scilogs Biology of Religion

How religiosity is spreading in the gene pool - Robert Rowthorn answering Richard Dawkins

from Michael Blume, 12. January 2011, 21:11

These last weeks have seen a flurry of evolution-religion reports in the scientifically minded media. For example, Jesse Bering wrote about religion & demography in Scientific American, Jonathan Leake featured about the low birth rates of atheists in the Sunday Times and the Guardian started a lively God-instinct debate. Susan Blackmore has shown the greatness to rethink her position. And finally, even Richard Dawkins acknowledged the religion-fertility-link and, instead of applauding the progress in evolutionary studies, commented on it with disdain.

This whole argument rests on the unspoken assumption that children automatically take on the beliefs of their parents. Let us hope [...] that this link can be broken.


Well, of course, it has never been my argument "that children automatically take on the beliefs of their parents". They don't just take the language, intelligence, creativity or musicality either - all of these (and many more) are biocultural traits, whose evolutionary history and universality rests in their reproductive potentials.

In a wonderful study, Newman & Hugo combined empirical data to the influences of religion(s) and education with interviews. You can access it through the Web-Resources on Religion and Reproduction.

Religion, fertility and genes by Robert Rowthorn

But then, just in time, the Proceedings of the Royal Society B published a fascinating paper by Cambridge Professor Robert Rowthorn: Religion, fertility and genes: A dual inheritance model.

Here, Rowthorn modelled some scenarios in population genetics based on the observations about higher-than-average fertility among the religious. And the most striking finding from my perspective was the impact of "secularization": If a certain percentage of the religious defected nevertheless in each generation, an eerily realistic picture emerged - the share of the religiously affiliated went downward, but the genetic predispositions toward religiosity streamed into the non-religious population. On the long run, religiosity won out nevertheless - as we can see by observing "non-religious" movements venerating their dead, organizing communal vows, rituals, symbols and mythological myths etc.

Up to now, has not brought the new paper to it's readers and mentor. But if they were truly scientifically minded - shouldn't they applaud any finding on a topic of such high interest to them?

  Share on ResearchGATE




Natur des Glaubens: Josef Honerkamp - Die Entdeckung des Unvorstellbaren. Einblicke in die Physik und ihre Methoden
Biology of Religion: Religiosity Genes (again) confirmed by (another) Twin Study


  1. Greg Esres Religiosity & Fertility
    17.01.2011 | 04:59

    "And finally, even Richard Dawkins acknowledged the religion-fertility-link and, instead of applauding the progress in evolutionary studies, commented on it with disdain. "

    I doubt this link really caught Dawkins by surprise, but he likely attributes this to the fact that religiosity and fecundity are both positively correlated with poverty and lack of education. There is really nothing in the article that undermines this, since it assumes a biological basis for religion, rather than demonstrates it.

    Given the Europe is predominantly non-religious when it used to be 100% religious indicates that whatever biological component that religious belief has, wealth and education can overcome it eventually.

    Finally, nothing in the article jeopardizes anything that Dawkins promotes, so there's no motivation at all for it to be suppressed from his website. Even if there were, I don't think it would happen; many of the linked articles are unflattering to Dawkins or express views contrary to his.

  2. Michael Blume @Greg Esres
    17.01.2011 | 14:24

    Thanks for the comment. In fact, the relative reproductive advantage of the (intrinsically & insistent) religious is expanding among the well-off and educated. In contrast, educated and wealthy non-religious do tend to have very few children. That's Evolution taking place. The respective data sources are available for free at my homepage. Enjoy! :-)

  3. Humanizzm @Michael Blume
    17.01.2011 | 16:24

    I am reminded of the movie "Idiocracy", which claimed that, since the uneducated tend to have a lot more children, the population will inevitably grow dumber.
    Nevertheless, the fact is that the IQ levels have been rising throughout the past decades and no interruption of the trend is in sight.
    When I look at the available data concerning religion, I find that throughout all western cultures, those without religious affiliation are the fastest growing demographic. In Germany, non-believers currently make up more than 30% of the population. In the UK they passed the 50% mark - believers are now actually a minority there. In the US, the last numbers I've seen were somewhere around 15% and on the rise like in all the other countries. Rising on a clear trend, too. Uninterupted and regular rise for decades, with clear acceleration.

    While your hypothesis seems sensible, it is clearly contradicted by all the data I could find. Provide people with education and a sense of security, and they do lose interest in religion. Religion prevails only where people are poor and uneducated, or where there is great social insecurity.

  4. Greg Esres Subject
    17.01.2011 | 19:03

    "In contrast, educated and wealthy non-religious do tend to have very few children. That's Evolution taking place. "

    No, it isn't. For it to be even possible that it's evolution, religiosity must have a genetic component, which is undemonstrated. You might as well argue that speaking Spanish is an evolutionary adaptation, since hispanic households tend to have a much larger family size than western-europeans or Americans.

    And you ignored my point about Europe being mostly non-religious. What happened to their religion gene?

  5. Greg Esres Subject
    17.01.2011 | 19:05

    "In the US, the last numbers I've seen were somewhere around 15% and on the rise like in all the other countries. Rising on a clear trend, too. "

    While true, very few of these unaffiliated are atheists or agnostics, although this could be a stopping off point on the way to that category.

  6. Michael Blume @Humanizzm
    17.01.2011 | 23:48

    Yes - and all the secular Population you mentioned are imploding die to the lack of children. Only religious minorities grow and there is a growing demand for immigration. It's evolution taking place in our time.

  7. Michael Blume @Greg Esres
    17.01.2011 | 23:58

    Of course, religion is having biological and genetical roots just like any other complex biocultural trait, i.e. Music or Speech. Could you name a single complex trait not built on biological foundations?

    Then, there are the Twin-studies supporting the genetical Perspektive you might want to access on this Blog, too. It's partially heritable.

  8. Corneel @Michael
    18.01.2011 | 10:20

    It seems that your rising fame in the blogosphere attracts some extra visitors.
    I think that Greg Esres makes a valid point. Your research is very interesting, but it is hardly a closed case for evolution taking place now. If you want to demonstrate that evolution is taking place in our times, you'll have to demonstrate that heritable variation in religiosity exists, and that it covaries with heritable variation in fecundity. This is hard enough in laboratory studies (trust me on this), so I suspect that you'll be occupied for a while ;-)

  9. Michael Blume @Corneel
    19.01.2011 | 22:07

    I sure hope so! :-) But then, let's be realistic: Those avowed to pointing out "missing links" will always be able to do so. I don't see an absolute difference between anti-evolutionist creationists and anti-religious ideologues here. In both cases, scientific arguments will never satisfy all of them. I think we'll have to live with that. :-)

  10. John Jacob Lyons Religiosity in the Gene Pool
    21.01.2011 | 12:48

    Hi Michael,

    You may remember my poster presentation at Bristol Uni. last August.

    From a theoretical perspective, I suggested that we all have a predisposition toward religiosity. I explained why, and how, this has occurred. You may recall that I call the process 'Genetic Priming' and that I believe that we are genetically primed for a number of adaptive behaviours in addition to religiosity including language and morality/ altruism.

    The paper you refer to would seem to support my theory with regard to religion.

    Best wishes Michael.

  11. Michael Blume @John Jacob Lyons
    21.01.2011 | 23:37

    Hi, John! Great to have you here!

    I not only remember your great poster fondly, I put it on the blog right here:

    And I would agree, that your thoughts are supported by Rowthorn's findings. What do you say concering J.A. Le Fevre's guest post?

    I think it's great that independent thinkers bring on their ideas, too! And I would love to read more of it!

  12. Humanizzm @Miachel Blume
    23.01.2011 | 22:50

    No, the secular population is not imploding at all. The main point of my post were not the current numbers, but the clear trend which only ever shows signs of acceleration. There is no implosion.
    Here in Germany the non-religious are the fastest growing demographic. Also, the numbers for religion are often bloated.

    When asked, a lot of people unthinkingly give the name of the faith they were raised in, which is not necessarily relfective of their current beliefs. On the other hand, the only people who go down in the statistics as non-religious are those who cosciously lack religious belief.
    One of the major religious minorities in germany are muslims. or "muslims" as it should read, since the immigration office doesn't ask about the beliefs of people at all. You immigrate from a "muslim country", then you're "muslim" on your german papers and in the german statistic, regardless of actual beliefs. Same for children born into immigrant families. First studies by FOWID suggest that barely half of those actually believe. The rest are called "muslim" because people have come to use that word to describe a generally orientalic cultural background, rather than a belief system.

  13. Corneel why anti-religious?
    24.01.2011 | 15:31

    you said:
    I don't see an absolute difference between anti-evolutionist creationists and anti-religious ideologues here.

    I am sorry, but I did not quite understand your answer. It might be very well possible that some of your commenters entertain anti-religious viewpoints, but the criticism I was referring to in my previous post was valid scientific criticism, such as can be made by believers and non-believers alike.
    Further, supposing religiosity is no longer evolving in our species, I don't see how that would detract from religion as a worldview. Why did you associate that view with an anti-religious ideology?

