Saturday, September 04, 2010

PZ Myers, Creationist

PZ Myers is famous for his science blog "Pharyngula,", where he defends evolutionary science against the proponents of Creationism and Intelligent Design Theory. So, when I wrote an essay for "Cato Unbound" on "Darwinian Liberalism," and he was asked to be one of the people writing a response, I was interested to see what he would say.

I wasn't surprised when, in his reaction essay, he disagreed with me. After all, I find that few people completely agree with me about anything!

But I was surprised when I saw his argument that evolutionary science cannot explain morality and politics at all. He conceded that Charles Darwin himself was a classical liberal. But he insisted that this had nothing at all to do with his evolutionary science, because science cannot explain the moral life of human beings, which is completely unconstrained by natural evolution.

Myers never makes a single reference to Darwin's Descent of Man, which offers an evolutionary account of human morality, and which reflects Darwin's life-long determination to develop a scientific explanation of human morality and politics. In doing this, Darwin was arguing against Alfred Russel Wallace, who claimed that although evolution by natural selection could explain the "animal nature" of human beings, it could not explain their "spiritual nature"--their moral and intellectual powers. Pope John Paul II agreed with Wallace in his claim (in a 1996 statement) that evolution could account for the human body but not for the human soul as expresed in morality, politics, and religion. To explain that, John Paul insisted, we needed an "ontological leap"--some kind of miraculous transformation that could not be explained by science.

Oddly enough, it seems, Myers agrees with Wallace and Pope John Paul about this "ontological leap," because Myers seems to believe that human beings have moral and intellectual powers that are expressed in political life that are completely unconstrained by evolutionary nature. As he says: "To suggest that the science of evolution supports a specific view of the narrowly human domain of politics is meaningless. Evolutionary theory supports the existence of ants and eagles, lichens and redwood trees, and finding an evolutionary basis for any human activity is trivial."

So Myers believes that Darwin's attempt in The Descent of Man to explain the morality and politics of human beings as a product of evolutionary history was wrong, because Darwin didn't realize that Wallace was right--that the moral and intellectual powers of human beings transcended human biological evolution. While human beings must satisfy the physical conditions for survival and reproduction, the character of their moral and political lives is completely free of any constraint by their evolved human nature, because as moral and intellectual beings, they transcend their animal nature.

If this is what Myers is implying, then he is a creationist like the Pope. While the human body can be explained as a product of natural evolution, he suggests, the human mind and morality transcend evolutionary science.

To put the question as sharply as possible, Does Myers accept Darwin's arguments in The Descent of Man about the evolved human nature of morality and politics?

Myers says that "the science of biology supports a communist world view." As Marx indicated, communism requires, at minimum, the abolition of all private property and the abolition of the family. But isn't Darwin quite clear in Descent that human beings are naturally evolved for family life? Doesn't he therefore clearly disagree with Lewis Henry Morgan's claim that human beings were originally completely promiscuous, with no stable marital or familial ties? And doesn't Darwin therefore disagree with Friedrich Engels' Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State, which adopted Morgan's anthropology? Is Myers saying that Marx and Engels were right and Darwin was wrong, because Darwin did not see that human history is free from human biology?

Myers has written a reply to this post.  In another post, I have elaborated some points on the creation-evolution debate.


Troy Camplin said...

Sounds to me like HE wants biology to imply communism. Even lobe finned fishes -- whose ancestors also gave rise to land vertebrates -- are territorial. Thus, property rights isn't human, mammalian, reptilian, or amphibian -- it's fish! That's a pretty deep evolutionary drive, I would argue. One might also note why such fishes are territorial -- to protect their broods (what? family life?). Sounds like Myers needs to familiarize himself with all the work that has been done lately in evolutionary psychology, ethology, the evolution of morality literature, and sociobiology, just to name a few fields.

Anonymous said...

