Thursday, April 10, 2008

Neuroscience and the Golden Rule

Brains Are Hardwired To Act According To The Golden Rule, a Science Daily article, notes a form of human behavior that appears to be at odds with the proposition that individuals seek to maximize their chances for survival and by doing so increase the likelihood that their own genes will be propagated. Of course there have been attempts to explain behavior that is counterintuitive from a neo-Darwinian point of view. The linked article would fit that description.

The article cites an incident in which a 55 year old man named Wesley Autrey risks his own life to save a stranger from death. It's an heroic act consistent with the Golden Rule which is: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." But what is the selective value of whatever leads to goodness or putting one's own life at risk for a stranger? That this incident is consistent with the view that humans are created in the image of God is obvious. It is not obvious that a blind watchmaker would have developed such traits in humanity.

Looking out for number one is an expected Darwinian paradigm. Besides the fact that it is everywhere in evidence it is also logically consistent with the concept of passing on one's genes to posterity. So conventional wisdom offers an explanation for selfish behavior that aligns well with natural selection. I've also seen the explanations for altruism. There have been efforts to fit these in within mainstream biology. Selection then would explain everything- selfishness and altruism. Beware of theories that explain it all with little more required than conceptual adaptations by theoreticians.

Mainstream biology is wedded to materialism. A capacity to choose between selfish and altruistic behavior involves faculties enabling consciousness and free will. These key aspects to what makes us human have not yielded to explanations based on reductionist approaches. Like the origin of life and the origin of the universe they are destined to remain forever surrounded in mystery made inevitable by science itself.

In response to this Telic Thoughts blog entry by Mike Gene, a commenter said this:

In general you appear to agree with the scientific consensus regarding evolution, but then you make a possibility argument for teleology afterward. But sure, anything is possible. The question is, What are the positive evidences for it?

The Science Daily article reminds us of how little we know about behavior and brain function. Well documented explanations as to how behaviors evolved are rarer still. The wide open possibilities and unanswered questions in neuroscience signify it may yield explanations favorable to ID. Whether this occurs is likely to depend on constrictions imposed on science like a huge boa who, while unable to strangle the elephant he has grabbed onto, is equally unable to acknowledge he never will do so. As long as no intelligence is allowed the scientific dark ages, that have descended on consciousness and origins issues, will continue.



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