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Who knew that Bret Weinstein would be a bigger Darwinist than Richard Dawkins?

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Paul Nelson

Not Paul Nelson, if you go by his account of the discussion between Weinstein, the biology prof driven by “woke” students from Evergreen State University and iconic Darwinist Richard Dawkins:

I witnessed something last week that I never thought I’d see. Richard Dawkins, pressed to affirm the explanatory power of Darwinian reasoning for human life, backed off, expressing great caution. In fact, he said that talking about human behavior in Darwinian terms was “not helpful” and “not Darwinian.” Pressing Dawkins was evolutionary biologist (and atheist) Bret Weinstein, who, as the evening progressed, out-Darwined Dawkins — if I may coin a neologism — on several fronts. Dawkins, come to discover, turns out to be a rather reluctant Darwinian, at least where human institutions such as religion are concerned.

The occasion was a conversation on Tuesday 23 October between Dawkins and Weinstein at the Chicago Theatre, sponsored by the promoter Travis Pangburn…

Why is it, Weinstein challenged Dawkins, that Roman Catholicism persists, and by standard Darwinian metrics (such as population growth), appears highly successful, when so many aspects of Catholic doctrine and practice look frankly crazy to both of us, and very costly to fitness?

“Well, Catholicism is a mind virus,” replied Dawkins — a meme replicating itself from brain to brain without regard to its truth or falsehood. But that is simply telling one’s Catholic interlocutor, answered Weinstein, that he or she is mentally ill, to which Dawkins said (eliciting much audience laughter), “But they are mentally ill.”

That won’t do, replied Weinstein. Why not say, instead, that Catholicism is what — in proper Darwinian terms — it appears to be, namely, an adaptation. If Darwinian principles are correct, Weinstein insisted, religions should not flourish globally, or even exist, unless they conferred some genuine selective advantage on their followers. Follow the logic. Paul Nelson, “Richard Dawkins as Reluctant Darwinian” at Evolution News and Science Today:

The trouble is, Weinstein is treating Darwinism as if it was a serious theory that should make testable predictions but it was never meant to be anything more than virtue signaling and career positioning for the science elite.

Note: If you ask a traditional Catholic about the persistence of the Church, he will likely tell you this. It depends on whether you think that the speaker is reliable.

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See also: Bret Weinstein on Jordan Peterson vs. Sam Harris

9 Replies to “Who knew that Bret Weinstein would be a bigger Darwinist than Richard Dawkins?

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    As to:

    Why is it, Weinstein challenged Dawkins, that Roman Catholicism persists, and by standard Darwinian metrics (such as population growth), appears highly successful, when so many aspects of Catholic doctrine and practice look frankly crazy to both of us, and very costly to fitness?
    “Well, Catholicism is a mind virus,” replied Dawkins — a meme replicating itself from brain to brain without regard to its truth or falsehood.

    Please notice how they both exempt themselves from the implications of their own theory. They both claim that belief in Catholicism in particular, and Christianity in general, is ‘replicated’ without regard to its truth or falsehood. Yet they do not realize that this means that belief in Darwinism itself is ‘replicated’ without regard to its truth or falsehood.

    The only way they can possibly claim to have knowledge that Darwinism is true and Christianity is false is by exempting their own beliefs from the implications their own theory and designating themselves as sole arbiters of what is true and what is false. Darwinists somehow float serenely above the self-defeating implications of their own theory and are able to somehow determine which beliefs are true and which ones are false, even though they claim ALL beliefs are produced solely for survival value and not for truth value.

    Nancy Pearcey puts the self-defeating situation of Darwinists like this:

    Why Evolutionary Theory Cannot Survive Itself – Nancy Pearcey – March 2015
    Excerpt: “An example of self-referential absurdity is a theory called evolutionary epistemology, a naturalistic approach that applies evolution to the process of knowing. The theory proposes that the human mind is a product of natural selection. The implication is that the ideas in our minds were selected for their survival value, not for their truth-value.
    But what if we apply that theory to itself? Then it, too, was selected for survival, not truth — which discredits its own claim to truth. Evolutionary epistemology commits suicide.
    Astonishingly, many prominent thinkers have embraced the theory without detecting the logical contradiction. Philosopher John Gray writes, “If Darwin’s theory of natural selection is true,… the human mind serves evolutionary success, not truth.” What is the contradiction in that statement?
    Gray has essentially said, if Darwin’s theory is true, then it “serves evolutionary success, not truth.” In other words, if Darwin’s theory is true, then it is not true.”,,,
    Another example comes from Francis Crick. In The Astonishing Hypothesis, he writes, “Our highly developed brains, after all, were not evolved under the pressure of discovering scientific truths but only to enable us to be clever enough to survive.” But that means Crick’s own theory is not a “scientific truth.” Applied to itself, the theory commits suicide.

