If Morality Evolved, Is It Righteous?

first_img(Visited 37 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0 Evolutionists are determined to keep morality from succeeding as a defeater for natural selection.“Evolving righteousness in a corrupt world” is the eye-catching title of a short summary on PhysOrg of a paper on PLoS ONE by the same title.  PhysOrg stated, “Initially cooperative societies devolve toward corruption, but introducing small ‘payments’ in conjunction with punishment can lead to stable, righteous societies, according to a modeling study published Sep. 12 in the open access journal PLOS ONE.”In their abstract, Edgar A. Duéñez-Guzmán and Suzanne Sadedin of Harvard’s Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology make “righteousness” synonymous with “cooperation”  But can’t societies cooperate on unrighteous deeds?  Their paper views “righteousness” (cooperation) as merely a mechanical game played by natural selection on any group of organisms, whether humans or ants:Righteousness, by stabilizing cooperation and providing a higher payoff to cooperative groups, constitutes a mechanism to shift the scale of selection from an individual to a group level. Unlike alternative mechanisms to maintain cooperation, such as reputation, righteousness requires no individual recognition or memory. Righteousness does require some ability to discriminate between punishers and non-punishers, but such discrimination can occur without complex cognition; for example, ant punishers are often larger and more aggressive than non-punishers.Because the collective payoff of righteousness is higher than that of alternative outcomes, righteous groups are likely to outcompete those that have converged on defection or corruption. As a result, righteousness is expected to spread either culturally or genetically. This mechanism may explain the observation of righteous punishment in some ant species and some human societies.Thus we see that, in their view, “righteousness” is not really moral at all; it involves no conscience, no moral choice, and no definition of right or wrong.  It might spread “either culturally or genetically,” they said.  But if culture is an artifact of genes, then so is “righteousness.”  If ants and bacteria can be righteous, it’s just not really righteousness at all.  It’s an artifact of selection that looks like righteousness.This article is typical of evolutionary explanations for morality.  Hardly a paper in this genre fails to mention that morality is a conundrum for Darwinism.  Why would an individual self-sacrifice for the good of others?  Think of a grandmother sending a check for the relief of hungry children she has never seen in a faraway country.  Morality threatens Darwinism.  It’s an observational fact that defies evolution.  For Darwinism to survive as the all-encompassing explanation of everything in the living world, it must be Darwinized.  It must be brought within the sheepfold of phenomena explainable by the mindless, aimless, purposeless mechanism of mutation and selection.Still, it remains a challenge ever since Darwin suggested that human psychology and sociality are selective effects.  That’s why evolutionary journals and articles constantly try to tackle it with new models and approaches.In Science 31 August 2012 (Vol. 337 no. 6098 p. 1042, DOI: 10.1126/science.1225641), Buyun Zhao reviewed a new book on the topic called Moral Origins: The Evolution of Virtue, Altruism, and Shame by Christopher Boehm.  Zhao agreed that “Prima facie, morality (our sense of right and wrong) appears to be an evolutionary paradox.”  So he was relieved that “With its cautious rhetoric and deep introspection, [Boehm’s] account provides a convincing tale” – a strange description for a scientific theory.   Even conscience is brought within the fold of natural selection:Uncomfortably inherent in this account, the counterintuitive notion that our sense of fairness arose prior to the formation of our conscience presents us with a philosophical dilemma. However, Boehm tactfully argues that understanding the rules of the social game should precede its true emotional internalization. He suggests that our conscience arose merely as a “Machiavellian risk calculator”—a process of thoughts that conceptualizes the game theory of prohibitive punishment costs versus defection benefits. This seems to me the most persuasive description of the emergence of conscience yet.Philosophers might retort at this solution to the dilemma, however, asking for clarity about the meaning of introspection, thoughts, and conceptualizations.  Sweeping past such questions, Zhao found it “profoundly satisfying” to see a fellow evolutionist bringing these difficult concepts into the Darwinian fold: “The book’s greatest value lies in its elegant naturalistic explanation for morality, which dovetails Darwinian history with philosophy.”  