitiful. Where you say, “I don’t think…” was good. But the rest is hogwash.

  30. 30

    Thuner says
    Can someone please help me. I once read an an article on genetic manipulation of a type of rodent. The rodents are super faithful and only stick to one partner. The scientists deactivated a gene that cause the males to .. eh .. stray. Does someone perhaps have the link?

    I did a Google search on rodent/adultery/gene and I think this is the article you’re looking for:
    http://www.economist.com/print.....ID=2424049

    It’s pretty interesting.

  31. Dave Scott

    Giving into temptation for wrongdoing has never been an acceptable scapegoat regardless of the source of the temptation. Whether our genes, God, or the devil make us lustful it is still up to us to do what is right. No reasonable person would accept “my genes made me do it” as an excuse.

    There are almost certainly genetic predispositions towards homosexuality. What I find naturally repulsive is naturally very appealing to the gay people I know and has been since puberty. I find it difficult to believe that they learned to like other guys when everything around them said thats wrong. Just because being gay comes natural does not mean that it is okay. I happen to think its an acceptable choice for other reasons, one being that I don’ts see where its my right to judge someone else’s preference’s when their behavior is not hurting me or anyone else.

  32. Hmmm. I looked at this one yesterday and I thought about it for a while. It seems to me that all of us here are presupposing things and texturing our statements with our preconceptions. It seems to me that, if humans did evolve into social animals, then this would be a highly appropriate line of study. If we didn’t evolve (from other species) then it would still be an appropriate line of study because one would expect that our psycology would not reflect that of other animals and would not be likely to reflect the imprint of evolution. If that were to be the case, then evolution as speciation could have one more chink in its armor.

    It seems to me that a good way to test evolution would be to imagine as many things as possible that evolution might result in and devise experiments to see if they are really the case. I would expect, if evolution were to have occurred, that we would have lots of hallmarks of other social animals and that maybe brain size would corrolate with social habits or something in other animals besides humans. Maybe we would exhibit behavior that would be more appropriate to a small group of animals that scavenged on the savannah than to society as we know it. We would have possibly some hallmarks of other adaptations like superb climbing ability or maybe the ability to stay under water for some time or something. Some ability that is radically out of place today.

    I think it is important to remember that just because we don’t believe in evolution, that we are skeptical of modern darwiwinist claims, doesn’t mean evolution isn’t right. It just means that we are unconvinced as to its merits. If Specified complexity leads us anywhere, it is down a much darker path.

    We can be relatively sure that all attempts to describe the creator (Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jew, Native American and etc.) are assuredly wrong, misguided and in fact potentially dangerous (witness Bin Laden and Pat Robertson). Mohammed didn’t talk to god, jesus didn’t rise from the dead, Shiva was not torn apart to form the world etc. Since we are nowhere near any kind of knowlege regarding the creator, it raises the question of what the heck did happen. At that point, all we can know is that we are being manipulated from afar and we know absolutely nothing about the manipulator.

  33. Did anyone read the last paragraph of the article (from the prestigious scientific journal USA TODAY) ?

    ————————————————————————————
    “Haselton is not saying, ‘Go fool around on your guys in the middle of the month,’ ” says Daniel Fessler, director of the UCLA center. “She’s saying, ‘Women have changes in what they’re attracted to in ways that are predictable.’ ”
    ————————————————————————————

    It’s not rationalizing adultery. It’s explaining that at certain times women are more tempted to cheat than at other times. Makes sense, actually. When a guy is 19, he faces more temptation to commit acts of immorality than when he is 9, or 90. Would anyone disagree with this? It doesn’t mean the guy MUST be immoral– just that the urge, the temptation, is greater. And drinking doesn’t exactly do anything to enhance fidelity to one’s spouse. Should we blame evolution for that, too?

    That’s why I was asking about instincts earlier, particularly mating instincts, but I don’t seem to be getting any specific answers to that.

    At least the researchers in this study published their findings and thus were open to criticism. They also cautioned that their sample size was small. Finally, we haven’t been told what other scientists think about this study.