    Of course, the sheer pressure to survive is likely to produce some correct ideas. A zebra that thinks lions are friendly will not live long. But false ideas may be useful for survival. Evolutionists admit as much: Eric Baum says, “Sometimes you are more likely to survive and propagate if you believe a falsehood than if you believe the truth.” Steven Pinker writes, “Our brains were shaped for fitness, not for truth. Sometimes the truth is adaptive, but sometimes it is not.” The upshot is that survival is no guarantee of truth. If survival is the only standard, we can never know which ideas are true and which are adaptive but false.

    To make the dilemma even more puzzling, evolutionists tell us that natural selection has produced all sorts of false concepts in the human mind. Many evolutionary materialists maintain that free will is an illusion, consciousness is an illusion, even our sense of self is an illusion — and that all these false ideas were selected for their survival value.

    So how can we know whether the theory of evolution itself is one of those false ideas? The theory undercuts itself.
    A few thinkers, to their credit, recognize the problem. Literary critic Leon Wieseltier writes, “If reason is a product of natural selection, then how much confidence can we have in a rational argument for natural selection? … Evolutionary biology cannot invoke the power of reason even as it destroys it.”

    On a similar note, philosopher Thomas Nagel asks, “Is the [evolutionary] hypothesis really compatible with the continued confidence in reason as a source of knowledge?” His answer is no: “I have to be able to believe … that I follow the rules of logic because they are correct — not merely because I am biologically programmed to do so.” Hence, “insofar as the evolutionary hypothesis itself depends on reason, it would be self-undermining.”

    Darwin’s Selective Skepticism

    People are sometimes under the impression that Darwin himself recognized the problem. They typically cite Darwin’s famous “horrid doubt” passage where he questions whether the human mind can be trustworthy if it is a product of evolution: “With me, the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy.”

    But, of course, Darwin’s theory itself was a “conviction of man’s mind.” So why should it be “at all trustworthy”?

    Surprisingly, however, Darwin never confronted this internal contradiction in this theory. Why not? Because he expressed his “horrid doubt” selectively — only when considering the case for a Creator.

    From time to time, Darwin admitted that he still found the idea of God persuasive. He once confessed his “inward conviction … that the Universe is not the result of chance.” It was in the next sentence that he expressed his “horrid doubt.” So the “conviction” he mistrusted was his lingering conviction that the universe is not the result of chance.

    In another passage Darwin admitted, “I feel compelled to look to a First Cause having an intelligent mind in some degree analogous to that of man.” Again, however, he immediately veered off into skepticism: “But then arises the doubt — can the mind of man, which has, as I fully believe, been developed from a mind as low as that possessed by the lowest animal, be trusted when it draws such grand conclusions?”

    That is, can it be trusted when it draws “grand conclusions” about a First Cause? Perhaps the concept of God is merely an instinct programmed into us by natural selection, Darwin added, like a monkey’s “instinctive fear and hatred of a snake.”

    In short, it was on occasions when Darwin’s mind led him to a theistic conclusion that he dismissed the mind as untrustworthy. He failed to recognize that, to be logically consistent, he needed to apply the same skepticism to his own theory.

    Modern followers of Darwin still apply the theory selectively. Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould wrote, “Darwin applied a consistent philosophy of materialism to his interpretation of nature,” in which “mind, spirit, and God as well, are just words that express the wondrous results of neuronal complexity.” In other words, God is an idea that appears in the human mind when the electrical circuitry of the brain has evolved to a certain level of complexity.

    To be logically consistent, however, Gould should turn the same skepticism back onto Darwin’s ideas, which he never did. Gould applied his evolutionary skepticism selectively — to discredit the idea of God.

    Applied consistently, Darwinism undercuts not only itself but also the entire scientific enterprise. Kenan Malik, a writer trained in neurobiology, writes, “If our cognitive capacities were simply evolved dispositions, there would be no way of knowing which of these capacities lead to true beliefs and which to false ones.” Thus “to view humans as little more than sophisticated animals …undermines confidence in the scientific method.”