  14. Michael Blume @Humanizzm & @Corneel
    25.01.2011 | 09:53

    With "implosion", I referred to fertility rates far below replacement level - which happens to be the case among all non-religious populations. Of course, they can (and should!) have an happy and lasting live, but from an evolutionary perspective, they are not passing on their genes successfully.


    Oh, of course, I didn't mean your sound and serious questions. I just wanted to point out that evolutionary studies will never be able to "prove" anything beyond doubt - they are empirical reconstructions of an historical process and always subject to possible falsification. I think you agree that it is the fate of evolutionary studies that every "answer" is bringing up new questions. Therefore, I would like just to move on with the scientific work without fancying that every religious or anti-religious ideologue will be convinced. Some of them won't.

  15. P. Netman religiousness & fecundity
    27.01.2011 | 16:33

    The religiousness-fecundity argument is good for nothing but to ridicule the fitness-adaptation argument, the darling of evolutionary biologists. Even the survival-of-the-fittest rule is flouted by bacteria, the model organisms of classical evolutionary theory. We observe horizontal gene transfer that assures the proliferation of a favorable gene independent of its primary host bacterium. The more complex is the problem of the evolution of religions that exchange much more information than just a few genes. Evolution of complex entities such as religion can be comprehended by fauceir theory only, and I hope I will find the time to outline this in some more articles on my blogsite.

  16. Michael Blume @P. Netman
    27.01.2011 | 18:32

    As genetic predispositions among mammals are passed on solely by reproduction, I think that fertility potentials are crucial for the Evolution of traits. But I agree that this is only an (albeit important) part of the evolutionary picture of religiosity and religions. I am looking forward to reading your post.

  17. J. A. Le Fevre @ Paul – Interesting, but . . .
    27.01.2011 | 21:51

    Your bacteria are not flouting any fitness rules, but are changing our understanding of inheritance. I think your nesting approach holds promise for modeling fitness and possibly heritability in complex systems, but it is far from justifying any ridicule to other studies. If you wish to build a sound model, incorporate sound research, don’t dismiss it.

  18. J. A. Le Fevre Seriously, Paul, this is nonsense
    29.01.2011 | 00:18

    From ‘Why the Oneida Community Dissolved’ by Paul N.:
    ‘A human society is the more internally stable the more stupid its people.’
    ‘A human society becomes unstable and even dissolves if its members become too capable.’

    Take a few deep breaths, proofread your posts and check your sources.

  19. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to Michael Blume
    29.08.2011 | 16:47

    The reason "The Biology of Religion" is a "faux" science is because it is based on a false reading of Darwin's "The Descent of Man". "The descent is a flawed work because it applies data from non-human mammalian species lacking scientific rigor, "The God for the death of his daughter which he saw as the result of Survival of the Fittest. The Descent is not a true scientific work

    Father Clifford Stevens
    Boys Town, Nebraska

  20. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to Michael Blume
    29.08.2011 | 16:56

    The reason why "The Biology of Religion" is a "faux" science is because it is based on a false reading of Darwin's "The Descent of Man". "The Descent of Man" is a flawed work because it applies data from non-human species to Homo Sapiens without scientific 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 the Survival of the Fittest. Tehe Descent" is not a true scientific work. Sorry for the typos in my former comments.

    Father Clifford Stevens
    Boys Town, Nebraska

  21. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to John Jacob Lyons & Michael Bloom
    29.08.2011 | 18:04

    What I am prepared to demonstrate is the true origin of Religion in the Human Species: the Human Intellect based upon a reasoned judgment of objective and observable reality, bcause there is no observable data that biology has any causal effects upon the human intellect or upon human behavior, but there is observable data indicating that:
    The Human Embryo is specifically human, self-contained and equipped with exemplars of its somatic, psychosomatic and cognitive powers from the moment of conception. The key to the solution is the the exemplars which are unique to the human embryo, at least in their kind.

    The examplar is the future of the embryo in the present.

    it is, in a sense, the architect, the director of operations, the ground of being of the Human Embryo

    The Mozart, the George Gershwin of the Symphony of HUMAN life, the Leonard Bernstein of this particular West Side Story.

    There is simply no analogy for it in biological science thus far.

    It is the Dante of this human Divina Commedia.

    Human conception is like atomic fission
    It does not just conceive, it released like the Big Bang the whole dammned history of the race and all the human possibilites of that race.

    It takes this composition and plays it with a 1,000 piece orchestra.

    It is to evolution what Niagara is to a babbling brook.

    What Victora Falls is to a drop of water.

    What Beethoven's Ninth is to Chopsticks.

    Evolution is a dead note on a piano.

    An exemplar looks to mind, not to feeling, klto intellect, not to instinct, to intelligence not to the bark of a dog.

    evolution has no place in this Encyclopedia of Humanity. It is Whistling Dixie to Handel's Messiah.

    Evolution is the purring of a kitten to the Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas,

    a dog's scratch on the door o Bramante's Basilica of St. Peter's in Romel.

    It is the buzz of bee to Einstein's Theory of Relativity.

    because these things are in the exemplar, no analogy can exhaust it.

    and anyone who thinks that evolution has any part of it is simply out of his mind.

    Father Clifford Stevens
    Boys Town, Nebraska

  22. J. A. Le Fevre Seriously, Father, this is nonsense
    29.08.2011 | 21:49

    Take a few deep breaths, proofread your posts and check your sources.

    (pardon the repeat)

  23. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to J.A. Le Fevre
    29.08.2011 | 23:25

    I have taken a deep breath, proofread my posts and checked my sources, and I suggest you do the same.

    It will be no laughing matter when "The Biology of Religion" is shown in screaming headlines to be scientifically unproved, biological fiction and an evolutionary fantasy.

    You are deceived by your own premises:
    that Homo Sapiens is the result and product of non-mammalian evolution and still cannot see the difference between genus and specific differentia in the human being.

    So your mistake is more one of logic than of facts, since the facts you marshal to draw your conclusions about human nature apply only to non-human mammalian species.

    And I am able demonstrate that from the Human Embryo itself. You deal only in generalizations and not to specific when it comes to the biology of Homo Sapiens.

    "To speak of animal is one thing, to speak of the human animal is quite another.

    Father Clifford Stevens
    Boys Town, Nebraska

  24. J. A. Le Fevre Father S.
    30.08.2011 | 01:50

    Please share with me such sources as support your contentions.

  25. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to J.A. Le Fevre
    30.08.2011 | 03:28

    start with an exhaustive study of human molecular biology and the DNA sequences. However, the contradiction that I see in your premise is one recognized by Erwin Schrodinger in 1943, when he commented that the evolutionist, when he posits the human intellect as merely the action of evolutionary powers, because if he did, he would have to include his science also as an illusion. So the premise is contradictory and self-defeating from the start. This is his statement:

    "The scientist, subconsciously, almost inadvertently, simplifies the problem of understanding Nature by disregarding or cutting out of the picture to be constructed, himself, his own personality, the subject of cognizance."
    I don't you see the contradiction in your own premises. If because of is biological origin, the human mind, human behavior and religion are an illusion, as your science seems to posit -how is your science from the same kind of intellect, exempt from the same conclusion?

    But I don't accept that, of course. If you want to discover what I have discovered in the human embryo, start studying the human embryo and take particular notice of the DNA sequences, the genetive signatures and what I call the psychosomatic specification of the human embryo. And ask yourself this question: what is the integrating principle of human embryonic life? You may be surprised at what you will find. at least it may convince you that your explanation of religion, the human intllect and human culture is way of the track.

    Father Clifford Stevens
    Boys Town, Nebraska

  26. J. A. Le Fevre If everything we know is wrong.
    30.08.2011 | 21:43

    We are left, it seems, with little choice but to await your publication.

  27. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to Michael Blume
    01.09.2011 | 22:10

    Michael Blume - I have already won the debate whether the Biology of Religion is a true science.

    1st your premmise that Biology is the cause of religion is self-defeating because your premise negates your since: ask any logician.

    2nd, I have a better explanation for the cause of religion than you do, and one that can be demonstrated from human experience.

    That is what happens,of course, when you get locked into one science and began to look upon it as a universal science.

    Your Biology of Religion says nothing about religion itself. You are simply playing a word game that leads nowhere and gives you the impression that you are making come contribution to a science.

    One final question: if you are a religious man, what does this science say about the validity of your religion?
    Its basic premise is that religion is an illusion and that, I expect, includes yours.

    Father Clifford Stevens
    Boys Town, Nebraska

  28. Michael Blume @Father Stevens
    01.09.2011 | 23:03

    Frankly speaking, I don't see much progress in our discussion. Evolutionary studies have been attacked by religious fundamentalists for more than a century - and have stood the test repeatedly. Therefore, I will exert my right of ignoring or deleting any further creationist comment here.

    One final question: if you are a religious man, what does this science say about the validity of your religion?
    Its basic premise is that religion is an illusion and that, I expect, includes yours.