  34. Consider that in the Darwinian worldview the origin of the desire itself to commit adultery would have an evolutionary basis, not just the ovulation cycle. That’s quite different from other worldviews compatible with ID where adultery is an unnecessary addition. Not to mention it’s the ASSERTIONS outside of the observation that women are more tempted to stray when ovulating (which I don’t doubt and I thought a minor point) that what led me to title this post as I did:

    ““Something biologically wakes up around high fertility and says, ‘Is your romantic partner the best sexual partner for you, given that you’re likely to conceive?’ ” says Martie Haselton”

    “Along those evolutionary lines, men more than women desire a variety of sexual partners because genes carrying that trait were passed along in men, Haselton says.”

    “”It’s a natural thing for women to kind of look around, and every once in a while to feel attracted to someone other than their partner.”

    Now if you want to get anal about it your point is valid when it comes to SOME worldviews compatible with ID. But at the least Haselton herself seems to be rationalizing adultery so I could retitle this to be “A Darwinist Rationalizing Adultery Based Upon Her Particular Worldview”. But I’m not PC so I won’t. ;)

  35. Thought so. Earlier today I sent this email to Dave:

    “I had a feeling it might be Josh just because it fit his style of responses.
    *some other stuff about Josh’s case*
    Anyway, speaking of recognizing styles of writing. Is it just me or is woctor suspiciously close to keiths? When I first read one of his posts I could have sworn
    that it was him posting. I’m assuming that if it is him he’ll be smart enough to avoid arguments that got him banned previously.”

    Though it wasn’t just your writing style…I also recognized your attitude in how you are unwilling to relent in an argument. :P Not that that’s a bad thing…

    Also, when I view your previous post in my browser (Firefox) the comments from Dave and me are both in bold. I ended up making another comment with the exact same information so I’ll just remove my addition to your comment.

  36. Firefox. I edited my previous comment a bit but apparently you loaded the page before I did that.

    I just emailed Dave about this, noting that I wouldn’t mind having you around. At the same time I told Dave that it’s up to him whether to uphold his previous decision to ban you.

  37. Russ: “In fact, wouldn’t I more effectively perpetuate the survival of my genes if I have as many kids as I can around the world?”

    Woctor: Not necessarily, because getting your genes into future generations also depends on your kids growing up and reproducing. If your absence makes their survival less likely, you haven’t done anything for your genes. This is why a male penguin takes on the job of incubating the egg while his mate returns to the ocean to feed. If he doesn’t do this, the egg freezes and he has no offspring that year.

    ——————

    Some animals perpetuate their species simply by producing huge litters. And lots of kids survive and thrive in spite of obstacles, so if I can father a hundred kids, I’d say I’m more likely to produce another Bill Clinton (product of a dysfunctional home) than the nice guy next door who maintains a small nuclear family.

    It sounds like evolution is predictive in the following manner: “Whatever happens, that’s what evolution would have predicted.” So in this example, if we lived in a society where male promiscuity was endorsed (such societies exist) you might be arguing that male sexual exploits ensure the survival of the species!

  38. Keith and Karen,

    I’m interested in the following rhetorical question by Karen:

    “Should we blame evolution for that, too?”

    Doesn’t evolution claim to be a naturalistic account of the origin of human beings in our totality? Evolution doesn’t say that only some parts of our nature were evolved and grants that other parts came about in some way transcending the evolutionary process. It’s evolution all the way up and all the way down. Doesn’t it follow that evolution is ultimately to “blame” for every aspect of our nature and behavior? Not only the fact that we have tendencies to adultery, but also that we sometimes resist those tendencies, and sometimes think about whether we should resist them. Even that we contribute to blogs about whether adultery is evolutionary must itself have an evolutionary origin. Evolution is to blame because evolution is the purported origin of life in its totality.

