scilogs Biology of Religion

New Science Book: The Biological Evolution of Religious Mind and Behavior

from Michael Blume, 25. September 2009, 08:44

Empirical studies on the evolution of religiosity and religions have been thriving these last years. These days, Springer's "Frontiers Collection" set a new standard. The Biological Evolution of Religious Mind and Behavior (BERMB) is rooted in the international Delmenhorst-conference on "The Biology of Religion" and has been expanded by contributions from other scholars. It is offering a broad picture of studies and models at the forefront of this scientifc field, which is tending toward interdisciplinary consesus on many subjects in surprisingly short time.

Voland, E., Schiefenhövel, W. (Eds.): The Biological Evolution of Religious Mind and Behavior. Springer 2009

The Biological Evolution of Religious Mind and Behavior

Series: The Frontiers Collection
Voland, Eckart; Schiefenhövel, Wulf (Eds.)
2009, X, 304 p. 13 illus., Hardcover
ISBN: 978-3-642-00127-7
Online version available

Table of Contents

1 Introduction by Wulf Schiefenhövel and Eckart Voland

2 Evaluating the Evolutionary Status of Religiosity and Religiousness by Eckart Voland

3 Gods, Gains, and Genes by Rüdiger Vaas

4 How Some Major Components of Religion Could Have Evolved by Natural Selection? by Jay R. Feierman

5 The Correlated History of Social Organization, Morality, and Religion by David C. Lahti

6 Is There a Particular Role for Ideational Aspects of Religions in Human Behavioral Ecology by Jürgen Kunz

7 Talk and Tradition: Why the Least Interesting Components of Religion May Be the Most Evolutionarily Important by Craig T. Palmer, Ryan M. Ellsworth, and Lyle B. Steadman

8 The Reproductive Benefits of Religious Affiliation by Michael Blume

9 The African Interregnum: The “Where,” “When,” and “Why” of the Evolution of Religion by Matt Rossano

10 Explaining the Inexplicable: Traditional and Syncretistic Religiosity in Melanesia by Wulf Schiefenhövel

11 Authoritarianism, Religiousness, and Conservatism: Is “Obedience to Authority” the Explanation for Their Clustering, Universality and Evolution? by Thomas J. Bouchard, Jr.

12 Cognitive Foundations in the Development of a Religious Mind by Rebekah A. Richert and Erin I. Smith

13 Religious Belief and Neurocognitive Processes of the Self by Shihui Han

14 Neurologic Constraints on Evolutionary Theories of Religion by Erica Harris and Patrick McNamara

15 On Shared Psychological Mechanisms of Religiousness and Delusional Beliefs by Martin Brüne

16 Cognitive Foundations of Religiosity by Ulrich Frey

17 The Religious System as Adaptive: Cognitive Flexibility, Displays, and Acceptance by Benjamin Grant Purzycki and Richard Sosis

18 The Evolution of Evolutionary Theories of Religion by Wolfgang Achtner

19 Evolutionary Perspectives on Religion – What They Can and What They Cannot Explain (Yet) by Detlef Fetchenhauer

Reviews and debates about the empirical findings have already started - see i.e. Tom Rees (EpiphenomenA) with: Why do atheists have fewer kids? 

As BERMB is a quality collection in smaller numbers, I'd say that working with it is a way to literally join the "frontiers" of this new and thriving field. Hoping to meet you there!

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Natur des Glaubens: Der Gottesinstinkt - Evolutionäre Religionsforschung in Deutsch


  1. Anirudh Kumar Satsangi Biological Evolution
    16.01.2010 | 15:28

    I have one evidence that humans and dinosaurs coexisted. At that time humans were also of giant size. Gravitation force has great influence on biological evolution too. The tendency of gravitation force is towards centre. As the Earth is growing older the tendency of gravitation force towards centre is increasing and compressing us all and making our size smaller and smaller. We have the fossil of giant size rodents. But they are not seen now. Their size have become smaller and smaller even smaller than the size of humans. Dinosaurs are also not extinct. They may be still traced , not in giant size of course.

    Gravitation force is the main determinant of genetic mutation. All elements like carbon, nitrogen, oxygen etc. have been formed by the fusion of hydrogen element on account of action of gravitation force during the formation of a star.

  2. Michael Blume @ Anirudh Kumar Satsangi
    19.01.2010 | 15:01
    Thanks for your, well, interesting thoughts! But according to your "hypothesis", we should expect to find many fossils of giant humans living beside the dinosaurs, which is clearly not the case. But we do have findings about smaller mammalians, who spread out to conquer many parts of the world after the demise of the dinosaurs. And, yes, some of the reptilian relatives of dinosaurs survived and are now living with us: birds! If you are interested in evolutionary processes, there are not only very valuable books around, but also good and free video clips, some of which I assembled here: Best wishes!
  3. Anirudh Kumar Satsangi biological evolution
    31.01.2010 | 06:46

    Dear Michael Blume
    I congratulate you for your excellent blog on New Science Book: The Biological Evolution of Religious Mind and Behavior. I also thank you for your very encouraging response to my comments.
    In fact, normally humanized fossils are difficult to find. Humans are a civilized race and they have developed ceremonies/rituals of various kinds for different occasions. Funeral rite is one of them. In ancient past dead bodies were either cremated or were immersed of in river. This practice still continues in many communities. If the bodies cremated ashes are immersed off in river.
    According to Hindu Mythology Lord Rama was born 10 million years ago. Human civilization is still older than this. Lord Rama fought war with Ravana, the king of Lanka (Now Sri Lanka). At that time the height of man is believed to be more than 150 feet. If we want to trace these humanized fossils, we can find them at the bottom of the sea/ocean only and nowhere else.

  4. Michael Blume @ Anirudh Kumar Satsangi
    02.02.2010 | 19:45

    Well, I want to thank you for the encouragement! During these last years, evolutionary studies i.e. contributed by Buddhist neurologists and primatologists or Jewish biologists helped to enrich the field by their fresh perspectives tremendously. I do hope to have the chance to work one day with Hindu colleagues in the field as well. Please don't hesitate to give notice if a respective scientist or book in the field is emerging - that's what the World Wide Web was made for! :-)

    Best wishes from Germany!

