The End of Stories: the Evolutionary Psychology of Evolutionary Psychology

The journal Nature published an editorial recently in which the editors criticized Senator Sam Brownback’s New York Times essay What I Think About Evolution. Senator Brownback wrote: Man was not an accident and reflects an image and likeness unique in the created order. Those aspects of evolutionary theory compatible with this truth are a welcome addition to human knowledge. Aspects of these theories that undermine this truth, however, should be firmly rejected as atheistic theology posing as science. In reply to Brownback, the editors at Nature made some stunning assertions:

Ideas, Matter, and Faith

P.Z. Myers’ reply to my observation that ideas like altruism have no physical properties, like location, leaves a thoughtful observer to wonder: why do materialists have so much difficulty with this basic philosophical principle? It’s clear that ideas share no properties with matter. Ideas have no mass, or length, or temperature, or location. They’re immaterial. Clearly, under ordinary circumstances the brain is necessary for our ideas to exist, but, because matter and ideas share no properties, it’s hard to see how the brain is sufficient for ideas to exist. Yet Myers insists that altruism is located in the brain. He’s had some trouble with my previous thought experiments, so I’ll try another:

The Nature Editorial: Either Intelligent Design is Science, or Senator Brownback Got it RIght

In a remarkable editorial, the editors of Nature recently responded to Senator Sam Brownback’s essay What I Think about Evolution in the New York Times. Senator Brownback wrote: The question of evolution goes to the heart of this issue. If belief in evolution means simply assenting to microevolution, small changes over time within a species, I am happy to say, as I have in the past, that I believe it to be true. If, on the other hand, it means assenting to an exclusively materialistic, deterministic vision of the world that holds no place for a guiding intelligence, then I reject it…. Referring to materialistic evolutionary theories for the emergence of the human mind, Senator Brownback notes: …Aspects of these Read More ›

‘Verizon Deniers’ Find a Cellphone

Is the brain alone necessary and sufficient to cause the mind? Here’s a thought experiment: Imagine scientists living on an isolated island who have developed sophisticated science and culture, with one exception: they deny that telecommunication is possible. For assorted reasons, they deny that the human voice can be transmitted through space, except as vibrations in air. We’ll call this civilization the ‘Verizon Deniers.’ One day, they find a cell phone (it dropped from a plane or something). They turn it on, and they hear things. They hear hissing, cracking, and what sounds like voices!

Please Help P.Z. Myers Find Altruism!

P.Z. Myers, materialistic neuroscientist and blogger at Pharyngula, is looking for altruism. Responding to my observation that ideas like altruism can’t be caused entirely by neurochemistry because ideas don’t share properties (like location) with matter, Myers asserted: …altruism does have a location. It’s the product of activity in [the] brain. Where else would it be, floating in the air, in [the] left foot, or nonexistent? Let’s take a closer look at Myers’ idea — that altruism, an immaterial idea, is located in the brain. What does it mean to say that altruism is located in the brain?