    According to evolutionary theory, all of our senses are the product of evolutionary history - and it is ridiculous to assume that all of them are illusions! How dare you? There's a whole discipline of evolutionary epistemology, discussing the validity of our senses, experiences and metaphysics. Theologically, one can for example assume that the evolutionary process is bringing Truth, as i.e. brilliantly formulated by the famous Catholic theologian and (!) evolutionary paleoanthropologist Teilhard de Chardin, whom Pope Benedikt XVI. just quoted very approvingly in his latest book.

    Or you could read "Nothing in Biology makes sense except in the Light of Evolution" by the famous evolutionary biologist Theodosius Dobzhansky, who happened to be a devout Orthodox Christian. The aforementioned citation is a title of a Christian statement of faith!

    Or think of the great John Polkinghorne who not only thought about reconciling science and faith, but decided to join the (Anglican) priesthood:

    And if fellow Christians are not enough to make you ponder, maybe Rabbi Wolpe (USA) will: "Understand evolution, find God"

    In contrast, dear Father Stevens, I hold anti-science prejudices and fundamentalism as a disgrace to any religious tradition. If you believe in God as a Supreme Creator, you should not be afraid of nor insulting towards scientists exploring His creation.

  29. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to Michael Blume
    02.09.2011 | 04:25

    My Dear Dr, Blume -

    i have never questioned the validity of our senses or our sense knowledge. It is your Biology of Religion that claims that religion is an illusion Otherwise, why all those strange titles by Boyer and Voland and others, that have "illusion" or its equivalent in the title of their books? That is the basic premise of their books - religion is an illusion caused by biological forces of the human body.

    It's interesting that you mention Chardin and, of course. Pope Benedict, but this is a scientific debate and I have not brought the concept of God or any religious doctrine into this debate. We are talking science and scientific evidence alone.

    Our debate is about one thing: Whether biology is the cause and source of religion in human mind and behavior. I deny it - and I challenge you to demonstrate that there is a CAUSAL biological link between human biology and the human minnd. There is none and that means that a Biology of Religion is not a science.

    And I have an explanation for religion which checkmate your claim - that the cause of religion is the human intellect and the human reasoning power, in the face of objective and observable realities open to the human mind.

    That is the subject of our debate and so far I have won the debate, since you cannot come up with any causal link between biology and the human mind.

    I an not anti-science and I am not a religious fundamentalist. I simply question with sound arguments the very concept of a Biology of Religion, and neither you nor your colleagues have proved me wrong.

    But I am shocked and surprised that, as a religious man and apparentlyl a very devout one, you would accept the tenet of your Biology of Religion that your religion is an illlusion, a fantasy and fiction, produced in the human mind by biological forces, and not only that, but that the religious mind and behavior are also illusions. If you are genuinely religious, why don't you challenge your colleagues that your religion is an evolutionary illusion?

    Our debate is not about evolution at this point, and I have no problem with "The Origin of Species". Our debate is about a Biology of Religion and you have not demonstrated that it is a true science, based on evidence in the human organism itself. If so, where would you look for it? Most certainly in the 3 billion units of human DNA, but I can assure you that it is not there and I have a detailed knowoledge of the Human Enbryo to prove it.

    So, your claim that a Biology of Religion is a true science has not been proved, and I would claim cannot be proved since itis based on a false knowledge of human biology and human emnbryonic science.

    The fact is, many of your colleagues are die-hard atheists, who want to undermine the solid founatins upon which religion is built, and I don't mean any particular religion, but the religion that is founded upon a reasoned examination of the Cosmos, the natural religio of the human mind and heart.

    Whether you know it or not, the Biology of Religion is a first step in that direction, but it is a step that I can demonstrate from science itself that is has no scientific foundation and is only a ploy to trap unwary minds into their atheistic circle. Once you accept their basic tenet that religion and the religious mind is an illusion, the step is to undermine the solid foundation upon which your religion is based.,

    Thank you for your transparent honesty and obvious courtesy, but this debate is not ended and will not be ended until it enters the public arena where it can be shown to be what it really is: not an explanation of religion, but a war on religion and an attempt to wipe genuine religions from the face of the earth.l

    Father Clifford Stevens
    Boys Town, Nebraska

  30. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to Michael Blume
    02.09.2011 | 19:43

    The Biology of Religion, as it is explained by this school of scientists, is a form of Biological Determinism, which is propagandized under the banner of Charles Darwin, as if he were the auhor of this science or that it is another variant of Darwinian Evolution.

    It has the same goal, however, of Economic Determinism, and that is to explain every area of human life, culture and civilization by biological factors to make this "science" the universal science by which every other area of human life is judged and to which they are subject.

    Darwin's Theory of Natural Selection is being used to explain away the freedom and autonomy of the human intellect and to reduce all things human to the level of an unthinking mindlessness, and the final goal of this "science" is clear: atheism is "scientific" and only atheists are true scientists.

    In the scientific community, this standard is already being used as a form of quality control and even sincerely religious biologists have been lured into accepting a "Biology of Religion" as the standard authenticity, as if it were a true form of Darwinism and not the standard of a new form of Atheism.

    This is clear from the very definition of the "Biology of Religion". Religion is sone form of human civilization and culture for which science has no explanation and which is a dominant and critical dimension in human life and purpose. Religion, for these Biologists, is no longer the free and reasonable act of a thinking and reasoning human being, it is an illusion built into the genes of every human being and is part of the biological inheritance inscribed in their DNA.

    This is also clear from the titles of the books coming off the presses of this new scientific enterprise: "The Biology of Religion: The Darwinian Gospel" - "The God Delusion" - "The Fracture of an Illusion: Science and the Dissolution of Religion" - Religion Explained: The Human Instincts that Fashion Gods, Spirits, and Ancestors" - "The Biological Evolution of Religious Mind and Behavior".

    This is not science. It is propaganda of the most subtle and effective kind, because it is linked to a scientific label, giving the impression that the scientist is the ultimate judge of human affairs and that human beings are simply the procucts of biological forces over which they have no control. The Biology of Religion is simply the banner of a new Atheism that masquerades under the name of science.

    Father Clifford Stevens
    Boys Town, Nebraska

  31. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to Michael Blume
    06.09.2011 | 02:26

    A Dissertation on the Strange Case of a Biology of Religion.

    "Neither in the theogy of evolution nor in the mind-matter problem has science been able to demonstrate the causal linkage satisfactorily even to its most ardent disciples." Erwin Schrodinger

    This line came to mind recently when I carried on a rather intense debate on the website of SciLog, a chat room and idea sharing vehicle of a somewhat new science which proudly called itself a "Biology of Religion" and seems to have devotees and practitioners all over the world, in particular in Germany and Austria, the United Kingdom, and in university centers in the U.S., Scandinavia and Europe.

    I found that those bloggers were a rather sensitive bunch, with verbal flag-waving and hand-wringing all over the place and a sword in hand in case anyone should hint, say, infer, or shout aloud that their science has a rather dubious name and "what in the world does biology have to do with religion".

    Well, I found none at all, in spite of its designation, since the whole purpose of the science is to demonstrate that religion is really an illusion and that every member of the human species is nothing more than a gene-controlled automaton who cannot trust his own mind to discover reality and that poor old homo sapiens si a mass of infantile drives and instincts inherited from waterfowl or bees, and that even his behavior has been mapped out for him long before he was bornl

    I not only hinted, I proclaimed in the most reasonable and fraternal manner that if the premise of their science waqs true, how could I trust the inner workings of their own mind if they were still members of Homo Sapiens and that they must be plagued by the same illusions and quality control that they asserted were part of being human.

    No stiff upper lip, but a hand on the mouse and a strong objection that I would dare to draw that kind of conclusion from their premises, and I was obviously a secret member of the Intelligent Design Fraternity or a late-comer to the Creation-Science Club, who had sneaked into the website as a spy for the Vatican or a bona fide member of Damn-Darwin Incorporated.

    Really, I am a simple priest of 85 years, neither in my cups or at a doddering old age, but a rather friendly fellow who probably knows more about science than they do, who drank Galileo and Neweon when he was ten years old,k spent Sunday afternoons solving mathematial riddles in the Sunday Boston Globe, ran through Euclid when he was twelve, and cut his teeth on Darwin and Wittgenstein af fifteen and has had a roomful of books that kept him up night trying to wade through Delbruck, Watson and Crick and the mysteries of DNA, and borrows copiesof the Scientific American come friends but but never give them back.

    My rather intense debate questioned the validity of their "science", since it seems a rather home-grown variety, with something of a hot house feel about it, as if it were a plant that had withered and been kept inside where the air and sun could not hit it.l There was a graveyard finality about it and something of a "we don't care if the whole world turns against us, we will hold to our doctrine of the inevitability of adaptive behavior" and the fact that "genetic information cannot pass from soma to germ-cells, and we can never escape from the allele-sets of the Palaeolithic Era and eventually sub-optimization will make crippled of us all.

