Larry Arnhart asks: “Why don’t social conservatives embrace Darwinism?” O’Leary tries to explain
|December 30, 2006||Posted by O'Leary under Intelligent Design|
Why would “family values” conservatism be contrary to Darwinian conservatism? In my book, I show how Darwinian science supports family values and traditional morality as rooted in human biological nature. So where’s the conflict?
Where’s the conflict? Well, how about from the beginning to the end?
Of course, that’s not very specific, is it? So let me start with the observation that the universe is either top down or bottom up. Family values conservatives are mostly top downers. That means that they believe that mind comes first and produces matter. Darwin and his followers believe that matter comes first and produces mind.
The difference is fundamental (so to speak). In fact, Larry helpfully underlines this very fact in a subsequent comment, appended to another of my posts:
There is an alternative to either reductionism or dualism, which is emergence. Wecould explain the soul as an emergent product of the brain. Once the primate brain passes over acritical threshold of size and complexity, novel properties emerge that could not be explained orpredicted by knowledge of the lower levels.
This would be consistent with the New Testament teaching that the soul depends on the body,so that immortality requires the resurrection of the body, as opposed to ancient Greek dualism of body of soul.
So why shouldn’t we see Darwinian emergent evolution as the way in which the Intelligent Designer worked?
After all, there is no obvious reason to believe that the Intelligent Designer was unable or unwilling to employ evolutionary causes to execute His design.
Larry also engaged in a discussion with other commenters that involved both the Old Testament and quotes from Darwin, but I will pass on all that.
The most useful thing I can offer is a quick list of at least five reasons why family values conservatives are top downers and not bottom uppers, and most unlikely to accept Arnhart’s invitation to embrace Darwinism:
1. First, Darwinism explains things simply: Natural selection acting on random mutations produces life, the vast variety of life, and mind and all else that we see. The Darwinist’s point – and both Darwin and his followers have made it clear enough – is that there is no need for God or a divine mind, because it can all happen by this process.
Thus, Arnhart’s claims about “emergence” are interesting but in the end superfluous. It would be simplest to assume – as most good Darwinians do – that there is no mind or soul. Materialist neuroscientists, who understand correctly what is at stake, describe the mind as merely a “user illusion” of the brain – and laugh at the idea of a soul.
Of course theÃ‚Â theologians of institutional churchianity can flirt with “emergentism” and similar isms if they like – but what wouldn’t they flirt with? The suffix “-ism” is to them is what a skirt is to a sailor on shore leave. My sense is that many are materialists at heart but do not know how to make their convictions coincide with the fundamental beliefs of the institutions they belong to, unless they resort to such dodges.
To their credit, the social conservatives seem to understand all that clearly enough and blow clear of it almost instantaneously.
2. There is no reason to believe that simply increasing the number of neurons in a brain will produce a mind (or a soul) for the same reason as there is no reason to believe that simply increasing the size and power of a computer’s RAM will produce one. To imagine otherwise is the classic Darwinian shell game. Enough neurons produce a mind just as enough ancient soups produce life, and enough black holes produce a universe. Or so they say.
3. Most social conservatives in North America are Christians, so the New Testament view is worth addressing here: The New Testament does not teach that “immortality requires the resurrection of the body” or that “the soul depends on the body.” The New Testament offers the fulfilment of ancient promises of restoration of the body as well as the soul damaged by sin (see, for example, Gen 3:15; Luke 24:37Ã¢â‚¬â€œ39), but few, if any, orthodox traditions believe that the immortal soul requires or depends on the body as a condition of its existence. (See, for example Rev. 6:9.)
4. Consonant with their usual real beliefs, traditional Darwinists tend to support such practices as abortion, the use of human embryos in destructive experimentation, and euthanasia, just as the social conservatives – consonant with their real beliefs – tend to oppose them. There is a long history of Darwinist support for eugenics and, in individual cases, even genocide, as a direct result of their Darwinist beliefs.
When people differ on such fundamental issues of life and death, it is likely useless to hope that they will somehow get together.
5. Finally, what does it mean to say “Darwinian science supports family values and traditional morality as rooted in human biological nature.” Darwinists can and do make up just-so stories to support polygamy, monogamy, infidelity, fidelity, smacking your squeeze around, not smacking your squeeze around, running off on your six brats, raising your six brats, getting someone else to raise your six brats, … whew! I’m out of breath and I haven’t even got to infanticide, child abuse, or preferring boys to girls (or girls to boys).
Darwinism predicts absolutely nothing of substance for family values, which normally derive from philosophical or spiritual beliefs about correct relationships. This is true whether given beliefs are widely held or wisely held or linked in any obvious way to health, wealth, or fertility.
So I don’t see family values conservatives (who are rarely as stupid as they are made out to be) embracing Darwinism any time soon. But glad someone asked.