Is Evolutionary Psychology Immoral?
“In 1800, half of all those born died as children; two centuries later, almost none did. More and more people who would not have survived in the old times walked among us. They were mistakes made flesh. They no longer uplifted the established rules; they endlessly criticized and undermined them, like the witches of yore.… The post Is Evolutionary Psychology Immoral? appeared first on VoegelinView.

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“In 1800, half of all those born died as children; two centuries later, almost none did. More and more people who would not have survived in the old times walked among us. They were mistakes made flesh. They no longer uplifted the established rules; they endlessly criticized and undermined them, like the witches of yore. Unwell in body and mind, they were, at best, selfish and impulsive; at worst, they promoted depression and despair.” – Stephen Lindsay
“This is horrendous dehumanizing language, very much immoral, and decidedly not pure fact or Truth. I will look over the book to see where he goes with his ideas, and get back to you, but I am thoroughly repulsed right from the start…As a Christian, I know that each individual human is a child of God with a divine spark and divine potential. With that upbringing this kind of rhetoric has no appeal to me. I can’t help but see this kind of argument as just as much a symptom (on the right) of declining religiosity as is Marxism and woke-ism on the left.” – Stephen Lindsay
Stephen Lindsay points to a dilemma and an issue about which I have been trying to make up my mind. It could perhaps be described as “the way of the world,” versus “the way of heaven.” Or, “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, and render unto God that which is owed to God.” The purpose of human history is unknown. It definitely does not entail some kind of progress or earthly telos. The Indian notion of circular history ending with the Kali Yuga, before a new and hopeful beginning, seems to conform to reality. The way of the world values earthly success; high status, and thus socioeconomic achievement, good looks, fertility, and perhaps fair renown. The way of heaven does not and cannot depend on chance elements of genetic mutation, unless, I suppose, one embraces Calvinist predestination. Why would God create the existence of spiteful mutants? Perhaps, as the cross they bear. Gay men have a purpose; to have their sexuality repressed and redirected in a prosocial direction. Psychopaths can be employed in the military and perhaps spying. Geniuses have psychopathic traits and they are good to have. But, the child hating witch, embodied in Andrea Dworkin, who rejects the patriarchy and thus the social order and encourages others in an antisocial direction; what are we to make of her?
A similar conundrum confronts the adherent of René Girard. Scapegoating is evil, but produced human culture. It has saved societies from destruction. It has appeared as a good thing in terms of the way of the world. But, God has condemned it and sent his only Son to reveal its immorality. The question Girard asked was, can social existence survive the death of scapegoating? If it cannot, so much the worse for the social. JM Smith writes: “the imitation of Christ would be justified even if it burns the world down.” It seems hard to let burn the world down with yourself, and all you love, sons and daughters, and everyone in it, and all human accomplishment, perishing. On the other hand, what does it get you to gain the world but lose your soul? Ironically, given the decline of Christianity, we need not worry about this possibility. Scapegoating strides the earth as a Goliath, and all of Western Civilization and the white men who created it are its target. So, the end of scapegoating is nowhere in sight. In its current incarnation, the scapegoat mechanism, far from unifying, is tearing us apart, thanks to identity politics. Scapegoating white men in order to supplant them could be compared to capturing a city to enjoy the spoils of war, but it turns out that what made the city desirable was connected to the productivity and wisdom of its inhabitants, all of whom you have killed or thrown out, leaving you with nothing. This happens all the time, where a productive minority is vilified and becomes the focus of resentment, such as the white farmers of Zimbabwe, only to leave their persecutors holding worthless dust. South Africans depend almost entirely on the productive white minority, three million out of fifty million, who they tax to support the unemployed majority. But, they would clearly love to get rid of them if they could. In 1972, Idi Amin gave the Indian minority of Uganda ninety days to leave the country. They took a significant portion of Uganda’s productivity with them when they left. Most of the them, starting from scratch, rebuilt their finances and success in the UK.
Is scapegoating prosocial or antisocial? Morally, it is irrelevant. It is evil. Bearing that in mind, the question can still be answered. It seems both. Ethnocentrism is prosocial. Any society that fails to care about its members and to act to repel hostile invaders is doomed to dissolve. Attacking the innocent scapegoat can have prosocial benefits. However, knowing that anyone at any time can be attacked to solve social problems will have negative social consequences. The most prosocial thing then would be to return to the state of affairs before Christ’s crucifixion. However, God has rejected this by sending his only Son. And, morality cannot be replaced by cost/benefit analyses. Sometimes, morality conflicts with the good for an individual, and even for the good of the group. Sometimes morality will be prosocial, sometimes antisocial.
If societies have a life cycle; birth, growth, decline, and death, perhaps striving to stave off the inevitable is like the grotesque old people who want to stay alive at any cost. The gift of life must be returned; it must be reciprocated. Holding on to it for grim life is ugly. Perhaps, social decline and death should be accepted while doing our level best to hold on to Christian values to mitigate the suffering. I know of two people who died from cancer who had zero acceptance of their situation and had to be figuratively dragged feet first off this mortal coil as they clawed the ground. Perhaps I would react in the same way, but I hope not. One absolutely failed to put his multinational and complicated affairs in order, leaving his widow with years of strife.