Money quote from PZ's counter-rebuttal:

Nowhere do I claim that biology makes no contribution to morality and politics, or that our moral history has been unconstrained by evolution. There's a difference between saying, "your political philosophy is not the ultimate goal of evolution" and "your political philosophy is independent of history, experience, and biology". I said the former, not the latter.

If you had read the last paragraph of PZ's original response, it would have cleared up your confusion.

Diversity is unavoidable, providing many different avenues our species could follow, and also, that our happiness does not have to descend from our biological limitations; we often work against our predispositions, because the elements of our inheritance that may have worked for a savannah ape must often be expanded upon and redirected to make a modern urban ape thrive. Evolution does not incline us to classical liberalism; it is just one of many options that evolution allows.

Anonymous said...

Libertarianism is just a euphemism for ill-defined anarchy.

"We don't want government controlling everything" - but will not define how much.

Given people's (particularly the right's) proclivity to abuse freedoms they already have they don't set a good example.

People have gun rights but show their maturity by shooting up trees and TV's in the national forest. They have the right to buy mechanical toys like motorcycles and ATV's and then use them to trash the National Forest. In a more general case, engineers invent cell phones and then owners use them while driving.

People do self regulate - even in a supposedly "Christian" country.

No - there is no proof that libertarianism has or will ever work.

The CATO institute's writings are part of that proof.

swh said...

I am trying, and failing, to reconcile this post with the P.Z. Myers response to which it refers. Myers makes the reasonable point that science is generally outside of politics (facts exist whether they are palatable to one side or the other in an argument). He also notes that the mantle of Darwinism has been claimed by both political extremes, and pretty much everything between. None of these, as he notes, are convincing positions. He also notes the lack of best fit analysis on either side.

Myers does not comment at all on the issue of morality, although much work has been done in this area. However to suggest that one would form an opinion of modern scientific thought in this field (or any other) on the basis of one nineteenth century book is bizarre. While I have read the Origin of Species to provide historical perspective I would no more consult Darwin for modern ideas on evolution than I would go to the works of Newton or Einstein to get a picture of contemporary physics. Ideas move on, and your appeals for him to bow to The Descent of Man are essentially meaningless.

You piece contains deliberate misrepresentation - I would have thought you were above quote mining (a notorious creationist practice) but you say:
"Myers says that "the science of biology supports a communist world view."

What Myers actually says, in context, is:
"The Revolutionary Communist Party has claimed evolution for its own. They’ve even published a very good book explaining the basics of the theory, The Science of Evolution and the Myth of Creationism, by Ardea Skybreak. I find their arguments that the science of biology supports a communist worldview just as convincing as Arnhart’s that it supports classical liberalism…which means not very."

Then we get to the really weird stuff - suggesting that Myers is a creationist, or that he sides with the pope - inflammatory stuff - he'll probably assign a ghostly squid to haunt you as punishment for such sacrilege.

cactusren said...

Nice quote-mining there. Here's what PZ said about communism: "I find their arguments that the science of biology supports a communist worldview just as convincing as Arnhart’s that it supports classical liberalism…which means not very."

In case you had trouble understanding that, he means that evolutionary biology does not support either communism or classical liberalism.

Also, although you quote this in full, you seem to misunderstand PZ's statement that "To suggest that the science of evolution supports a specific view of the narrowly human domain of politics is meaningless. Evolutionary theory supports the existence of ants and eagles, lichens and redwood trees, and finding an evolutionary basis for any human activity is trivial."

If you're having trouble with that, try replacing the word "trivial" with "easy". It is easy to explain any human activity using evolution.

The overall point of that essay, which you seem to have missed, is that evolution and human nature will lead to a wide variety of political views. That is, evolution explains the existence of the vast diversity of human ideologies. Using evolution to support any one of these is silly.

Chad said...

Or, Troy, you could go and read what PZ actually wrote instead of relying on Larry's failed reading of the rebuttal piece.

