Evolution vs. liberalism

In the course of a discussion about an article by a feminist attacking transgendered folks like “Caitlyn” Jenner, saying that these men can never know what it is to be a woman, Andrew Klavan makes the point that evolution and feminism are incompatible.  Which made me realize that evolution is incompatible with lots of other ideas of the liberals who believe in it.

UPDATE:  I do not intend to confuse “what is” with “what should be” or to try to deduce from evolution any moral conclusions.  I do see the problem with that, but let me frame this differently.  If behaviors limit reproduction, aren’t those less likely to contribute to natural selection?  Wouldn’t there be natural selection against them?   Wouldn’t ideologies and policies that result in individuals not reproducing be an evolutionary deadend?  I am not asking whether this would be good or bad, and am quite willing to be instructed on the matter.

The original post was not so much about evolution but about liberalism, so perhaps we could ask this:  Isn’t it true that “traditional family values”–that is, beliefs and practices that result in more children being born and cared for–have an evolutionary advantage over “progressive values” such as those supporting feminism and non-reproductive sex?  Not as a moral position but as a “what is” description?

[Read more…]

Between first sleep and second sleep

About two years ago, we posted First Sleep, Second Sleep, which became the 12th most-read post on this blog, with people to this day clicking on it.  It had to do with what historians have discovered about sleep patterns in the days before artificial lighting, from ancient and Biblical days through the 17th century.  People would go to bed shortly after it turned dark, sleep for four hours, wake up for two or three hours, then go back to sleep for another four hours.  During the period of wakefulness between “first sleep” and “second sleep,” people would talk, read, and pray.  This seems to have been the main time when married couples would make love.  Artificial lighting–not just candles but oil lamps and especially electric lighting–changed people’s sleeping patterns, letting us stay up late, though patterns of insomnia suggest that first sleep and second sleep is deep wired into our nature.

Anyway, researchers have been studying this phenomenon.  Test subjects made to go to sleep when it gets dark, after a period of adjustment, fall back into the pattern.  But then scientists discovered something else.  That time between first sleep and second sleep is characterized by a unique state of consciousness.  Although the person is fully awake, he or she is in a state of deep rest, relaxation, and peace.

Clark Strand, who has written a book on the subject, relates it to the “mindfulness” of Eastern meditation.  I don’t think we have to go all mystical about it, like he does (though the connection might suggest why “the night watches” were such a good time for Bible reading and prayer), but I’m curious what this would have meant for marriages.  Marital intimacy–sex, yes, but also conversation–may well have been heightened during this nightly state of mind.  “Sleeping together” may have been more than a euphemism, perhaps a description of an deep intimacy that may be difficult to attain today. [Read more…]

A sentimental tribute to Motherhood, with spiders

OK, what I am about to tell you is gross, even horrific.  And (trigger warning to arachnophobes, who had better not click through to the jump) it has to do with spiders.  And yet, there is what Yeats called a terrible beauty here. And, for Mother’s Day,  it gives us a profound emblem of extreme motherhood. [Read more…]

The Teenage Brain

Parents have long been frustrated with their teenager’s “what was he thinking” moments.  Why do bright, thoughtful adolescents so often do things that are foolish and reckless?  We now know the reason:  their brains are not finished growing.  Specifically, the pleasure center is not completely hooked up to the judgement center.

The good news is that, contrary to what people used to believe, the teenage brain can change, which means that there really are “late bloomers.”

Neurologist Frances Jensen, with journalist Amy Ellis Nutt, as written a book on the subject The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults.  Read from a review after the jump. [Read more…]

FBI’s bogus forensics

The public loves the television cop shows about crime-solving by means of  forensic science.  But we might want to reconsider the popularity of all of those CSI series.  The FBI is now admitting that over 95% of the forensic evidence from human hair over  two decades was mistaken.  These revelations affect hundreds of cases, including 32 death sentences and 14 defendants who have been executed or died in prison. [Read more…]

Language as “Darwin’s problem”

Noam Chomsky is not a conservative Christian but is rather a leftwing radical.  But in his day job, he is a pioneering linguist, having shown how all languages depend on “deep structures”–complex grammatical processes that are built into the human mind–that all languages have in common and that children can master almost without effort.

He has teamed with a famous anthropologist, Ian Tattersall, and other scholars (Johan J. Bolhuis and Robert C. Berwick) to pose the question How Could Language Have Evolved? They certainly believe in evolution and they try to find a minimalistic feature that might have evolved, but the article shows that language, with its irreducible complexity (the intelligence design term, not theirs), is very difficult  to explain in terms of random selection over time, to the point that the authors describe language as “Darwin’s problem.” [Read more…]


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