    I never did understand the "genetic priming of religiosity" and the "Explaining Religion Conference in Bristol", since the whole stated purpose of the science is to explain religion away, so that members of our race could move to a more adaptive comfort zone where a seed population could start the whole meaningless process over again.

    We parted with words of courtesy and mutual respect, but I am happy to be outide of such a closed-in atmosphere where original thoughgt is not encouraged and bloggers speak to each other like old classmates of Mr. Chippings Latin Class and where the fresh air of careful and critical thinking is considered not cricket and only gloom and doom for the human race is tolerated, and as I picked up a copy of Erwin Schrodinger's "Nature and the Greeks", I read something that summed up it all for me:

    "The scientist subconsciously - and almost ineadvertently - simplifies his problem of understanding Nature by disregarding or cutting out of the picture to be constructed, himself, his own personality, the subject of cognizance."

    And I said "Bingo!". I could not have said it better.

    Father Clifford Stevens
    Boys Town, Bebraska

  32. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to John Jacob Lyons & J.A. LeFevre
    06.09.2011 | 16:09

    Just a few additions to my last Comment to indicate exactly where we disagree:

    Darwinian principles applied to non-human mammalian species is a Theory, and a good one. Darwinian principles applied to Homo Sapiens is a Supposition, and a poor one.

    And there are scientific and statistical studies here at Boys Town, covering almost one hundred years to prove that. These studies were not made with Darwinian principles in mind, but they surely demonstrate that Homo Darwiniosus is a scientific fiction, a methodological blunder and a Darwinian hoax.

    Anyone with an ounce of scientific integrity has to denounce the 13th European Congress of the European Society for Evolutionary Biology, insofar at it touches upon the religion and behavior of Homo Sapiens.

    Every major study of human pscholology, especially studies of the Adlerian School of Individual Psycyhology, in particular those of Dr. Franz Plewa, who was in residence here at Boys Town in the 40's, 50's, and 60's, indicate that the Darwinian model has no foundation as an explanation of human psychology and behavior. What is indicated clearly, and with scientific accuracy, is that the model for human psychology and behavior is to be found in that of Arisotle and Thomas Aquinas, because their exposition of the powers, habits and volitional life of human beings most accuratelyk models that of the empirical evidence

    I claim that your Homo Darwiniosus is false and scientifically unprovable and leads only to false and unprovable hypothoses of human nature and the human condition.

    Father Clifford Stevens
    Boys Town, Nebraska

  33. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to John Jacob Lyons & J.A. LeFevre
    08.09.2011 | 17:16

    On the Unstainability of a Biology of Religion
    An Interdisciplinary Study
    by Clifford Stevens

    On August 11th of this year, the 13th Congress for Evolutionary Biology met at Tubingen University in Germany with a host of scientists from around the world with one of the main topics: "Evolutionary Studies of Religiosity and Religion".

    This is an extension of a series of studies that have come off the presses in recent years furthering the concept of a "Biology of Religion", with the main thesis that the phenomenon of religion in human beings is an illusion, caused by somatic and psychosomatic invasions of the human psyche that create the illusion of reality in the human mind and imagination.l

    This study, drawing upon the latest researches of the human embryonic and genetic sciences, will demonstrate:

    1) that a causal link between the human biological powers and human intellectual powers does not exist.

    2) that such a causal link is genetically impossible.

    3) that the causality of the biological powers in human beings is limited to somatic and psychosomatic effects exclusivelyl.

    4) that the human intellectual powers have a scope and range untouched and beyond that of the biological powers.

    This study will proceed in the following manner

    1 the nature and scope of the biological powers of the human organism.

    2) the nature and scope of human intellectual powers

    3) An analogy of the relationship of the atomic elements of Quantum Physics with the biological elements of Molecular Biology.

    4) The Human Intellect as a distinct order of reality from that of biologyl.

    5)Te Etiololgy of Religion is the Human Intellect.

    To be continued:

    Father Clifford Stevens
    Boys Town, Nebrask

  34. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to J.A. Le Fevre, John Jacob Lyons & Michael Blume
    08.09.2011 | 17:20

    Correction from my last post:

    The Title of this study is:

    The Unsustainabiliy of a Biology of Religion.

    Sorry again for the typos.

    Father Clifford Stevens

  35. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to John Jacob Lyons & J.A. LeFevre
    10.09.2011 | 02:31

    You should not have taken on someone whose business is religion, and then hit below the belt by suggesting that religion is simply the product of biological forces over which human beings have no control. Authentic religion and worship proceeds from the highest of human faculties, not the lowest, and to suggest that there is in human beings biological forces that can roam unchecked and uncontrolled throughout the human psyche, can only be based on palpable ignorance or a twisted and malevolent ill will.

    You cannot look upon the architectural grandeur of Chartres Cathedral, the Basilica of St. Peter's in Rome or the Basilica of Santa Sophia in ancient Constantinople without being touched by the religious genius who designed and built them. You can't listen to Handel's "Messiah", Mozart's "Requiem" or his "Ave Verum" without sensing something of the awesomeness of genuine religion. You can't read in their original language, Dante's "La Divina Commedia" or Sigrid Undset's "Kristin Lavansdatter" and not recognize the transforming power of genuine religion and the effect it has on human life and behavior.

    You asked for proofs and now I will give them, portions of them from time to time as posts on one of your blog-sites, And dwhen my interdisciplinary study "On the Unsustainability of a Biology of Religion" is finished, sometimes next spring, I will arrange for a lecture from a distinguished academic podium in this country or in Europe, and you will be forced to come out of your academic cloisters and defend the premises and conclusions of your "Biology of Religion". I will also make sure that is appears in some highly respected journal, perhaps "The Hew Yorker", which has often been the vehicle for challenging intransigent positions in politics, economics, history and the sciences, and I will make sure that it appears in installments on the Internet for those interested in the progress of this debate.

    You have probably noticed that I am angry, and you are right. I have really never come acroswsw such a shoddy attempt to highjack a genuine science and draw from it conclusions that strike aat the very roots of human dignity and freedom - and this in the name of science itself, with protestations of concern for the human condition. I found Richard Dawkins feeble attempts to discredit religion rather harmless and infantile, but the subtle and disguised attack on religion in the books published under your auspices in the name of what you call "science" is far more destructive and dangerous than anything written in "The God Delusion", since it strikes at the very source of true religion, the nature and use of the highest human faculty: the human intelligence: the architectr and creator of all that is good, noble and enduring in human life, and the sole reason someone is called "human".

    I am simply baffled and bewildered that anyone calling himself "religious" could sanction and even be par of a campaign to discredit religion in the name of a "Biology of Religion" whose very name is a contradiction. It seems that you ave made it your aim in life to convince people that they are sinply refined animals and their thought-processes and emotions are controlled by deep-seated biological engines, filtered through bacteria, bees and carefully nurtured genes - Parturiunt montes, nascetur ridiculus mus.

    Father Clifford Stevens
    Boys Town, Nebraska

  36. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to John Jacob Lyons
    14.09.2011 | 04:12

    I am still puzzled over your words "coy" and "showing my true colors". But if you are really interested in my theology side, you can find out very easily.

    On the day of the moonshot in 1969, a book of mine was published entitled: "Astro-Theology: For the Cosmic Adventure", and you can get on Amazon and if the price is too large, I will be happy to send you a copy, since I have a couple around somwhere.

    The Foreword is written by Robert White who was the sole pilot of the X-15 when I was Catholic Chaplain at Edwards Air Force Base in California in the 60's. He gave me my Mach 2 ride in an F-!04 and graciously gave me his Mach 2 pin to wear on my lapel.

    It was at Edwards that I really got into the sciences in big way and even applied for astronaut training but they turned me down, they didn't need priests, they needed pilots with 10,000 hours of flying time.

    I applied to be a Theological of the Rand Corpioration, but they had no funds for that category and so I am still earthbound. But I am a deep lover and devotee of the sciences and I don't feel the need to bring theology into the picture, but you can get some idea of my views on theology and science in this book.

    I hope this is what you meant by "showing my colors".

    Father Clifford Stevens

  37. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to Cris
    14.09.2011 | 05:13

    Cris - There is some knowledge that is not dated - Aristotle, for instance he goes way back before the Mongol Invasions. Haven't you ever heard of the Classics? And = beware the man of one science,

    Father Clifford Stevens
    Boys Town, Nebraska

  38. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to Michael Blume
    14.09.2011 | 05:24

    Michael -

    I can see from your descriptions of your work that you are doing much valuable research and writing on religion - nut why call your studies a "Biology of Religion"? These are really studies in the psychology of religion, the pedagogy of religion, and all kind

    s of valid studies. But why the "Biology of Religion"? As if Biology had anything to do with religion?

    And I am curious: if you are genuinely interested in the many facets of religion, why get involved with books like those of Paschal Boyer? And why give it an evolutionary connection?

    I think you can think a significant contribution to this field, but what in the world has religion to do with evolution? I would really be interested in your explanation?

