When I was finishing my PhD in Theoretical Psychology at BYU in 2003, a new psychology class arrived on campus – evolutionary psychology. At the time I was too occupied with completing my dissertation to check out what evolutionary psychology was about. I did my own investigation later on when I had more time. I was not impressed with what I found. 

In a nutshell, evolutionary psychology attempts to explain and predict human behavior using the principles and mechanisms underlying evolution. At a first glance this seems like a justifiable endeavor, especially for evolutionists. However, serious doubts about evolutionary psychology have recently been raised, not only among skeptics like me, but among die hard evolutionists as well.  

The Scientific American January 2009 special edition on evolution contains an article exposing four research fallacies in evolutionary psychology. It even goes so far as to call the new upstart discipline a “pop science”. Being labeled “pop evolutionary psychology” by Scientific American is not a good thing if you are a budding evolutionary psychologist.   

My beef with evolutionary psychology takes a different form. I am concerned that using evolution to explain human behavior reduces human actions to the lowest common denominator in the animal kingdom – hedonism. Hedonism is the idea that everything humans do is driven by the selfish desire to maximize pleasure and avoid pain. Hedonism is closely allied with natural selection because many of the things that bring pleasure contribute to our survival (e.g., food, sex). Indeed, hedonism may be seen as a catalyst for a species to engage in certain behaviors that facilitate its survival in a specific environment.

Here’s the Big Problem, folks: Hedonism combined with natural selection creates a volatile mixture known as Social Darwinism.

Social Darwinism originated with the English scholar Herbert Spencer (1820-1903). It is the belief that humanity advances through the principle of “survival of the fittest” (a term coined by Spencer). The crux of Social Darwinism is that in a society with limited resources, for one person to succeed, another must fail. This thinking has its roots in Darwin’s natural selection wherein the weak die and the strong survive. Recent events at a hospital in Illinois suggest that Social Darwinism is present in our society.

Jill Stanek is a registered nurse who worked in labor and delivery at Christ’s hospital in Oak Lawn, Illinois.  She “blew the whistle” on acts of barbarity committed against newborn infants in that hospital before an Illinois State Senate Hearing in 2001.  Here is an excerpt from her testimony: 

I am a Registered Nurse who has worked in the Labor & Delivery Department at Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, Illinois, for the past 5-1/2 years. Christ Hospital performs abortions during the second and even third trimesters of pregnancy.”
“The abortion method being called into question that Christ Hospital and other Illinois hospitals practice is called ‘induced labor abortion.’ This abortion technique sometimes results in infants being aborted alive. In the event that an infant is aborted alive at Christ Hospital, she or he is given no medical assessments or care whatsoever, but is left to die...and is given what my hospital calls ‘comfort care.’ Comfort care is defined as keeping the baby warm in a blanket until the baby dies, although until recently even this was not always done. The baby is then offered to the parents to hold until he or she dies.”

“If the parents do not want to hold their dying aborted baby, as is most often the case, it is left to nursing staff or support staff on the floor to hold the baby until he or she dies.  And, until this past December, when staff did not have time or the desire to hold the baby, the baby was taken to our Soiled Utility Room and left there alone to die.”
(Source: Illinois Right to Life Website)

Jill Stanek was fired from Christ’s Hospital for testifying. She described her experience in this videotaped interview with Bill O’Reilly.
The idea that it is acceptable to leave newborn babies to die because they are unwanted or less healthy than other babies is reprehensible to most folks. How can people justify this sort of thing?  It's simple. From an evolutionary standpoint it is natural for a mother cougar to kill some of her kittens (due to limited resources) to ensure the survival of the others. Because humans are just another species in the animal kingdom that is influenced by laws of nature, it is acceptable for humans to kill unwanted offspring to increase the survivability of other humans. This is the type of scholar-babble you get from leading evolutionary psychologists like Steven Pinker who used the same argument to explain why Andrea Yates drowned her five young children in a bathtub in 2001. (Source: The Wedge of Truth: Splitting the Foundations of Naturalism.)

A final thought. Christ’s Church is sponsored by the United Church of Christ, a pro-abortion organization that has strongly supported the legalization of abortion since 1971. It is hard to believe that these horrendous acts took place in a hospital named after the Lord. I think the scripture found in Matthew 7:22-23 applies here. 

Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

PS. On August 5, 2002, President Bush signed the Born Alive Infants’ Protection Act into Law. Jill Stanek attended the signing ceremony.
PPS. As far as I can tell evolutionary psychology is still alive and well.

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