    I recently read a book by Michael Shermer titled “How We Believe”. It is essentially an evolutionary explanation for why people believe in religion. Implicit is the conclusion that religious belief is irrational because it is a mere artifact of evolution. I’m wondering when the book comes out “Why we do science”, which gives the evolutionary explanation for why people believe things like the theory of evolution…. I wonder if the answer would be that evolution finally produced a creature, man, who became able to escape the causal nexus of evolution and believed things simply because they are true and not merely because evolution programmed him to. That would indeed be a miracle.

    This is what I meant on the other thread about an Intellectual Doomsday Machine… if our behavior is explained entirely by evolution and the very fact of that explanation undermines the rationality of moral or religious belief, then it undermines rationality entirely because we are products (allegedly) of evolution in our totality.

    Cheers,
    Dave T.

  39. Red Reader said : “Pitiful. Where you say, “I don’t think…” was good. But the rest is hogwash.”

    Just a personal attack with no reason for it? You judge my honesty by … eh … what was that again? Where was I dishonest? Accusing me of tricking people. Please state your reason, for I sure don’t see it.

  40. The problem here is bad logic, not acceptance or rejection of evolution. If the genetics that cause adultery exist (as the authors of this study believe), then it’s not an evolutionary issue as much as it is an example of the natural fallacy (ie. that the way things are is an indicator of the way things should be). If the suspected genes do, in fact, exist, then IDist could just as easily rationalize cheating by saying that “the Designer made me adulterous.”

  41. DOESN’T EVOLUTION CLAIM TO BE A NATURALISTIC ACCOUNT OF THE ORIGIN OF HUMAN BEINGS IN OUR TOTALITY?

    I don’t think evolution addresses everything—just the diversity of life on earth. It doesn’t address the origins of life or the origins of the universe. I don’t think it can address spirituality, although it might be able to tell us about the capacity to be spiritual. For example, you would need a brain with a certain amount of sophistication to be able to tell right from wrong and to deal with abstract concepts. Science in general looks for natural causes for natural phenomena, but it can’t really go beyond that and remain science. Shermer is a philosophical naturalist, which means that for him, nature is all there is. This worldview is also called scientism, not to be confused with science. If Shermer believes that he has explained away religious belief, he needs to explain how he got his own brain to transcend evolutionary fog. He is welcome to his beliefs, but I don’t happen to share them. At least he is open enough to stand up and put his cards on the table. He’s a talented writer, and I find great value in his column in Scientific American without buying into his philosophy.

    Quite a few scientists are methodological naturalists, meaning that while evolution can explain the diversity of life we observe in nature, there is also a supernatural component of reality. Many scientists have a sincere religious faith.

    As for the issue of adultery, if you can’t say anything about your intelligent designer, how can you promote ID as a remedy for bad morals? How does an IDer know that the intelligent designer is even interested in morals? How do you know he isn’t married to a designer wife, but secretly commits adultery with a whole harem of designer girlfriends? Or, the designer could be a demon who is breeding us for science experiments. Look at the leg irons used to shackle slaves—they are intelligently designed, but that doesn’t mean the designer of them is moral! What about all the slave owners in the South who raped their female slaves—surely most of them believed in God, and not in evolution.

    As others here have ably pointed out, instead of blaming evolution for bad morals, why not turn the tables and blame the designer? No IDer is brave enough to tell me where mating instincts come from. Did they evolve? Were they intelligently designed? Why didn’t the designer make us like geese, who are generally monogamous? For that matter, why didn’t the designer give us a breeding season, as he did with other animals? Surely that would eliminate most adultery. In short, I don’t see ID as a remedy for bad morals.

    Personally, I’m not a scientist, but I find science/evolution quite compatible with faith. If I thought that God intelligently designed the horrible tick I found sucking blood from one of my dog a few days ago (in Connecticut, and in January!) I’d find another religion FAST.

  42. Karen,

    I see that we essentially agree:

    “Shermer believes that he has explained away religious belief, he needs to explain how he got his own brain to transcend evolutionary fog.”

    The points in the your last two paragraphs are good ones, but they are basically a restatement of the classical problem of evil. Why would a good God permit evil to exist in His Creation? These are questions I like to wrestle with, but I don’t think this is the forum to do it….