  5. Anirudh Kumar Satsangi Biological evolution
    06.02.2010 | 17:24

    Thank you very much dear Michael Blume. I am very much willing to collaborate with you in this area.

  6. Anirudh Kumar Satsangi Biological Evolution
    13.02.2010 | 14:01

    According to His Holiness Maharaj Sahab (1861-1907), the 3rd Spiritual Head of Radha Soami Faith, “during satyayuga, ... in consequence of their greater spirituality and of the high purity of their heart, had no difficulty in getting access at times into the astral planes and holding communion with the departed spirits.” (Source: Discourses on Radhasoami Faith). Greater Spirituality as mentioned above is linked to the size of pineal gland. In Satyauga pineal gland was highly developed but in Kaliyuga the pineal gland is a rudimentary (undeveloped) organ. We should ascertain the period taken from highly developed pineal gland to undeveloped pineal gland. This will determine the Age of Human Existence on this Earth Planet. Other arguments, as I think, will not help much.

  7. Anirudh Kumar Satsangi Biological Evolution
    20.03.2010 | 09:34

    “A project to reconstitute a 28,000-year-old skull is bound to shock those who like to portray themselves as sophisticates driven by brain rather than brawn. Producing a replica of an early modern human skull, a French team has claimed that our brains are shrinking and that it is 15 to 20% smaller than our ancestor’s.” (Source: The Times of India) these findings support my views on biological evolution.

  8. Anirudh Kumar Satsangi Biological Evolution
    17.10.2010 | 16:20

    The period of Lord Ram is believed to be 10 million years ago. Hanuman (Ape-man) also lived during this age. Period of Lord Ram and Hanuman signifies the separation of human and ape man from a common ancestor. Both used to communicate in same language.

  9. Anirudh Kumar Satsangi Biological and cosmological evolution
    23.10.2010 | 09:09

    Myth may also be a reality. Mythological facts are not averse to scientific investigation. We know that some solar systems other than ours have binary star (Sun). Ours has only one Sun. But there may be a possibility that our solar system might also have binary star some millions or billions year ago. It is written in Hanuman Chaleesa:”Bal samay Ravi bhaksh liyo tab teenahu lok bhayo andhiyaro” in English it mean that during his childhood Hanumanji had gobbled up Sun and darkness spread in entire universe. But this is cosmological phenomena. This not possible for some super natural power who assumes physical frame on this Earth Planet to gobble up Sun. The other Sun(?) might have met Its natural death. Hanumanji is believed as the Incarnation of Lord Rudra. According to Hindu Mythology Lord Rudra is the God of Destruction or God of Annihilation.a

  10. Anirudh Kumar Satsangi Biological Evolution
    06.11.2010 | 05:38

    I know one such story (imagination/free thinking) of H.G.Wells. About 35 years ago when I was doing my first degree course in science, one of my senior colleague told me a story from Time Machine of H.G.Wells that a day will come when the size of humans would of size of a rat. Now see what has actually happened afterwards. About 2 or 3 years back I saw in news paper that a giant sized rodent fossil had been found. This was almost to elephant or bull size. This confirmed my belief that dinosaurs had not been wiped out. They are still found may be in smaller size, yes of course with some different characteristics. I think Gravitation Force is one of the major cause of genetic mutation. Gravitation Force is continued to increase gradually towards centre and compressing all members of animal kingdom bringing about genetic change with respect to size. A new evolved species or same species with some new characteristics created in due course of time.

  11. Anirudh Kumar Satsangi Biological evolution
    19.03.2011 | 08:04
    Modus Operandi of Radhasoami Faith View of Creation – Part II Here the true Jaman (coagulant) was given. The spirituality coagulated as it were, and Surats (spirit entities), among themselves, brought the creation into being. Thereafter, another Jaman (coagulant) was given. Regions from Agam Lok (Inaccessible Region) to Sat Lok (True Region) were created during the first creational process. That creation is true. That region is eternal. There is no trace of evil and suffering. This was the creation for many Yugas and ages. Then there appeared a dark coloured current That current appeared like a dark coloured stone set in a white one and was absorbed in the Darshan of True Being. Then there appeared two Kalas i.e. currents (viz. Niranjan and Jyoti) and they together evolved the creation of five Tattwas (elements) four Khans (species, categories of life) and three Gunas (qualities). The three Gunas (qualities) brought about the expansion and proliferation . They created Rishis and Munis (sages and holy men), gods and godly human beings and demons. Egotism then increased much. Niranjan separated himself from the rest, putting the burden of looking after the creation on them. Nobody could know of Niranjan. Even the Vedas referred to Him as Neti Neti (Not this, Not this). They did not get Darshan (Vision) of Niranjan. They made conjectures. Then how can anybody have knowledge of Sat Purush (True Being), Source of Niranjan and all that exists. Scientifically here Jyoti represent three Fundamental Forces of Quantum Mechanics i.e. electromagnetic force, weak nuclear force and strong nuclear force. NIRANJAN is the fourth Fundamental Force i.e. Gravitation Force.
  12. Miriadoc Murray Subject
    01.06.2011 | 16:36

    I never got the chance to finish this book. This was part of my reference during my early biology thesis in college...

  13. Michael Blume @Miriadoc
    01.06.2011 | 20:29

    You should try again, there are some gems in there! :-)

  14. Keith Hardison Subject
    22.06.2011 | 16:58

    Books 1,3, 10 and 19 were my resource books during college. They were a good read for people who believed in evolution but don't want to lose their faith in God.

  15. ukui8peuipp The Etiology of Religion
    15.08.2011 | 17:03

    This book is written on the unproved assertion that the Human Genome is the product of evolution and therefore that evolutionary biology is the cause and determinant of human behavior and religion. This crossover of biology to human behavior is scientifically invalid and even forbiden by sound scientific method. A physical science, for instance, like Quantum Mechanics, cannot explain life, and biological science cannot explain that which is distinctly human in Homo Sapiens.

    There is not empirical evidence that human reason and behavior, much less religion, is the work of evolutionary biology. Religion is the response of the human intellect to the immensity and astonishing complexity of the Cosmos and its etiology is a reasoned conclusion, not an evolutionary phenomenon.

