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Thread: Evolutionary psychologists who are spiritual people

  1. #1 Evolutionary psychologists who are spiritual people 
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    First of all, I'm aware that it's debatable how much of a science evolutionary psychology (EP) is. But the field certainly aspires to this level of inquiry, and is definitely a hit among many who do science for a living and follow scientific developments as a hobby, so I thought I'd ask this question in a science forum.

    My question is, how many people who conduct research in, or write nonfiction pieces in the genre of, evolutionary psychology, are people who'll seriously entertain the existence of supernatural realms or entities? To ask it another way, is ontological naturalism in any way a prerequisite for becoming actively involved in any work that goes by the name of evolutionary psychology? Does the entire field of EP rest on a supporting pillar of ontological naturalism?

    You don't have to explain to me why a field that aims to uncover the selection forces shaping human behavior would mostly attract people who hold nothing sacred, and would mostly repel people who have a vested interest in preserving an aura of mystery and otherworldliness about any aspect of ourselves and our world. This is logical enough. But here is what doesn't quite make sense to me: There is nothing inherently damning to the entire category of the supernatural about hypothesizing about the ways we conceive of and relate to it, and how they could have come about through very this-worldly pressures. Yes, I'm familiar with Ockham's Razor. But sometimes the simplest explanation at any given time turns out to be only partially correct, or not correct at all.

    It seems to me that there must be some people in the field of EP who have faith in something beyond this natural world that science can measure. Who and where are they? What have they written, and how has it been received by others in the field, or fans of EP?

    I don't think EP has much of a chance to win over the general public if it is, at its root, partisan in the so-called Culture Wars. I'd like to believe it's not. Because despite its shortcomings, EP has some important things to teach, and I would hope that being an atheist is not a prerequisite to integrating these bits of wisdom. If EP is truly non-partisan, is there anyone in the field who is doing an active job reaching out to people of faith, and helping them realize that EP is not threatening?

    To put my cards on the table, I'm a Hermeticist / occultist / amateur mystic, who is both a man of science and a man of faith. I'm a medical doctor in training. I think the "Culture Wars" and the tension between science and spirituality are largely ridiculous. I think that lucky is the man (and the society) that can integrate both of these fundamental parts of the human experience. But that's just my opinion, and I offer it as background, not as something I care to debate here.


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  3. #2 Re: Evolutionary psychologists who are spiritual people 
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    Quote Originally Posted by WanderingDave
    My question is, how many people who conduct research in, or write nonfiction pieces in the genre of, evolutionary psychology, are people who'll seriously entertain the existence of supernatural realms or entities?
    An interesting question, and I do not know the actual answer, but I would guess... Very very very few, but like anywhere else you'll find outliers.

    I explored EP under a few different professors, and when theism and belief are viewed through that lens, it becomes quickly obvious how belief in god and religious practice likely aided in the survival of our ancestors, and are not based on anything about reality itself.


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  4. #3 Re: Evolutionary psychologists who are spiritual people 
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    An interesting question, and I do not know the actual answer, but I would guess... Very very very few, but like anywhere else you'll find outliers.

    I explored EP under a few different professors, and when theism and belief are viewed through that lens, it becomes quickly obvious how belief in god and religious practice likely aided in the survival of our ancestors, and are not based on anything about reality itself.
    But that's just it -- is it really obvious, or has this apparently obvious atheism / naturalism simply come along for the ride as part of the culture of the EP community because the two attract the same sort of people?

    I don't think it logically follows that just because religion had strongly practical functions, there is no such thing as spiritual realities. Perhaps God and/or other spiritual beings are there and have always interacted with us, but natural selection pushed us to give them human shapes and personalities. Maybe spiritual realms and realities are quite real, but our natural evolved predispositions lead to most or all of us seeing them in a very distorted way. I don't think EP requires any specific metaphysical outlook to work.

    Also, it's always struck me that EP's accounts of the adaptive value of organized religion really ought to be broadened to include all human groups and institutions, secular and sacred alike. All groups of people vie for new members, prefer members who give more to the group, and have mechanisms for both preserving their internal status quo AND adapting to pressures for change. Religion being a normal human institution that behaves like other human institutions doesn't logically invalidate the spiritual either.

    I really don't think EP has much of a chance to win over the general public if ontological naturalism is the ante. Then again, maybe a lot of EP people relish being in a state of tension with the unwashed masses and their simple ways. A lot of works in the genre that are published for a popular audience have a whiff of "Welp, got some bad news you people are NOT gonna wanna hear!" sort of shockjockery about them. Maybe they're out to alienate a wide audience.

    Basically, I'm trying to decide whether or not I like EP and see it as worthwhile to explore and promote. Because if it's by design a trojan house for a metaphysical worldview, wearing a cloak of scientific legitimacy, I'm going to have to give it a big thumbs down.
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    'Faith' as you are using the term, is in a pseudo-reality you have created according to your own personal taste.

    Each "man of faith" has formed his own personal reality, comforting to them maybe, with all sorts of "supernatural realms" as you call them, but actually as sane as Santas grotto.

    'Spirituality'? ..a meaningless term used in an attempt to give baloney some authority.

    Hermeticist? occultist? amateur mystic? and a medical doctor? all at the same time?
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    human1, I'm here to inquire about and clarify the motivations behind a popular movement in academe and among public intellectuals. I'm not here to get taken to task for my worldview. Kindly offer something relevant to the discussion or don't post.
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  7. #6 Re: Evolutionary psychologists who are spiritual people 
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    Quote Originally Posted by WanderingDave
    But that's just it -- is it really obvious, or has this apparently obvious atheism / naturalism simply come along for the ride as part of the culture of the EP community because the two attract the same sort of people?
    Yes, it's really obvious. Looking at the data may attract similar types of people, but it's the data itself which reinforces the perspective that religious belief and other such similar is a bunch of nonsense.


