Can Evolution Account for Reason?

Stock Photo from Pexels.com

There are many online claims about the power of evolution to create new biological traits. Some evolutionists have speculated that evolution can account for altruism, but I exposed the deficiency in the “explanations” here. And while evolutionists claim that “nothing in biology makes sense except in light of evolution”, they have swept under the rug evolution’s inability to explain biological software.

This week, I asked a God-denier to explain how “reasoning” could be explained via natural causes. This God-denier posted a link which was supposed to provide evidence and confirmation that evolution can explain the origins of reasoning. Bing the intrepid ApoloJedi that I am, I read through the contents of the article and have analyzed it to see if it could make good on its claims. Of note, I regard this article to be poorly formatted and absent of any explanatory power, so I expect there will be a future blog post entitled “Can Evolution Explain Reason – Part 2?” when a subsequent God-denier doubtlessly posts another wild assertion that naturalistic causes can explain the origins of reasoning.

The article in question has been cited 10 times and accessed over 1000 times and much of it is hidden behind a paywall (remaining unanalyzed). There are 30 notes organized in a list. In the analysis I quote the pertinent piece from the note above in Italics and my comment below each is in Bold. Without further delay, here’s the analysis

Abstract:
I conjecture that reasoning evolved primarily because it helped social hominins more readily and fully align their intentions
Conjecture indeed

The Primary Naturalist Assumptions include purposelessness and amorality
  1. “first article”
    Hidden (hidden like evidence for evolution) behind a pay wall
  2. “purpose of reasoning”
    Purpose/teleology is a concept that is incompatible with the primary naturalist assumptions AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  3. Nothing in this note explains the origin of reasoning from non-reasoning sources
  4. “argumentative posturing”
    Assumes that reasoning already exists AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  5. “moral emotions…loyalty, gratitude, sympathy”
    Morality is a concept that is incompatible with the primary naturalist assumptions AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  6. “Imagine…reasons”
    Imagine indeed AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  7. “likely”
    Not evidence AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  8. “those with a preference for going right will often capitulate by joining the majority”
    This very clearly shows the absence of reason AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  9. “The odds of surviving might be enhanced, for example, by keeping mum about a fruit tree discovered while scouting”
    While evolutionists crone about how empathy drive social advancements, this note is literally contrary to that assumption AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
    Also, in conflict with Note 14
  10. “team agency” & “team reasoning” & “gestational reasoning” & “group’s collective intent”
    Purpose/teleology is a concept that is incompatible with the primary naturalist assumptions AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  11. “giving of reasons counts as a kind of reasoning”
    Circular. Tautology. Assumes that reasoning already exists AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  12. “My claim here is that the faculty of reason played—and continues to play—a critical role”
    Assumes that reasoning already exists AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  13. “By calling manipulative reasoning…”
    Assumes that reasoning already exists AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  14. “collaborative reasoning” & “When reasoning together”
    Assumes that reasoning already exists AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
    Also, in conflict with Note 9
  15. Nothing in this note explains the origin of reasoning from non-reasoning sources
  16. “may have been made possible by the prior emergence of basic reasoning aptitudes. The claim is conjectural, but worth further exploration”
    Conjecture indeed AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  17. “it is not incorrect to speak of intention alignment as the primary utility or purpose of reasoning”
    Pragmatism is insufficient AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  18. “I take it up presently”
    It IS an important question AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  19. ” ‘mind writing’ involves intentional or deliberate alteration”
    Assumes that reasoning already exists AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  20. “The ethical implications of IAM are significant, and well worth exploring”
    Assumes that reasoning already exists AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  21. Another article behind a paywall, but the abstract does not explain the origins of reasoning from non-reasoning sources
  22. “if we could be sure that a bee’s nervous system supported something properly described as a mind”
    Humans did not evolve from bees AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  23. “complex social practice built atop basic reason-giving propensities”
    Difficulties with the naturalistic origins brought up AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  24. Another article behind a paywall, but the abstract does not explain the origins of reasoning from non-reasoning sources
  25. “my aim here is not to decide the question, but make a preliminary case that IAM belongs in the discussion”
    An introduction to a hypothesis AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  26. Nothing in this note explains the origin of reasoning from non-reasoning sources
  27. Nothing in this note explains the origin of reasoning from non-reasoning sources
  28. Nothing in this note explains the origin of reasoning from non-reasoning sources
  29. Nothing in this note explains the origin of reasoning from non-reasoning sources
  30. Nothing in this note explains the origin of reasoning from non-reasoning sources

As you can clearly see, this linked article has given us no explanation for the naturalistic origin of reasoning via evolutionary forces. We did see some internal contradictions, and it was strong on assertions, but ended up be short on both evidence and justification

Disclaimer: Because God has revealed in his eternal Word that He has is the Source of reasoning, we know that the answer to the question “Can Evolution Explain Reason?” is most assuredly no. But as has been the case with other posts in this series, I have taken the claims of the naturalists and analyzed them within their own worldview, to see if their claims are valid. And just like the other posts, their claims are shown to be severely lacking.