    This book, by eminent evolutionary scientists, instead of dealing with the specifities of human embryonic life, deals with biological generalities having nothing to do with the embryonic life of Homo Sapiens. The principles are false, the scientific method is outdated and the conclusions repeat with unrelenting regularity that Homo Sapins is nothing more than an evolutionary automaton. This work is a piece of evolutionary fiction based, not on Darwin's major work, "On the Origin of Species", but on his fears and horro at the conclusions he came to in "The Descent of Man".

    The integrating principle of human embryonic life, its somatic and psychosomatic development, is a human person in the unfolding of its innate human potential, gradually experiencing, expressing and revealing its uniquely human powers.

    The scientific validity of any study of Homa Sapiens, must begin with a study of human embryonic life in its intimate detail and not positing the evolutionary data of non-human mammalian species as the model of human embryonic life.

    Father Clifford Stevens
    Boys Town, Nebraska

  16. Michael Blume @Father Stevens
    18.08.2011 | 07:56

    Obviously, you did not even read the book before "judging" it. But that has been the way of Creationists all the time...

    Homo sapiens is a product of evolutionary history as any other living being. If you doubt that, you should be ready to explain when and where our species came from?

  17. John Jacob Lyons @Michael
    18.08.2011 | 11:11

    There are some scientific theories that are so solidly founded on evidence that it is a rational to hold that time spent considering contradictory alternatives would just be time wasted. For example, in the year 2011, would one spend time considering the hypothesis that the Earth is flat? Another is the hypothesis that Homo Sapiens didn't evolve from earlier forms.

    I, for one, don't intend to waste my time chasing this particular creationist red herring.

    Please let's get back to well informed and tightly argued discussion of substantive topics in 'The Biology of Religion'.

  18. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to John Jacob Lyons
    18.08.2011 | 19:40

    That may be true for non-human mammalians species, but not for Homo Sapiens. Martin Nowak has already demonstrated that Survival of the Fittest does not apply to human beings, although he is wrong in stating that religion is the etiology of human behavior and religion. The solution to this question is found in the embryology of the human species, in all its intimate details, and the question of the origin of the human species is not a biological question, it is an historical and anthropological quesion.

    Your assertion that evolutionary biology is the etiology of religion is patently false and completely unproved scientifically. Religion is a cosmological question and is the result of human reason contemplating the Cosmos. It is not an "emergense" of the senses, from DNA, or from an invasion of evolutionary powers on the human psyche. It is an act of reason that looks to causes and is the reccgnition of a Primary Cause behind the multitude of Secondary Causes that make up the Cosmos. That Primary Csuse cannot be reached by empirical science: evolutionary, biological or astronomical. It is reached by Demonstrative Science, which is as old as Aristole and is the science that is the rule and foundation of all other sciences.

    Boys Town, Nebraska

  19. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to Michael Blume
    18.08.2011 | 19:57

    The question of the origin of the human spccies is an historical and anthropological one and not a biological question and no one that I know has even attempted to answer that question. And I am as well-informed on these matters as you are and I read everything written on the subject. The basic premise you are arguing from is false; religion is the work of the human intellect in the face of the immensity and awesomeness of the Cosmos, and is not the result of the invasion of evolutionary powers on the human psyche. From that false premise has come a multitude of writings by Pascal Boyer, Eckart Voland and Martin Nowak. Generalizations will not do and the only research that will do is a detained study of human embryonic life and I have been engaged in that study for over 25 years. Your premise simply falls flat scientifically and cannot hold up under careful scrutiny. I reject Intelligent Design and I reject creation science and I do accept the demonstrable evidence of evolutionary and biological science. But the fact is that there is no hard, scientific, clearly demonstrable evidence that evolutionary biology is the etiology of religion or of anything that is specifically human. And I challenge you to prove your premise from more than the biology of non-human mammalian species.


  20. Michael Blume @Father Stevens
    18.08.2011 | 21:03

    Clear evidence is given for example by Twin Studies conclusively showing that religiosity is having a polygenous and heritable base like any other trait:

    What do you say about those?

    And of course, there is an archaeological record showing that religious behavior did not spring up full-fledged, but evolved over time from simple burials to increasingly complex forms:

    Could ecolutionary studies be falsified? Absolutely! The single way to do that would be to bring up data and a better explanation of the facts. And you don't do that, because you don't have any. You probably realized that "creation science" and Intelligent Design have not been able to bring up any serious alternatives, so you try to ignore my repeated questions about your theory how Homo sapiens came into being.

    As a Christian and a scientist, I find it very sad that you are using your (real?) title as a Cleric of a (which?) Church to denounce science and scientists in such a destructive way without bringing up any constructive arguments. If you do not believe in the evolutionary origins of human beings, name your alternative or stop disguising as a scientifically informed man! If you do not have any serious alternatives to the evolutionary account, I would gently ask you to gently leave this blog instead of just repeating your sentences proclaiming a barely disguised creationism.

  21. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to Michael Blume
    18.08.2011 | 21:20

    Twin studies are not evolutionary studies, they are simply tools for identifying genetic and environmental influences on behavior, but have nothing to do with evolutionary biology on human beings. They are valuable studies into the psychology and behavior of twins, but that is as far as they go. I don't think that Nancy Segal and her colleagues would agree with you that their studies demonstrate anything relating to evolutionary biology. To infancy biology, perhaps, or even to embryonic biology and perhaps something about human lines of inheritance. But the studies begin with the human and end with the human.

    Father Clifford Stevens
    Boys Town, Nebraska

  22. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to Michael Blume
    18.08.2011 | 21:41

    I am not using my religion or my status as a priest in this argument and cannot mention anything specifically Catholic, Christian or religious that I have used to support my arguments. A priest can be just as well-versed as any layman in the sciences and I do not have to use religious arguments to support my arguments.
    But the argument that religion is the result of evolutionary factors simply will not hold up under careful scrutiny.
    Religion is the result of the use of the human intellect and is a human and not an evolutionary phenomena.
    But if this kind of argument displeases or disturbs you, I will gladly keep my arguments to myself and retire from the scene. But I thought that SciLog was a instrument for intense argument on scientific issues and welcome all comers who stick to scientific arguments. The basic premise of your "biology of religion" is at stake and is undermined by your failure to demonstrate scientific basis for this "Biology of Religion"
    I am arguing under the premise that if I am going to prove you wrong, I cannot do it on my principles, I have to do it on yours. Thus far, your principle that religion in human beings is the result of the action of evolutionary powers on the human psyche has been demonstrated as false and all you have are suppositions and presumptions to support it. I am sorry if I have offended you and disturbed your own research, but I hope I have made you think a little more carefull about the foundations of your premises.