So, the question of the worldly consequences of eradicating scapegoating remains hypothetical. But, the existence of spiteful maladaptive mutants, sick in mind, body, and soul, is not at all a mere postulate. What makes our response to them morally problematic is the genetic component. It has deterministic implications. Ed Dutton claims to be a determinist, like all materialists, while simply ignoring the performative contradictions involved and the moral nihilism that determinism entails. There is no moral good or bad if freedom does not exist.
Personality is partially inheritable. Neuroticism is not something anyone chooses. If we regard people as moral agents then the maladaptive must be asked to suppress their inclinations. Their personalities are going to push them to strive to attain power in a hopeless quest to control the frightening world around them. They must refrain. Their hatred of children and the patriarchy that makes the two-parent nurturing of children possible must be kept to themselves, and certainly not proselytized to the young and impressionable. The trouble is that part of their inherited personality is antisocial, non-agreeableness, non-conscientiousness, and so they are going to be very hard to convince to shut up in the name of the interests of the group. Criminals too are, on average, people who score low in intelligence and low in agreeableness. We have no choice but to hold them accountable for their actions and choices. The trouble is that impulse control goes down as people become less intelligent. Nonetheless, the pro-human, Christian thing to do would be to treat them as morally responsible individuals and offer rehabilitation is possible. The alternative is determinism which is completely antihuman and only arises anyway out of a rejection of God. We can take Dutton’s observations about bad genes as reason to soften our moral judgments of antisocial neurotics while fighting them tooth and nail and insisting that they abide by moral norms.
As a science, evolutionary psychology is amoral and empirical. There are no immoral facts. The only statement in the Dutton quotation that goes beyond neutral description is “they were mistakes made flesh.” However, this statement is then amply supported by the descriptive passages that follow.
There is no question that what Dutton describes has become extremely prominent in what remains of Western civilization. “They no longer uplifted the established rules; they endlessly criticized and undermined them, like the witches of yore.” This antinomian impulse has become the norm. As Dutton comments, as few as twenty percent of the population belligerently adopting and enforcing an ideology can flip a culture to reflect this minority of people. I wrote a short piece called “The End of Normal” which argues that the only acceptable thing to be, according to the antinomian is abnormal. Any sign of conforming to healthy, prosocial, adaptive norms such as being heterosexual, married, and having children in wedlock, is seen as abhorrent. The libertine is actually extremely judgmental and puritanical. Promising unrestricted freedom, they condemn the healthy. Anti-natalism is the most obvious and unarguably bad pathology being promoted. They have lost the will to live and pass on their genes which is fine as far as it goes, but the fact that they have managed to infect otherwise healthy people with their nihilism is intolerable. The sickest will eventually die childless, and the normal will reassert itself, but only after the sick have destroyed and ruined society.
Perhaps the situation can be compared with being at literal war. The soldiers on the other side are made in the image of God like you. They have value and divine worth, but they are also trying to gas you or put a bullet in your skull, your children’s skulls, your wife’s and your friends. Yes, they are human. But, we also have a right to self-defense. Notice that Dutton is not condemning people for having poor genes, but for being selfish, impulsive, depressive and despairing. The prosocial are forced to fight the antisocial. Highly intelligent people know on what side their bread is buttered. At the moment, antisocial, antipatriarchy rules. So, the majority of them simply adopt the attitudes of someone who is a genetic mess, despite being moderately healthy themselves. In a social climate where conservatism dominates, then this is what they emulate. Women in certain decades of the twentieth century were more conservative than men. Being more neurotic and fearful, and also more agreeable, women are particularly prone to following the dominant ethos. They now follow and create this ethos to a large degree, killing us all in a surge of ersatz “compassion.”
Bruce Charlton writes: “Psychology can help analyze a person’s ability to stick to the moral values being inculcated by society – so that more intelligent and conscientious people are much more obedient to social morality, and better able to stick to rules. But when the social rules are evil – as they are now – this makes the intelligent/ conscientious (‘Head Girl’ types, as I once dubbed them) the worst, most harmful, most evil of all classes of people.” The spiteful mutants introduce a sick and wrong pseudo-morality, and the Head Girl knocks it out of the park in promoting it, helping her career in the process. All her healthy genes become irrelevant as she acts in the service of immorality.
What Dutton describes as happening now, has happened before. The biologically weak and maladaptive flourish in a context of plenty where there is an opportunity to support with food those who are unable to provide it for themselves. This laudable Christian-style compassion ends up destroying the circumstances that made this compassion possible – namely, the surpluses. Communism does the same thing. As Margaret Thatcher commented, the problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money. Perhaps this is indeed the genuinely Christian thing to do. In which case, we must simply accept the life cycle of civilizations.