Can Evolution Explain Software? 2.0

The guys at Stuff You Should Know Podcast released a recent episode called Dragons: As Real as Mermaids. They always have interesting topics, and I thought this episode would be a good topic for listening during a lunchtime walk around the neighborhood with the family dog, Diego

Following is a near-quote from one of the hosts. If you don’t like that “near-quote” qualification, feel free to listen to the podcast, put in what you think I was missing, and quibble at the edges of this presentation rather than bringing an argument against the REAL substance of this article, but your protestations will be swept aside as nitpicking.

Humans evolved and primates evolved with the fear of 3 predators basically: snakes, big cats & eagles. It sorta makes sense that every culture sorta has a dragon myth because you might combine the 3 scariest things into 1 super scary thing: a dragon….David Jones: His premise is that we have these ancient fears of these things & as we evolved & became humans we told each other stories, these things combined into this 1 big mythological monster which is basically the sum of our most primal fears

Having recently completed a post entitled Can Evolution Explain Software? that quote above left me with even MORE questions about a process that is claimed to be able to explain all of biology and that nothing in biology makes sense except in light of evolution.

  • What evolutionary mechanism produces heritable code for “primal fears” and “learned behaviors”?
  • What is the proof of this mechanism?

A note about proof – Sufficient proof would be:

  1. DNA and/or epigenetic code in a creature that does not have fear of snakes, big cats, and eagles
  2. DNA and/or epigenetic code in a creature that is an immediate descendant of the creature above that does have fear of snakes, big cats, and eagles
  3. Comparison of the DNA/epigenetic code that is quantifiable
  4. Repeatable proof of the mechanism that produces the quantifiable changes to the heritable material
  5. Repeat for as many creatures as possible to avoid the idea of a one-time miracle. This will validate a patterned process in nature.

As always, the disclaimer: This site maintains the presupposition that God is the Creator and that revelation in creation, in the Bible, and through the incarnation are the only sufficient justifications for all of reality. Because God revealed in the Bible that animals (including the code for their behavior “software” was preprogrammed by the Almighty Engineer) are a product of his direct creation according to their kinds. God’s revelation is in direct conflict with the claims made by evolutionists that gradual and rare accumulation of information through a process of death and suffering (evolution) prior to the sin of mankind are false. But we (as Christian apologists) are encouraged to “Answer the fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.” Proverbs 26:5. Therefore, in the following paragraphs, I will do a very brief skeptical analysis of the claims of the evolutionist in conjuring up the answers to the questions above

As noted above, the podcast hosts got much of their opening thoughts from an author named David Jones. Following the sourced and linked materials to this wiki page only raises more questions and inconsistencies. Words & phrases like “claims”, “argues”, “hypothesis”, “proposes”, “suggests”, “lack of evidence” and “it cannot be demonstrated that the fears of ancestral hominids are coded in the human brain” litter the article. But perhaps the links included within the article will shed more light on the claims of the evolutionists…

In the wiki page for instinct, we find only hypotheses and post hoc fallacies attempted explanations. As we continue in the chain of sources to find the elusive mechanism and proof, I followed the link to Genetic Memory

This wiki page left us with this gem:

It is based on the idea that common experiences of a species become incorporated into its genetic code, not by a Lamarckian process that encodes specific memories but by a much vaguer tendency to encode a readiness to respond in certain ways to certain stimuli

No explanation. No mechanism. No proof. Just a big “vaguer” claim. Maybe the included link to Epigenetics would solve the mystery

Nothing here, except the realization that (at best) epigenetics has control over only physiological phenotypic traits. They also seem unaware the epigenetics eviscerated evolutionary theory when it was discovered a few years ago. Might the link to Behavioral Genetics answer our questions?

Here we find some correlations between some behaviors and epigenetic markers, but no mechanisms or proofs. Surely, THIS next one is the one!!!