And I'll pretend like I didn't read the little comment about him not keeping up with the literature for what should be obvious reasons.

Anonymous said...

Troy Cemplin, you may have a point here.

Let's see, hives, hormonally enslaved workers, hmm…
What does this suggest to you?
Just to consider one example. (and yes, mammals are concerned also, check the literature)

You may be willing to consider your inner fish as your moral standard, and Larry Arnhart strongly suggest that you should, but that doesn't mean that everybody follow the same evolutionary pathway, and I'm glad to read from Arnhart's keyboard that few people agree with [him] about everything. I hope very few agree with him about Darwinian Conservatism at all.

I don't know what kind of intellectual twist would make somebody call Darwin to argument about a particular stance and I wonder if Arnhart will also go on and defend Charlie's gemmules.
Do you Larry Arnhart?

Alpha Geek said...

swh points out that you quote PZ as having said, "the science of biology supports a communist world view," while PZ actually said, "I find their arguments that the science of biology supports a communist worldview... [not very convincing]."

I feel like this deliberate attempt at misrepresentation undermines any point you are trying to make here.

Larry Arnhart said...

I'll have to apologize for hastily taking a quotation out of context.

Myers wrote: "I find their arguments that the science of biology supports a communist worldview just as convincing as Arnhart's that it supports classical lbieralism . . . which means not very."

But this still leaves me with the main question I raised: Does Myers really believe that evolved human nature is completely open to any utopian political project--like the attempts of the Marxist socialists to abolish property and family life? Or will he agree with me than any such project would be unbearably costly, because it would deny some of the deepest propensities of evolved human nature?

David Gerard said...

He would appear to have already said that your attempt to justify a political stance either way using evolution is deeply fallacious. From this you should be able to work out the answer to your followup questions.

Anonymous said...

Define "family life", please. You do know there are more than one culture? The structure of society, including families and (lack of) concepts of property (rights) varies widely, all under the evolved human nature.

Anonymous said...

The question the rest of the world is left with is "does Larry Arnhart really believe that PZ Myers is a creationist?" (note how the question is followed by a question mark, unlike your title "PZ Myers, Creationist").

Larry Arnhart said...

David Gerard,

How is it "deeply fallacious" to argue that socialist attempts to abolish natural desires like parental care and private property will create great human suffering--as they did, for example, in Mao's China?

Originally, the kibbutzim in Israel tried to completely abolish parent-child bonding and private property. In the early years, many anthropologists cited this as evidence that parental care, marriage, and property were not rooted in any human nature, because they were arbitrary constructions of culture. Now, however, the failure of the kibbutzim to stay with their original utopian vision suggests that this actually illustrates how natural desires of our evolved human nature constrain utopian experiments. Would PZ Myers agree?

Philboid Studge said...


Do you not agree that "evolved human nature is completely open to any utopian political project" (such as experiments in socialism)? If not, how do you suppose such experiments arose?

I think Prof Myers said (quite clearly) that all sorts of political ideologies are irrelevant to "evolved human nature," and that seeking Darwinian justification for one pet theory over another is a pointless and silly pursuit. You are doing an excellent job of demonstrating his point.

Larry Arnhart said...

Philboid Studge,

My Darwinian prediction is that socialist experiments in abolishing parental care and property will fail--as they did in Mao's China and in the kibbutzim.

I make this prediction based on my conclusion that the desires for parental care and property are too deeply rooted in evolved human nature to be denied by utopian attempts to abolish them.

What does Myers predict for such experiments?

Does Myers believe that human beings are a "blank slate" on which utopian reformers and dictatorial rulers can write whatever they want?

Anonymous said...


Your Darwinian prediction? Your prediction sound more theilardenian than darwinian. You just picked your own omega point and try to defend it.

FreePlay said...

Larry, you really don't seem to be getting it. You're arguing that a particular political philosophy subverts our evolutionary goals. PZ said that evolution does not support any particular political philosophy. You're looking at it backwards. You're saying "A type of B subverts A" and he says "A does not support any variety of B."

dvizard said...