    Father Clifford Stevens
    Boys Town, Nebraaska

  23. Michael Blume @Father Stevens
    18.08.2011 | 21:42

    So you saw with the Twin Studies that there ARE genetic and therefore biological foundations to religious behavior, too. So there IS a evolution going on here, too. It is not just a thing of the past, it is happening today! And I told you repeatedly: Our field of study is extremely interdisciplinary, with psychologists, sociologists, biologists and even theologians working together. If you would have read the mentioned book instead of denouncing it, you would have seen that.

  24. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to Michael Blume
    18.08.2011 | 22:22

    I have never stated that human biology and genetics do not influence and affect human behavior, that would be stupid, of course. I have stated two things: that human biology (and genetics) do not determine human behavior and religion, and that evolutionary engines have nothng to do with anything specifically human.
    Twin studies are completely within the human orbit and there is no evidence that evolutionary factors enters into twin studies at all.
    I have not stated that human biology and genetics do not enter into human behavior and religion, but only as influences, not at determinants. Human behavior, culture and religion are the result of the free choices, actions and judgment of a human person and evolutionary engines, principles and factors have no effect whatever on human life, human biology, human genetics and human behavior.

    Father Clifford Stevens
    Boys Town, Nebraska

  25. Michael Blume @Father Stevens
    18.08.2011 | 22:49

    You wrote: I have not stated that human biology and genetics do not enter into human behavior and religion, but only as influences, not at determinants.

    Okay, and we are interdisciplinary exploring these very influences brought about by human biology and genetics into human behavior and religion. And their whereabouts. None of my colleagues mor I speculated about "determinants". You really should have read the book before you issued your judgement, Father. :-)

  26. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to Michael Blume
    18.08.2011 | 23:27

    If you are saying that religion in human beings comes from "below", from the action, influence or activity of genes, DNA or biological factors, I deny it. Religion is the free choice of a human being based on human reason and judgment. It all depends on what you mean by "influence". I think we mean something entirely different by the word. And don't worry, I read all the literature, except articles in journals that are so numerous I can't keep up with them and I have a library that I am always addding to. We differ on whether evolutionary factors affect in any way human biology, human genetics, human behavior and religion. I admit that human biology and genetics have some influence on human behavior, but that evolution is not the origin of religion, as Eckart Voland, Pascal Boyer and their colleagues seem to think. That is what has not been demonstrated scientifically and no amount of interdisciplinary studies can make a difference if that premise is the basis of these studies.

    Father Clifford Stevens

  27. John Jacob Lyons @Michael
    19.08.2011 | 01:19

    You have already mentioned the evidence from twin-studies for genetically mediated religiosity. Much of it you have reported in earlier articles on this blog. Precocious religiosity in very young children has been established empirically by both Justin Barrett and Deborah Keleman. Both of these eminent scientists would rule out human judgement/ freewill as influencing these results. They, and many other researchers, conclude that there must be a genetically mediated propensity toward religiosity.

    Of course, as we mature, many other social/ cultural factors impinge on our religiosity as I have mentioned in earlier posts. Also, as I have previously argued, human judgement/ freewill does impact religiosity; sometimes to strengthen it, sometimes to introduce honest doubt.

    The thought that precocious/ genetically mediated religiosity may be a 'by-product' of the phylogenetic development of a number of more general adaptive propensities over evolutionary time, as suggested by many of us, may well be uncomfortable for some believers. Naturally, they may also tend to play down the role of parental upbringing, social pressures etc wanting to argue that their religious convictions are almost exclusively the result of their discerning mature reason, intelligence, judgement and freewill. That must be a much more appealing way of accounting for their convictions. But I cannot accept its veracity without evidence. If there is such evidence it must have escaped my attention.

  28. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to John Jacob Lyons
    19.08.2011 | 03:33

    I don't know how "genetically mediated religiosity" has anything to do with evolution. If you mean the cultivation of habits of religiosity, I understand that, habits are part of the growth and development of a HUMAN being and the cultivation of habits are brought about by personal acts of choice.But this is a matter of psychology, not biology.
    The very phrase "Biology of Religion" is inaccurate and misleading: :Psychology of Religion", yes, Religious Pathology" yes, and "Religious Pedagogy", yes. Biology, even, human biology, has nothing to do with religion, unless you mean how the body is used in worship or something like that. There are no biological roots to religion, since religion is the work of human reason.
    I can't see how evolution enters into the picture at all. And why all this discussion and controversy, if we are talking about religion as part of a human development? What do genetic and biological factors have to do with it?

    Father Clifford Stevens

  29. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to Michael Blume & John Jacob Lyons
    19.08.2011 | 06:15

    I am really surprised that you have not recognized that the "Biology of Religion" is a derived science, not a science that is based on scientific experiment, observation and research. It is derived Darwin's "The Descent of Man" which is not really a scientific work like "On the Origin of Species", but is the application of evolution to anything that met his fancy: religion, ethics, etc.
    What you are presenting to me as valid scientific findings are really not such, they are derivations from "The Descent of Man" and you cannot find in this book we have been discussing by Eckart Voland and company any proven scientific fact, but merely conclusions based on something in the text of 'The Descent of Man".
    Don't take my word for it but examine this books and books by Pascal Boyer and others who write in the same genre. A Derived Science is not a true science unless it draws upon evidence that has been uncovered by firsthand experiment and research. "The Biology of Religion" is not one of these.

    Father Clifford Stevens
    Boys Town, Nebraska

  30. Michael Blume @Father Stevens
    19.08.2011 | 07:26

    You wrote: If you are saying that religion in human beings comes from "below", from the action, influence or activity of genes, DNA or biological factors, I deny it.

