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What can Evolutionary Psychology tell us about sin? Paul Moes, Psychology Department Calvin College.

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What can Evolutionary Psychology tell us about sin? Paul Moes, Psychology Department Calvin College. Friday, February 18, 2011 What can Evolutionary Psychology tell ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: What can Evolutionary Psychology tell us about sin? Paul Moes, Psychology Department Calvin College.


1
What can Evolutionary Psychology tell us about
sin?Paul Moes, Psychology Department Calvin
College.
  • Friday, February 18, 2011

2
What can Evolutionary Psychology tell us about
sin?
  • Summary Not much!
  • Why?
  • Presumes reductive physicalism
  • As members of a species, we are programmed, as
    it were, or powerfully disposed, to engage in our
    own genetic self-interest and advantage.
  • A Calvinist theology could handle this, but
  • Psychological science supports a top-down role
    for mental phenomenon
  • Thesis People are sinful, not bodies
  • But if we assume embodiment need ideas

3
What is Evolutionary Psychology?
  • Stresses behavioral gt structural changes
  • Addresses group or tribal traits
  • Example Why do people laugh?

4
Examples
  • Video

5
What is Evolutionary Psychology?
  • Stresses behavioral gt structural changes
  • Addresses group or tribal traits
  • Example Why do people laugh?
  • Designed for
  • Communicate a non-warning
  • Signal play vs. aggression
  • Signal reward (approach)
  • Promote social cooperation better survival

6
Evolutionary Psychology and Sex
  • Gender differences mate selection
  • Examples
  • Females invest energy into child birth/care.
  • Men are hunter-gatherers
  • Men seek females that are fit
  • Physically attractive (healthy)
  • Nurturing
  • Receptive to the male (signals) and
  • Do NOT look like males! (why?)

7
Evidence
  • Surveys / behaviors
  • Mens list
  • Physical Attractiveness (feminine faces,
    average)
  • Nice personality
  • Good sense of humor (receptive)
  • Females laugh more during ovulation
  • Desire sexual fidelity
  • Commit more infidelity themselves
  • Womens list
  • Intelligent / Mature / Strong / High Status
  • Good sense of humor (intelligent)
  • Masculine / Good Looking (symmetrical)
  • desire more masculine faces during ovulation
  • Desire emotional / social fidelity
  • Less likely to be sexually unfaithful

8
Whats useful about EP?
  • Shows that
  • behavioral traits have biological value
  • behavior is purposeful / functional
  • many behaviors are unconsciously driven
  • Has lots of inferential evidence

9
Criticisms Critiques of EP
  • Post-hoc explanations
  • No observational evidence / contradictory
  • Adjusts to predict new outcomes
  • Cant eliminate competing explanations
  • Creates excuses / increases stereotypes
  • Denies (minimizes) cultural, social,familial,
    religious, personal, willful action
  • Account for sin?
  • Can an ape sin?

10
(No Transcript)
11
An Alternative ModelA Non-Reductive Physicalist
Approach
  • What is Non-reductive physicalism?
  • Humans fully embodied (physical), yet
    willful agents (non-reductive)
  • Responsible, accountable
  • YET, with limited agency (5)
  • Supervenience higher level process can
    down-regulate lower level
  • Consider the ant colony

12
NRP view of human nature
  • Soulishness defined relationally, requires
  • Emotions
  • Memory
  • Language (symbolic representation)
  • Theory of Mind
  • Does NOT preclude EP, but goes beyond

13
Alasdair MacIntyres view
  • Moral Responsibility is the ability to evaluate
    that which moves one to actin light of a concept
    of the good.
  • Consider Romans 7 7b For I would not havehave
    known what sin was except if the law had not
    said, Do not covet.
  • So sinfulness requires consciousness

14
Darwin Instincts and Conscience
  • The highest possible stage in moral culture is
    when we recognize that weought to control our
    thoughts, and not even in the inmost thought to
    think again the sins that made the past so
    pleasant to us.

15
  • Whilst the mother-bird is feeding, or brooding
    over her nestlings, the maternal instinct is
    probably stronger than the migratory instinct
    at the moment when her young ones are not in
    sight, she takes flight and deserts them. what
    an agony of remorse the bird would feel, if from
    being endowed with great mental activity, she
    could not prevent the image constantly passing
    through her mind

16
Alasdair MacIntyre continued
  • Requisite cognitive traits for moral action
  • Symbolic sense of self.
  • Sense of the narrative unity of life.
  • The ability to run behavioral scenarios
    andpredict the outcome.
  • The ability to evaluate predicted outcomesin
    light of goals.
  • The ability to evaluate the goals themselvesin
    light of abstract concepts.
  • The ability to ACT in light of the above.

17
MIT and Harvard Research on Theory of Mind and
Prospective-taking
18
How do these qualities arise?A modified
Intelligent Design view
  • Heather Looy Relational qualities designed by
    God
  • Process is not as relevant but theendpoint (of
    qualities) was determined
  • Evidence
  • Marriage works best with mutuality
  • Healthy people defined relationally

19
Getting back to SIN
  • Definition (C. Plantinga) Breaking of Shalom
    (relationships)
  • Sin results from
  • a distorted abstract sense of the good
  • placing self above God,
  • placing self above others.
  • Sidebar The role of Theory of Mind
  • Therefore sin righteousness arise in the MIND
    not in our genetics

20
What about original sin????
  • Dont know but possibilities
  • Sudden (supernatural) alternation of mental
    functions ..Their eyes were opened
  • Gradual alteration of mental functions (self
    distortion)
  • Cultural alteration of mental functions
    (external distortion)
  • Simply a curse placed on humans, placingus out
    of relation with God

21
Sin and Behavior
  • Sin/Righteousness goes beyond mind
  • Becomes automated
  • Becomes physical further alters choices
  • Becomes social/cultural further alters choices
    (group supervenience)

22
Final thoughts on EP explanation for Sin
  • Could explain evil but this takes allhuman
    behavior into a deterministicfatalistic,
    reductionist realm.
  • Reduces salvation to a restoration of brain,
    physiological, genetic function
  • Sin is only understood if we understandour
    psychological nature as well as ourembodied
    nature.

23
Thank You!Questions?
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