    Father Clifford Steven s

  39. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to Cris
    14.09.2011 | 05:33

    I would like to challenge you on the idea that what is new is always the best.

    I would challenge you to look into the ancient Greek concept of "paideia". It does not mean education, but has a meaning that has been lost and is almost non-existent today. It means the total development of the human person: body, mind, and every human faculty aiming at "arete" excellence. And would also challeng your to read (in Greek, if you can, Plato's Dialogue "Charmides" and you might find a piece of ancient wisdom that is not dated.

    Father Clifford Stevens

  40. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to John Jacob Lyons
    14.09.2011 | 05:58

    This is the first lines of the Prologue to "Astrotheology: For the Cosmic Adventure".

    Man stands on the threshold of a vast unknown. The combined wisdom of ten thousand minds is charting man's journey into the ocean off space, opening up an immense discovery vaster than that which Columbus faced when he turned his ships toward the Western ocean. Behind us are the X-1 and the X-15 rocket planes, Sputnik, and the Mercury and Gemini programs. Before us is the vastness of space with its darkness and its world of discovery. THe earth alone is a mystery, and the combined efforts of geologist, anthopologist and physicist have not begun to unravel its mysteries. We have scarely touched the virgin wilderness of space and it will take a thousand years to evaluate even the smallest discoveries.

    But the curtain has been flung back and the effort and achievement which have gone into the task have been remarkable indeed. Two thousand science in the last fifteen years have been created to meet the challenge, and the scientific prowess of man has developed to the point of genius.

    Theology, the most ancient of all the sciences, must recognize and evaluate this achievement. The task of theology in the space age goes beyond this as a later chapter will show, but this is part of its task, and a vital part.

    As Cardinal Koenig has written; "The Church today needs at this moment, as theology that does not make it its business to repeat ready-made answers, but has the courage to ask, and to listen, to questions. And that, too when the answer is not always at hand. No science, at least of all theology, may restrict itself to its own shell. For if there is one science which must always listen to the times, remain open for their questions and hopes, and perceive whaat is astir in the heart of man - that science is theology."

    The aerospace achievement is part of our age and our century, it is our child, our achievement. And if it is true as Dante wrote that "man's art is, as it were, God's grandchild", then it has a significance worth avaluating, for it is one of the mightiest achievements in the history of man.

    I would be very interested in what you think of this and be as critical of me as I have been of you, but don't tell me that Theology is a useless baggage of the past.

    Father Clifford Stevens

  41. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to John Jacob Lyons
    14.09.2011 | 06:32

    Dr. John Jacob Lyons -

    In our continusing debate perhaps I can be Albert Einstein to your Niels Bohr on the question of Quantum Physics.

    They could be fierce and even bitter in their arguments to each other, but they remained friends, none the less. Bohr never relented and neither did Einstein and they both had disciples: Heisenberg for Bohr and Schrodinger for Einstein.

    The scientific world is still divided over their issue, but Physics seems to be leaning towards Einstein, but it could very well swing back again.

    Father Clifford Stevens

  42. John Jacob Lyons @ Father Stevens
    14.09.2011 | 08:54

    " ------- They could be fierce and even bitter in their arguments to each other, but they remained friends."

    That sounds good to me Father.

    Your friend John

  43. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to John Jacob Lyons
    14.09.2011 | 14:39

    Hello and Welcome - I am deeply pleased to meet you and perhaps we can now have a fruitful dialogue and perhaps even debate. I am not out to convert anyone to anything, but as you see I have my own store of knowledge and convictions and I am willing to fight for them when it seems truth or justice are at stake. I did look up your name on Google and learned you were in London.

    I hope to get to London again someday enroute to Iona, one of the great historic sites in your part of the country and the site of the great monastery built by St. Columcille whose is responsbile for the Book of Kells and other iluminated masterpieces, so if I ever come that way, I would be happy to meet you.

    I think our debate is historic and critical and perhaps it is good to air both sides of this question.

    As you know, I am convnced from everythng that I know from my studies of DNA and the human embryo and a few other items that evolution does not touch Homo Sapiens and I don't think that science can answer that question.

    Now I guess we can go about it in a friendly way.

    I also claim that the Thomistic model of Homo Sapiens is more complete than the Darwinian model and I can demonstrate that very well from the evidence.

    I am really pleased to know more about you and perhaps we can meet someday in the shadow of Big Ben and have a delightful conversation on our many subjects of interest.

    You might be interested that I have reviews of Richard Dawkins books on Amazon uk, not questioning his science, but his atheism, mostly tongue-in-cheek pointing out what I think are flaws in his atheist armor.

    Gratefully, sincerely and with deep respect,

    Father Clifford Stevens

  44. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to John Jacob Lyons
    14.09.2011 | 15:15

    Dr. Lyons -

    In relply to your post "Evolution/Origin of Homo Sapiens and his/her Behavior -

    I would rather say I hold the theological position, but I do not accept the literal version of Genesis, and the best account of where I am coming from in this question is "In the Beginning..."A Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the Fall" by Joseph Ratzinger, now Poe Benedict XVI.

    It is publlished by W.B. Eerdmans in Grand Rapids, Michigan and even though you may not agree with it, you will agree that it is a masterly presentation of the issues involved, both scientific and theological.

    As he say, there are historical and symbolic elements in Genesis and one must not read it like schoolboy looking for a story. So much for that question.

    Also St. Thomas Aquinas, in a great debate in the 13th century, stated that you cannot conclude to creation from science because creation is only known by Divine Revelation, the very concept of which may be anathema to you. So "creation-science', as well as Intelligent Design are frauds.

    In theological terms, Intelligent Design states that true causality in nature is impossible and that is an old Islamic position called "occasionalism" which states that causality in nature is a illusion.

    Thanks for opening up that for me.

    Father Clifford Stevens

  45. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to John Jacob Lyons
    14.09.2011 | 15:37

    I would be only too happy to read your article "The Genetic Priming of Religiosity", if I can find a copy on the blog, or has it been published anywhere?

    As a matter of fact, I would be happy to read anything written by you, if I know where to find such.

    I will also get to you somehow an article of mine that appeared in "Angelicum", the journal of the University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome. It is entitled: "The Summa Theologica: Evolution of a Masterpriece", you see I don't not completely the concept of evolution, I only reject it in the case of Homo Sapiens.

    Father Clifford Stevens

  46. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to John Jacob Lyons
    14.09.2011 | 17:00

    Just a comment before I read your article on Genetic Priming:

    You quoted my opening lines from "Astrotheology" "no science and least of all theology may restric itself to its own shell" and "biology is a science"

    But I do not recognize that you are doing Biology but that your whole premise of an evolutinary origin for Homo Sapiens is false and therefore the Biology based on that premise is false.

    I am working on a two-act play called "Waiting for Cognition", a play similar to "Copenhagen" which was a fictional conversation between Niel Bohr and Werner Heisenberg over Heisenberg's role in Germany's work on at atomic bomb and Heisenberg's role in that plan for world domination.

    My play is a conversatin between myself and Max Delbruck and it will bring up all the issues we have been debating, exploring the mind of perhaps not only the greatest molecular biologist of all time, but almost the founder of this science.

    Because I believe your science is still waiting for cognition, because it has now way to explain it on evolutionary principles, including adapative behavior.

    I am happy that we can now continue our debate on friendly terms.

    With much esteem,

    Father Clifford Stevens


  47. John Jacob Lyons Reply to Father Clifford Stevens
    14.09.2011 | 18:09

    My comment was directed at your reluctance to bring theology into a scientific discussion.

    The quote from your book seemed to be suggesting, very sensibly, that we should not put up barriers between scientific disciplines. This appeared to be at variance with your reluctance to mix science and theology (which I think you regard as a science).

  48. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to John Jacob Lyons
    14.09.2011 | 20:06

    Dr. Lyons -

    I was under the impression that it was the scientist who objected to theological intrusions into science.

    I am willing to share my theology with anyone and do that several times a day,
    and for many audiences, Catholic and otherwise.

    If you want to know where I am coming from get a copy of the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas in a good English translation, I say good, because their are some horrendous translations that would make you weep.

    Or find a book published in the U.K many years ago by Thomas Gilby entitled St. Thomas Aquinas: Theological Texts in Excellent English, published by Oxford University Press in 1955, but a good library should have a copy.

    I have three loves: theology, philosophy and science, plus a lot of minor ones I mentioned slightly in one post. I am also doing work on American Constitutonal Law and the giants of that discipline, with its roots in English Common Law, which is the backbone of our Constitution.

    But Theology (and I capitalize the word) is my great love and its literature for me stretches back at least 4,000 years, but of course the star of my theolocial sky is Thomas Aquinas, whose intellect I consider on a par with Aristotle and Albert Einstein. In fact, it was he who freed science from theol scientist to go off on his own and pay no attention to the narrow thinking of SOME Theologians.

