Can Evolution Explain Empathy?

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If you’re not familiar with my series of posts, which analyze the claims of evolutionists, who claim that “nothing in biology makes sense except in light of evolution” feel free to browse the articles below

In these articles, we as Christians understand that evolution truly lacks explanatory power for anything that is in conflict with God’s eternal word, but for purposes of exposing the deficiency of the God-denier’s worldview, we have taken the claims of the evolutionists and put them to the test. Can they actually justify what they are trying to explain, or are their claims filled with assumptions and artwork? Today we’ll answer a God-denier, who feels that evolution can explain empathy.

You can read the entire article here. Let’s see what this author, Frans De Waal, thinks is indisputable proof that the evolutionary processes of natural selection acting on random mutations in the struggle for survival in an environment of limited resources – can in fact produce empathy

We tend to think of empathy as a uniquely human trait. But it’s something apes and other animals demonstrate

Right off the bat, we see that the author assumes that humans have evolved from either/both modern apes or other animals. But this is contrary to common evolutionary textbooks which teach that humans and apes evolved from a common ancestor. The BEST this author could claim would be to say either that there is evidence that the human/ape common ancestor already possessed the trait of empathy OR that empathy is a trait produced by the ambiguous and magical term “convergent evolution”

It’s good to have definitions and the author uses this definition of empathy

The act of perspective-taking is summed up by one of the most enduring definitions of empathy that we have, formulated by Adam Smith as “changing places in fancy with the sufferer.”

We’ll go with that definition

This capacity likely evolved because it served our ancestors’ survival in two ways. First, like every mammal, we need to be sensitive to the needs of our offspring. Second, our species depends on cooperation, which means that we do better if we are surrounded by healthy, capable group mates. Taking care of them is just a matter of enlightened self-interest.

Notice the unscientific and hopeful word “likely”. If this article were actual evidence of the ability of evolution to produce empathy, the author would have said “Here we see a population of organisms that had no empathy, but in order to survive the selection pressure, its direct descendants have empathy because of these XYZ mutations”. So, no science or evidence here

Let’s test the claim about mammals needing to be sensitive to the needs of our offspring…specifically the word “need”. Evolutionary processes (natural selection acting on random mutation) do not function based on a specific direction of “need”. This is a Post Hoc fallacy for the author to see that mammals care for their young THEREFORE evolution must have produced behavior that parents are “sensitive to the needs of our offspring”. If this were a scientific explanation, the author would have said “Mutations XYZ produced in parents of population group ABC the ability to be sensitive to the needs of offspring to account for selective pressure 123.” But that’s not what the author said. This author made the unwarranted claim that “since we see empathy today in mammals, then evolution MUST HAVE done it….somehow because we NEEEEEEEEED it”

In the second half of that claim, the author says that our species depends on cooperation because of enlightened self-interest. Now, the author has not yet defined “enlightened” or what evolutionary process produced “enlightenment”. For now, we’ll put this in the bucket of magic from which evolutionists invariably pull to “explain” some part of biology for which mutations don’t really fit.

It is hard to imagine that empathy…came into existence only when our lineage split off from that of the apes. It must be far older than that. Examples of empathy in other animals would suggest a long evolutionary history to this capacity in humans.

Again, the author fails to provide evidence of his claims and again, humans have not evolved from creatures, which exist today. Do you remember the definition the author used for empathy: the ability to “change place in fancy with the sufferer”? Yet no examples of mice or hippos explaining why they gave up a meal so that bats and ospreys could eat healthier. How many camels did the author interview to show that she (the camel) could change places in fancy with a sufferer?

But perhaps the most compelling evidence for the strength of animal empathy…

The goalposts have been subtly moved from: Empathy can be explained by evolution to Empathy exists. The next three paragraphs in the article bring emotional language like (“escape, reward, threat, arousing sympathy, crying, weep, tenderly, lightly touches, emotional connectedness, striking, carefully unfolded, notion of what would be good, screaming, yelping, distress…”) Emotional language isn’t a bad thing, but it doesn’t fit well in a paper, which is supposed to explain the ORIGIN of empathy rather than just its existence. The next paragraph begins with a comment that needs no comment

This is not to say that all we have are anecdotes

But a comment on the insufficiency of the article in explaining evolution’s tremendous power impotence is warranted. Why would he spend 3 paragraphs on impassioned anecdotes if the evidence from clinical studies on the origin of empathy were so very compelling? But let’s see what they have to say about the actual studies

it is a demonstrable tendency that probably reflects empathy, since the objective of the consoler seems to be to alleviate the distress of the other