    Just so. Science itself is at stake. John Lennox, professor of mathematics at the University of Oxford, writes that according to atheism, “the mind that does science … is the end product of a mindless unguided process. Now, if you knew your computer was the product of a mindless unguided process, you wouldn’t trust it. So, to me atheism undermines the rationality I need to do science.”

    Of course, the atheist pursuing his research has no choice but to rely on rationality, just as everyone else does. The point is that he has no philosophical basis for doing so. Only those who affirm a rational Creator have a basis for trusting human rationality.

    The reason so few atheists and materialists seem to recognize the problem is that, like Darwin, they apply their skepticism selectively. They apply it to undercut only ideas they reject, especially ideas about God. They make a tacit exception for their own worldview commitments.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....94171.html

  2. 2
    Silver Asiatic says:

    News

    Note: If you ask a traditional Catholic about the persistence of the Church, he will likely tell you this. It depends on whether you think that the speaker is reliable.

    True.

    I just happened upon this video – Unsolved Mysteries: Padre Pio. Some evidence on a personal level and good reasons to reject the Darwinian worldview (and why Catholicism persists).

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pdq_Ut098YA

  3. 3
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Weinstein

    We need to know, he urged Dawkins, if we humans are hardwired with behavioral programs that, when triggered, might cause mass genocide. We need to know because only by “rebelling against our replicators” (i.e., inherited genetic programs) can we sustain “the values we hold dear.”

    Yes, that is an incredibly strange and incoherent statement.

    If we are hardwired with “programs” that can be “triggered” for genocide? The programs evolution created are supposedly entirely for our survival and reproductive success.

    It’s supposed to be about the species (e.g. human) – so genociding a race damages humanity.

    But if, bizarrely, a genocide of some part of humanity was built into an evolutionary algorithm that is triggered by environmental cues — then that’s a good thing. Right, Dawkins?

    But instead, they have to “rebel” against Darwinian programming for some values, that didn’t come from evolution? These “values” conflict with the blind, purposeless development of evolution – a process that “cares nothing about us”?

    Atheism is insane.

  4. 4
    Mimus says:

    I don’t wish to defend Weinstein’s comically reductive view of things, but there are a couple of errors worth pointing out in SA’s post above.

    If we are hardwired with “programs” that can be “triggered” for genocide? The programs evolution created are supposedly entirely for our survival and reproductive success.

    Not really. First, traits needn’t increase fitness to survive (selectively neutral ones will persist for a long time). Second, our instincts and intuitions evolved mostly to work in small groups. It’s entirely possible that heurestics that work well in that context dont’ work nearly as well in modern society.

    The programs evolution created are supposedly entirely for our survival and reproductive success.

    It’s supposed to be about the species (e.g. human) – so genociding a race damages humanity.

    Natural selection is decidedly not about “the species”. It is sort of concerning you could have posted so many hundreds of comments to a site (that at least used to be) about evolutionary biology and failed to pick this up.

    But if, bizarrely, a genocide of some part of humanity was built into an evolutionary algorithm that is triggered by environmental cues — then that’s a good thing. Right, Dawkins?

    Dawkins certainly wouldn’t say this was good, nor would most atheists.

  5. 5
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Mimus

    Second, our instincts and intuitions evolved mostly to work in small groups. It’s entirely possible that heurestics that work well in that context dont’ work nearly as well in modern society.

    You replaced “hardwired programs that can be triggered” with “instincts” … ok, I think we can expect that kind of precision from evolutionary thought. But anyway, we evolved an instinct to genocide in small groups that could be triggered now that we have larger groups?

    When did that instinct evolve and what was the purpose of it?

    Natural selection is decidedly not about “the species”.

    Ok, natural selection has nothing to do with species, decidedly.

    Who decided that and when? Darwin claimed that natural selection was about species, decidedly. So his theory was refuted on that point, correct?

  6. 6
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Mimua

    But if, bizarrely, a genocide of some part of humanity was built into an evolutionary algorithm that is triggered by environmental cues — then that’s a good thing. Right, Dawkins?

    Dawkins certainly wouldn’t say this was good, nor would most atheists.

    So the triggering of a program developed by evolution is potentially a bad thing? Does evolution do bad things?

  7. 7
    Mimus says:

    Sure, I don’t think that’s very controversial. Most autoimmune disease could be described as “triggering of a program developed by evolution”, few people would argue they are good.