You might even be right with your Darwinian prediction (I'm not claiming to be an authority on these matters, but it sounds reasonable) - but even if this is true, it is quite a stretch from this statement to claiming that libertarianism, on the other hand, is the system predestined for us...

Lenoxus said...

I'm trying to remember: Which political worldview does general relativity necessarily lead to? Was it anarchism? Or postmodernism, because everything is relative?

That said, the Newtonian sub-theories of it imply that people should move their views in the direction of the masses, and that a sort of collectivism-with-orbiting-ideas is the natural order of things.

The germ theory of disease, of course, means that we should fear little people.

Larry Arnhart said...


My argument is that by cultural trial and error, we can discover that a liberal social order conforms well to our evolved human nature because it maximizes our liberty to pursue the satisfaction of our natural desires.

By contrast, we can discover that illiberal social orders frustrate our natural desires in ways that impose great human costs. This history of socialist attempts to change human nature illustrates this.

Even Peter Singer--in arguing for a "Darwinian left"--admits that to accept the reality of a Darwinian human nature, leftiss would have to accept a "sharply deflated vision of the left" that would give up on utopian socialism.

Does Myers agree with this conclusion? Or does he believe that human nature is so free from the constraints of evolutionary history that it is really just a "blank slate"?

Larry Arnhart said...


General relativity and the germ theory of disease make no claims about human morality and politics. But Darwin's theory of human evolution includes a theory of human moral evolution--of the "moral sense" as rooted in evolved in human nature.

Does Myers agree with Darwin's evolutionary theory of morality? Or does Myers think that morality transcends human evolutionary nature?

If Myers thinks morality transcends evolutionary nature, then he is to that extent very close to the creationists.

Larry Arnhart said...

Consider the remarkable contrast between the Marxist dictatorship in North Korea and the more liberal order in South Korea. The first produces human suffering. The second produces human flourishing. Why?

My answer is that this is a predictable contrast between a regime that denies the reality of evolved human nature and a regime that accepts it.

In fact, there are reports that the Chinese Communist leaders are advising the North Korean leaders that they are making the same mistakes that were made by the Maoist Marxists in trying to transform human beings into "the New Communist Man."

My Darwinian prediction is that regimes that approximate North Korea will always produce similar suffering, because they go against the grain of evolved human nature.

Does Myers disagree?

Anonymous said...

Like the Bush regime?

Lenoxus said...

The whole problem with this kind of debate is the numerous meanings of "morality". The two most relevant ones are:

1. The general sense of "right" and "wrong" which is "intuitive" for the majority of individuals. The psychology of human notions of moral behavior.

2. The "real" principles of what human beings ought to do under various circumstances. The rightness and wrongness of actions.

PZ and many other biologists feel that the fact of evolution ultimately accounts for #1 just like it accounts for the rest of human nature. That's distinct from #2, which many feel that evolution is only related to (for example, it can inform medical decisions), not responsible for.

(Most biologists in our world probably agree that, for example rape would still be wrong even if it was evolution's main means of reproduction, and thus encoded as a "good thing" in the human ethical palate. And many would say that our "instinctive" morality in this world is just a crude approximation of the real thing; that it's too influenced by disgust, fear, kin-favoritism, xenophobia, and other irrationality, and must be "augmented" by a sort of intellectual empathy.)

All that said, after a third reading, I think I'm coming to gather your argument better. What you are saying is that the process of evolution has lead to the development of a species that doesn't take collectivism very well, even if individuals have tired to institute collectivism again and again. Next, because collectivism produces suffering, it is morally wrong.

But all that stuff, while absolutely reasonable, is just one possible branch off the initial premise of "evolution fully shaped the human brain/mind." Ergo, to argue that disagreement with your conclusion implies disagreement with that premise is incorrect.