Now if Zhao can just get philosophy to arise by natural selection, he might be able to locate the genes that produce the illusion of profound satisfaction.Speaking of fairness, PhysOrg announced that “Fairness can evolve by imitating one’s neighbor.”  And who tells us this?  Physicists, the headline said.  This would suggest that robots can learn fairness.  But if robots do it, who determines if it is fair?  A robot referee?  Who programmed the robot referee with the fairness algorithm?  Omitting to address such philosophical questions, the article about models developed by eastern Europeans continues the selectionist line: “Studies have shown that, while models of natural selection favor the evolution of the rational Homo economicus who accepts anything and offers little, arranging the game spatially can lead to the evolution of fairness.”  The question-begging lights really flash on the words favor, rational, and arranging.Some evolutionists try to adorn their models with lab experiments.  An example is found on BBC News, where reporter Victoria Gill told readers that “Puppet experiment suggests humans are born to be fair.”   This tale rests, once again, on evolution by natural selection.  Speaking of experiments on fair play with non-human primates, Gill made it clear that “these studies are trying to unpick its evolutionary origins.”  Even though the results of the experiments showed that true altruistic behavior (helping others for no reward) is unique to humans, no theologians were allowed to opine on how fairness might be a created trait in the beings God made in His image.  Instead, answers will have to await better models from evolutionary biologists and psychologists.Time would fail to list all the other attempts to evolutionize morality, such as the paper this month in PNAS by Suchak and de Waal, “Monkeys benefit from reciprocity without the cognitive burden” (an attempt to identify the “mechanisms” that led to the “origins of human prosociality” via natural selection), or the paper in Science about “Microbial Cooperative Warfare”  by Helene Morlon (Science 7 September 2012: Vol. 337 no. 6099 pp. 1184-1185, DOI: 10.1126/science.1227512) that tried to answer the valid question, “But how can such social systems evolve? Antibiotic production comes at a fitness cost to the superkillers, and in a Darwinian world of survival of the fittest, why should an individual help others at its own expense?”  Morlon found respite in the prospect that cooperation can appear to evolve, even in bacteria, and that further research may find out why some day.It should be no surprise, given this tendency to evolutionize morality, that evolutionists look at hot political issues in similar terms.  For instance, the latest Live Science entry by Stephanie Pappas headlined, “Providing Abortions Can Be the Moral Choice, Doctor Says.”  With the emphasis on “fairness” as an artifact of game theory and models of natural and social selection, now Pappas’ arguments make a kind of sense, if sense has any grounding in selectionist theory.  If conscientious objectors can be granted immunity from prosecution for refusing to perform abortions due to religious beliefs, then the ones who want to perform abortions as their “moral choice” should also be granted immunity.  It’s only fair.  It’s also convenient: one doesn’t have to consider the rights of the unborn, a mass of evolving genes with surrounding tissue.  Bystanders might well wonder what soap box Pappas is standing on to teach fairness, if fairness is an illusion brought about by natural selection in her genes.Pastors, listen up:  these articles reveal just how pernicious the Darwin Industry is.  Ever since Huxley, Tyndall and Darwin turned the selectionist storytellers loose on the humanities (see Evolution News & Views), Darwinists have rationalized the worst atrocities in human history with their ideology of evolutionary naturalism.It’s pernicious on at least three grounds: (1) They redefine words like righteousness, morality, and altruism, turning them into empty evolutionary artifacts devoid of meaning; (2) They bastardize science by telling stories; and (3) They turn around and rationalize evil with their foolish models.  We might add a fourth: (4) They shoot themselves in the foot.  In their Yoda trances, they assume a stance outside the universe of evolved behaviors, pretending to explain rationally and truthfully what goes on in the minds of everyone else but themselves.  For this reason alone, we can dismiss all they say as nonsense.But give them enough power to exclude other views, and they are the most dangerous ideologues on earth.  If you think Darwinian evil was spent on the 20th century, just wait: the same corrupted minds are corrupting young minds in universities across the world, equipping the next Lenin or Pol Pot with a pseudoscientific justification to commit unheard-of atrocities, all in the name of natural selection.  An altruistic person like yourself would never let that happen, would you?last_img read more

