Evolutionary Psychology

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    Bufford, Rodger K. and Jonathan M. Garrison


    Evolutionary Psychology: A Paradigm Whose Time May Come: A Response to J. Raymond Zimmer

    "Evolutionary Psychology (EP) is a controversial modern psychological theory. An offshoot of sociobiology, EP proposes that humans have developed psychological mechanisms which reflect their evolutionary past, but which may not currently maximize fitness for survival...Zimmer, an EP enthusiast, proposes (PSCF 50, no. 3: 176-84) that EP offers a paradigm which is compatible with Christian beliefs. We agree that EP offers some unique integrative features, but - along with other critics - doubt that it will soon become a dominant psychological theory. Also, while EP provides some opportunities for integration with Christian beliefs, major EP proponents are hostile toward religion - except as an evolutionary social phenomenon - and their anti-Christian views are likely to be thoroughly interwoven into EP. Thus EP must be approached with care to identify the ways it is in tension with Christian beliefs as well as the ways it is compatible with them."
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    Jeeves, Malcolm


    Neuroscience, Evolutionary Psychology, and the Image of God

    "Almost daily we read media reports of scientific breakthroughs, often in neuroscience and evolutionary psychology, which, it is claimed, offer new insights into our mysterious human nature. Most of these reports present no direct challenge to widely held traditional Hebrew- Christian understandings of human nature. Others, however, seem directly to confront some of our most deeply held Christian beliefs about our nature. Beliefs reinforced as we sing some of our favorite hymns. Whilst references to the “image of God” are relatively infrequent in Scripture nevertheless the understandings of humankind which they enshrine are all pervasive...Acknowledging the persuasive current impact of neuroscience and neuro-philosophy this paper urges us to remember that biblical warrant and scientific evidence join in reminding us that central to our understanding of what it means to be a person is our psychosomatic unity. We know each other, not as brains ensheathed in bodies, but as embodied persons."
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    Nelkin, Dorothy


    Less Selfish than Sacred?, an excerpt from Alas, Poor Darwin: Arguments Against Evolutionary Psychology

    "...[I]t may be no coincidence that the depictions of genes in evolutionary narratives draw on powerful images of Christianity. Like the physicists engaged in God-talk, geneticists and evolutionary psychologists are borrowing the compelling concepts of one belief system to meet the needs of another, in an effort to attract converts - to convince the public and skeptics from other disciplines of the centrality and power of their ideas. But as scientists move from investigating how the world works to exploring questions of why - addressing age-old questions of what it means to be human, the nature of good and evil - they may only exacerbate the tensions between science and religion. Religious groups may seek a dialogue with science, but they are not about to step aside and leave it all to the quasi-religious narrative of evolutionary psychology."
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    Pinker, Steven


    The Evolutionary Psychology of Religion

    Steven Pinker is a very well-known atheistic psychologist. In this lecture delivered to the Freedom rom Religion Foundation, he argues that "The universal propensity toward religious belief is a genuine scientific puzzle. But many adaptationist explanations for religion...don't, I think, meet the criteria for adaptations. There is an alternative explanation, namely that religious psychology is a by-product of many parts of the mind that evolved for other purposes. Among those purposes one has to distinguish the benefits to the producer and the benefits to the consumer. Religion has obvious practical effects for producers. When it comes to the consumers, there are possible emotional adaptations in our desire for health, love and success, possible cognitive adaptations in our intuitive psychology, and many aspects of our experience that seem to provide evidence for souls. Put these together and you get an appeal to a mysterious world of souls to bring about our fondest wishes."
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    Zimmer, J. Raymond


    Evolutionary Psychology Challenges the Current Social Sciences

    "Evolutionary psychology is a new multidisciplinary field which promises to irrevocably change the traditional social sciences. This article introduces evolutionary psychology, explains how it challenges current social science, then discusses the opportunities it presents for Christian apologetics. To show that evolutionary psychology theories may be complementary, rather than antagonistic, to Christian views, a hypothesis within the Darwinian paradigm is proposed to explain the evolution of human awareness of supernature. Human awareness of supernature may be founded on the logical relationship between evolutionarily recent psychological adaptations in response to novel hominid social arrangements and more ancient mammalian psychologies. The hypothesis, though based on naturalism, paradoxically eclipses atheistic natural philosophy. Awareness of something beyond nature may be integral to human survival."