    Science has an autonomy all its own and St. Thomas saw that human reason also had an autonomy all its own. Really the two should never conflct

    Wishing you the best,

    Father Clifford Stevens

  49. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to John Jacob Lyons
    14.09.2011 | 20:11

    I forget to mention what part of the Summa Theologica to consult:

    Part I , Question: On the Nature and Domain of Sacred Doctrine.

    I admit it is rather stodgy in English, but in Latin, it's mind-blowing, with words that simply cannot be translated into English.

    Best of luck,

    Father Clifford Stevens

  50. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to John Jacob Lyons
    14.09.2011 | 21:07

    Dr. Lyons -

    If you will contact the Dominicans at the Aquinas Institute at Oxford (they have a website on the Internet), you can request a copy of ANGELICUM, the journal of the University of St. Thomas in Rome,
    Vol. 88, pgs 39-49, for my article on "The Summa Theologica: the Evolution of a Masterpiece, if you are interested.

    Also the reference in the Summa I mentioned is Part I, Question 1: On the Nature and Domain of Sacred Doctrine.

    I have been writing too fast.

    Gilby also has a collection of "Philosophical Texts", also published by Oxford University Press.

    Father Clifford Stevens

  51. John Jacob Lyons Reply to Father Clifford Stevens
    14.09.2011 | 21:26

    I suggest that there's a need to rise above the discipline and constraints of the scientific method in philosophical or even general discussion. Philosophy is a meta-science.

  52. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to John Jacob Lyons
    14.09.2011 | 23:10

    Dr. Lyons -

    I agree, philosophy is a meta-science and I was introduced to it when I was 22 years old in Aristotle. I am still an amateur of his body of writings, but I read certain parts every year simply to be exposed to his lucid thinking.

    But the three disciplines are different: science, philosophy and theology, but eventually they give you a common vision: ontological, scientific, and, for me, theological.

    And I remember a saying of Thomas Aquinas that struck me when I was in my twenties: "Truth is divine thing, a thing more exellent than any human friend." And another one that people like me have to keep in mind: "Contemplation is good for the soul, but so is a good warm bath".

    I hope you can find a copy of the Summa, and if you have any familiarity with Latin, the Latin text close by.

    I hope London is not cloudy these days, we have had tornado, floods, hurricanes over here, with thousands of people out of their homes and some towns almost wiped out.

    I trust life is a little more stable over there.

    The last time I was in the U.K., I visited the ruins of Tintern Abbey in Wales, and, of course, Durham and nearby Newcastle where the ruins of Bede's monastery are still used as an Anglican Church, and I did visit Lincoln Cathedral, that masterpiece and am quite fond of St. Hugh of Lincoln who built it, a remarable Carthusian monk who was one of the few people who could handle King Henry II, and had a pet swan.

    My ancestry is English, with bit of French-Canadian and Irish thrown in, and once in visiting Salsbury Cathedral. I found a grave stone in the cloister that read: "Sir William Stevens, so I guessed he was a distant relative.

    The name is originally Norman, Fitz-Stephen and most were scoundrels who helped William the Conqueror invade England. There is really bad blood in my genealogy, but I think maybe there maya be a saint or two somwhere.

    Blessings and best wishes,

    Father Clifford Stevens

  53. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to John Jacob Lyons
    15.09.2011 | 07:38

    Dr.Lyons -

    I just read your short post on Genetic Priming and, while I am no familiar with many the context of the piece, you probably can guess that I cannot accept the basic premise: that evolution includes Homo Sapiens.

    I think Max Delbruck would probably agree with you, if that is any comfort, since he was convinced that mind came from matter and was convinced that he could find an evolutionary origin for the human mind, and thought he saw devices in subhuman evolutionary forms to convince him that there was an evolutionary origin.

    I admire in spite of that because he achieved so much more and almost created the science of molecular biology. I know he considered NIels Bohr as his mentor, I believe there was something of Einstein's realism about him.

    So I still don't see the link that would explain your genetic priming in the human embryo or in the Human Genome. I hold that the Human Genome is human and that there is no evidence in it of anything resemgling an evolutionary origin or cauaality.

    But thank you for sharing your work with me and, for an evolutinary work, I think it is splendid. Good luck with your colleagues, since they judge that you have indeed made a remarkable discovery.

    Father Clifford Stevens

  54. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to John Jacob Lyons
    15.09.2011 | 08:09

    John Jacob -

    Could also explain to me how the Biology of Religion is not a form of Biological Determinism? I believe you took exception to that some time back, or was it Dr. Blume or Dr. Le Fevre?

    It seems to me that it is and that that fact puts into the same category as the Economic Determinism of Karl Marx, and could be used for the same ideological and political purposes.

    I know that Marx's views were really harmless until, was it Engels, who told him to apply it to politics.

    It seems to me if you deny it, you have to bring in some action of the volitional powers to avoid the Determinism but isn't that some reognition that human beings are more than their biology?

    I don't think this is a checkmate, but I am curious about your next move.

    With fond wishes,

    Father Clifford Stevens

  55. John Jacob Lyons Reply to Father Clifford Stevens
    15.09.2011 | 08:35

    Good morning,

    You write "I hold that the Human Genome is human and that there is no evidence in it of anything resemgling an evolutionary origin or cauaality."

    Would you expect to find such evidence simply from studying the genome? I suggest not.

    Consider a frog. I presume that you accept that all reptiles evolved from fish. However, you wouldn't expect to find evidence of this simply from studying the genome of the frog. You need a comparative analysis of the two genomes in order to find the evidence.

    The same applies to our genome and the Pan genome. Comparative analysis shows clear evidence of a very close link between the two. I understand that the evidence is undeniable.

  56. John Jacob Lyons Reply to Father Clifford Stevens
    15.09.2011 | 08:46

    OK, frogs are not reptiles. Sorry. I've just woken up. I'm still in my dressing-gown!!

    However amphibians also evolved from fish. The same logic applies.

  57. John Jacob Lyons Reply to Father Clifford Stevens
    15.09.2011 | 09:05

    "Could you also explain to me how the Biology of Religion is not a form of Biological Determinism?"

    The phrase 'Biology of Religion' does not assume that religion/ religiosity arises exclusively from our biology. It simply suggests that there are links between the two domains. These links can operate in either direction and I will give you an example of each.

    Biology to Religion --------------

    My Genetic Priming hypothesis is an example since I am suggesting that we are genetically primed for religiosity. Our genome is obviously a constituent part of our biology.

    Religion to Biology --------------

    Example -- Many studies have concluded that religious groups, on average, tend to have more children than non-religious groups. Thus there appears to be a positive correlation/ causal link between religiosity and fecundity.

    No determinism Father. No worries.

  58. John Jacob Lyons Reply to Father Clifford Stevens
    15.09.2011 | 09:21

    By the way, just because I suggest that we are genetically primed for religiosity doesn't mean that this determines our individual religiosity.

    Our individual religiosity at any particular point in our lives is a resultant effect of several factors including our free cognition (freewill) and other social, life experience and existential factors.

  59. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to John Jacob Lyons
    15.09.2011 | 14:07

    I don't think I hve been checkmtes and I believe there are afew holes in your thinking. A relationship of similarity does not conclude to a relationship of causality, and there is also the princple that an effect cannot be greater than its cause. I admit a relationship of similarity between Homo Sapiens and non-human mammmalian forms, but I do not see a relationship of descent.

    Cognition, it seems to me, is an effect greater than its presumed cause, biology.
    I think that is obvious.

    When I was a young student I was given the two-volumen work of St. Thomas Aquinas "The Basic Writings of St. Thomas Aquinas", publlished by Random House and edited by Anton Pegis. It simply blew my mind. The wealth of knowledge about so much under the sun and the clarity of his reasoning process just astounded me.

    For instance this one: "The human intellect is measured by things, so that man's thought is not true on its own account, but is called true in virtue of its conformity to things"

    That has been my standard ever since and I don't see that precision in much evolutionary science, much seems tobe pure supposition and of course this one:

    "Intellect is the first cause and mover of the universe....hence the last end of the universe must necessarily be the good of the intellect. Hence truth must be the last end of the whole universe".

    "Our intellect in knowing is estended to infinity. This ordering of the intellect to infinity would be vain and senseless if there were no infinite object of knowledge."

    I think that ourstrips Darwin anyday.

    I did not think you would come across Thomas Aquinas so fast. His understanding of the human intellect surpasses anything I have read and I simply cannot see that such an instrument of knowledge could possibly evolve from biological powers or lifeless matter.

    What is wrong with my logic?

    Again, wishing you the best,

    Father Clifford Stevens

  60. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to John Jacob Lyons
    15.09.2011 | 14:32

    I think the nature of the human intellect is the key to our differences, so let me give you a few examples of Thomas's thinking.

    In this matter, I believe that Darwin is a babbling infant in comparison with Aquinas. However, I have no problem with the evolution of non-human life; the key difference with Homo Sapiens is his intellect.

    "Knowledge is perfected by the thing known becoming one with the knower, in its image."

