A reader describes what will make him accept evolution

A new reader, “Blas”, submitted this comment (to follow my “modest proposal” post) on what would make him accept evolution (I’m assuming he’s a “he” because “Blas” sounds male):

I will believe in evolution when I listen darwinist tell his fiance or his wife:

“The chemistry of my body make me feel good when I see you. I´m telling this to you because may chemistry is making me tell that, not because I´m free to say this or other thing”

instead of “I love you”

I will believe in evolution when I listen darwinist tell his childrens:

“The chemistry of my body make me feel good when I see you, because the vision results in the possibility that my shelfish genes will survive.I´m telling this to you because may chemistry is making me tell that, not because I´m free to say this or other thing”

instead of “I love you”

Well, perhaps this guy is not a human but a mollusc (“shelfish genes”), but regardless, this is not necessarily evidence for evolution. It is evidence for emotions and feelings coming from physiology, something that many antievolutionists can accept, I suppose. After all, God could work through hormones, too, just as theists tell us he works through natural selection.

And I’m puzzled by how Blas mixes up physiology with free will.  Presumably many of the compatibilists who post here would readily admit that our feelings are conditioned by hormones.  Indeed, we can change a person’s feelings by adjusting his/her hormone titer.

At any rate, let’s turn this guy around.  I can tell him that I have had a female tell me that her feelings for me were due to a surge of oxytocin.  I don’t have a family, but perhaps one mother or father can verify that they’ll tell their children that their feelings of love derive from natural selection, promoted by inclusive fitness, that acted on genes that produce hormones and emotions.

All it takes is one of us to say these things and—presto—Blas will become a Darwinian!

196 Comments

  1. Posted April 4, 2012 at 5:11 am | Permalink

    Blas seems to prefer to continually expand the scope of his questions so that we are never able to satisfy him/her.

    Typical theist tactic.

    Blas, humans are just organic machines, okay? Now go get an education.

    • Blas
      Posted April 4, 2012 at 5:38 am | Permalink

      Was you who says that or is just your program running?

      • alias Ernest Major
        Posted April 4, 2012 at 6:03 am | Permalink

        If free will is your sticking point you ought to be directing your ire at priests, philosophers and physicists, not biologists.

        Reconciling free will and Christian doctrine is difficult. Reconciling free will and physics is a little less difficult. Reconciling free will and evolution is hardly a problem at all.

        • Blas
          Posted April 4, 2012 at 8:39 am | Permalink

          Off course free will is a product of a ramdom mutaton and natural selection. May you explain how it works?

          • Tulse
            Posted April 4, 2012 at 8:52 am | Permalink

            Can you explain how free will works via your god?

            • Blas
              Posted April 4, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

              You can start reading “De libero arbitrio” by Saint Augstine of Hippo.
              Then I have more bibliography.

              • Tulse
                Posted April 5, 2012 at 5:58 am | Permalink

                Thanks for the reference, but in the interest of time, could you perhaps just summarize the argument?

          • alias Ernest Major
            Posted April 4, 2012 at 10:06 am | Permalink

            You’re missing the point. Agonising other how humans acquired free will while glossing over the question as to whether the universe allows free will is avoiding the main issue. If you reject evolution because you can’t conceive of a means for free will to arise, you ought to have rejected Christianity (at least those forms with an omniscient God) and physics first.

            That consciousness is a epiphenomenon of the brain is a reasonable working hypothesis. One could take a similar view on free will.

            • Blas
              Posted April 4, 2012 at 11:45 am | Permalink

              And a epiphenomenon is a chemical reaction? if not what is it?
              If it is a chemical reaction or a physical change it is not free it follows the physical and chemical laws.

              • alias Ernest Major
                Posted April 4, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

                Are you now agreeing (“physical and chemical laws”) that your ire should be directed at physicists?

              • Blas
                Posted April 4, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

                Tell me what other would direct my ire.

      • truthspeaker
        Posted April 4, 2012 at 11:36 am | Permalink

        “Was you who says that or is just your program running?”

        Both. They’re the same thing.

        • Blas
          Posted April 4, 2012 at 11:46 am | Permalink

          So no need of discussion, your answer is programmed.

          • truthspeaker
            Posted April 4, 2012 at 11:58 am | Permalink

            Programs can discuss things with each other, and make different decisions and say different things based on the input they receive.

            • Blas
              Posted April 4, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

              No, they can take the decisions they are programmed for a give input.

              • truthspeaker
                Posted April 5, 2012 at 6:47 am | Permalink

                You don’t know much about computer science, do you?

