Re: [asa] Denyse O'Leary on family values and Darwinism

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Sat Dec 30 2006 - 20:20:29 EST

True. However, Darwinian explanations of trans-kin (let alone
trans-species) altruism are far more questionable, E.O. Wilson et al


----- Original Message -----
From: "PvM" <>
To: <>
Sent: Saturday, December 30, 2006 8:07 PM
Subject: [asa] Denyse O'Leary on family values and Darwinism

> While Denyse has more than once pointed out that she is not a
> scientist, I find it occasionally necessary to point out the more
> obvious errors in her 'arguments'. Especially when the arguments fall
> in the category against which Augustine has warned us Christians.
> For instance on UcD she states that
> <quote>Darwinism predicts absolutely nothing of substance for family
> values, which normally derive from philosophical or spiritual beliefs
> about correct relationships. This is true whether given beliefs are
> widely held or wisely held or linked in any obvious way to health,
> wealth, or fertility.</quote>
> In fact, this is quite wrong. Darwinism predicts and explains the
> concept of kin selection, altruism as well as reciprocal altruism. In
> fact, it seems that the most relevant biblical teachings can be
> explained by Darwinian evolution.
> Teach the controversy at least presumes that one is familiar with the
> basic foundations of that with which one is in disagreement, lest one
> runs the risk of both creating strawmen and falling victim of
> Augustine's warnings.
> From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy we learn
> (
> <quote>
> The idea that group selection might explain the evolution of altruism
> was first broached by Darwin himself. In The Descent of Man (1871),
> Darwin discussed the origin of altruistic and self-sacrificial
> behaviour among humans. Such behaviour is obviously disadvantageous at
> the individual level, as Darwin realized: "he who was ready to
> sacrifice his life, as many a savage has been, rather than betray his
> comrades, would often leave no offspring to inherit his noble nature"
> (p.163). Darwin then argued that self-sarcrificial behaviour, though
> disadvantageous for the individual 'savage', might be beneficial at
> the group level: "a tribe including many members who...were always
> ready to give aid to each other and sacrifice themselves for the
> common good, would be victorious over most other tribes; and this
> would be natural selection" (p.166). Darwin's suggestion is that the
> altruistic behaviour in question may have evolved by a process of
> between-group selection.
> </quote>
> what a little research can actually do for the quality of one's
> arguments...
> Happy New Year
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Received on Sat Dec 30 20:20:59 2006

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