    Cheers,
    Dave T.

  43. Dave T,

    Thanks for your reply, but what about the other points I raised? While promoting fidelity in marriage is an excellent idea, I don’t see how belief in some mysterious designer of bacterial flagella would inspire anyone to be faithful to one’s spouse. If we can’t ask questions about the designer, you can’t say that he is interested in humans or how they live their lives– or has any business telling humans what to do, for that matter. There is a really big disconnect here. The hold of a slave ship is intelligently designed, but that hardly makes the designer a moral authority who can inspire and/or command others to behave morally!

    Also, where do you think mating instincts come from?

    -Karen

  44. Karen,

    I don’t know where mating instincts come from. It’s possible they evolved. Evolutionists are absolutely certain they did. I’m not sure.

    Believing the bacterial flagella was designed won’t help your marriage, but then it has never been claimed it would. ID is not an all-embracing ideology the way evolution is in the hands of Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and many others. The point of this thread is that evolution does not restrict itself to merely describing how certain features of natural organisms came about, but expands to swallow up all other areas of human inquiry from psychology, to ethics, to philosophy. It’s the “universal acid” that eats through all of human knowledge, in Daniel Dennett’s words.

    ID does not have such pretensions. It’s intent is to show that certain features of biological organisms must have had intelligent causation. That’s it. Any other attributes of the designer, it’s motives, whether it has said anything to us, it’s metaphysical status (natural or supernatural) are beyond ID in the strict sense. ID leaves room for philosophy and religion and does not swallow them up like evolution, but it carries no necessary philosophical or religious conclusions itself. That’s why the moderator of this blog isn’t even religious, but Bill Dembski is.

    If you want to know whether the designer is moral or not, supernatural or not, or whether you should listen to it (assuming it is even saying anything to us), that is a matter of philosophy. Unlike evolution, ID won’t tell you what to think about these things…

    Dave T.

  45. Karen, as I said earlier to keiths “your point is valid when it comes to SOME worldviews compatible with ID.” For example, if you’re talking to Deists who believe in a good creator your questions would be fair to ask. I’m not sure what their response would be. If you asked Muslims they’d have an answer since they believe in strict predestination: “57.22]No evil befalls on the earth nor in your own souls,but it is in a book before We bring it into existence” and “[14.27]…Allah causes the unjust to go astray, and Allah does what He pleases.”

  46. Will simply opposing evolution in the science classroom really help improve our morals? Buckingham and Bonsell lied under oath in the very act of trying to curtail evolution!

    What makes you so sure that ID will remain in scope, or won’t be co-opted to serve some evil purpose? ID proponents are already trying to change the definition of science, and they often complain that ID is mischaracterized or misunderstood.

    You probably know that even the Bible has been misused to justify racism, slavery, and other horrors. Some people go so far as to blame all the evil in the world on religion. People like Dawkins are extremists, and don’t represent the views of most scientists. The Darwin exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History makes it abundantly clear that evolutionary theory addresses biological diversity ONLY. You can read about it here: http://www.amnh.org/exhibition.....winism.php

    At the end of the day, human failing is behind adultery, not Darwin (who happened to be a family man who was very devoted to his wife and children). Playing the blame game is also a human failing, whether we say “the devil made me do it” or “evolution made me do it” or even “the designer designed me to do it.”

    The article that prompted this thread actually has some value, in that it is telling us when a woman would be most vulnerable to temptation. It does not follow that we must succumb to that temptation. The last paragraph reads,

    “Haselton is not saying, ‘Go fool around on your guys in the middle of the month,’ ” says Daniel Fessler, director of the UCLA center. “She’s saying, ‘Women have changes in what they’re attracted to in ways that are predictable.’ ”

    Even the most pious youth groups in the land would readily agree that we are more tempted to commit immoral acts in certain situations than in others!

    Now, about mating instincts– you said you don’t know if they evolved or were designed. Perhaps you could ask Professor Dembski if he has any thoughts on this matter.

    -Karen

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