Evolutionary Neuroscience! That sounds like a solution to most any problem. But…nothing to see here either except:

  • “the evolution & function of the human cerebral cortex is still shrouded in mystery”
  • “the organization of the brain cannot be ascertained only by analyzing fossilized skulls”
  • “Visual cues & motoric pathways developed millions of years earlier in our evolution”

They’ve inadvertently “hidden” their inability to answer with the vague and ambiguous terms: “developed” “millions of years ago” and “evolution”. Large on claims. Short on substance

Clearly, this exercise was a brief introduction into the murky waters of testing the claims of the evolutionists. But a pattern is emerging – Keep digging because SURELY SOMEONE has this whole thing figured out. SURELY someone has ironclad proof of the claims that at one point, there was no coded information for primal fears in creatures…and then there WAS coded information for primal fears within creatures. And this heritable information was produced by some naturalistic mechanism. Right?

I predict that one kind lazy evolutionist will post a reply to this article saying “You didn’t research deep enough, [insert relevant epithet]”

The other kind of lazy evolutionist will say, “just because evolution doesn’t have the answer to your questions today, doesn’t mean your preferred deity did it.”

To which I would reply, then why do you propose that “nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution”? And I’ve already told you that my God did it…I’m just showing you why your naturalistic “deity” (evolution) is short on actual answers.

A more robust evolutionist will post a peer reviewed article behind a paywall and say “See, proof” without going into details or revealing the answers to the questions…and once actually read, that article will be devoid of the answers requested

A last brand of evolutionist might say, “but some Christians believe in evolution. Are they wrong too.”

To which I would reply, why would a Christian espouse a godless mechanism that invokes death & suffering for biology in place of the miracle that God ACTUALLY revealed?

God is worthy of praise because He is good. We can clearly see his eternal power and divine nature in what He has made, and because we can trust what He has revealed about the past – we can trust Him with our future!

Can Evolution Explain Software?

Photo by ThisIsEngineering on Pexels.com

Bear with me as I build the framework for my analogy in these 1st two short paragraphs.

You may or may not be familiar with the way computers work. Computers have both hardware and software. The part of the computer that you can touch (keyboard/mouse/printer), see (monitor), and hear (speakers) is referred to as the hardware. The hardware also includes the internal workings of the computer like the CPU, the memory/RAM, the motherboard, and power supply. Computers don’t work without software. Software is the code (the instructions) for making the computer work. Sometimes, the software is referred to as programs/drivers and/or applications (apps). Programs are written by software engineers with the purpose of controlling the hardware to do very specific tasks.

My daily job involves writing and working with software for computers. At my place of employment, there’s a pretty sharp distinction between the hardware and software departments. Those who work with hardware don’t do much with the software and visa-versa. There are some computer geniuses who are very skilled at working with both hardware and software.

All analogies eventually break down, but there’s a reasonable comparison in the biological realm with the hardware of living things being the part of the creature that is made of cells (skin, bones, organs, blood, hair, and muscles). The software of biology might be best described as the instructions that cause the organs, muscles, and systems to perform their specific purpose.

Evolutionists have proposed an explanation for the hardware of biological life. Now I strongly disagree with their explanation that natural selection has acted on random mutations to form all of life is a legitimate explanation, but for purposes of this article we’ll let the assumption that accidental accumulations of mutations could actually form a wing, flying muscles, attachment points for a wing, corresponding tendons, ligaments, bones (specifically wishbone) or symmetrical & corresponding wing.

How do evolutionists propose to solve the huge problem of the necessary software needed to control any newly evolved hardware traits like wings? As computer scientists are finding as they write software to control biomimetics hardware, it takes intelligent coding to control the hardware that will produce purposeful movements.

Take the human hand for instance; it has the sensitivity control to maneuver & insert a soft contact lens…

…and the human hand is also capable of gripping and lifting 500 pounds of steel

ApoloJedi lifting 500 pounds of steel with the force…of his back/hamstring muscles

So, can evolution explain the software of biology? As we reported in the article, Can Evolution Explain Altruism? evolution is described as:

The unguided process of natural selection acting on random mutations through numerous, slight, successive modifications intended to perpetuate genetic material in the competition for limited resources. And the process of evolution is taught has having been responsible for producing all of the various/complex species of ALL life for all time from a single common ancestor. Natural selection preserves functional traits that maintain/increase fitness and destroys creatures that are unfit in a particular environment. Simultaneous complimentary mutations of both the hardware (bones/muscle/organ/skin) and the software (control code for corresponding hardware) would be necessary for natural selection to preserve both the hardware and software. This is important because if just the hardware were to evolve without the software, then natural selection would not preserve it. And if the control code for non-existent hardware were to evolve, then natural selection could not preserve it since it had no purpose.