A significant portion of the maladaptive among us simply detest the adaptive and wish them gone, explicitly. The Romans distributed grain to the poor who survived when they otherwise would have died, and this group then had lots of babies since they were not smart enough to use the many contraceptive methods the Romans had available to them, and they were impulsive and not future oriented since they were increasingly less intelligent and so had sex regardless of the consequences, i.e., even though they were in no position to support those children via their own exertions. The mutational load thus increases among those having children, supported by dysgenic policies. Due to highly effective contraceptive methods, high intelligence upper classes and elites stopped having children in high numbers. This was coupled with the rise of feminism, mass migration into Rome, “transgender” confusion and all the other things we are seeing now in the West. Times of plenty are associated with reduced mortality salience and mortality salience is connected to increased religiosity and also fertility. Being highly aware of death, since one is constantly confronted with it, prompts people to have children and fear God. People think more about eternal values and thus the future and they realize the future needs babies and they care about this fact. South Korea has now reached a natality rate of 0.8. 2.1 is needed for population maintenance. The quickness of South Koreans exiting the gene pool is astonishing.
This biological aspect of the decline of civilization means that what we are experiencing is only partly the result of ideology. The pathological ideology is itself the product of genetic decline and increasing mutational load and these last two things express themselves in all sorts of death and extinction directed and maladaptive ideas, such as the idea that having babies will ruin your life. We know that religious people are, on average, happier, healthier mentally and physically, better looking, and pro-natalist. The opposite of those things will mean an early death, chronic poor health, and no children. That is no good for them or society.
Certainly, being happy, healthy, good-looking, religious, and pro-natalist all sounds great to me. There necessarily is a genetic component to those things. David Hume, that repulsive person, contended that reason is the slave of the passions. That is of course a performative contradiction because presumably Hume deduced that fact through his reason, not his passions, thus overriding his passions. Nonetheless, there does seem to be a certain degree of truth to this. We certainly do have “intuitions” and they have a genetic component. Religious belief is inheritable, as shown in twin studies where twins are reared apart. My intuition tells me that God exists. My mother has the opposite sense. Among my siblings, two sisters are atheists, and two of us theists. It does not seem like this state of affairs was the product of argumentation or reason. One of them is mordantly aware of the nihilistic implications of her metaphysical assumptions but seems to regretfully feel like they are not up to her to change, and perhaps they are not. So, falling away from healthy religious pro-natalism looks like it involves factors not within one’s control. We do not choose our most fundamental intuitions. They choose us. If God exists, then He has his reasons for this. Perhaps, he intends there to be varied states of being and life experience as part of a larger plan of which we are unaware. Some go through life aware of His existence. Some do not. The Christian believes in redemption and conversion, so these things must not be set in stone.
All science looks for physical causes. A better more well-rounded approach might be the Four Quadrants, which factors in cultural and personal/interior contributions to beliefs. Empirically, pathological ideas like anti-natalism are associated with times of plenty; death by abundance. And times of plenty, coupled with modern medicine, mean that the selection for adaptive fitness is reduced. Since we are exactly following Roman decline, the whole thing seems to be unstoppable. The way of the world asserts itself. But, the interior individual domain is up to you to choose.
By identifying genetic contributions to hateful ideologies, such as the notion that Western culture is uniquely evil and deserves to die, we can recognize that some people are pushed in this direction by forces outside their control; their “passions.” But, lest we end up denying their humanity, we must continue to hold them morally responsible for their words and actions. Tomás de Torquemada points to the Bible verse: And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin” (Lk. 17:1-2).
Ironically, it is more Christian to condemn spiteful mutants, than to hold them blameless as effectively mindless products of deterministic forces. On the side of the prosocial, it is extraordinarily hard to “love your enemies” when they are the enemies of all human beings. Anti-natalism is anti-human. When the psychopath is skinning you alive for his enjoyment how likely are we to say, “Oh, well. He can’t help it. It’s in his nature.” The right of self-defense remains.
JM Smith writes: “I think every normal person has felt Stephen Lindsay’s revulsion, but reality is what it is no matter what anyone feels. It is true that God created the humans that have the makings to be spiteful mutants, but no less true that he created them in a world that would send them back to him in infancy. The present plethora of adult spiteful mutants is a purely human creation, and humans created it because they thought they were smarter and more moral than God. God created a world that ejected or rejected spiteful mutants before they could do much harm. It is Man in his supposed wisdom who has created a world that succors spiteful mutants, and permits them to grow into robust and destructive adults. I have no idea why God did not make all humans fit to survive in the world that he also made, but I must accept that all the evidence shows that this is precisely what God did.”
When young and idealistic, I wanted to be a pacifist. I wrote my MA thesis, a short book, exploring the topic. Part way through I realized that pacifism was immoral. Heavenly perfection was not compatible with earthly morality. To fail to use violence to defend the helpless is evil, not a virtue. In fighting the enemy, perhaps it is inevitable that in order to do this successfully, a little dehumanizing is needed.

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