“Probably”? “seems to”? I suppose I was expecting more conclusive answers than “probably” from a theory that flaunts bravado like “nothing in biology makes sense except in light of evolution”. Pretty tame

In fact, recent neuroscience research suggests that very basic processes do underlie empathy. Researchers at the University of Parma, in Italy, were the first to report that monkeys have special brain cells

Notice two things from this paragraph:

  • Humans did not evolve from monkeys. At BEST, an evolutionist could only say that humans and monkeys share a common ancestor or that convergent evolution produced the same mutation in both humans and monkeys. Strangely, evolutionists tend to like the convergent evolution fable that complicates their overwhelming math problems
  • The monkeys ALREADY had the “special brain cells. Their argument hinges on these “special brain cells” learning the ability to perform a function. No talk about how nature was able to PRODUCE these “special brain cells”. For their argument to work, they must show step by step via numerous successive slight modifications how random mutation produced these “special brain cells”. Just assuming they already exist and that “turning them on” will produce empathy in creatures that formerly did not have “special brain cells” is the post hoc fallacy

Biologists prefer such bottom-up accounts. They always assume continuity between past and present, child and adult, human and animal, even between humans and the most primitive mammals.

“prefer” ?!?!?? “always assume”?!?!? To prove evolution, evolutionists rely on their preferences and assumptions. Rather than giving us observations on the leaf nodes (humans and chimps alive today), a compelling argument for evolutionists would be to show evidence from their assumed common ancestor how empathy evolved by evolutionary mechanisms. This type of argumentation is completely lacking. Instead they give us “preferences” and “assumptions”…mixed in with some fine artwork from time to time

Empathy probably evolved in the context of the parental care that characterizes all mammals

“probably”?!?? I prefer evidence to probably. And why use the ambiguous term “evolved” rather than describing in great detail the process of the construction of genes/cells/organs that produce empathy, evolutionists sweep the details away with “it probably evolved”. When an evolutionist doesn’t know the process, they can conveniently hide it in the sciency-sounding phrase: “it evolved” or in this case “probably evolved”.

Signaling their state through smiling and crying, human infants urge their caregiver to take action

Like many other evolutionists, the term “signaling” is just assumed to be part of nature. For them, no explanation is needed – just that signaling exists. But signaling is amazingly complex and requires at least:

  • Ability by signaler to signal
  • Need by signaler to signal
  • Medium for signaler to be able to transmit signal in a way that it can be perceived by recipient
  • Meaning in a signal (information)
  • Ability by receiver to interpret signal correctly
  • Ability by receiver to provide a survival advantage to signaler

These signals, which evolutionists just assume have remarkable parallels to information theory. Dr. Werner Gitt explains the complexity involved with sender/signaler and recipient/receiver in his book In The Beginning Was Information. It’s not just unlikely that evolution (natural selection acting on the single successive slight modifications of random mutations) could construct complex coding communication as shown below, it’s impossible

p60 In the Beginning Was Information – Gitt

During the 180 million years of mammalian evolution, females who responded to their offspring’s needs out-reproduced those who were cold and distant

How could the author possibly know the results of every single mammalian parent/offspring interaction for almost 67 billion days such that he could claim the warm ones were better than the cold ones? It’s a ridiculous claim that is both totally lacking in evidence and entirely unverifiable.

Effective cooperation requires being exquisitely in tune with the emotional states and goals of others

This is a post hoc pragmatic “argument” rather than the detailed step by step explanation of construction of genes/cells/organs that produce empathy. Again, rather than giving us evidence, the author tells us a fantastic story. Evolution does not require anything but the effective propagation of genes. Bacteria, mosquitos, mice and fish are far more measurably fit than humans but they didn’t require empathy. Pragmatism fails as an argument and evolution (survival of the fittest by natural selection) is completely at odds with empathy (preventing natural selection without a fitness gain).

The way a chimpanzee bashes in the skull of a live monkey by hitting it against a tree trunk is no advertisement for ape empathy

THAT sounds more like evolution than empathy. Darwin described nature as “red in tooth and claw”. It’s a reversal by evolutionists to say now rather than the survival of the fittest to now say that evolution produced creatures that purposefully prevent natural selection.