A person could just as easily say "If you believe that evolution influenced human morality (by definition #1), then you must agree that it made us social creatures with a greater emphasis on groups than individuals, therefore, my brand of socialism is the ethically superior option." And the same for just about any ideology/philosophy.

Evolutionary psychology is not nearly developed enough to bestow some sort of approval on any political system or philosophy, not even to disapprove of dictatorships. (Assuming any science is actually capable of addressing moral questions.) I mean, do you really believe that if humans were the result of divine creation, communism would be A-OK? My view is that our origins should make no difference in the question.

Ermine said...

"I'll have to apologize for hastily taking a quotation out of context."

After quote-mining Professor Myers' words to claim that he said exactly the opposite of what he actually said, this is the best you can do?

If you want to claim that you actually understood what PZ was saying, publicly proving that you either didn't understand it or are deliberately dishonest in your claims is -probably- not the best way of doing it. And that was all the apology you could come up with when your glaring error(s) were revealed?

See, I've been reading PZ's writings for some years now, and from what I've seen, he says exactly what he feels. If someone misunderstands him and actually asks for clarification, he'll patiently explain until they understand. I've never seen him deliberately misquote someone to make a point, and on the few occasions where he -has- made some sort of mistake of any kind, he's quite willing to own up to them take full responsibility for his errors.

So far, I've never seen someone catch him turning someone's words 180 degrees 'round by selective quotemines, 'hasty' or otherwise.

YOU on the other hand, have now been caught in at least one obvious falsehood, and your not-pology leads me to believe that it was intentional. Why should I listen to anything more that you have to say when you've just demonstrated publicly that you'll lie to make a point?
(And come on, do you really expect us to believe that you misquoted his statement by 180 degrees because you were HASTY?) - What exactly were you hasty about, anyway? Did you neglect to actually read the whole statement, or were you just hasty in your choice to quote-mine, not realizing that other people would catch you at it?

So, after you are caught making claims that were not just false but apparently maliciously so, what is your response?
Whoops, I was being hasty - Now, let me make more claims about his beliefs, even in the face of all the evidence to the contrary.

You sir, are no honest researcher. Nor an honest journalist, blogger, or whatever else you're claiming to be, either.

Fortunately, you've told me all I need to know about YOUR morals in this exchange. Are the rest of the Libertarians as dishonestly self-serving as you are? Perhaps that's why the movement isn't catching on as you think it ought to, hmmm?

Why don't you go think about THAT for awhile instead of publishing lies about other people? I certainly won't be reading anything more from you, your own actions have destroyed any respect or trust I might have had.

My thanks at least for putting it up in public where I and others can see it and judge for ourselves how much credence to give to your words.


Troy Camplin said...

I stand corrected. I had read Myers' article, and even commented on it on my own blog:

I made the mistake of letting Larry act as my memory of his response. Perhaps because the work was less coherent than Larry's criticism implied. Which is really no excuse for my not double checking.

Nevertheless, some who have continued to criticize Larry seem to have ignored his correction -- or his followup question. It is easy to criticize -- let's try som real thinking, now.

Myers' criticism is essentially this: lots of ideologies have tried to use evolution, and this is just another ideology trying to do just that. He makes no attempt to actually address the issues, to consider the arguments. As I say in my posting, Myers' essay read as thoough he hadn't read Larry's essay at all.

The fact of the matter is that if humans are a species which evolved, and if humans have behavioral instincts which evolved, then evolution has everything to do with morality and social organization. Thus, evolution has something to say about why certain political systems will work better than others. We can imagine far more kinds of systems than real peoplea can actually live well in. If human minds aren't blank slates on which anything -- including acceptance of tyranny -- can be written, which is to say, if there is such a thing as a human nature, then that nature is an evolved nature. We have a basic evolved nature out of which various social systems evolved. But some of these systems are more conducive to human excellence and material improvement than others. Social systems too evolve and undergo selection. When natural, they evolve in a bottom-up fashion; top-down impositions work far less well.

