Sociobiology isn’t Science

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11 Responses

  1. Moshe says:

    JR writes: “Note how little in the way of scientific proof the evolutionists and their allies require. The human genome project has not, as far as I know, uncovered a “God-gene” that would predict how likely one is to be religious.”

    Type “God gene” into Google and see what you get:
    http://www.time.com/time/archive/preview/0,10987,1101041025-725072,00.html

    http://washingtontimes.com/world/20041114-111404-8087r.htm
    …..
    An American molecular geneticist has concluded after comparing more than 2,000 DNA samples that a person’s capacity to believe in God is linked to brain chemicals.
    His findings have been criticized by leading clerics, who challenge the existence of a “God gene” and say the research undermines a fundamental tenet of faith — that spiritual enlightenment is achieved through divine transformation rather than the brain’s electrical impulses.

    So it seems that the scientists you aim to disagree with have yet another disagreement with you: they do believe in a God gene.

    Am I missing your point?

  2. Bob Miller says:

    This methodology has great potential. For example:

    Scholarship is whatever can attract grants and get published. Those who have the Grant-gene are predisposed to achieve great success as scholars. The failure to detect the Grant-gene is just a detail. Seemingly, there are people such as the cited authors, including the Jewish ones, who have inherited the Grant-gene but not the God-gene. This needs further in-depth study.

    Also, those who believe in evolution must have the Evolution-gene. But one must ask how evolution in all this time would have “allowed” so many nonbelievers in evolution to survive to this day. Possibly, belief in evolution has no survival value, except for professors.

  3. Earl E. Appleby, Jr. says:

    As you aptly observe, “They succeeded instead only in confirming suspicions that much of evolutionary psychology (or sociobiology, as it is variously known) is pseudo-science and an Ivy League education is grossly overpriced.”

    Or as my father used to say of their ilk, “they are educated beyond their intelligence.

    As a first-time visitor, I look forward to visiting often.

    Earl E. Appleby, Jr.
    Director, Citizens United Resisting Euthanasia (CURE)
    Berkeley Springs, WV 25411

  4. Bob Miller says:

    As for Moshe’s comment and links above, the conclusions drawn from the research are a lot shakier and more tentative than the investigator and news media let on. That’s in the context of science.

    But we should also consider the possibility of “mind over matter”, that is, the effect of thought on brain function and chemistry, and not only the reverse. Thought is not simply the expression of some existing chemical/physical state in the brain. Any analysis that neglects soul-brain interactions will not reveal the whole truth. Science, which, by necessity, focuses only on the natural world, can only give us some of the big picture.

    Does Moshe believe that his own opinions are dictated, as opposed to influenced, by natural causes? If so, how does he explain that the Torah takes human free will (except maybe for Pharaoh at times) to be a given?

  5. Seth Gordon says:

    Philip Kitcher, a philosophy professor at the University of Minnesota, has written a superb book that explains why “pop sociobiology” is bad science. Kitcher doesn’t dispute the general theory of evolution–indeed, he has another book subtitled “The Case Against Creationism”–but he argues that the headline-grabbing claims about sociobiology (or “evolutionary psychology”, as they call it these days) abuse the scientific method. You can’t just say “well, I can imagine how this behavior that is very common today would have given our remote ancestors an evolutionary advantage, therefore it must be in the genes”.

  6. Eliezer Barzilai says:

    The idea that religion is an evolutionary adaptation is not necessarily contradictory to our beliefs. Just as migratory birds– and penguins– inspire us with their single minded zeal and sacrifice to survive and reproduce, nature’s conspiracy to inculcate religion should inspire us to appreciate that our Creator arranged nature in a way that would help us to recognize Him. I don’t know whether all things that rise must converge, but the fact that natural forces may contribute to the spiritual enlightenment of mankind certainly inspires me.

  7. Steve Brizel says:

    If you want to see how entrenched “scientism” , as opposed to legitimate scientific research, is in academia and elsewhere, look at the NY Times Book Review letters to the editor section from last week (the week following the review by Wielteiser). The tone was quite hostile and treated Wielteiser with zero respect for his point of view.

  8. Moshe says:

    Bob Miller:
    I don’t see why you question me as to my beliefs – I was just pointing out a flaw in the article written by R’ Rosenblum, not stating my beliefs. I am not the person to judge the authenticity and veracity of the claims of the scientist – I am just pointing out that there are scientists who believe that they have found a God gene – even though R’ Rosenblum seemed to imply that he knows of no such research.

    Regardless, I do not see why having “God genes” dictates what one must believe – it is more of an influence to a specific belief, not that the belief is set in stone (or genetics). I see no reason to have problems with the fact (if the scientific claims of a God gene are true) that God gives some people a more difficult task in believing in Him, while others have an easier time dealing with that issue and have other issues to deal with.

    Now let me pose a question to you:
    Do you believe that the sexual orientation of an individual is dictated to a degree by genetics and that different people can have different tendencies when searching for partners? If so, how do you explain that the Torah takes human free will (except maybe for Pharaoh at times) to be a given?

  9. Jewish Observer says:

    “I was just pointing out a flaw in the article written by R’ Rosenblum”

    not understanding something HaRav Rosenblum says doesn’t make it a flaw

  10. Charles B. Hall says:

    ‘If you want to see how entrenched “scientism” , as opposed to legitimate scientific research, is in academia and elsewhere’

    I can’t speak for all of academia, but as an academic scientist I have not personally run into this.

  11. Bob Miller says:

    Moshe,

    We all have a yetzer hara of some sort, which can be related to inherited or environmental influences. What I object to includes:

    1. Determinism—-the illusion that the yetzer cannot be disobeyed

    2. Wishful thinking as science

    So we appear to agree.

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