A hypothetical scenario might go something like this: a wingless insect has a mutation that produces a proto-wing appendage (hardware). To make the proto-wing appendage (PWA) useful for flying, it must produce (within the population) a reproductive advantage such that those with the mutation produce more offspring than those without the mutation. If the appendage does not have corresponding control code (software) that controls the PWA (for future flight), then the mutation that produces the PWA will not be preserved through natural selection. It has been proposed by evolutionists that a PWA might produce some other reproductive advantage (other than flight), so a PWA need not immediately provide flight in order to be preserved. Perhaps the PWA was useful for ground locomotion, digging, or sensing changes in barometric pressure (or some-such other fable). This only complicates the problem for the evolutionist. Because now, the PWA must have corresponding control code (software) that enables the PWA (hardware) to be useful for ground locomotion, digging, or sensing changes in barometric pressure – and then as the PWA gradually becomes an instrument for flying, the controlling code must simultaneously be COMPLETELY rewritten randomly re-aggregated to move the newly-evolved winged appendage as an instrument of flight.

For those who claim that evolution provides a sufficient explanation for biological software, they need to demonstrate (not assume) all of the following

  • An unguided process that can produce coded information through the accumulation of random mutations
  • Simultaneous complimentary mutations of controlling code (software) for biological traits (hardware).
  • Step by step preservation of controlling code (software) with step by step growth of biological traits (hardware). A sufficient demonstration of this process would be to take a species of beetle like Allomyrina dichotoma and reverse engineer…I mean track it’s evolution in reverse to it’s last common ancestor with the flightless Bristletail bug (Leposma saccharina). This reverse evolution should include the instruction set of both the hardware and software changes of this hypothetical common ancestor to show the numerous, small, successive modifications that allow the Rhinoceros Beetle to fly. Feel free to use a very amazing tool that shows assumed common ancestry. NOTE: While the onezoom tool is amazing, it is only good for the leaf nodes and is devoid of information on the common ancestors – therefore, it is just as much evidence of the common Designer.
  • For the intrepid evolutionist, demonstrating the evolution of software to control, not just a single trait, but an entire system like the digestive system would be an above average quest.
  • For the genius-level evolutionist, demonstrating the evolution of software to control, not just a single system, but an entire organism complete with interdependent systems (like how the digestive system provides energy for the circulatory system & muscular system while the respiratory system provides oxygen for the digestive system & muscular system to properly convert mass to energy and the muscular system provides locomotion to bring mass into the digestive system…) would go a long ways toward confirming the theory of evolution rather than just assuming it.

Doubtless, in their effort to answer the problems raised in this article, some evolutionists will link to articles thinking they have done everything to sufficiently demonstrate the ability of evolution to explain the software of biology. Inevitably, the headline of the article they link will over-commit, and the article itself will under-perform.

And to be clear, this blog regards presuppositional apologetics as the correct & biblical way to share the gospel of Jesus. So, since evolution is against God’s revealed word, there is NO sufficient evolutionary explanation for software. God is the author of both biological traits (hardware) and the corresponding control code (software). Because the Great Engineer put all life together for a purpose, there is a fascinating and God-glorifying science called biology. Human scientists can de-construct God’s amazing creatures with purpose and expectation of learning. Were the theory of evolution true, purpose would be meaningless and discovery fruitless. Therefore, this article is meant to expose the emptiness of the principle pillar of naturalistic worldviews.

Because we can trust God’s revelation about the past, we can trust Him with his revelation about the future.

NOTES: This blog post has its origin in a book titled Nature’s IQ by Hornyanszky/Tasi. In their book, they raise valid/irrefutable questions regarding the teaching of the Grand Theory of Evolution as having any real explanatory power for behaviors/instincts. I really enjoyed the book but was disappointed to get to the end and discover their conclusion to be Hinduism.

However, with a correct understanding that only the God of the Bible can sufficiently ground knowledge, logic, science, beauty, math, induction, and morality one cannot help but to cry out to God for the gift of repentance and abundant life

Can Evolution Explain Altruism?

