Monday, August 06, 2007

Altruism - it's all about sexual display, see?

In an unintentionally hilarious article in The Economist, evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller is touted as
a man with a theory that, if true, will change the way people think about themselves.
That is, he thinks he can demonstrate that charity is just as "selfish" as self-indulgence. And it's all about sex too, no less.

The major problem with Miller's study (apart from the sheer fatuity that mars all evolutionary psychology) is that he appears to have failed to credit key earlier research. Surely he does not believe that he has "discovered" the ulterior motives that cause many people to volunteer or contribute to fashionable causes. Here's an abstract of the earlier finding:
Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

The earlier source didn't think that the display had to relate to sex, of course. If it was display at all, it was not the genuine article.

I will be very surprised if Miller succeeds in changing the way people think about themselves.

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Michael Behe on The Spiritual Brain

Here is what biochemist Michael Behe, author of Edge of Evolution wrote me today, to say about The Spiritual Brain:
For more than a century materialists have been trying to talk us out of our minds. No such thing, they say. It’s just a brain, just electrified jelly, no more free than billiard balls bouncing around a pool table. Our overwhelming internal senses of self and freedom are pathetic illusions, meaningless byproducts of mechanical processes in a pointless universe.

In The Spiritual Brain neuroscientist Mario Beauregard and science writer Denyse O’Leary push back hard. First they debunk the most widely touted urban legends of impoverished materialism — the “God gene”, “God spot”, “God helmet”. Then they soberly examine the latest data from neuroscience, ranging from brain scans of prayerful nuns to the powerful placebo effect of sugar pills. If approached without materialist prejudice, they write, the results point insistently to the reality of a spiritual mind that survives physical death.

For my money, the most compelling demonstration of the reality of the psyche is the simple, elegant, entertaining, dryly humorous writing of /The Spiritual Brain/ itself. In it we are privileged to meet a pair of unfettered minds actively at work to shape our world. I strongly recommend this book to anyone with a mind of his own.

- biochemist Mike Behe, author of Edge of Evolution

Oh, I am SO glad that someone appreciates the fun part! I nearly split a gut laughing over the materialist science stories, and perhaps that came through in the writing. Basically, materialism isn't only wrong, it's nonsense. Don't believe me. Read the book.

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