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