It’s my hobby to interact with people and talk about my Savior, Jesus. He’s the Creator (Col 1:16) and the promised Messiah (Gen 3:15.) Despite my multitude of sins and those of all repentant sinners (John 3:16), He demonstrated his great love (Rom 4:8) by taking on the full wrath of the Father to atone for wickedness (Rom 3:25)

Inevitably in some of those conversations, skeptics bring up evolution as a reason not to repent. The conversation sometimes includes this phrase:

There’s no need for your sky daddy. Evolution explains everything without him

I’m with Greg Bahnsen when he says that evolution can’t explain ANYTHING. But one of the questions I’ve asked God-deniers about evolution’s explanatory power is “How is altruism consistent with evolutionism? How does evolution explain altruistic behavior?”

NOTE: As a blog that uses the presuppositional method to honor God’s revelation and expose the irrational nature of all philosophies that attempt to derive knowledge, logic, morality or anything else without God, you may wonder why I’m asking this evidential question. What follows will be the application of Proverbs 26:5. I will enter into the worldview of the God-denier to show that his OWN explanations are full of unjustified assertions and catastrophic contradictions

This is apparently a question that triggers God-deniers, because when I post that question on social media, there are all kinds of caustic and derogatory remarks about my lack of intelligence, my lack of education, and their desire that I be quiet. Once in a while a skeptic will try to answer. Here’s a recent answer I got to the question “Why do evolutionists think altruism is beneficial (in this case public education)”

Alturism (sp) can improve the survival rate of the herd making it easier for individuals to thrive. Education improves the herd so ensuring a well educated public can improve individual life

What is Altruism?

Wikipedia defines altruism as “Altruism is the principle and moral practice of concern for happiness of other human beings or animals, resulting in a quality of life both material and spiritual.”

Merriam-Webster tells us that altruism is “behavior by an animal that is not beneficial to or may be harmful to itself but that benefits others of its species”

I will reference these definitions later in the post, so prepare to be pointed back here for a reminder of these foundational definitions. We all recognize altruism in humans when people are selfless. Altruism is on display when a person gives money to the homeless and when a person helps at the scene of an accident and when a person helps build houses on a mission trip. In those interactions, there is no benefit and may even be sacrificial on the part of the giver. Sometimes, altruism is seen in ant and bee colonies.

What is evolution?

In 1859 Charles Darwin released one of the most influential books of all time, The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection for the Preservation of the Favored Races. In it, he lays out a case for a mechanism known as natural selection, which he says

Natural Selection is the principle by which each slight variation, if useful, is preserved

Darwin reveals his biological theory that attempts to explain the origin of the great diversity of life. This theory requires that uncountable sequential individual heritable changes be preserved by natural selection for evolution to have veracity. He said

If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.

For evolution to have explanatory power, there must be uncountable sequential individual heritable changes that are preserved solely by natural selection. Now Darwin had no idea about DNA or the unimaginable complexity of genetic code that is stored on DNA, but scientists after Darwin discovered the code of DNA which serves as the source of inheritance, the mutation of which supposedly provides for novel traits.

Let’s analyze what is currently being taught as evolution before we go forward. From OpenStax college textbook Biology 2e p. 24

The source of this diversity (tremendous diversity of life on earth) is evolution, the process of gradual change during which new species arise from older species. A Phylogenetic tree can summarize the evolution of various life forms on Earth. It is a diagram showing the evolutionary relationships among biological species based on similarities and differences in genetic or physical traits or both.

Same book, p492

Evolution by natural selection describes a mechanism for how species change over time…Natural Selection, or “survival of the fittest” is the more prolific reproduction of individuals with favorable traits that survive environmental change because of those traits. This leads to evolutionary change…More offspring are produced than are able to survive, so resources for survival and reproduction are limited. The capacity for reproduction in all organisms outstrips the availability of resources to support their numbers. Thus, there is competition for those resources in each generation.

From RationalWiki

All species on Earth originated by the mechanism of evolution, through descent from common ancestors.

To summarize their claims on what evolution is:

  1. Evolution is unguided
  2. Evolution can be verified by showing the gradual process of uncountable sequential individual heritable changes
  3. The mechanisms of evolution are natural selection acting on random mutations
  4. Genetics determines traits, behaviors, and reproduction
  5. Organisms that are the most fit (greatest fitness) in their environment persist to pass their genes to subsequent generations
  6. Fitness is “individual reproductive success and is equal to the average contribution to the gene pool of the next generation that is made by individuals of the specified genotype or phenotype”
  7. Evolution’s sole driver is to reproduce genetic material in the competition for limited resources.

What is Evolutionism?

