Saturday, February 23, 2008

Ethics and evolutionary psychology - audio lecture by Keith Ward (online at Gresham college)

Quotes and comments;

1. Before he starts his lecture he responds to a question someone in the audience had; 'what is evolutionary psychology?'' by saying it's more or less equivalent to what used to be called sociobiology. (As far as I know this is the idea all human behavior, thought, etc. can be explained in terms of genetics.)
- let me say that the term e. psychology is one of the most absurd oxymorons ever invented.

2. Ward claims some mutations are beneficial. I dispute this. I don't know of a one. Mutations are copying mistakes... and can only produce error; they destroy information... they Never create new information. The end result is always a loss information. (see 'Not a chance' by Lee Spetner) - But we need to ask how an E. can possibly know whether a mutation is a positive thing I maintain he has no way to do this; not if he takes E. theory seriously. If E. has no goal in mind, no mutation can be good or bad. For it to be so the E. would have to have an objective standard to measure it against. He would need to choose one time period over another to measure the effects; but any choice he made would be arbitrary. He would have to choose to measure in terms of the individual, the group, or the whole system; and any choice would again be arbitrary.

3. Ward tells us evolutionary psychology (EP) destroys the idea of ethics, and offers as evidence a quote from Richard Dawkins, where we're told that; "we are robot vehicles.... survival machines... programmed to conserve selfish genes...''
- This of course is ID language; language Dawkins has no right to use. Only persons invent machines.... so even if this claim were true he would have refuted the case for materialism.
- Programmed? more ID language; only intelligent agents can program anything.

4. Ward assures us evolution is a fact not a theory... and he gives us the example of the hairy mice in the Orkneys. "They just keep getting hairier and hairier,'' he tells us. (Well; that's good enough for me, I'm going back to my old belief in evolution :=)
- this is pretty silly... the fact mice get more or less hairy as the weather gets more or less cold tells us Nothing about evolution. The point is this; do mice turn into birds? No. Do they ever become anything but mice? No. Fluctuations around a mean is evidence of nothing; except maybe the great wisdom of the Creator. Evolutionists keep giving us evidence (so called) of this kind) and it proves nothing.
- The Genesis account tells us we started off with a single human couple. We now have all kinds of different looking humans; from Zulus to Norwegians. This is not in any way evolution. I maintain this is the paradigm for all creation; for all that has happened since the creation. Theologians like Ward like to claim genesis is a fairy tale (I guess they get this bit of wisdom from Dawkins) but I maintain that the Gen. account is in fact scientifically accurate. What we see today in the human community is what we would expect to be the case if in fact it were true history. The fact we have all different shades of colored skin has nothing to do with evolution. The fact some people are short and some tall is Not evolution; it's just a working out of the richness of the genetic code. (Which in fact has an infinite number of possible humans up its sleeve.) The key to understanding life on earth is that no two humans are alike; that each person is unique. One day people will understand the implications of that; but I don't expect it will be anytime soon. (And lib theologians will be the last to twig.)
- I believe the model stated above might be expected to be true of all the creatures (called kinds) that were created directly by God. I expect that a similar kind of wide expression took place in all the created kinds. (This is by no means original with me.)

5. Ward at one point mocks the Genesis account of the Fall. (His voice goes all weird; becomes even more high pitched than usual, and the delivery very rapid.) H he tells us this account doesn't really make sense.
- And of course Ward knows what is and is not 'sense.' i.e. he apparently has access to some autonomous source of knowledge that delivers absolute truth to him... and so he can tell us the bible makes no sense. (i.e. if the Bible disagrees with Keith Ward, the bible is wrong.) Is it any wonder there is no one in most English churches? Hardly. People don't go to church to hear god's word being mocked; not many at any rate.
"It's a real primitive story'' he tells us. (One wonders what his story of the 'hominid' who first dreamed up the idea of right and wrong should be called then? pre-primitive? idiotic? heretical?)

6. In a classic example of liberal hypocricy he tells us "I wouldn't, as a priest, mock Genesis (which he just has) but I would present it as a myth of people so backward they knew nothing of evolution."
- I love that. That goes down as one my favorite goofball quotes of all time. Didn't even know about evolution! Can you imagine? (But of course evolution goes back millennia in time, and the ancient Greeks believed in it... and in my view it was already old at that time.... and no doubt goes back well before the days of the flood.)
- So why is it okay to mock Genesis at a lecture hall, and not okay in church?. This seems more than a little muddle headed to me.

1. From the sounds of listening to his lectures, I doubt if Ward has ever look critically at evolution theory; or has ever spoken to a well informed critic of it.



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