Myers addresses none of these things. He dismisses without argument, simply pointing out that various people of various ideologies have tried to fit their ideologies into evolutionary theory. So what? That doesn't address either their arguments or Larry's. And neither has anyone here.

Troy Camplin said...


Please note I set out down the path of vertebrates, not invertebrates. Hives are found in social insects, not social mammals. The fact that worker ants and bees are nonreproductive may have something to do with the presence of hard altruism among them. Who cares if you lose someone who cannot reproduce? That is the logic behind hard altruism among social insects. But this is not the case among social mammals. You don't see members of a particular social mammal engaging in slavery of others of its species. Humans were the only ones -- and they became squeemish of it when they came to see those they enslaved as fellow human beings (i.e., became less tribalistic).

I do find it telling that you find persuasive arugments for slavery from biology.

Troy Camplin said...

Let me ask the following questions: Are there places in this world where people are better off than in others? Worse off? What kind of politico-social-economic systems are present? Do we see patterns of material improvement and regression? May these differences have something to do with how well they fit human beings' evolved nature? I suspect they do.

I'm a classical liberal because it is the only world view consistent with maximizing human material improvment, human liberty, human excellence, and human virtue. The reason this is true is that it most closely matches our evolved nature. It is what emerges naturally, in a bottom-up fashion, from free human interactions. All other systems are imposed from the top-down (and top-down imposition sounds like -- dare I say -- creationism).

Josh in California said...

"If this is what Myers is implying, then he is a creationist like the Pope. While the human body can be explained as a product of natural evolution, he suggests, the human mind and morality transcend evolutionary science."

Ha! What a twit. Have you ever actually read anything Myers has written, Larry?

Have you read *anything* that anyone who understands biology has written?

Looking at this post and your comments, I see Darwin-this and Darwin-that. Darwin, Darwin, Darwin. Generally, the only people who fetishize Darwin are the ones who don't understand biology...

Anonymous said...

Troy Champlin,
You set down the path of vertebrates and that's why I reminded you that hive-like social organizations were observed in mammals as well. And asked you to check the literature (which you seem to know well and reproach Myers to ignore) before answering my question; may I be more specific and suggest mole-rats?

If you find telling that one could find persuasive arguments for slavery in biology you must find also telling that someone could find any persuasive arguments about human social behavior taking examples from biology, and that's exactly my point: this is where Larry Arnhart, and you, fail.
It was nice of you to point that out.

OTOH, Arnhart didn't find time or interest to instruct us on why he called Charlie on this one and if he would also support gemmules theory as well as Darwin's views on evolved human morals. For the moment he found it more productive to try to change the subject. And without really explaining how one could do darwinian predictions; I'm genuinely interested by such a method independently of what the field of application is.
If Arnhart is not willing to answer me, maybe you should ask him to enlighten us on this two points. They are far from being trivial.

Anonymous said...

Oh! and one more question.
Who is the blogger with administrator privileges in this blog who wiped out my backlink to this post?
Wasn't expecting this kind of behavior here, reminds me of Gary Rosen of the Templeton Foundation.
Will you go along the same path as BQO and "temporarily disable[d] [DC] comment feature while [you] refine [your] policies moving forward"?
At least you didn't edited the comment. Oh! Wait! You can't edit comments on Blogger.

Troy Camplin said...

I set down the path of vertebrates in reverse, from humans. So unless mole-rats are direct ancestors of humans, what they do is of no relevance to human behavior. That would be one reason for my ignoring the only kind of mammal to act that way (and then still not quite on the level of social insects). And we should be happy we are nothing like eusocial animals -- vertebrate or invertebrate -- because they are much more warlike, and engage in wars of total annihilation, behaviors which are increasingly rare in humans.