Evolutionism is the belief that evolution is the only explanation for all of biology. Those who practice evolutionism are ruthless in protecting this belief. Practitioners expel, malign, and/or punish anyone who dissents from the common evolutionism narrative.

According to those practicing evolutionism, the theory of evolution cannot, must not, and will not be criticized. Efforts to offer anything other than complete obeisance to the theory are met with swift and unmerciful retribution in an effort to silence critical thinking. In practice, it strongly resembles religious fervor in protection of the dogma. This is generally what happens when someone makes a social media comment that even hints there might be problems with evolution’s ability to explain all of biology

What do Scientists Say About Altruism?

So, scientists have recognized that it is counter-intuitive to assume that altruism fits within the evolutionary explanations, and I’m sure you can see that from the definitions of evolution from above, there is a large plausibility barrier to overcome. In the recent social media encounter that I mentioned above, one of the God-deniers said:

The scientific research would beg to differ. The evolutionary origins of human altruism explained: https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=0,5&qsp=3&q=evolutionary+origins+human+altruism&qst=ir…

And if you’re not reading science to change your mind, then what are you doing?

Essentially, he told me that science DOES have answers, and I’m ignorant of those answers because I’ve never read them. But I’m an intrepid ApoloJedi and will analyze the writings of scientists who promote evolutionism to see if they can demonstrate altruism to be sufficiently explained by the mechanisms of evolution. I will analyze three sources from the modern academic paradigm (which some will conflate with “science”):

  1. Human Altruism – Proximate Patterns and Evolutionary Origins by Fehr/Fischbacher 2005
  2. Selfish Gene – Richard Dawkins
  3. OpenStax Biology 2e 2018 Rice University

Fehr/Fischbacher

The first link in the search result from the post above yields a paper written by Ernst Fehr and Urs Fischbacher for degruyter.com. The paper was written in 2005 and has been cited 82 times.

From page 6

Current gene-based evolutionary theories cannot explain important patterns of human altruism pointing towards the need for theories of cultural evolution and gene-culture coevolution

They clearly recognize the counter-intuitive nature of the claim that evolution can sufficiently account for altruism. The implication is that a NEW theory/mechanism is needed. They call their new mechanism “strong reciprocity”. They define Strong Reciprocity as

Strong reciprocity is a combination of altruistic rewarding—a readiness to reward others in response to fair outcomes or behaviour—and altruistic punishment—a willingness to sanction others for norm violations

Reward? If there is a reward, it’s not altruism. Right from the beginning, they change the definition of altruism from something that is unselfish to appeal to the inherent selfishness. “Fair outcomes”???? Now they have to explain how evolution produced justice so that fair outcomes can be measured. Rather than explaining away the questions, they are multiplying their explanatory deficits. They spend the next 20 pages showing data and charts about how there are social rewards for reciprocity and punishment for selfishness for humans. It’s hardly groundbreaking to show data that when people are nice to others, the others are generally nice back or when someone is ungrateful for altruism, that’s the last time they get free generosity. And it’s definitely not in accord with Merrian-Webster’s definition of altruism from above. The point is that they are not demonstrating that evolution explains altruism. They are NOT demonstrating a gradual process with innumerable slight successive modifications in heritable traits are pushing some mysterious proto-altruistic behavior into fully-developed altruism. Some have done the altruistic test on monkeys showing strong reciprocity, but (as I have been reliably reminded over and over by evolutionists) humans did not evolve from monkeys. At best, these experiments can ONLY assert another rescue device (convergent evolution) proposed by evolutionists to protect their theory from refutation. These experiments do NOT demonstrate the evolution of human altruism.

On page 30, in their section titled “Evolutionary Origins” they introduce the term “Reciprocal altruism” (RA) as a mechanism for producing altruism in evolutionism. But they never get around to explaining how RA gets included into the genetic code. If it is not included in the genetic code, which is the mechanism for heredity, is RA explainable by evolution? RA is described throughout the next 5 pages as being a learned behavior, so unless they are proposing classic Lamarckism, RA can be ignored. In addition to it not being passed on through heredity, it is another way they are redefining altruism. Altruism is selfless, but RA requires reciprocity (if you do something nice, the expectation is that the gifted person reciprocates with something nice), so it is NOT altruism!!!!! Again on Page 30

This does not mean that there may have been considerable obstacles in leaving a relationship; yet, unless the available outside options and individuals’ decisions to stay in or to leave a relationship are modelled explicitly, it is impossible to study their impact on the evolution of altruistic behaviour.

Impossible indeed!