    So you deny evolutionary theory concerning our species, preferring creation from "above" without having the integrity of naming your "thesis". That's creationism pure and simple, Father, barely disguised (maybe even to yourself) by proto-scientific language. It's sad but I think no argument John, I or any of my colleagues could bring up would change your fundamentalistic denial of our works. You don't have any better hypotheses, but you are nevertheless attacking those sciences that seem to threaten your religious point of view. Others, like Teilhard de Chardin, whom Pope Benedikt XVI. just quoted approvingly, went far beyond that, recognizing evolutionary theory as valid.

  31. John Jacob Lyons @ Michael and @ Father Stevens
    19.08.2011 | 10:23

    Michael writes "So you deny evolutionary theory concerning our species, preferring creation from "above" without having the integrity of naming your "thesis"."

    Of course! This is creationism that does not dare speak its name. If not, what can the thesis possibly be? Yet again, no reply from Father Stevens to a challenging question.

    Our friend from the U.S. writes: "I don't know how "genetically mediated religiosity" has anything to do with evolution."

    The phrase "genetically mediated religiosity" simply means a human predisposition toward religiosity that is innate and carried in the human genome.

    Father Stevens asks what that has to do with evolution! I answer "Where did the human genome come from if not from the evolution of homo sapiens?" I will not hold my breath while I wait for his reply since he appears to have no relevant answers to challenging questions.

  32. John Jacob Lyons @ Michael and @ Father Stevens
    19.08.2011 | 12:05

    Father Stevens's performance on this blog leads me to wonder whether he is a member of a creationist 'fifth column' attempting to infiltrate the milieu of evolutionary theory in order to attack it from within.

    My evidence for suggesting this hypothesis? His implicit creationist tendency is clear for all to see and, with the best will in the world, his knowledge of evolutionary theory appears to me to be cursory at best.

    Have I blown your cover Father?

  33. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to John Jacob Lyons
    19.08.2011 | 12:37

    No, my dear Dr. Lyons and where is the scientific arguments now, What we have been facing the book we have been discussing, and others of a like genre, is evolution gone wild, not based on any true scientific evidence or arguments,but carrying out the mission of Darwin himself in "The Descent of Man", which every true evolutionist and even some of his contemporaries saw as pure speculation, having no basis in evolutionary science at all.
    When you try to apply evolutionary principles to the Human Species, you are in the same position as Erwin Schrodinger in the face of the rise of Molecular Biology: you are simply out of your league and outside the realm of evolutionary science. You have not given me one solid scientific argument for the scientific validity of "Biology of Religion" and I think should be thinking by now that it is a fraudulent science.
    I am not trying further a creationist agenda, hbut I am simply chaellenging you to demonstrate in what way the "Biology of Religion" is true science. I think the whole world should know that you have not done so, because what are doing is simply evolution gone wild and this does not further in any way the cause of science in the 21st century.

    Father Clifford Stevens
    Boys Town, Nebraska

  34. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to Michael Blume & John Jacob Lyons
    19.08.2011 | 13:21

    Let me get to some true science now.

    There is in Homo Sapiens, factors and phenomena that cannot be explained by the principles of Molecular Biology: reason, judgment, ethics, religion, free will, and in history, cultures and civilizations, arts and sciences and achievements in law, medicine, science, philosophy government and geniuses in every field of human endeavor.
    I am not positing a creationist explanation to these phenomena, but simplly stating the fact that biology cannot explain them. They have to be explained by a science of the Human Species itself, Anthropology, and we have to start, not with Darwin, but with Aristotle, who was not a Christian, was not obviously religious, and is really the father of science, in so many fields that it is almost impossible to count.
    The science of Anthropology cannot use the principles of Molecular Biology to explain the specificity of Homo Sapiens. It has to study that specificity itself and the conclusions that can be drawn from that specificity, as Schrodinger did in his famous lecture on "What is Life?".
    It is not I who have an agenda, it is you, Dr. Blume and Dr. Lyons, and you are the ones who are are not using valid scientific research in tackling questions of Anthropology, but are presuming that the Human Species is simply an extension of non-human mammalian species, with no scientific evidence whatsoever.
    Your problem is not with me who are as familiar as you are with science, evolutionary and otherwise, and I am also familiar with a lot more sciences than you have listed in your portfolio.
    Beware the man of one science is an old axiom and when you try to twist the whole of reality and the whole of the the human sciences to one science and one science alone, you have twisted reality out of shape and tried to squeeze the universe into the tiny bottle of evolutionary science. It cannot be done and I would advise you to broaden your horizons and look beyond the boundaries of your own science.


    Father Clifford Stevens
    Boys Town, Nebraska

  35. John Jacob Lyons @ Michael and @ Father Stevens
    19.08.2011 | 14:51

    Yes, Father, you are correct. Without due warning, I took off my philosopher/ science hat and donned the cap of common sense. Sorry for that.

    You say that Michael and I are " ---presuming that the Human Species is simply an extension of non-human mammalian species"

    You bet! To do otherwise is to engage in a foolish argument that was settled 150 years ago, raised by those with a creationist agenda many times since, only to be blown out of the water by the overwhelming scientific evidence. I have mentioned some of this evidence earlier in this exchange but to recapitulate; look at the fossil record and look at the clear genomic progression shown by a comparative analysis of the genomic architecture of our primate cousins with that of homo sapiens.

    Where is the counter-evidence to support your own contention that we are not an evolutionary extension of our primate cousins? How did humans arise? If you do not invoke 'creation' how do you explain it? You have been asked several times but chose to remain silent on the issue.

    Hence, the common-sense suspicion I voiced in my last post which I have been given no reason to change.

    There has been much repetition of argument on this topic and I will now rest my case until I have an opportunity to comment on a novel, relevant, interesting and scientifically valid point. I will have to ignore obsolete, unsubstantiated, pseudo-creationist arguments since I simply regard them as scientifically-ignorant time-wasting.

