RE: Evolution and Rape (was Re: The Kansas Science EducationStandards)

From: John E. Rylander (
Date: Thu Jan 27 2000 - 07:16:35 EST

  • Next message: "Re: Evolution and Rape (was Re: The Kansas Science EducationStandards)"

    > In a message dated 1/26/00 4:08:08 PM Dateline Standard Time,
    > writes:
    > >Mike,
    > >While it's easy to overstate what these researchers are
    > hypothesizing (and
    > >they see it as a hypothesis, not anything very firm, I believe), and also
    > >responses to it, would it be surprising if evil (as well as good) is very
    > >natural for humans? Don't Christians believe that humans have a sinful
    > >nature?
    > Yes, but do they attribute that sinful nature to God?

    I'd imagine the evolutionary psychologists don't; even on the off chance
    they're theists, I wouldn't imagine they'd build anything along those lines
    into their theories.

    > If God used natural
    > selection to create humans, and natural selection created humans with
    > the proclivity to rape, then didn't God create humans with the
    > proclivity to
    > rape?

    It's when discussing this that I wish I were back in academia -- I just
    haven't kept up with the literature and thinking along these lines. I think
    your question is an excellent and straightforward one, and I'd like to know
    what convinced evolutionary creationists think about it. I think it's by
    far the most formidable theological obstacle to evolutionary theory (well,
    the problem of evil in evolution generally, not just the origin of [parts
    of?] human nature), and I just haven't had time to read up on it. (Howard,
    Loren, anyone?)
            My own utter speculation: presumably evolution itself is fallen, taking
    place in a fallen universe. This means it too is subject to evil, and does
    not simply reflect God's will in creation. But even if that's 100% true,
    it's still 90% vague and speculative. (E.g., exactly what is the source of
    evil? Presumably creaturely choice -- but which creatures? Satan?
    Proto-humans? Bacteria and viruses? :^/ And at what level is nature
    fallen? even the natural law level?? Or just what creatures do within the
    exclusively God-designed natural laws? Yeah, this should be easy to figure

    > >That fact doesn't simply excuse yielding to it, right?
    > From a naturalistic perspective, why not? From where comes this
    > ability to not yield to my genetic programming?

    I agree that on a naturalistic basis (particularly scientific materialism),
    there isn't any ground for human freedom or responsibility. Indeed, there's
    very strong ground for the opposite, since (on a materialistic view) it's
    either demonstrable or axiomatic that absolutely all of our behavior is
    completely determined by circumstances beyond our control, completely
    non-rational and impersonal circumstances to boot.

    But one needn't be a naturalist to accept evolution.

    > >Evolutionary psychology is often very speculative, but I think it's
    > >surprisingly insightful in its comments wrt human sexuality in
    > general, even
    > >if not -necessarily- in this particular case.
    > I think it only has the appearance of being insightful due to the
    > plastic-wrap
    > nature of darwinism.

    Agreed, it's vague and speculative, but that's not the same as saying it's
    meaningless. It's not even in the same ballpark of predictive specificity
    as physics, say, but it's a whole lot better than just taking all of human
    nature as a non-predictive given, I think. (Certainly from a scientific
    perspective, no?)

    > But the question is why not in this case? What's
    > the evidence with an insightful claim and what is missing in the
    > rape claim?

    An insightful claim: men will naturally tend to seek quantity of sexual
    contacts, women quality. This seems backed up by common sense (men seeking
    sex, women love, etc.), and strongly supported by evolutionary theory.

    This rape claim is more speculative simply because there's less evidence for
    it, and because the evidence has been less well scrutinized. Again, even
    its proponents see it only as one hypothesis amongst competitors right now,
    even if it's the one they see as most plausible.

    > BTW, it wouldn't take much to come up with an darwinian justification
    > for racism, now would it?

    If you mean racism as an empirical claim, I think those issues are
    independent of evolutionary theory. I.e., if one thinks racism is true, one
    can fit that into evolutionary theory easily enough, or one can just take it
    as a given. And if one rejects racism, ditto.

    If you mean racism as a moral claim, that's even less connected with
    evolutionary theory. (Historically, slaveholders, in the US and the world,
    haven't relied a bit on evolutionary theory.)

    > >(Myself, I've never found the typical feminist view of rape --
    > just a crime
    > >motivated by violence, not at all sex -- at all cogent, so that doesn't
    > >count much against this new theory for me. But then, I find feminist
    > >theories in general to be wanting....)
    > Feminist views are much more sophisticated than the media sound bites.
    > They argue that rape is more about degradation and humiliation than
    > sex. This is why men rape 80 year old women and other men. It's about
    > having power and using it to degrade/humiliate another human being
    > (this, BTW, is what upsets most rape victims and not the sex).
    > Clearly, it has a sexual element, but it's not simply about sex. This
    > view then gets reduced to the "it's violence, not sex" slogan.

    I certainly agree that rape isn't -merely- about sex, but I've heard many
    feminist activists talk in terms of -only- violence -- expressly -not- sex.
    That is, it's not simply a media oversimplification -- it seems to be a
    common feminist oversimplification, with many correlated
    oversimplifications. E.g., instead of "female behavior never excuses or
    justifies rape", which seems obvious, it becomes "female behavior never has
    anything to do with rape", which seems often true, but often obviously
    false, particularly as one moves closer to "date rape".

    Doubtless, some feminists do not so oversimplify. Still, contemporary
    feminism seems to me to have done for women something like what its
    ideologically genetic kin, Marxism, has done for workers: given believers a
    dysfunctional ideology that reshapes their entire worldview, sounds great,
    and promises the world (if only the enemies can be defeated by collective
    action!), but really messes them up. It flourishes in academia primarily
    because to oppose it is, feminists declare, to oppose women (perhaps just
    out of ignorance, but often a desire to oppress, or sexist backlash,
    or....). (Just as for a long time, and still in many academic circles, to
    oppose Marxism was/is to oppose workers and social justice -- supposedly.
    "I was born in the gutter of capitalism, but now I live for revolution!",
    etc. :^> )

    If we want to pursue the issue of feminism (I find it fascinating, if not
    generally topical here), we should go there off list, though.


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