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Evolution and baseball caps 
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Post Re: Evolution and baseball caps
Interbane wrote:
Flann wrote:
Do you think this is due to their genetic make-up? Do you know of studies that definitively prove this as causal?




Definitive? Probably not. Highly suggestive though. Here is one of many examples:

http://www.livescience.com/47288-twin-s ... etics.html

Thanks Interbane for the interesting article.
I'll have to study it more with the links provided there. To zero in on the point you made about religious beliefs or the lack thereof.
Here's a quote from the article;" A study in 1990 found that genetics account for 50 percent of the religiosity among the population. In other words both identical twins raised apart were more likely to be religious or to be not religious,compared with unrelated individuals."
50 percent of religiosity or non religiosity accounted for by genetics in the studied twin population is very high. I haven't seen that study so am taking it on trust that this is a correct conclusion from all the factors that could have been involved.I would ask what the beliefs or otherwise of the adoptive parents were and whether this was included in the study.
This would be significant when studying these things.

If true it brings me back to my original point that if genetics is such a big factor in belief or non belief this seems to undermine the idea that truth can be objectively known. We may think something is true or important because we are genetically inclined that way.
This also suggests that it goes beyond the more trivial such as fashion tastes since it involves belief in God,atheism and political views(if these are also shown) which involve moral and societal issues which are serious.
We would also have to consider phenomena such as conversion to belief or non belief.
For such individuals it would boil down to what point in their lives they were surveyed and the result would be different at another time.
Would it indicate that at one time this person was more genetically inclined one way and at another time genetically inclined another way? That couldn't be surely.We could postulate other influences or ideas being stronger than the genetic inclination.
I'm extrapolating here from twins to people generally taking the premise as reasonable from the study.
Anyway I'll have a closer look at the article and links.



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Thu May 28, 2015 5:34 pm
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Post Re: Evolution and baseball caps
Flann wrote:
If true it brings me back to my original point that if genetics is such a big factor in belief or non belief this seems to undermine the idea that truth can be objectively known. We may think something is true or important because we are genetically inclined that way.


Absolutely. Emotional reasoning leads to similar conclusions when people have similar emotions.

This is why I always repeat the need to outsource what we think we know to proper process, and be paranoid of our own biases.

It's also tied in to Platinga's EAAN.


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Thu May 28, 2015 5:43 pm
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Post Re: Evolution and baseball caps
ant wrote:
Please explain.
If love goes well beyond our genetic programming then youre venturing into "love is its own force" territory.


Love does go beyond our genetic programming. Where it does, it's a spandrel. The evolutionary useful aspects of love are not merely between mates.


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Thu May 28, 2015 5:45 pm
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Post Re: Evolution and baseball caps
Interbane wrote:
The genetic influence is indeed considerable. For example, without even knowing either of these twins, I can say with confidence that both of them are sexually attracted to to men(it would be extreme confidence, except that they could be lesbian). I can say that both have all the common moral emotions that guide behavior, such as guilt, shame, embarrassment, pride, elevation, gratitude. And that these moral emotions make their behavior highly predictable under many different circumstances. However, these moral emotions do not guide the whimsical choices, such as ant wearing his hat backwards.

It seems the whole question of Nature (genetic endowment) and Nurture is complex and it's difficult to draw hard conclusions decisively. Academics seem to agree on some things and disagree on each others methodologies and assumptions at other times.
Questions are raised of whether twins studies can or can not be extrapolated to the general populace and so on.
For instance on the question;Is there a gene for crime? I found an article which I'll link.
Where a Father or parent has a criminal record the rate is higher for crime among children of those parents. But is this because they have inherited a criminal gene or genes from the parent or simply learned it from the parents?
What part does poverty play etc.
It seems we cannot say there are specific criminal genes or genes disposing towards beliefs as a biological fact of identifiable genes,at least on present knowledge. Twins studies are ways to try show indicators of what possible genetic factors may be at play.
In any case it's a rather complex area of study which I haven't really studied.
We can see quite easily that we are flawed in many ways and do both good and evil but the cause or causes for these things remains open to debate I would think.
Here's the brief and quite interesting article on the criminal gene subject.
www.psychlotron.org.uk/newResources/cri ... eories.pdf



Fri May 29, 2015 5:49 am
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Post Re: Evolution and baseball caps
Flann wrote:
We can see quite easily that we are flawed in many ways and do both good and evil but the cause or causes for these things remains open to debate I would think.


The precise causes are open to debate, but we know the source is the combination of cultural and genetic influence. In most cases, it's difficult to see which is the dominant influence. In other cases, it's easier to see. There are many specific behaviors that are genetically determined, just as there are many specific behaviors that are culturally determined.

It's interesting that you say we're flawed. I've heard that so much, perhaps because I live in a Christian society, that I've never critically examined it. Are we truly flawed, if the flaws are things we all share? How can it be judged as flawed, if it's normal? We all have base desires, but that is no flaw. The flaw is in those who cannot resist the temptation of those base desires. We all make a mistake of giving in to temptation from time to time, but I don't think that qualifies us as being flawed. We make mistakes.