    "The most perfect kind of order is found in things: from them is derived our order of knowledge."

    "Our natural knowledge can extend as far as it can be led by the hand through material things."

    "Our intellect in knowing is extended to infinity."

    "The perfect act of an intellectual nature is that activity by which it knows everything."

    "In its active nature, the intellect is naturally capable of knowing everything that exists."

    "Wonder is the desire for knowledge"

    "The truth of the human intellect receives its direction and measurement from the essences of things. For the truth or falsity of an opinion depends on whether a thing is or not."

    "The proper object of the human intellect when united with the body is natures actually existing in corporeal matter."

    "THe being of a thing rather than its truth causes truth in the mind."

    And this whopper:

    "Intellectual natures have greater affinfity to the whole than other beings: for every intellectual being is in a certain mannmer all things, insofar as it is able to comprehend all being, by the power of its understanding. Every other natures possesses only an imperfect participatin of being."

    You can see my problem with your concept of the human intellect. I think it is unworthy of the intellectual stature of Homo Sapiens.

    Sorry for being so verbose.

    Best wishes,

    Father Clifford Stevens

  61. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to John Jacob Lyons
    15.09.2011 | 14:44

    One more item.

    I think this explains why the existence of God is not more obvious

    "Reason in man is rather like God in the world."

    That, in a sense, explains our autonomy, even from God.

    And so, it's natural conclusion:

    "The good of man, precisely as man, consists in this: that the reason should be perfect in the knowledge of truth, and that the subordinate affections should be regulated in accordance with the rule of reason. For man's nature belongs to him from the fact that he has the power of reason."

    And, I contend, that that fact alone makes it impossible that the human intellect merely evolves. It is there from the beginning and it in that that Homo Sapiens surpasses the rest of nature, and that is why Darwin was wrong about Homo Sapiens.

    The logic is inescapable.

    In friendship and for the sake of a good fight -

    Father Clifford Stevens

  62. John Jacob Lyons Reply to Father Clifford Stevens
    15.09.2011 | 16:22

    "A relationship of similarity does not conclude to a relationship of causality, and there is also the princple that an effect cannot be greater than its cause."

    One has to be so careful with the application of these principles/ aphorisms. There are two statements here and I will address them in turn. Firstly, similarity/ causality --

    I am not suggesting that because the genomes of the species are similar this proves that, in any sense, the Pan species directly and sufficiently 'caused' the Homo species. Not at all.

    However, I am suggesting that Darwinian natural selection, the (usually) gradual process that adapts a species to be fecund in its environment over evolutionary time, has caused sub-populations of the common ancestor of Pan and Homo that split from each other to become the separate species Pan and Homo.

    Secondly, "an effect can't be greater than its cause".

    In a real sense the fire is often 'greater' than the spark that caused it. However, I don't need to employ this truth against your misleading aphorism since, as I have already said, I do not claim that Pan is the 'cause' of Homo. Neither am I saying that the common ancestor of the two species is the cause of Homo. The cause is the Darwinian process acting on a sub-population of the common ancestor.

    So, it is the INTERACTION of the raw material provided by the common ancestor and the Darwinian process that worked on that material to produce the two species Pan and Homo over evolutionary time.

  63. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to John Jacob Lyons
    15.09.2011 | 16:26

    Sorry, but one item is still bothering me.

    You wrote: "The same applies to our genome and the Pan genome. Comparative analysis shows clear evaidence of a very close link between the two."

    What link? I would say it is merely a link of similarity. After all we and frogs and cow breathe the same air so our systems must be similar, but that does not demonstrate a link, must less a causal link.

    Also what are the "several factors" and how can you posit cognition and free will s factor, if you do not recognize that they can not be part of the evolutionary process?

    This is seems to me is part of the psychology of religion, not the biology of religion. I have no problem with that. But it contradicts the very concept of a Biiology of Religion.

    Good skating, but i think here you are on thin ice.

    Father Clifford Stevens

  64. John Jacob Lyons A General Comment on Discussion
    15.09.2011 | 16:42

    It occurs to me that there is nothing as intellectually nourishing as an exchange of opposing views as long as it is based on reason, open-mindedness, frankness, humility and, of course, a modicum of knowledge on both sides.

    It is the only contest in which you truly win even when you 'lose'. In both cases you learn - simply by marshaling your arguments to best effect. If you 'win', your brain will etch the points you have made a little deeper in your hippocampus. If you 'lose', you have learned something new. Magic!

  65. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to John Jacob Lyons
    15.09.2011 | 16:49

    The never-ending cycle, I guess, but I am enjoying this immensely:

    I have no problem if you do not intrude into Homo Sapiens, there is observable link between non-human mammalian species and Homo Sapiens AND there is no observable link between human biology and the intellectual and volitional powers. Both are pure suppositions with no facts to back them up.

    Yhere is no evidence that your research has uncovered either of these links, and I can assure you there is nothing in the Human Genome or the human embryo to support it.

    Human conception passes on to an offspring the totality of the human nature of the parents and THAT is the only causality that is recognizable by scientific investigation. Ockam's Razor applies here and I think it is a pretty sharp razor.

    Father Clifford Stevens

  66. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to John Jacob Lyons
    15.09.2011 | 16:56

    Correction - I miskeyed again -

    "There is NO observable link between non-human mammalian species and Homo Sapiens.

    I'll try to slow down.

    Father Clifford Stevens

  67. John Jacob Lyons Reply to Father Clifford Stevens
    15.09.2011 | 17:48

    Thin ice Father? As we say in London - 'Ave a word wiv y'self!'.

    With regard to the genomes -- It is indeed a link of similarity as you say but, taken together with the fossil evidence (anatomical and carbon dating) it is considered conclusive by the specialists.

    You correctly distinguish between the Psychology of Religion and the Biology of Religion. However, both our biology and our psychology are functions of our genome and our environment. These disciplines also overlap since both involve the study of the brain. But, while this overlap is accepted, they are legitimate areas of study in their own right.

    You write "Also what are the "several factors" and how can you posit cognition and free will s factor, if you do not recognize that they can not be part of the evolutionary process?"

    To expand on the "several factors" I have stated that explain religiosity would take me into a long-winded repetition of a thesis I prepared at Heythrop College, London Uni. a few years ago. This was a Post-Grad. Diploma in Psychology of Religion. I don't really want to go down to this level of detail at this time if you don't mind Father.

    Cognition/ free-will is indeed a product of the Homo evolutionary process. It has been adaptive for the human brain to develop a powerful, flexible means of over-riding the more deterministic components of behaviour. In adulthood for example, we are hardly responsible for the genetic, upbringing, social and existential components that interact to contribute to our behaviour. In combination with the patterns of cognition we have developed from our life experience, it is the free-will component with its power to override that makes us responsible for our behaviour.

    I've seen no thin-ice yet my friend. Not a sign of it.


  68. John Jacob Lyons Reply to Father Clifford Stevens
    15.09.2011 | 18:25

    You've got a cheek wielding Occam's Razor in my direction Father!

    Your rather veiled response to my questions re:-



    seemed to be


    I have explained the scientific response to these questions at some length without needing to introduce the God concept.

    William of Occam entreats us to accept the explanation that introduces fewest new concepts. Need I say more!

    You were saying about thin ice? I think you've just fallen in!!

    Best wishes


  69. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to John Jacob Lyons
    15.09.2011 | 22:24

    My Dear Dr. Lyons -

    I have not mentioned God in reference to anything scientific. You asked for my theology, but that was no in reference to anything scientific. I am rigid in that intention and if I transgressed it unwittingly, I apologize.

    You will have a hard time defending that human beings are defined solely by their biology and your evolutionary model of Homo Sapiens won't hold a candle to the Thomistic model. Your evolutionary model is defective, it does not cover all of the empirical evidence and youll have a hard time provng that the intellectual and volitional powers are merely extensions of human biology. It would not hold up in a court of law.

    Your calling up the adaptive behavior of ants, bees and wasps, and the like, is rather weak and can be shown to be utterly ridiculous when applied to Homo Sapien. Your evolutionary colleagues may accept it, but it will be blown out of the water by Thomistic Anthropology, which is far more scientific than your own because it draws upon the findings of a whole battery of new sciences, and not only biological ones.

    Your statement that the human intellectual and volitional powers are products of evolution is self-contradictory, and if you cnnnot see this, it can be pointed out that, if that is so, they have no value in the realm of objective truth, since they are merely extensions of biological powers, whose range does not go beyond feelings and emotions and have no capacity for reaching a reasoned conclusion.

    I am prepared to demonstrate from embryonic science and the Human Genome that "a human person is the the terminus ad quem of human conception and the terminus a quo from which all human embryonic life develops, based on observable data and the fact that in human conception, the parents pass on the totality of the human species to a human subject with the full array of biological, somatic, psychosomatic, intellectual and volitional powers. THe totality of the species is passede onto the offspring.

