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Reciprocating Bill

Posts: 4265
Joined: Oct. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 20 2007,22:33   

Uncommonly Denyse holds forth on evolutionary psychology here.

Denyse - your entire essay counts for nothing, for a very simple reason. Given that you reject the essential notion that evolution proceeds by means of the selection for adaptations that further survival, you should execute a Full Stop right there. Your position is that "evolutionary psychology is mistaken because human beings did not arise in the manner understood by evolutionary biology; human beings were designed, and human adaptations have no other meaningful history." Full Stop.

We understand that everything that follows beyond that Full Stop is simply polemics, and ultimately a particular (and peculiar) brand of Christian apologetics.

For those of us who grasp that humanity has a very deep history, and that adaptations displayed by contemporary humans (both physical and behavioral) share that history, the effort to better understand that history is a worthy scientific endeavor. That said, evolutionary psychology is confronted by a very specific, difficult problem: increasingly as one moves deeper into the past, behavior leaves few fossils. It follows that our knowledge of the behavioral dimensions of that history is likely fated to remain somewhat incomplete and speculative. It does not follow that human behavioral adaptations have no such history.

We are not entirely bereft, however, because there are several lines of observation and experimentation that permit a certain degree of "triangulation" upon facets of that history. These include comparative investigations into the behavioral endowments of primates generally and the great apes specifically (such as pursued at the Max Plank Institute in Germany); developmental psychology (which traces the emergence of behavioral endowments that have a clear genetic, and hence evolutionary, basis); cultural anthropology and cultural psychology (which tease out that which is universal from that which is cultural in human behavior); and cognitive neuroscience, which in some cases discloses neural structures that have clear bearing upon specific aspects of the evolutionary history of, for example, human empathy and human theory of mind (mirror neurons come to mind). Broadly speaking, constrained speculation vis these lines of investigation from within the framework of human evolutionary psychology has been an effective heuristic for these investigations, and human behavior, cognition, and development often are, in turn, illuminated by this research.

Your position, grounded as it is in the Full Stop of "design," is irrelevant to these efforts. Very much in the same manner that ID contributes nothing substantive to our understanding of the natural history of the physical complexity of living organisms (because it denies that any such history exists), and has therefore rendered itself irrelevant to meaningful scientific investigation before leaving the gate, your ID position on the origin of human behavioral adaptations (e.g., origins in a "divine mind") contributes nothing to our understanding of the origins of human behavioral adaptations, including the intelligence that you apparently admire.

Myth: Something that never was true, and always will be.

"The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you."
- David Foster Wallace

"Here’s a clue. Snarky banalities are not a substitute for saying something intelligent. Write that down."
- Barry Arrington

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