How to use Media Club South Africa’s free photo library

first_imgAll you need to know about locating and downloading high-resolution images from Media Club South Africa’s free photo library.One of Media Club South Africa’s offerings is a free photo library containing over 3 000 images of people and places across South Africa.The photos are available in low resolution (50KB to 200KB in size) and in high, print-ready resolution (1MB to over 10MB in size) – free of any charge.The photos are organised into 12 categories. PeopleCitiesInfrastructureBusiness and industrySouth Africa at workArts and cultureTourism and leisureNatureCountrysideDevelopmentBuildings and structuresSoccer fans and stadiumsTo download the high-resolution version, right-click on “Download high-res image” below the thumbnail and select “Save … as” (wording varies by browser) to save a copy of the photo onto your computer. If you republish the photos on the web or in print you are obliged to credit both the photographer and Media Club South Africa.On the web, this credit must include a link to Media Club South Africa.See also:Photo library terms and conditions of usePhoto library previewIf you have any further queries, or need help, email Mary Alexander at [email protected]last_img read more

South Africa’s CSIR celebrates 70 years of research

first_img13 October 2015The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is celebrating its 70th birthday this year, and at its annual two day conference, held on 8 and 9 October, the focus was on the impact and breakthroughs the organisation has had over the past seven decades.Besides hosting the conference, the CSIR is also educating the public on its work and achievements via radio, print and television broadcasts.The CSIR is one of the leading science and technology research, development and implementation organisations in Africa. Constituted by an Act of Parliament in 1945 as a science council, the CSIR is committed to supporting innovation in South Africa to improve national competitiveness in the global economy.Advertising campaignPhase two of its advertising campaign started on 12 October, according to Tendani Tsedu, the group’s spokesperson. “This is the first advertising campaign for the CSIR. We wanted to show the public how the work that is being done by the CSIR affects them on a daily basis,” he explained.It falls under the Ideas that Work initiative. In one of the videos, the narrator asks the question: “What if there were people who were quietly working to make your life better, without you even knowing?”Watch one of the advertisements being shown on South African television channels till 10 December:Tsedu said the aim of the advertising was to show the impact of the CSIR’s research on society, industry and other sectors. “Another factor (for the advertising) was to increase the visibility of the CSIR and also to attract young people towards science. We want them to know that science is fun and exciting.”In just one recent innovation, in 2013 CSIR researchers developed the world’s first digital laser. It was regarded as a milestone in laser technology and could spur future laser-related innovations.The team found that laser beams could be digitally controlled from within a laser device. Their findings were published in the prestigious Nature Communications journal, on 2 August 2013.Find out how to make the CSIR your career choice:The conferenceThe CSIR’s 5th conference was attended last week by 1 500 delegates, said Tsedu. Guests included Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, Minister of Science and Technology Naledi Pandor, members of the science and technology portfolio committee, research partners such as Eskom, Transnet and the South African National Defence Force, and university students.Speaking on the first day, Ramaphosa said that continuous investment in research and development was critical for South Africa to achieve the goals of its National Development Plan (NDP).“The NDP says that science and technology must be used to address some of the problems in education, health and economic development, and it must facilitate access to information and knowledge,” said Ramaphosa.Watch the deputy president explain why the government will invest in solution- driven technology:Research out of the labAt the conference, CSIR scientists presented their work to the public. About 20 exhibitions covered energy, health, defence, built environment, ICT, natural environment and industry. Tendani Tsedu of CSIR said during their 5th Conference the scientists had an opportunity to present their work to the public. (Image: Supplied)“They had a chance to take the research out of the lab and discuss it in an open forum,” said Tsedu. “The robust debates and engagement with the industry, government departments, businesses and other science councils were inspiring and constructive.“Those who attended (the conference) now have a better idea of what is the CSIR and how can they use science to solve issues that they are facing,” he added.Another highlight was the launch of a commercial product with Nestle South Africa. The CSIR teamed up with the Agriculture Research Council, Nestle and University of Fort Hare to develop Maggi 2 Minute Noodles with morogo, or African spinach. This product, which is already available in supermarkets, is a good example of what can be achieved if private and public companies work together to address issues such as unemployment and poverty.Delegates tweeted about the sessions:@CSIR Dr Busisiwe Vilakazi is the last Health speaker of the #CSIRConference #CSIR70 All speakers have been excellent pic.twitter.com/RudpOUeHin— Lyndi Jonker (@lyndi_j) October 9, 2015#CSIRConference . Really enjoying hearing about the great research projects CSIR is doing. Makes me a proud South African— Barry Dwolatzky (@BarryDwolatzky) October 8, [email protected] getting ready to demo some of the cool apps entrepreneurs & innovators have built @mlabsa #csirconference pic.twitter.com/pjbcDsKLiD— mLab Southern Africa (@mlabsa) October 8, 2015Interesting sessions“The focus was on the research that the CSIR is doing to find a cure for malaria,” Tsedu explained about the health session. The conference also looked at research on food to be used in school feeding schemes, e-health and “many other exciting work in this field”.Prof Lynn Morris, the head of the HIV virology laboratories in the Centre of HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, was a speaker. She gave a keynote address titled “Towards an antibody- based HIV vaccine.”Source: South Africa.info reporterlast_img read more