Your arguments are highly unpersuasive because, though well-informed by facts, abound in logical fallacies. I have already addressed the mole-rat issue. The other logical fallacy involves the fact that just becasue Darwin was wrong about one thing, we should uncritically dismiss other things he said. Einstein was wrong about quantum physics -- so we should dismiss relativity theory? Newton has a much longer list of things he was wrong about. So Darwin's belief in gemmules proves nothing. More, one cannot blame Darwin for not knowing something that was literally unknown by everyone at the time -- gene theory. Which is what your attack on Darwin's belief in gemmules boils down to. I suppose Albert Claude was an idiot for not knowing "microsomes" are ribosomes, and that their proteins aren't the catalytic part of the ribosome, but rather the RNAs are?

Neither Larry nor I just take examples from nature willy-nilly. That is the job of Leftists and other obscuritants. Rather, we have consistently looked to actual relatives of humans and to human evolved psychology. This is to grossly misrepresent what either of us have said -- or have ever said. Perhaps one shouldn't reproach people for grossly misrepresenting others' ideas when one is doing so oneself.

Anonymous said...

"Thus, property rights isn't human, mammalian, reptilian, or amphibian -- it's fish!"
OK, and mole-rats aren't concerned. And I'm the one plenty of logical fallacies? And you don't just take examples from nature willy-nilly! :-)

If it isn't about what Charlie said the argument can go without mentioning what Charlie said, and that hardly explain that. I don't know what PZ would have to answer to this:
"If so, would he agree with me that a liberal social order is desirable insofar as it cultivates the moral sentiments in a free society?"
but I can see how the question could be rephrased to be without personal political bias:
"If so, would he agree that any social order is desirable insofar as it cultivates the moral sentiments in a free society?"

Troy Camplin said...

Eusocial mammals are also territorial, so my statement on fish stands. I of course make reference to that in my comments above (didn't see it? then you need to be a more careful reader). Territoriality gets expressed in different ways, with different results. Humans aren't eusocial. We did not evolve to be that way.

Speaking of your being a bad reader, I didn't say about Darwin what you claim I said. Go back and re-read it and address the actual point.

Arnhart addressed it as he did, because his argument was on classical liberalism (which isn't a political bias -- classical liberalism is a kind of social organization). Of course, one would hopefully agree with the latter point -- but that proves nothing other than that your not anti-human. The point is which social organization will actually achieve that goal. Only classical liberalism will do that. Everything else has less than optimal outcomes (to put it nicely).

mtraven said...

This is one of the more spectacular examples of intellectual dishonesty I've come across.

You realize I hope that posting tripe like this has the effect of greatly diminishing any valid points you might have. If your position was strong, you wouldn't have to lie about your opponent's views.

heh said...

Larry Arnhart sez: "How is it "deeply fallacious" to argue that socialist attempts to abolish natural desires like parental care and private property will create great human suffering--as they did, for example, in Mao's China?"

What about natural desires like humping anyone of the opposite sex, whether they want to or not (RAPE!)? If natural desires are so awesome, why aren't you out there following them, and raping women, as has been the norm through most of human history?

What was that? You are not practicing what you preach? Natural desires not what they were cracked up to be, is that what you are saying?

Interesting. Tell me more.

Larry Arnhart said...

"Tell me more."

I have written two books--DARWINIAN NATURAL RIGHT and DARWINIAN CONSERVATISM--with chapters on the natural desires for sexual mating, parental care, and conjugal bonding. I have also written dozens of posts on this blog covering these topics.

If you have a serious interest in these matters, you can read some of this material.

Troy Camplin said...


Rape is a "natural" desire only for those one does not consider to be in one's family/tribe. Thus, as the notion of who is in one's tribe expands to include, say, all the people in the U.S., it is no longer natural to want to rape a fellow American citizen. One can apply this to those who share your religion or culture, or even everyone in the world -- as is the case for many people now. Those who do feel the drive to rape members of their family/tribe are sociopaths. I will leave it up to you as to how to interpret that as someone who just admitted they have a natural drive to rape other people.

heh said...