  36. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to Michael Blume & John Jacob Lyons
    19.08.2011 | 15:55

    Sorry, you are beating a dead horse, and basing your conclusions on something generic and not specific in Homo Sapiens, and you are doing in science exactly what Erwin Schrodinger realized was not valid in scienific research, and you have ignored the ancient distinction between genus and specific differentia, mistaking Ethology for Anthropology.Your problem is logic, not science. Science cannot demonstrate that Homo Sapiens is an exatension of non-human mammalian life and I am not stating or hinting that creation is the answer to the question. The fact is that you cannot unravel the question any more than I can.
    The answer is to be found in the scientific study of the specificities of Homo Sapiens and it is not found in appealing to creation,it is found in human embryonic science and that is my specialty. You do not find the answer in the embryonic science of non-human mammalian species and if we cannot discuss this issue in human embryonic terms, there is no other place to find the answer. The answer is found in the psychosomatic specification of the human embryo and not in embryonic science. The validity of your position depends and is based upon outdated data of the human embryonic sciences, data that became extinct with the discovery of DNA, which began to point to the something more than Natural Selection and Behavior Modification as an explanation for the Homo Sapiens. The Biology of Religion is as outdated as the theory of the universe before Copernicus.

    Father Clifford Stevens
    Boys Town, Nebraska

  37. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to Michael Blume & John Jacob Lyons
    19.08.2011 | 16:03

    Correction to my last Comment, lines 5 and 6 from the bottom:

    "The answer is found in the psychosomatic specification of the human embryo and not in EVOLUTIONARY science.


    Father Clifford Stevens

  38. John Jacob Lyons @ Father Stevens
    19.08.2011 | 16:36

    "The answer is found in the psychosomatic specification of the human embryo ---"

    Just how do you suggest that 'the psychosomatic specification of the human embryo' provides the answer? And what do you think is the etiology of this specification? Where do you believe it comes from? How do the answers to these questions differ from the corresponding answers for the chimpanzee embryo, for example. What's so special about the human emryo?

  39. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to John Jacob Lyons
    19.08.2011 | 16:47

    The etiology of the psychosomatic specification is human conception, of course and it is conception that asssures that the embryo is wholly and uniquely human. Now I think we are getting somewhere. Creation is not an answer to a scientific question and I have not appealed to it or given an argument in favor of it. Scientific questions have to solved by scientific answers and I am as unmoved in that conviction as you are. But the science here is not evolutionary science it is embryonic science and that is where the scientific answer is to be found.

    Father Clifford Stevens
    Boys Town, Nebraska

  40. John Jacob Lyons @ Father Stevens
    19.08.2011 | 18:26

    So you simply tell me that human conception precedes the formation of the human embryo! A statement of the blindingly obvious!

    You have claimed that human embryonic science is your specialty Father. If that is supposed to be the considered, scientific answer of a specialist to the questions I posed in my last post, I'm a monkey's uncle!

    You must be implying that you believe that the answer is to be found in human embryonic science but that, at this point, the answer is unknown. That is the only way I can make any sense at all of your response.

    Your undoubted religious zeal may be motivating you to seek something very special/unique about the human embryo enabling you to destroy/ replace the accepted evolutionary explanations.
    I'm sure you will let us know when you have made progress with this approach to identifying the origin of homo sapiens and explaining the etiology of human intellect. Good luck; but I fear you will search in vain.

  41. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to John Jacob Lyons
    20.08.2011 | 03:51

    My religious zeal is not directed towards science, I assure you, but you seem to be a believer in some religion and yet that does not prevent you from being perfectly devoted to scientific accuracy. Why, then, do you accuse me of a religious simply because we disagree?

    The answer to what? An answer to the question - is this a "human" being or not, or is it just another step in the evolutionary process, a sort of refined animal masquerading as a human being with a somatic and psychosomatic structure inherited from non-human mammalian ancestors? The embryo itself demonstrates that this is not so - by DNA sequences that are uniquely human, three billion of them, and only human, but sequences of a particular human being, with genetic signatures different from any other human being who lived ofr will live. Each embryo is no only specifically human, marking it as a member of the human species, but particular and individual as well, with a somatic and psychosomatic identity unique to one particular member of that species and no other.

    You can, as Charles Darwin did in "The Descent of Man" see the empirical data of embryonic science through the prism of Natural Selection and Behavior Modification, but there is no observable empirical data to support that view. The empirical data of the embryonic sciences reveal a somatic and psychosomatic structure and a genetic embroidery radically different from that of any other mammalian species and there is still a mountain of DNA evidence still being decoded that demonstrates that the human embryo stands alone on the landscape of nature, with lines of inheritance to no other living forms and the evidence is mounting as the Human Genome reveals its somatic and psychosomatic secrets.

    The algebra of human genetics is not merely biological, but has information content that is beyond somatics and beyond chemical and organic compounds, as, as Max Debruck observed: "Since some experimental situations are complimentary to each other, there is always the chance that certain theories attempting to achieve an interpretation of observations, will involve a mutually exclusive argument between a physical quality and a nonphysical concept."

    In other words, the genetic signature of each embryo is not mere etching on the massive wall of the DNA structure, but has an imformational content as well, revealing something more than a unique set of base pairs. The elaborate embroidery is the living tissue of a human subject inhabiting that embroidery, as the sole occupant of a biological structure for his or her exclusive use. The informational conten is nonphysical, indicating that there is more than biological realities involved.

    How much do you really know about the human embryo?

    The genetic signatures of each embryo are modifications of the DNA sequences, unique to each embryo and to each child who emerfges from the womb. These genetic signatures are present from the moment of conception when the spermatozoon and the oocyte yoke together to fashion an offspring. They are identifying sequences of base pairs tht is the direct result of this particular conception and are the indelible signatures of this particular embryo that sets it off from every conception and from every other embryo. That is so true thaose signatures will remain at the core of the 100 trillion cells that constitute the human body. In the language of DNA, they are the living voice of the Embryonic "I" proclaiming the world the idenity of the underlying subject of this particular embryo.

    The answer to the question we are debating is found in the embryo itself an not in evolutionary science. You see the phenomena of embryonic life the results of Natural Selection and Behavior Modification, which are operative in non-human mammalian species. But this is like trying to explain Molecular Biology by the action and interaction of atoms, electrons, protons and photons of Quantum Physics. The scientific language is wrong, the principles do not apply, and the conclusions are erroneous.

    And all you have to fall back upon are, not only the principles of Evolutionary Science, which are true for hon-human mammals, but on models from mathematics, sociological or behavioral sciences, which have no applicatio whatsoever to Homo Sapiens.