From the Christian perspective, the only way in which we wouldn't be flawed is if we were no longer human. Our humanity is judged against some fantastical perfect ideal. If we no longer had the base desires that have been useful to our survival, we would no longer be human. If we no longer had the moral emotions that guide behavior, we would no longer be human. We should embrace these aspects rather than shun them.

It's sort of like thinking of a glass half full or empty. You're right on both accounts, of course, but the perspective is opposite. When you consider all the things you currently think of as flaws, perhaps you should instead consider them human characteristics, without judgement. To think of them as flaws is negative. It's almost manipulative, as if it's meant to induce shame or embarrassment on some obscure level. We are disgusting filthy flawed creatures.

We can have humility without such judgemental constructs.


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Fri May 29, 2015 9:54 am
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Post Re: Evolution and baseball caps
Interbane wrote:
It's sort of like thinking of a glass half full or empty. You're right on both accounts, of course, but the perspective is opposite. When you consider all the things you currently think of as flaws, perhaps you should instead consider them human characteristics, without judgement. To think of them as flaws is negative. It's almost manipulative, as if it's meant to induce shame or embarrassment on some obscure level. We are disgusting filthy flawed creatures.

We can have humility without such judgemental constructs.


Hi Interbane. I don't think it was a judgemental construct to say that we are flawed and do good and evil but simply a pretty obvious truth about reality and human history.
You can question the use of the word flawed but clearly we humans do acts of kindness and cruelty. We can see that one is good and the other is not. We can see on one level that which admirable and desirable for humanity and also that which is appalling and destructive.
So I suppose the question is what is normal?



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Fri May 29, 2015 10:24 am
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Post Re: Evolution and baseball caps
Quote:
You can question the use of the word flawed but clearly we humans do acts of kindness and cruelty. We can see that one is good and the other is not. We can see on one level that which admirable and desirable for humanity and also that which is appalling and destructive.




EDITED:


So genocide is not evil behavior, rather, it's flawed behavior.

I'm not sure how to process that emotionally.



Last edited by ant on Fri May 29, 2015 10:55 am, edited 1 time in total.



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Fri May 29, 2015 10:47 am
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Post Re: Evolution and baseball caps
Interbane wrote:
. . . When you consider all the things you currently think of as flaws, perhaps you should instead consider them human characteristics, without judgement. To think of them as flaws is negative. It's almost manipulative, as if it's meant to induce shame or embarrassment on some obscure level. We are disgusting filthy flawed creatures.

We can have humility without such judgemental constructs.


I think this is a humble and noble sentiment. And well articulated.

From a materialist perspective, we acknowledge the fact that we are limited creatures with limited imaginations. And that we are easily led astray by our own biology and a brain that has evolved to be easily manipulated by biases and emotions. We are wired, so to speak, to come to beliefs too easily and take positions that are not necessarily based on facts.

My father, for example, is one of those FoxNews addicts and frequently spouts off various conservative platitudes. My younger brother gets all bent out of shape and judgmental about it. But maybe because I have learned that political orientation is largely based on emotion, it's easier for me to step back and try to understand why these conservative platitudes are so appealing to my father. People frequently misunderstand my neutrality in such matters as weakness as if, by not taking sides, I am part of the problem.

Thus, when a teenage girl has premarital sex and gets pregnant, we can accept that this was a mistake based on basic biological impulses. Why would we want to shame the girl and tell her she's worthless and immoral if we want the girl to make the best of a bad situation and from this point forward be the best person she can be (and be a good mother too)? Here, shame and moral outrage can do more harm than good.

Obviously, in the case of rape or murder, we must take unequivocably strong action to protect other members of society. This is a very different scenario where moral outrage and judgment are appropriate.

Edit:

And bringing this back to evolution, I think it's important for materialists to recognize that evolution is a strange and unintuitive concept for many people. It doesn't do much good to badger and berate those who resist the idea of evolution. William James, the American psychologist, recognized that the power of belief is itself a very positive psychological trait. Though he was a staunch pragmatist early in life, as he got older, he argued that religious faith can be seen as rational—even if that religious belief itself cannot be demonstrated to be true. As Interbane said, we are flawed. And the only way in which we wouldn't be flawed is if we were no longer human.


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Fri May 29, 2015 11:31 am
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Post Re: Evolution and baseball caps
Flann wrote:
I don't think it was a judgemental construct to say that we are flawed and do good and evil but simply a pretty obvious truth about reality and human history.


These things aren't mutually exclusive. It's an obvious truth that the glass is half empty when it is at the same time half full. You see the shift of perspective here? Inherent in the description is a judgement, based on what aspect you emphasize.

Flann wrote:
You can question the use of the word flawed but clearly we humans do acts of kindness and cruelty.


But how does the word have any meaning if to be "unflawed" is to no longer be human?

Meaningless or not, the word is accurate. To be flawed is to be less than perfect. What I'm questioning is why we assume perfection to be a real thing. We measure ourselves against and impossible standard, and it only serves to induce negative emotions. In other words, it's manipulative.