"I have written two books--DARWINIAN NATURAL RIGHT and DARWINIAN CONSERVATISM--with chapters on the natural desires for sexual mating, parental care, and conjugal bonding. I have also written dozens of posts on this blog covering these topics."

So what you are saying is that all those natural desires aren't all they are cracked up to be? That, gee, maybe we have to control our urges if it's the best thing to do?

And, gee, maybe people disagree on what "best" means, and that appealing to Darwin is a huge fallacy, and basically FAIL?

heh said...

"I will leave it up to you as to how to interpret that as someone who just admitted they have a natural drive to rape other people."

Ah, the sheer dishonesty of the Conservative crowd. Just like Larry twisted PZ's words and lied about him, you just lied about me.

I'm noticing a pattern here.

My point was that appealing to "natural urges" is silly. We control our natural urges every single day.

And when I mentioned rape, it was because it has been the norm. Males will copulate with females in nature. This goes for homo sapiens sapiens in the past as well.

But I predict that the Conservatives will continue to dishonestly twist people's words. This is apparently a natural urge Conservatives do not see any value in suppressing.

Larry Arnhart said...


It's good to see that you agree with me about the importance of practical reasoning or prudence in moral deliberation about our natural desires. This point is developed in Chapter 2 of DARWINIAN NATURAL RIGHT and Chapters 1-2 of DARWINIAN CONSERVATISM.

As I have indicated in my post on "P.Z. Myers, Moralist," it seems that Myers also agrees with me (and Darwin) about morality as based on a natural moral sense.

So we seem to be coming around to a fundamental agreement about morality as a product of moral sentiments, moral traditions, and moral judgments.

Troy Camplin said...


You just equated sex with rape. Rape is unusual, not the normal state of things. If rape were the normal state of things, animals -- including humans -- wouldn't have developed complex mating rituals to try to seduce females into mating. They would have just raped. What you consider to be "natural" in the sense of normal isn't. Thank goodness. Just because you think rape is the natural state of sexual reproduction, that doesn't make it so. Again, this says more about you than it does about the rest of reality. Rape and sex are not equivalent.

Finally, I did not misrepresent what you said. I pointed out what you said. It's not my fault you argued that sex is rape. It's not my fault you don't know how to make an argument, or understand facts.

The real issue isn't whether or not people can adjust their behaviors. Of course we can. The question is: can we do it without negative, destructive consequences? And the answer is clearly: no. For example, humans are a naturally sexual animal. We can deprive ourselves of sex and become chaste -- but at the same time, there is a reason why Catholic priests sometimes get involved in sex scandals. It is too strong a drive for the vast majority of people to overcome. Can people live in Leftist fantasyland under their murderous dictators. Of course they can. But it just won't be the best life.

heh said...

I notice that Troy Camplin is so thoroughly dishonest that he continues to lie. The pattern continues.

"You just equated sex with rape."

No, I did not. But I can see that you are more interested in pushing your political ideology by any means necessary, so I won't bother responding any further than that.

Thanks for confirming your behavioral patterns, though.

Troy Camplin said...


Yes, you do. I quote you: "when I mentioned rape, it was because it has been the norm. Males will copulate with females in nature." You just said that rape is the norm. You then follow that up with the observation that males naturally copulate as females. Thus, your evidence for rape is the naturalness of copulation. Thus, you equate sex with rape.

The difference between an ideologue and a non-ideologue is that the first cannot stand being corrected, while the other is willing to take correction. When Larry and I had it pointed out that we got Meyers wrong, we corrected ourselves. You insist that you didn't say what you actually said, then claim I am twisting your words, when I interpret what you say as practically any person other than yourself would interpret you. In fact, it didn't take any interpretation at all. You equate rape with sex. You say rape is the norm. That was your argument. Either stand by it, or correct yourself.