Thus, repeated interactions plus the existence of strategies which condition cooperative behaviour on past outcomes (i.e., reciprocal altruism) are unlikely to be an evolutionary explanation for human cooperation in larger groups

Unlikely and Impossible

In the concluding paragraph of their paper, which they title “Open Problems” they say:

There is experimental evidence indicating that repeated interactions, reputation-formation, and strong reciprocity are powerful determinants of human behaviour

I agree with this, but as has been shown, this is NOT evolution. These are post hoc attempts to describe observations to protect a theory from refutation

Although recent evidence (Henrich et al. 2001) suggests that market integration and the potential gains from cooperation are important factors, our knowledge is still extremely limited

much more evidence on how these affect altruistic rewarding and punishment is necessary

At the ultimate level, the evolution and role of altruistic rewarding for cooperation in larger groups remain in the dark

At the level of proximate theories of human motivation, we still lack parsimonious and tractable formal models of reciprocal fairness, which make precise, testable, predictions

to enhance the study of the evolution of altruism, there is a great need for sharp, empirically testable predictions that are rigorously derived from the evolutionary models

Their conclusion admits they cannot even test the evolutionary mechanism in the present, so how can they extrapolate their theories dozens, hundreds, thousands, or millions of years into the past?!?!?? As they said, “the evolution of altruistic rewarding remains in the dark”

Richard Dawkins

In 1976 Biologist Richard Dawkins attempted to explain altruism in his book, The Selfish Gene. Here are some quotes from his book:

My purpose is to examine the biology of selfishness and altruism.

We are survival machines – robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes

Let us try to teach generosity and altruism, because we are born selfish. Let us understand what our own selfish genes are up to, because we may then at least have the chance to upset their designs, something that no other species has ever aspired to do.

Any altruistic system is inherently unstable, because it is open to abuse by selfish individuals, ready to exploit it.

We can even discuss ways of deliberately cultivating and nurturing pure, disinterested altruism—something that has no place in nature, something that has never existed before in the whole history of the world. We are built as gene machines and cultured as meme machines, but we have the power to turn against our creators. We, alone on earth, can rebel against the tyranny of the selfish replicators.

Be warned that if you wish, as I do, to build a society in which individuals cooperate generously and unselfishly towards a common good, you can expect little help from biological nature.

If there is a human moral to be drawn, it is that we must teach our children altruism, for we cannot expect it to be part of their biological nature.

In the world of the extended phenotype, ask not how an animal’s behaviour benefits its genes; ask instead whose genes it is benefiting.

The genes are not destroyed by crossing-over, they merely change partners and march on. Of course they march on. That is their business. They are the replicators and we are their survival machines. When we have served our purpose we are cast aside. But genes are denizens of geological time: genes are forever.

There exists no objective basis on which to elevate one species above another.

As you can see, Dawkins is unable to sufficiently demonstrate that evolutionary mechanisms can sufficiently account for altruism. Dawkins is deficient at the same points of Fehr/Fischbacher – he is forced to redefine altruism as beneficial to the giver OR prescribe that altruism be TAUGHT since genes are naturally selfish (Learned). At the pinnacle of the book when Dawkins should reveal how evolution explains altruism, he instead tells us that society is the inheritance mechanism for altruistic behavior rather than evolution (“we must teach our children altruism, for we cannot expect it to be part of their biological nature”). This scientist, who some might say knows more about evolution and biology than any man alive and whose book was meant to explain how biology produced altruism, ultimately claims that the heritable mechanism for altruism is NOT evolution but society!!!!

Is there room for critical rebuttal of Dawkin’s claims? Stephen J. Gould had this to say about the ability of Dawkin’s theory to account for altruism:

the fatal flaw (in Dawkins’ selfish gene theory) was that “no matter how much power Dawkins wishes to assign to genes, there is one thing that he cannot give them – direct visibility to natural selection.

With no direct visibility to natural selection, how can genes direct phenotypes to preserve themselves via altruism? Dawkins never explained; he just assumed and crafted another post hoc theory in an failed attempt to stave off refutation. Dawkin’s attempt to explain altruism via evolution is shown to be a failure as well

OpenStax Rice University

On page 1444, the authors of Rice University’s Biology 2e textbook address altruism…or rather, they fail to address it in the subchapter titled “Altruistic Behavior”

There has been much discussion over why altruistic behaviors exist. Do these behaviors lead to overall evolutionary advantages for their species? Do they help the altruistic individual pass on its own genes? In the 1976 book, The Selfish Gene, scientist Richard Dawkins attempted to explain many seemingly altruistic behaviors…Selfish gene theory has been controversial over the years and is still discussed among scientists in related fields…The lowering of individual fitness to enhance the reproductive fitness of a relative and this one’s inclusive fitness evolves through kin selection. However, these behaviors may not be truly defined as altruism in these cases because the actor is actually increasing his own fitness either directly or indirectly.