Lions kill cubs from other males – not empathy

The possibility that empathy is part of our primate heritage

“possibility”?!!?!? Again with the utter lack of evidence

What we need, therefore, is a vision of human nature that encompasses all of our tendencies: the good, the bad, and the ugly

More pragmatism. The author wants to “envision” an explanation, so he wishes very hard for evolution to be that explanation. Wishing it, doesn’t make it so

Emotions trump rules. This is why, when speaking of moral role models, we talk of their hearts, not their brains…Moral rules tell us when and how to apply our empathic tendencies, but the tendencies themselves have been in existence since time immemorial

“Emotions trump rules, but rules trump emotions.” Didn’t the author of the article proofread his article before publishing it? Within two paragraphs he completely contradicts himself, but within an evolutionary framework, what’s wrong with contradictions? Maybe being contradictory improves his fitness somehow.

Go back and read his last sentence…is he closing off a scientific paper that is full of overwhelming evidence or is he writing a conclusion to a fanciful epic? Sounds fanciful to me

Another analysis of the impotent claims of evolution in the books…blog. Don’t be intimidated by those who boast, “The evidence for evolution is overwhelming.” EVERY time one of these evolutionists has put up a link to an article that they think explains the theory of evolution, once analyzed, the claims fall far short of evidence

Conversely, we can trust the revelation of the One, who knows everything and is eternally faithful. God revealed in the Bible that He created the plants, animals, and people to reproduce according to their kinds, so evolution’s story is incompatible.

Apologetics Session 8: Evil and the problem of Atheism

Excellent Apologetics session. As Christians we must think biblically and not compromise with worldly philosophies

The Domain for Truth


Establish the need: Why is this session important? We often hear discussion about God and the problem of evil.  However we must not downplay or neglect the issue of evil and the problem of atheism.

Purpose: In this session we shall discuss four points to help us think about evil and the problem of atheism to realize that in wrestling with the problem of evil there is a problem with atheism.

  • All worldviews have the burden of proof of explaining how evil exists
  • Atheism undermine the existence of evil: What atheist have to say
  • If God is the basis for determining good and evil then there is no problem of evil
    God uses evil to bring about good

View original post 2,188 more words


Photo by Pixabay on

A beetle sees a cat jump so high and far in a single bound that the beetle can no longer see it. The beetle exclaims:

Magic! That’s impossible. It’s got to be magic

But all along, the cat was performing something completely within its domain of power even if the beetle could not understand it since ability like that is beyond its imagination

A cat sees a turtle purposely submerge itself in a pond and reappear hundreds of paw prances away. It exclaims:

Magic! That’s impossible. It’s got to be magic

But all along, the turtle was performing something completely within its domain of power even if the cat could not understand it since ability like that is beyond its imagination

Photo by Andrew Patrick on

A turtle see a bird extend feathered appendages from its torso, levitate into THIN AIR, and propel itself away at dangerous speeds. It exclaims:

Magic! That’s impossible. It’s got to be magic

But all along, the bird was performing something completely within its domain of power even if the turtle could not understand it since ability like that is beyond its imagination

A bird sees a human enter a stationary impenetrable 4-wheeled box and after that box leaves and returns, the human emerges unharmed with three dozen eggs. It exclaims:

Magic! That’s impossible. It’s got to be magic

But all along, the human was performing something completely within its domain of power even if the bird could not understand it since ability like that is beyond its imagination

Photo by Couleur on

A human God-denier sees God’s eternal power and divine nature in the things that have been made. It exclaims:

Magic! That’s impossible. It’s got to be magic

But all along, God was performing something completely within His domain of power even if the God-denier suppressed the knowledge of God in unrighteousness and mocked Christians for believing in magic

The mockery of Christians for “believing in magic” is an immature and lazy argument, because the Almighty has no restrictions within his domain – which is everything. For the God-denier to shriek “you believe in magic” is the same as the beetle attributing magical powers to cats. Don’t argue like beetles

And all along the beetle, cat, turtle, and bird praised God for his common grace

Can Evolution Explain The Indonesian Mimicry Octopus?

In an online exchange, I asked a God-denier to provide evidence that evolution could explain the origins of the Indonesian Mimic Octopus. This exchange happened after after the person with the Twitter profile name, @AmputeeAtheist, called a Christian brother “stupid” for showing in an article how evolutionists have bad assumptions rather than evidence for their theory

In the link that @AmputeeAtheist provided which supposedly provided proof that evolution can explain the origins of any octopus…let alone the Indonesian Mimic Octopus, we are given several options to choose from to verify his claims.

Unbeknownst to @AmputeeAtheist, since he failed to read his own link, the second article in his list was written by Dr. Brian Thomas, who works for The Institute For Creation Research. How embarrassing for him

Embarrassing Link for God-Deniers

If you haven’t had a chance, stop now and watch the video in @Rational_faith_ ‘s article about the Indonesian Mimic Octopus. God’s design is indeed wondrous!