  8. 8
    bornagain77 says:

    Silver Asiatic states:

    So the triggering of a program developed by evolution is potentially a bad thing? Does evolution do bad things?

    Mimus replies:

    Sure, I don’t think that’s very controversial. Most autoimmune disease could be described as “triggering of a program developed by evolution”, few people would argue they are good.

    If evolution is actually true then Minus does not actually exist as a real person but is merely a neuron illusion of his brain.

    Moreover, if evolution is actually true then morality is illusory as well.

    Yet in his comment Mimus argues as if he really exists as a real person and that morality is somehow objectively real.

    And exactly why should a figment of imagination, i.e. Mimus, deserve respect for his illusory opinion on illusory morality?

    from post 1:

    “To make the dilemma even more puzzling, evolutionists tell us that natural selection has produced all sorts of false concepts in the human mind. Many evolutionary materialists maintain that free will is an illusion, consciousness is an illusion, even our sense of self is an illusion — and that all these false ideas were selected for their survival value.”
    – Nancy Pearcey

    Perhaps Mimus, if he actually existed, could try to untangle this Darwinian mess for us?

    But alas, much like Pinocchio, Darwinists are forever telling lies to themselves and others with only a wish that they could, someday, be a real person! 🙂

    i.e. Atheists are very much in a situation similar to Pinocchio’s

    “The Adventures of Pinocchio” by Italian author Carlo Collodi. It was written for children, but in reality it contains some deep metaphors and moral truths. ,,,
    Pinocchio is a boy trapped in the body of a wooden puppet. He is able to do whatever all the other kids of his age can do, but nobody takes him seriously, because he is just a puppet. Pinocchio studies hard and rises to the top of his class, but this makes the other schoolboys jealous. People continuously make fun of him for the way he looks and dresses. The Fox and the Cat, two swindlers, lead him astray and unsuccessfully attempt to murder him. Pinocchio listens more to them than to the good people such as his father Geppetto, the Talking Cricket and the Fairy with Turquoise Hair. Even Candlewick, his best friend, misleads him.
    Pinocchio soon realizes that he is much more than a talking piece of wood, much more than the other puppets in Mangiafuoco’s theater. He has feelings, he can think and can learn from his mistakes. He gains wisdom through the long series of misadventures which lead him to becoming a real boy as reward for his good deeds.
    https://www.quora.com/Why-was-Pinocchio-so-excited-about-being-a-real-boy

    And also much like Pinocchio, there is hope that atheists can someday be real persons also. To become real persons they only must have a strong desire to know (and speak) the truth to themselves as well as to others:

    Cognitive Conditioning and the Distortion of Reality – Brian Miller – April 17, 2018
    Excerpt: On the bright side, I have found that the cognitive conditioning can be overcome by those who have a very strong desire to know the truth. And people who leave philosophically oppressive academic institutions often find work in environments that are much more congenial to exploration. The conditioning can then wane, and their design-detection capacities and critical thinking can reengage. At that point, many describe a process where “scales seemed to fall from my eyes,” and the evidence for design in nature becomes self-evident, as does the logical incoherence of many materialist rationalizations to deny it.
    https://evolutionnews.org/2018/04/cognitive-conditioning-and-the-distortion-of-reality/

  9. 9
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Mimus

    Sure, I don’t think that’s very controversial. Most autoimmune disease could be described as “triggering of a program developed by evolution”, few people would argue they are good.

    In this case, evolution creates and preserves programs that kill populations. Yes, agreed, few people would consider that a good thing.

    So, in this case, evolution does not confer benefits for survival and reproductive success, but rather creates programs that will destroy life.

    Mutations and selection created these destructive, genocidal programs and they can be triggered. So, while evolution enables a population of organisms to increase fitness against various environmental and competition pressures, those same pressures enable evolution to create genocidal programs that can destroy the entire population.

    Fortunately, humans can fight against evolution because humans have a better idea about what their future should be than evolution can have. Otherwise, evolution might trigger genocidal programs in humans and wipe us out. Clearly, evolution cannot be trusted, so we should fight it to obtain a more successful future.

    Humans were fortunate to learn how to fight against the very evolutionary programs that created and determine the destiny of humanity – since, if they trusted evolution they might go extinct, and that’s a bad thing for us.

    Evolution either created this entirely different process that fights against it’s own mechanism — or some other, wiser, rational and more powerful process is at work to fight against evolutionary developments.

    I tend to think that the latter case is actually what is at work in human beings.

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