Thursday, March 11, 2010

Evolution Redux

Coyne claims that evolution is not theory, it is fact. He also asserts that to opponents, "evolution raises such profound questions of purpose, morality, and meaning that they just can't accept it" (224). Explain why many feel the acceptance of evolution would lead to a decrease in morality. Do you agree? Or are morality and evolution actually intertwined?


  1. Many people feel that the acceptance of evolution would lead to a decrease in morality because it would make humans seem like they are no better than any other organism. It makes humans less than the special creatures we see ourselves as by proving through evidence that we evolved from simple creatures. By not following the common belief that God created humans on purpose with characterisitics such as a large brain that destine us to rule the world, evolution seems to make humans seem like any other animal.
    Others believe that evolution would lead to a decrease in morailty because "if we recognize we are only evolved mammals, there will be nothing to prevent us from acting like beasts" (225). Scientists against evolution often argue that the belief in evolution will lead to people doing inhumane and unjust actions with the simple excuse that they are simply beasts who are killing off the least adapt to society through natural seleciton. This is clearly not what evolution was trying to propose. Natural selection explains that over time those who are less fit will die off, leading to a increase in traits that aid in survival and reproduction. Natural selection does not state anything about humans killing other humans because they deem them less fit. Evolution does not try to impose morals on humans. As Coyne said, "Evolution is simply the theory about the process and patterns of life" (225) and it simply "tells use where we came from, not where we can go" (231). Evolution does not try to show us how to live our lives, but instead tries to explain where we came from so we can understand how incredible it is that humans have evolved to the intelligent species they are today. If anything, evolution should give people motivation to try to improve on the humans species and make a better society overall. Humans need to realize that they should find morals in their own life without looking towards a scientific theory for guidance.

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  5. I agree with both Annie and Scottie in some aspects to this question relating to the fact that humans are the most complex organisms living on Earth. However, I have a different twist on the concept of morality; I believe we should accept evolution and attempt to learn more about how we function to make ourselves better in the future. Evolution has shown us that it is a valid point that we are mammals; for instance, we are warm-blooded and are thermoregulators. Although it is hard for many intelligent design proponents to believe, evolution supports that we have evolved from simpler organisms. The thing that separates us from other species though is our brain, which allows us to make all the important decisions day in and day out.

    In a previous JAE that I did, a group of researchers studied the innovative problem solving abilities of house sparrows. What I really liked about this article is that the implications to science were outstanding. By observing a different organism, in this case the Passer domesticus, we may also be able to benefit our survival as human beings in the future generations to come. By observing how the sparrows work more efficiently in larger groups versus smaller groups, we may be able to take this into consideration and conduct more research to obtain this new knowledge as how we function best. I think accepting evolution would be good for us because it contradicts how we view ourselves as humans; we've declared ourselves superior to all other organisms on Planet Earth. Just because we have the highest IQs and most complex language, etc. does not mean that there are not organisms out there that possess more efficient ways to solve problems. If we accept this concept, with the great technology we have developed the potential of the human race is unlimited. All aspects of life would be positively influenced.

    Although the acceptance of evolution has great potential for humans, Coyne, on page 226, develops the occurrences that have taken the theory of evolution to the extreme (decrease in morality→ inhumane actions). According to Texas newspaper from 1999, which took a sarcastic approach at the horrific event, “[Columbine] couldn’t have been because our school systems teach the children that they are nothing but glorified apes who have evolutionized out of some primordial soup of mud.” This is showing the immorality that proving evolution to be true can cause some people to take part in. To me, this is an absurd proposition because survival of the fittest in nature does not involve the mass murder of innocent people by guns. There are many features that make us the special “animals” we are and for this reason there is the category of “human nature” (227). Evolution does not hold all the questions to everything about people and “We shouldn’t always assume that widespread behaviors reflect genetically based adaptations” (227). Evolution produced the brain we possess today, but it is our brain and all our other complex body systems that have developed us socially. All in all, Jerry Coyne later summmarizes in his novel, “There is an increasing (and disturbing) tendency of psychologists, biologists, and philosophers to Darwinize every aspect of human behavior, turning its study into a scientific parlor game” (228). Evolution is not the answer to all our questions, but by studying the way our bodies are developed as of now, we can better our existence throughout many years to come, which in the end will increase morality.

  6. People who are against the theory of evolution often believe that it
    will lead to a decrease in morality because they feel it will no longer
    give people a "purpose" for being on earth. Creationists all believe
    that humans were created for a purpose, and “they agree that the
    natural world has an intelligent cause and was designed”
    (Conservapedia). They are so adamantly against accepting the theory of
    evolution because their whole belief is based on the idea that "nature
    somehow needs them...[but] species are evolutionary accidents" (176).
    The fact that humans and every other species simply evolved by chance
    is hard to grasp for some, because many religions claim that humans
    were specifically created. They believe this, Coyne writes, as a
    natural result of the conscious brain; humans become so egotistical
    that we “[perceive] ourselves as somehow standing apart from the rest
    of nature” (192). If humans weren't created for some divine reason,
    then many people think that there would be no reason to live by any
    rules, because as animals we should do anything we can to increase our
    individual fitness; after all, if we're only animals, all we need to do
    is survive and reproduce, right? There aren’t any rules for fairness or
    morality if the entire purpose of life is to survive and reproduce. If
    humans are simply a random occurrence, then I agree with Annie that
    some people will take this as an excuse to do whatever they want
    without any fear of consequences. People may view religion as pointless
    as well, because how can one be sure that someone is watching over us
    if we’re just the same as every other animal? Even though this isn't
    what evolution is implying when it says that species are accidents,
    some people may draw this conclusion, leading to their beliefs that
    there will be a drop in morality that comes with this theory being
    accepted as fact. However, as a result of mounting evidence showing the
    truth of the theory of evolution, some liberal branches of religion
    have begun to embrace the theory of evolution, rejecting the notion
    that the Bible should be interpreted literally. In fact, even “the
    Roman Catholic Church now explicitly accepts the theory of
    evolution…arguing that evolution is one of the principles through which
    God created living beings” (Cambridge Encyclopedia, Thus, even if some may believe accepting
    evolution will lead to a decrease in morality, most people today accept
    or even embrace the theory of evolution to some degree; the fact that
    our society hasn’t degraded yet should be good evidence that further
    widespread acceptance of evolution will not lead to a decrease in
    morality in American society.