    Also, that the integrating princple of human embryonic life is a human person, in the unfolding of its innaye human potential, with a genetic signature unique and unrepeatable. Your evolutionary model is simply not a workable model for the data coming out of a host of new sciences and techniques, including radiology and ultra-sound.

    You are still in the backwash of an evolutionary science which has not kept up with the massive developments in the Human Genome and in human embryonic science. For instance, Richard Dawkins' "selfish gene" is falsely named, since it is not a "selfish gene" at all. It is a "species gene", all 150,000 of them, but of course no one is sure of the exact numberl

    But whatever their function, each one is a "species gene" and every bit of information of the informational sequences of DNA are specific to the human species. I am afraid the new sciences have left you behind with data that has been replaced by the latest research.

    These demonstrate that human conception accomplishes three things:

    1) the formation of the zygote, the fertilized ovum, and a genetic "package" specific to this zygote.
    21) The DNA inheritance with its wealth of genetic information
    3) the human DNA "exemplars", specific to this embryo of the somatic, psychosomatic and cognitive powers.

    All of these are specific to this emgryo and to the unique underlying subject of this conception.

    Your evolutionary model of Homo Sapiens fits no genuine human context, which cannot be explained by a more exhaustive model: the Thomistic model, which takes into account all the powers, habits and autonomy of this partiular Homo Sapiens far more comletely than the Darwinian model.

    So I think the ice is still thin and Occam's Razor is cutting away the fat.

    Father Clifford Stevens

  70. John Jacob Lyons Reply to Father Clifford Stevens
    15.09.2011 | 23:50

    Nothing to get my teeth into here I'm afraid Father Stevens. This is simply ground we have already covered.

    Best wishes,


  71. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to John Jacob Lyons
    15.09.2011 | 23:51

    Dr. Lyons With regard to the origin of the the human race and the human intellectual and volitional powers, I believe I said that that is something that science cannot answer and to bring God into the picture would be unscientific and I would never do that.

    Science should recognize that there are certain phenomena that it cannot explain. Both of these, especially the origin of Homo Sapiens is an historical question, not a biological, evolutionary or scientific question.

    Now if you talking about primary and secondary causes - that is something different, But science has access only to secondary causes - but this is not theology, it is Ontological Science and the authority here is Aristotle.

    Father Clifford Stevens

  72. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Reply to John Jacob Lyons
    16.09.2011 | 01:32

    Then we are at an impasse. I suppose it will take a few lecturesby me here in the States, demonstrating from the Human Genome and embryonic science that the evolutionary origin of Homo Sapiens has no basis biology or evolutionary science.

    I think your studies are all true insofar as they apply to nono-human mammalian species and life forms lower on the life scale, but at this point it would take far too much space on SciLog to transfer to this form of communication the studies I have been making.

    I have enjoyed the give-and-take, the courtesy, wit and debate, but I haven't found anything in your responses that convinces me that there is a shred of scientific evidence for your premises and your conclusions.

    I think that part of the problem, as far as the issues of this debate is concerned, is that you and your colleagues are locked into empirical sciences, and refuse to recognize the validity of two of the most ancient sciences in history: Demonstrative Science and Ontological Science, which lay down rules for all other sciences in order to arrive at the truth of things. Both Erwin Schrodinger and Max Delbruck saw that limitation in their own sciences, Physics and Molecular Biology

    It is also true that you do not recognze Anthropology as a genuine science, since it is concerned specifically with Homo Sapiens, bhut you reduce it to the principles and methodologies of Biology and Evolutionary Science.l

    It is hard to anywhere in so tight a squeeze and I realize it is futile to refer to rules and methodologies that have been around for overk, 2,000 years and, at one time, were the backbone of a claslsical and liberal arts education. But as long as you consider human beings as merely refined animals, I don't see any way out of this impssse.

    Fondly, respectfully and with genuine esteem for you and your work.

    Father Clifford Stevens
    Boys Town, Nebraska

  73. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Biology and Religion
    17.09.2011 | 09:34

    Waiting for Cognition

    A Play in Two Acts

    A Coversation with Max Delbruck

    by Clifford J. Stevens

    CJS - When I was a little boy of about twelve, I saw a movie about Louis Pasteur with Paul Muni. It got me hooked on science. I was just a newspaper boy at the time, and I remember the those scenes in the movie where Pasteur has to fight against the whole medical establishment in his germ warfare.

    MD - Yes, he broke out of the pattern set by people whose professional reputations were at stake if Pasteur was proved right. Scientific breakthrews do not come from the crowd, even a crowd of professionals. Newton showed that, so did Einstein. Conventional views are usually wrong. That is the way science progresses. Look at Edison, look at LeMaitre, look at Mendel.

    CJS - You broke with the conventional, didn't you? You started out as a Physicist.

    MD - After a long visit with Bohr. I saw that Physics was going nowhere, and I was right. Science was walled up in the battle between Bohr and Einstein on the reality of Quantum Mechanics. It really went nowhere until Schrodinger saw that Physics could explain very little about the major issues of humanity and shocked us all by his lectures in Dublin. He saw that the future was in molecular biology because it was about life. What do dumb atoms and electrons have to do with life? After a long conversation with Bohr, I went the way of Einstein and decided to deal with reality.

    CJS - What fascinated you about Molecular Biology?

    MD - It was an open book with so many facets that it would take a lifetime to pursue any of them. The great problem was: how do you get mind from matter, and no one has every solved that problem, and it was Schrodinger who pointed out to us in his talks in Dublin. He saw that there was no observable link between biology and mind, and so we faced a massive mystery from the very beginning. There was an impassable chasm that we could not bridge, much like the chasm between Physicss and Biology, and it was a chassm open to many interpretations, one taken by amateur Darwinians for whom Darwin was the last word in everything and those of us who were willing to live with a mystery and discover the building blocks of the new biology.

    CJS - More than builing blocks, I take it.

    MD -With Watson and Crick's work, a whole new universe of science opened and it will take centuries to exhaust the dimesnsions of that discovery. DNA is the gateway to a whole new continent of science, never explored before, open to every variety of interpretation and one lifetime is not sufficient to exhaust the new knowledge.

    CJS - Can it be called science? Is it a variety of sciences? I have been having a battle with some biologists about this.

    MD - Some nevfer break new ground in science because they have too many unproved hypotheses. Everything hangs from the fragile thread of one premise.

    To be continued

    Clifford Stevens
    Boys Town, Nebraska

  74. Father Clifford Stevens 751041 Biology And Religion
    18.09.2011 | 01:59

    Waiting for Cognition

    A Play in Two Acts

    A Conversation with Max Delbruck

    (continued - 2)

    CJS - I guess that the role of philosophy in the classical system. But specialization comes very early now.

    MD - That is the danger: to get locked into your specialty as if it explained the whole world. For instance, I was a physicist and there were those who wanted to explain the whole of human life and civilization by principle of Physics, but the principles of any science only go so far. You cannot turn everything into Physics, or Mathematics, or Biology, or Evolutionary Biology. Some physicists try it, some evolutionists try it, and they end up with a world of their own making and from which many of them cannot esape. That easily becomes a form of demogoguery or at least trying to squeeze reality into your own little bottle. But from demogoguery you can easily descend to monomania.

    CJS - What is the remedy for this narrowing of the mind's horizonss to one science or specialty, and making that the lense of the whole of reality. You've known a lot of scientists, do most of them escape the trap?

    MD - Most of them are deeply dedicated to their work to turn their science into ideology. Take the Curies. And look what they accomplished. Dedication is the remedy, dedication to your little part of reality and your very knowledge of your little part makes sure that you will never let go of the whole picture. No priniple explains the whole of reality and that is true of Relativity, Bohr's Complimentary Principle, or Darwin's principles of Evolution. No principle has a universal validity, and those who think so become fanatics of their own narrow piece of reality.

    CJS - The key question in your science today is one you identified very early and even wrote about it. It was also a major concern of Schrodinger. The matter and mind question. You aired it pretty thoroughly. I remember Schrodinger's comment, along with another that shocked evolutionist. He said that no one had found the link between mind and Darwin's theory and he even hinted that there was none.

    MD - In substance, he accused evolutionists of monomaniak, trying to reduce everything in science to their scientific specialty. What he was saying was that Evolution is not the whole of life, just as Physics is not the whole of science. We have reached a pltateau in evolutionary studies where evolution does not apply and we must look for the right solution and not devise one from the certainties we have. What he was saying was, Evolution is confined to Biology, and perhaps does not touch human Biology. We must not use our imagination in science and stop right where nature stops. And there is no doubt where nature stops.

    CJS - It was this discontinuity between matter and mind that you pointed out and between biological matter and mind.

    MD - What I observed was the discontinuity of mutation, they simply stop there. Biology cannot explain the high degree of permanence of the human mind. If it were evolution, mutations would continue. The stability of the human mind is unexplainable by any evolutionary principle. The stability and permanence are beyond the laws of Biology, and even the laws of Physics. We are faced here with something beyond the laws of Physics and bey9nd Biology.

    Clifford J. Stevens
    BOYs Town, Nebraska

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