    Quote Originally Posted by WanderingDave
    I don't think it logically follows that just because religion had strongly practical functions, there is no such thing as spiritual realities.
    I agree. You are correct. That is not why people find spiritual entities unrealistic. There are a metric shit ton of other reasons for not finding spiritual entities realistic. An understanding of the evolution of belief and religious practice simply adds icing to the cake.


    Quote Originally Posted by WanderingDave
    Perhaps God and/or other spiritual beings are there and have always interacted with us, but natural selection pushed us to give them human shapes and personalities.
    Yep, and maybe my vision of having sex with Scarlett Johanson last night was a actually real interaction on some alternate cosmic plane in the 49th dimension, instead of a fatigue induced REM dream based on a desire to get some poon with a gorgeous woman. Sure. I guess it's possible, much like flying elephants and the existence of purple unicorns are certainly possible.


    Quote Originally Posted by WanderingDave
    Maybe spiritual realms and realities are quite real, but our natural evolved predispositions lead to most or all of us seeing them in a very distorted way.
    Sure. Maybe... I guess.


    Quote Originally Posted by WanderingDave
    I don't think EP requires any specific metaphysical outlook to work.
    Agreed.


    Quote Originally Posted by WanderingDave
    All groups of people vie for new members, prefer members who give more to the group, and have mechanisms for both preserving their internal status quo AND adapting to pressures for change.
    I challenge the validity of this premise you've put forth in the absolute.


    Quote Originally Posted by WanderingDave
    Religion being a normal human institution that behaves like other human institutions doesn't logically invalidate the spiritual either.
    Again, agreed. There are plenty of other things invalidating the spiritual, so EP is just yet another on an already very long list.


    Quote Originally Posted by WanderingDave
    Basically, I'm trying to decide whether or not I like EP and see it as worthwhile to explore and promote.
    My opinion? It's pretty obvious you don't like it, and you've already made up your mind. Just looking at your 2 or 3 posts makes that rather clear.
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  8. #7 Re: Evolutionary psychologists who are spiritual people 
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    Quote Originally Posted by iknow
    I challenge the validity of this premise you've put forth in the absolute.
    Please, go on.

    Quote Originally Posted by iknow
    My opinion? It's pretty obvious you don't like it, and you've already made up your mind. Just looking at your 2 or 3 posts makes that rather clear.
    You misunderstand me, then. I want to like EP. I have dabbled in it and am intrigued by it, and think some (not all) of the things it's come up with have some real merit. I want to see the good in it. But I want it sans atheism. I recognize that that's the way most other people would want it too, and moreover, I question whether atheism is an essential component to EP. This led me to wonder whether there were any proponents of EP who served it up in a way that was palatable to people who were not atheists.

    My opinion on EP is mixed. My opinion of the people involved with it and their motivations, now that's another story.
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  9. #8 Re: Evolutionary psychologists who are spiritual people 
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    Quote Originally Posted by WanderingDave
    Quote Originally Posted by iknow
    I challenge the validity of this premise you've put forth in the absolute.
    Please, go on.
    No thanks. You've intentionally misrepresented my username, so I'm going to intentionally blow you off.

    Ahhh... bugger. Never mind. Here ya go: Not ALL groups of humans "vie for new members," nor do ALL groups of humans "prefer members who give to the group."


    There ya go. You feel important now? Want to spend some time telling me how you're a fucktard who couldn't comprehend that my username is not iKNOW, nor was it ever intended to represent that?


    Quote Originally Posted by WanderingDave
    Quote Originally Posted by iknow
    My opinion? It's pretty obvious you don't like it, and you've already made up your mind. Just looking at your 2 or 3 posts makes that rather clear.
    You misunderstand me, then. I want to like EP. I have dabbled in it and am intrigued by it, and think some (not all) of the things it's come up with have some real merit. I want to see the good in it. But I want it sans atheism.
    Then why did you finish your above post with these words shown below? You're being rather inconsistent:

    Quote Originally Posted by WanderingDave
    if it's by design a trojan house for a metaphysical worldview, wearing a cloak of scientific legitimacy, I'm going to have to give it a big thumbs down.
    You're now here trying to tell us that you "want to like it?"

    Sorry, mate. I think you're FOS, and I don't have any respect for you. You seem to lack a trait I find rather important in people. It's called integrity.
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  10. #9  
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    The misspelling of your name was an honest mistake, dude. I'm a noob.

    I think I'll go talk about this somewhere else. Nice chatting.
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  11. #10  
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    Quote Originally Posted by WanderingDave
    The misspelling of your name was an honest mistake, dude.
    Unlikely. Usernames don't just magically change themselves, but whatever.
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  12. #11  
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    Strange to see a med student spew this stuff - it's normally nurses coming up with pseudo-scientific ideas.

    Just if you're still Wandering-Dave, spirituality doesn't necessarily mean you have to believe in faeries.

    Also, i don't know much of evolutionary psychology, but wouldn't a theist vs non-theist perspective radically alter how you would conduct and interpret research?
    The mark of a moderate man is freedom from his own ideas - Tao Te Ching

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    Challenge me, Delphi, and join the Pythian games.
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  13. #12  
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    I think is a contraddiction!! Really!
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