      • Posted April 5, 2012 at 11:04 am | Permalink

        No; who’s on first.

  2. Posted April 4, 2012 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    I have spoken at length with my boyfriend about how awesome it is that seratonin and dopamine make you feel squishy and wooooo….and how after you have had sex, the dopamine rush is awesome.

    We also chat about how mimicry is a cool behavioural event when couples first get together, and how important it is to bonding.

    We do also be all wussy and stuff, to, but science is far too cool sometimes to not talk about

    • Blas
      Posted April 4, 2012 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      I hope you never found him with increased levels of serotonine and dopamine with other female.

      • Posted April 4, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

        Would it matter if I did?

        • Blas
          Posted April 4, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

          For me not at all. For you?

          • Posted April 5, 2012 at 2:51 am | Permalink

            Well, I was worried that it would cause you to lose sleep, as you brought the question up.

            I lose no sleep over it personally, as I get seratonin and dopamine releases when I look at an amazing sunrise, or suddenly understand the mechanism of something.

            A lot of people get dopamine after eating food…I doubt their partners worry about that either.

  3. Posted April 4, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    I found one on video! The line is at 4:30, but it’s worth listening to the whole talk. It’s funny.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/robin_ince_science_versus_wonder.html

    My favorite line: “Like many rationalists, I’m a Pisces.”

    • FastLane
      Posted April 5, 2012 at 8:23 am | Permalink

      Bah, everyone knows the true rationalists (TM) are taurus. :D

  4. phosphoros99
    Posted April 4, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    I don’t have a problem with evolution per se , that is “descent with modification” but I do have a concern about how much modification can be achieved.

    My greater concern is that it is my perception (this may not be reality) that evolutionary biologists seem to think that if one does not see a Michelangelo approach to creating forms i.e directly applied chisel and hammer then there is neither a designer or need for a designer.

    While this may have had traction in the 1800s I find it amazing that the view still has a much traction in the information age.

    What more versatile way to create and modify forms than through an information based process ?

  5. morkindie
    Posted April 4, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    I tell my wife that I love her because she incredibly attractive in many ways. I am compelled to love her. I have no choice in the matter.

    …But it’s the way I say it.

    always gets a smile.

  6. Posted April 6, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    A little story about ‘category error’ guy;

    “Did you enjoy your meal?”
    “I don’t know”
    “What do you mean, “I don’t know”?”
    “Well, I have not yet figured out which theory best explains our sensations of taste and smell.
    If it happens to be a theory involving the supernatural, e.g. I enjoy food, because, let’s say, I am being tongue-kissed by the Goddess of Taste, then I will tell you that I have indeed enjoyed the meal.
    On the other hand, if it turns out that my experience of your meal is best explained by molecules, interacting in their usual boring chemical ways, then it obviously follows that I haven’t”

  7. Mark Joseph
    Posted April 7, 2012 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

    Hello Lisa:

    I’m not sure if you are still following this post and comments or not, and all the replying did make it hard to know where to put things, but I did want to make a suggestion.

    You wrote in what I think was your last post “If anyone would like to provide links to those I would be happy to read them, alternatively you could just provide me the name of the paper, author/s and journal the article appears in and I will find it. I have access to the majority of them via university subscriptions and I am sure my teenage son would also be interested in them. Evolution fascinates him and he is currently planning on being a palaeontologist. He might however find the science journal ones a bit dry, at present he is more interested in documentaries, books we borrow at the library and websites directed at teenagers, but any suggestions on those would be very welcome.”

    Better than journal articles, at least for a teenager, might be two fascinating books that lay out the evidence for evolution at a level which I think would be appropriate, though perhaps at times a bit difficult, for an intelligent teenager. Both are recent, easily available, and highly regarded. I’m a little surprised that no one else mentioned these to you.

    One is “Why Evolution is True” by Jerry Coyne, the author of this blog. The other is “The Greatest Show on Earth” by Richard Dawkins. For specific coverage of the paleontological line of evidence, you could hardly do better than Donald Prothero’s “Evolution: What the Fossils Say, and Why it Matters”.

    • Lisa
      Posted April 7, 2012 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

      Wow! Thank you. Richard Dawkin’s book I have heard of, but hadn’t thought to use it for my teenager. He is however getting older and the last teenager I home-schooled (now attending an advanced academic program at a school dedicated to science) had a jump in comprehension at about the same age. I will try them and see how he goes, at the very least if he is not ready for them now he might be soon.
      Thanks again for the suggestions.


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