    Father Clifford Stevens

  42. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to John Jacob Lyons
    20.08.2011 | 04:59

    You caught me off guard today since I was about my Father's business and I was not at my best in my latest Comments and my thoughts did not come together very well. So you may want to get back to your own work of a lifetime which is also probably your means of livelihood and your heart' occupation. I feel I may be boring you when is clear that you have te support of several generations of evolutionary scientists and several recent books to support your own convictions. So perhaps it is best if I get back to my own work here at Boys Town
    and to my writing and research on a variety of questions, all of them not scientific. I am working on the official biography of Father Flanagan of Boys Town, my teacher and mentor which brought me to Innsbruck, Austria some time ago where he studied and to Berlin after he died in 1948.
    We have faced some critical issues in our conversation and it is clear that neither of us has changed our positions and is convinced that the other is mistaken. I have enjoyed the debate and I wish you well in your own work, but I will sign off and leave you to your dialogue with your fellow scientists and interesting people all over the world who are joining in the conversation. I really don't belong in that company, since my life and work is in a different direction, even though the sciences are one of my passions. I have kept copies of our conversations and will keep them on hand to spark my interest and thinking from time to time.

    Father Clifford Stevens

  43. John Jacob Lyons @ Father Stevens
    20.08.2011 | 07:26

    Thank you for those kind words Father.

    Yes,I've read about the wonderful work of Father Flanagan in creating Boys Town and your own work there and have found it both fascinating and admirable. I wish you continued success in that endeavor.

    You and I have had our ups and downs but I hope we wind up this discussion as friends. For my part this is indeed the case.


  44. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to John Jacob Lyons
    20.08.2011 | 16:15

    I have enjoyed this give and take a sort of intellectual tennis game and, as you can probably guess, I don't feel I have been bested, it's just that I don't want to waste your time on a debate for which there seems to be no ending. My basic argument is that biology is scientifically unable to answer questions relating to human reason, human judgment, human behavior, religion and anything specifically human and I sincerely believe that that will prove true in the end. I may even write a research paper on that where I can include all of the arguments and all of the data from embryonic science. I admire the little I have read of your research into music and other areas of human behavior and I will watch your website with great interest when your name and that of Dr. Blume appears there.
    Of course I think your basic premise is wrong by I don't want to distract you from the important work you are doing by a minor skirmish which will only waste a lot of your time. You may see my name appear in some journal where I carry on this debate at greater length with a far more detailed empirical data than I have been able to bring up in our short conversations. Thank you for your courtesy, vast knowledge of your field and a healthy give and take. I also was impressed by the knowledge and skill of Michael Blume, who seems to be a master in his specialty as well. I imagine you both are somewhere in Europe, perhaps Germany or Austria.

    Father Clifford Stevens
    Boys Town, Nebraska

  45. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to Michael Blume & John Jacob Lyons
    20.08.2011 | 18:12

    I will pen for publication, an extended reply to most of your arguments in a book entitled: The Embryonic "I": The Psychosomatic Specification of the Human Embryol dedicated to Erwin Schrodinger, "who dared to ask the questions: What is Life?"

    It will answer the question "What is Human Mind and Behavior?", and will demonstrate from embryonic science that biology cannot explain human mind and behavior because the principles of what is specificallly human in Homo Sapiens is rooted in non-physical factors, similar to the informational sequences of DNA, which are non-physical. This was something that Max Delbruck recognized, but did not examine further.
    I imagine the book will be out in a couple of years. So...the debate continues.

    Father Clifford Stevens

  46. Michael Blume @Father Stevens
    20.08.2011 | 21:46

    Thanks & good luck, Father Stevens! And please be assured that I will not criticize or denounce your upcoming book before having read it. ;-)

  47. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to Michael Blume
    21.08.2011 | 00:15

    My dear Michael - I have a library of all of the books we have discussed and add to it any new books that come off the presses. I just gave a massive library of 2,500 books to Whoming Catholic College, since I am getting on in years and cannot carry all those books around with me. No. it is not from lack of information or reading that I am lacking. I have cultivated a scientific sense since I was out of college and spent 5 years in absolute solitude educating myself on every conceivable subject including philosophy,theology, history, psychology, science(in particular Physics
    Molecular Biology While an Air Force Chaplain, I was introduced to experts in their fields 3,000 sciences I had never heard of, and that gave me an overview of what is happening today in the scientific world.
    What I have lacked is any real contact with scientists themselves, although I have carried on intense conversations with many I met in the Air Force, most of whom were atheists, although there were number of brilliant mathematicians and psychologists among them.
    What triggered my interest recently were the books by Richard Dawkins and books like those we have discussed published recently. I have no problem with Richard Dawkins' science, but I can no basis for it in his science.
    I am President of the National Organization for Embryonic Law, and I haved been engaged in embryonic science now for twenty-five and have already written a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari for a case involving the human embryo which was submitted to the Supreme Court but was denied certiorari, as is customaary with first-time submissions. I am no novice to the issues we have discussed and I am chiefly surpised that anyone with a knowledge of the human embryo could hold that biology could be the engine of acts of the intellect and will of a human being. The effect here is greater than the cause and my task now is to find the real cause and I have stumbled upon in my study of the human embryo, with hints in the writings of Erwin Schrodinger and Max Delbruck that I might be right. That, of course, is for me to demonstrate from solid scientific evidence. However, I am in great admiration of you and your work and the wonderful and enlightening conversation on your website and I read them with great interest. But the assertion that the etiology of the human mind and behavior is the product of evolutionary engines is just too contradictory to ignore and that is the reason for my entering this intriguing debate.

    Father Clifford Stevens

  48. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to John Jacob Lyons
    21.08.2011 | 14:01

    Dear Dr, lyons -

    Before I sign off from our brief conversation, I want to leave a last comment with you, with a tip of my hat to Dr. Michael Blume, since you both have been gracious and courteous and very frank partners in this debate. I know that I am speaking, not only to yourselves, but to a whole community of biologists in Europe, Asia, the United States, Canada, and perhaps Russia and Africa as well.

    But there has been a hint in a few of your remarks that you consider any serious questioning of your basic premise that biology is the source, the etiology, the engine, the motor and the foundation of religion to be an unfair and unscientific assault on the bastion of evolution, and you seem to place anyone who seriously questions that premise in the category of an anti-evolutionist and perhaps something of a simpleton and religious extremist.