As I have done in my series of articles exposing evolution’s inability to explain anything, I’ll take a couple of the “scientific” articles in @AmputeeAtheist ‘s link and expose how there’s no actual evidence in them, but they are littered with assumptions and ambiguity:

Here’s the first article in the list –

Most of the article is behind a paywall, but the article reveals how little these highly-trained lab coats know about the evolution of octopi.

“There is also conflicting research about whether its defense mechanisms are learned or inherited”
“The researchers had predicted…Instead, they discovered…”

“the traits evolved”

You’ll notice the deafening lack of details and the monumental surprise of the researchers that an octopus could have evolved

The second article in @AmputeeAtheist’s link, as was pointed out earlier, was written by a Christian, who trusts God’s revelation in scripture that animals were created rather than evolved, so there’s no need to expose the evolutionary deceit there. But you can read this magnificent article here. So, we’ll move on to the next article

This article is FULL of assumptions and ambiguity but is however lacking evidence that evolution can explain the origins of the Indonesian Mimic Octopus (IMO). Let’s review what it would take to show evidence

  • DNA of direct ancestor species of IMO without mimic traits
  • Repeatable evolutionary mechanism (X) that creates the information that builds phenotypic traits for the IMO to mimic more than 15 disparate species
  • Repeatable evolutionary mechanism (Y) that creates the information that controls (software) the phenotypic traits for the IMO to mimic more than 15 disparate species
  • Both mechanisms (X) and (Y) must be unguided and shown to be mechanisms that transform DNA base pairs in single, successive, slight modifications

Let’s see if this article contains any evidence like that or if it’s filled with assumptions

Before you shriek “Quote-mining!!!!”, you can read the whole article here and if you can show that instead of assumptions and ambiguity, there is actual evidence, be my guest. But on to the analysis. NOTES: Quotes from the article are in italics, and my comments of each quote are directly below:

flatfish swimming appears to have evolved concurrently with extremely long arms

Notice that the details are missing. And asserting (completely without evidence) that anything evolved concurrently is incompatible with evolutionary assumptions that the process of evolution proceeds with numerous, successive, slight modifications

the subsequent diversification of their descendents into lineages with successful conspicuous defence behaviours, remains a puzzling topic in evolutionary biology

Puzzling? Clearly!

have evolved

Details missing!


explore possible scenarios for the evolution

Possible scenarios? You mean there’s no ACTUAL evidence, just possible scenarios? That’s what I’ve been saying all along

Central to this investigation is the well-documented fact that many behaviours, including visual defences and their associated body colour patterns (e.g. Brodie III, 1989), are heritable traits

The link supposedly pointing to Brodie’s article is broken and subsequent search for the CENTRAL PILLAR TO THIS INVESTIGATION was fruitless. An article written by Brodie, on which their whole research relies, is missing in action

we assume


possible social mimicry…may also influence

More assumptions

evolve at the same time

Details missing!

Exaptations, by contrast, are traits that ‘are fit for their current role … but were not designed for it’

There is by definition NO DESIGN in evolution.

evolved originally either as adaptations for other uses

Details missing!

is likely to have evolved early in this lineage

Details missing! Assumptions abound!

we estimated genealogical relationships

Estimated? Estimated? I thought this was supposed to be about evidence

In the event of discrepancies between our observations and published accounts we followed our own observations

There was a fine chart (Figure 2) that presumed to show evolutionary relationships. However, they brought their own argument into question that they relied on evidence rather than subjective opinion in their admission above

appears most closely related

Ambiguity persists in that quote

may have evolved

Lots of assumptions and the details missing!

it appears that

Ambiguity persists

behavioural and morphological traits emerge concurrently

Incompatible with evolutionary assumptions that the process of evolution proceeds with numerous, successive, slight modifications

may have yielded

More ambiguity

may have evolved

Details missing!

may enable

More ambiguity

may evolve imperfect mimicry of an intermediate form

More ambiguity and where’s this intermediate form? ANOTHER missing link?

Although the lack of a conclusive flatfish model has generally been identified as a weakness in the cephalopod mimicry literature (Hanlon et al., 2008), we feel it reflects imperfect mimicry of multiple models in regions of high biodiversity

Feelings and weaknesses saturate this article

We do not know how potential unpalatability…may further contribute to predator confusion, learning, and/or future avoidance

They DO NOT KNOW…no doubt

The pattern is emerging that evolution, while presented as a theory with oVerWheLmiNg evidence, is instead supported by massive assumptions behind a venire of white lab coats