Unrelated individuals may also act altruistically to each other, and this seems to defy the selfish gene explanation. An example of this observed in many monkey species where a monkey will present its back to an unrelated monkey to have that individual pick the parasites from its fur. After a certain amount of time, the roles are reversed and the first monkey now grooms the second monkey. Thus, there is reciprocity in the behavior…This behavior (Reciprocity Altruism) is not necessarily altruism.

Evolutionary game theory, a modification of classical game theory in mathematics, has shown that many of these so-called “altruistic behaviors” are not altruistic at all. The definition of pure altruism, based on human behavior, is an action that benefits another without any direct benefit to one’s self. Most of the behaviors described above do not seem to satisfy this definition.

You can see from their explanations that there is no mechanism for generating altruistic behavior, and as this section gets deeper into the deficit of actual explanations, even the concept of altruism is wiped away as if it never really exists (from above – “Most of the behaviors described above do not seem to satisfy this definition (altruism)”.) We see altruistic behavior in humans. We’ve all done it ourselves. We know it exists, but it’s mechanism, purpose, and history are all BLIND to science. In their first paragraph they invoke a sciency-sounding phrase, kin selection, as if merely naming an observation actually explains it. Kin selection like convergent evolution like strong reciprocity are terms that hide the explanation under the guise of science. People hear “kin selection” and assume, “well, it’s got a fancy name, so someone must have demonstrated that evolution is the only explanation for it.”

Although I have been unreliably told that evolution can account for altruistic behavior, the writings of science publications are devoid of sufficient explanations for it. Notice the concluding sentences of this section:

What is clear, though, is that heritable behaviors that improve the chances of passing on one’s genes or a portion of one’s genes are favored by natural selection and will be retained in future generations as long as those behaviors convey a fitness advantage.

Essentially, they are saying “despite a lack of evidence of altruism at all or a mechanism for developing proto-altruism to fully functional altruism, it’s true. Just believe that evolution has the power to do it! We KNOW it because natural selection ALWAYS conveys a fitness advantage…even if we can’t demonstrate it. Trust us, we’re scientists!”

Well, trust has to be earned and after reviewing the best that evolutionism has to offer for explaining the natural forces of survival-of-the-fittest producing behaviors that lower fitness, their writings are woefully deficient of demonstrations.

Can Evolution Account For Altruism?

No. Those who believe in evolution recognize that altruism exists, and in an effort to create post hoc theories for its existence, they must either redefine altruism, revive classic Lamarckism, disregard their own definitions of what evolution means or some chimera Frankenstein fantasy combination of all three distractions.

Many of you know that this is a blog dedicated to the truth of God’s eternal revelation. As a recovering evidentialist and aspiring presuppositionalist, it is my intent to always revere Christ Jesus as the authority in all matters and not put the God-denier in the judge’s seat as if he/she can correctly judge evidence in accordance with a perfect perception of reality. Only God has a perfect perception of all of reality, but God, who is the source of all knowledge, has revealed some of his knowledge so that we can know those things with certainty (Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge). So, without humble submission to the Eternal Monarch, justified true beliefs are not possible for the God-denier. This article could have been very short: Does a mechanism which purportedly replaces God (evolution) sufficiently account for behaviors that God commands (altruism)? No – evolution cannot account for altruism. So, evolutionists are wrong about altruism being consistent with evolution not only because of the Christian worldview…

  1. God’s Revelation in creation and scripture are true
  2. Evolutionism is discordant with God’s Revelation

…but evolutionists are ALSO wrong about altruism because of the inherent contradictions contained within their own worldview

  1. Altruism is selfless
  2. Evolutionary biologists propose that genes are selfish
  3. Genes are unchanged by learned behaviors
  4. Altruism is a learned behavior
  5. Natural selection is survival of the fittest
  6. Altruism is artificial intrusion that prevents the least fit from succumbing to natural selection

This article entered into the worldview of the God-denier and using their own assumptions, their own research, and their own conclusions to show that they cannot account for altruistic behaviors as a result of evolutionary processes. To be clear, they cannot account for ANYTHING without humble submission to the LORD of glory, who is worthy of all praise