Sorry for this tangent. I wanted to explore the idea. There is wisdom in striving for perfection in many areas of life, but to be a perfect human seems to be a goal that is doomed to harm us emotionally more than serve us.


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Fri May 29, 2015 11:38 am
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Post Re: Evolution and baseball caps
Geo wrote:
Thus, when a teenage girl has premarital sex and gets pregnant, we can accept that this was a mistake based on basic biological impulses.


These sorts of mistakes, as well as harmful acts, should be reacted to in a way that induces guilt or shame. It's necessary for proper learning, experience, behavioral correction.

But the focus should be on the wrongness of the act, rather than an intrinsic human quality. Recognize that her desires were human, normal, but she needs to correct her future behavior.

To fully understand this position, she would need to understand the mismatch between our evolutionary heritage and modern society. But I expect that to be beyond most people. It seems the patchwork solution up until we've gained better understanding has been an overall shaming of our nature, rather than embracing it. The deeds should be judged, not us. That is the healthier path I think.

I think this is all still somewhat related to the thread topic. Either way, it's interesting. I don't know if I'm right, so I'd like to hear more from Flann or ant.


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Post Re: Evolution and baseball caps
Quote:
From a materialist perspective, we acknowledge the fact that we are limited creatures with limited imaginations. And that we are easily led astray by our own biology and a brain that has evolved to be easily manipulated by biases and emotions. We are wired, so to speak, to come to beliefs too easily and take positions that are not necessarily based on facts.



Who's "we"?
The very word is nuanced with bias.

What evidence do you have that proves you are not being lead astray with this specific analysis?

I don't think Materialists are more apt to be humble or rational because they subscribe to a materialistic philosophy.

The agents of materialist/secular States rejected words like "evil" and rationalized acts that many would define as being the epitome of evil.
Instead, they used neutral and bland words to justify atrocities (ie "rehabilitate") . There was still manipulation being committed.

That fact is that secular regimes and their people destroyed books (and people) that contained/uttered judgmental language (like good and evil) and still lacked "humility" or common decency is also evidence that a materialistic perspective does not in any way increase rationality, promote humility, etc etc.

Were they not "true" materialists?
Again, who's "we"??



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Post Re: Evolution and baseball caps
Flann wrote:

Quote:
We can see that one is good and the other is not. We can see on one level that which admirable and desirable for humanity and also that which is appalling and destructive.


There is something going on here with the use of language.

If language and emotion work in conjunction to provoke action and reaction, then I'd think the changing of our language eventually has an impact on what we do and DONT DO.

The word "evil" throughout history has provoked millions to action.
The atrocities committed by the Nazi's were seen as the most heinous, evil behavior a human being could engage in.
The emotional provocation it roused led people to take action. It was a shame committed on all that is human and decent.
And that is the very language that was used in the context of the time to rally the Allies to put an end to it.

If no such words of shame and guilt were used to rally people to action then perhaps we would have had a totally different outcome.

I can't imagine words like "flawed" (if used enough) causing anything other than neutral emotions that eventually offset necessary action. If there is no such thing as shame then at some point our emotions become dull and arouse nothing but hyper analysis without action.



Last edited by ant on Fri May 29, 2015 12:24 pm, edited 2 times in total.



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Post Re: Evolution and baseball caps
Speaking in general terms, the 'we' in that sentence means those materialists like myself who seek naturalist explanations for our behavior (and who sometimes engage in debates about religion). I would never presume to say I am less prone to error, only that I'm aware of the potential for human error and that I strive to correct it in myself. I'm quite sure that others can see achieve the same objective using their own spiritual/subjective/metaphoric perspective. Although I think you can make the argument that the naturalist perspective more closely aligns with reality, that is not the point I was making in this post.

It's interesting how you so quickly twist my words into us vs. them.

Have not religious regimes also rationalized acts that many would consider evil? This is a strawman in the making.


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Fri May 29, 2015 12:57 pm
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Post Re: Evolution and baseball caps
ant wrote:
If there is no such thing as shame then at some point our emotions become dull and arouse nothing but hyper analysis without action.


Shame will always exist as long as we are human. Should we elicit shame at merely being human? No, I don't think so. Yet there are family members and relatives who I know that expressed a sentiment close to what I'm getting at. They feel shame or guilt or whatever at humanity being "fallen". I don't remember what denomination they were. I don't know how widespread across Christianity this particular belief is.

I dont' think we should feel shame at being who we are. Instead, we should feel shame about harmful actions.


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Post Re: Evolution and baseball caps
Quote:
It's interesting how you so quickly twist my words into us vs. them.


"We" is not a word that signifies a separate category?
Of course it is and you know it. If you don't it's a strong subconscious bias in play.

Quote:
Have not religious regimes also rationalized acts that many would consider evil? This is a strawman in the making.


Of course. and no one here has denied that, have they?

Two things about that specific comment:

1) Despite the truth of your statement, it does not quite defeat my argument, does it?

2) It's actually a strawman of your creation if you dismiss what's been said in order to rail against evil acts committed because of religious motivations.



Fri May 29, 2015 1:10 pm
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