Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Biologist Morality and the Darwinian Cosmology

My recent post on Richard Dawkins' analysis of criminality and moral responsibility based on Darwinian principles is especially important to consider, given the report in the The New York Times only a few weeks past, which included the following:

Biologists argue that . . . [animal] social behaviors are the precursors of human morality. They further believe that if morality grew out of behavioral rules shaped by evolution, it is for biologists, not philosophers or theologians, to say what these rules are.

My comments on that report are here.

My post on the moral reasoning of biologist PZ Myers is here.

Finally, David Brooks had an Op-Ed piece in the Times and the International Herald Tribune, which was published the day of the Virgina Tech Massacre, on the Darwinian Cosmology, which he called a "newish grand narrative." He said, in part:

[I]t occurred to me that while we postmoderns say we detest all-explaining narratives, in fact a newish grand narrative has crept upon us willy-nilly and is now all around. Once the Bible shaped all conversation, then Marx, then Freud, but today Darwin is everywhere.

Scarcely a month goes by when Time or Newsweek doesn't have a cover article on how our genes shape everything from our exercise habits to our moods. Science sections are filled with articles on how brain structure influences things like lust and learning. Neuroscientists debate the existence of God on the best-seller lists, while evolutionary theory reshapes psychology, dieting and literary criticism. Confident and exhilarated, evolutionary theorists believe they have a universal framework to explain human behavior.

. . .

According to this view, human beings, like all other creatures, are machines for passing along genetic code. We are driven primarily by a desire to perpetuate ourselves and our species.

. . .

Evolution doesn't really lead to anything outside itself. Individuals are predisposed not by innate sinfulness or virtue, but by the epigenetic rules encoded in their cells.

Looking at contemporary America from here in Jerusalem and from the ancient past, it's clear we're not a postmodern society anymore. We have a grand narrative that explains behavior and gives shape to history. We have a central cosmology to embrace, argue with or unconsciously submit to.

It behooves us to consider where we end up when we take this cosmology to some of its logical conclusions.


At April 26, 2007 1:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why do you delete comments?

At April 26, 2007 6:38 AM, Anonymous Lawrence said...

I generally do not delete comments, and have not deleted any in a very long time. What are you referring to?


Post a Comment

<< Home