    I don't think you are aware of the serious scientific and philosophical weaknesses of your positio and I don't think it adds to the scientfically validity of your position to answe with vague statements which do not go to the root of the question at all.

    The very nature of biology, as biology, makes it scientifically and biologically impossible to create, fashion, cause or control intellectual faculties and intellectual phenomena, and the fact that there is an ocean of studies that are covering the horizo with mathematical, sociological, pedagogical, pediatrical and psychological effects of that etiology overlooks the fact that the basic premise has not been scientifically demonstrated as true. And that basie premise is that Darwinian principles of evolution apply to human beings.

    I admit that there are unsolved problems here: who can go back in history to the origins of the human race and observe those origins? But we can reason that, from the very nature of the human intellect, that it is outside the category of the biological and that, on the contrary, the biological serves the human intellect in an almost infinite number of ways. You seem to designate those ways as "causes". That is a step tht I am convinced is scientificaly untenable.

    You and your colleagues seem to be immersed in these numberless ways that human biology serves the human intellect that you have created a whole catalogue of new "sciences", with titles that are becoming monotonous and repititious. You seem never to examined your own premises and have taken them whole cloth for Darwin when he proceeded from "The Origin of Species" to the "Descent of Man", agonizing himself from what he saw as an historical and cultural catastrophe that almost drove him to the edge of madness.

    I think that the root of the problem is that few biologists have any training in Demonstrative Science and look upon any opinion as scientific truth. Aristotle is still the master of this science, and it is a science, but a science of the human itellect, and you have probably concluded that logic, too, is the product of biology.l Can't you see that you have stretched biology too far, way beyond its borders and boundaries, and you are imputing to it effects that are outside the range of its powers?

    My training is in the use of the human intellect to discern truth, not only in matters of my own particular province, but in any human endeavor, and I long ago included science as one of my specialties. I am not an academic looking to inhabit some academic position, but I am a priest - and anything human is my specialty. You are mistaken if you think a priest is religiously biased, as you understand it, or is not informed or competent in scientific matters. Every priest of my generation was ordained with equivalent of four doctorates, and a more intense training in these disciplines than any undergone by university graduates.
    So I think you would do well to at least consider that your basic premise is false ad scientifically unproved and that the reasoning behind it is faulty and non conclusive. I have found a chink in your armor - if you really believe that your intellect is the product of biological forces. I can understand that you are paralyzed in your position and cannot see the contradictio in the premise that is the basis of your lifetime labors.

    I would be grateful if you were as frank with me as I have been with you, but I hope you will demonstrate that one who holds that his intellecgt is the product of biology can really assert that he can make any judgment about the truth of anything.

    Sincerely and respectfully,

    Father Clifford Stevens

  49. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Religion and biology
    28.08.2011 | 04:23

    1- The premise that Biology is the source, the cause and the Etiology of Religion is false and contradictory.

    2 - There is no causal link between the somatic and psychosomatic structure of human beings and the human cognitive powers.

    3 - The premise is based on a confused misunderstanding of the word "biology".

    4 - The premise is also based on evolutionary principles drawn from Charles Darwin's "The Descent of Man" and not on observable data in the somatic, psychosomatic and cognitive structure of the human being.

    5 - There is no observable empirical data in the human embryo that indicates an evolutionary origin - and any conclusion affirming this is drawn from the biology of non-human mammalian species.

    6 - The Human Embryo is specifically human, self-contained and equipped with exemplars of its somatic, psychosomatic and cognitive powers from the moment of conception.

    CONCLUSION - Religion has its origin and causse in the Human Intellect, based upon a reasoned judgment of objective and observable realities.

    I am prepared to defend these aruments in the public arena.

    Father Clifford Stevens
    Boys Town, Nebraska

  50. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to John Jacob Lyons & Michael Bloom
    29.08.2011 | 16:33

    The reason "The Biology of Religion" is a "faux" science is because it is based on a false reasinf of Darwin's "The Descent of Man". "The descent of Man" is a flawed cwork because it applies data frm non-human mammalian species to mHomo Sapiens without rigor. "The Descent of Man" is Darwin's revenge against God for the death of his daughter which he saw as a result of the truth of Survival of the fittest. The Descent is not a true scientific work.

    Father Clifford Stevens
    Boys Town. Nebraska

  51. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to Michael Blume
    01.09.2011 | 15:53

    This debate has nothing to do with religious fundamentalism and that is no proper way to defend your position. This debate has to do with the fact that there is no causal link in the human organism between the biological powers and the cognitive powers of Homo Sapiens. It is that scientific error that you are building your whole premise that religion and religious behavior is caused by biology forces.

    Your "Biology of Religion" is in the category of Piltdown Man or the Cardiff Monster, or more likely in the category of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and it won't be long before the whole scientific community recognizes it. Human intelligence and human behavior scientifically cannot be caused by mindless biology and your description of the Biology is a scientific orphan that has no parentage.

    But the weakest link in your chain of scientific errors is what comes out at the end of your reasoning - your definition of religion. I can demonstrate with certainty that the origin and cause of religion is the human intellect, based on aa reasoned jujdgmentg of objective and observable realities. Your "science" poisons the human mind so that it becomes a helpless automaton of biological forces, whose only effect is create an illusison of reality. To quote Aristotle: a small error in the beginning brings out a greater error in the end, and your error in the end is massive.

    I have reviewed the books of some of your colleagues and the very titles smack of an intellectual conceit that borders on hubris. You seem to want to keep the human mind in the gutter of biological determinism that makes an intellectual cripple of everyone on the planet. If that is your ideas of science or religion, you can peddle it to infants in kindergarten, but not to minds as informed on scientific matters as your own. In the words of Thomas Aquinas:

    "If anyone glorifying himself with false knowledge, dares to argue with what I have written, let him not babble in corners with raw adolescents, who are incapable of judging such difficult matters. He wil then have to deal, not only with me, but with other lovers of truth, who know how to unravel falsehood and correcr ignorance."

    Father Clifford Stevens
    Boys Town, Nebraska

  52. Ryan Crestley Subject
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  53. Michael Blume @Ryan Crestley
    29.10.2011 | 22:17

    Thanks for the encouraging feedback! :-)

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