Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Crazy

The first video is, for no particular reason, filmed outside:

Click to tweet: http://clicktotweet.com/qcK8A .  Part I is here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPjF54RAAik&list=PLGWy7AFv1dkIn3UbP1E7XpvTAnXZY2yzv&index=9 .

This is a "morning after" video like the ones about us being an arrogant species and superficiality and depth.

First of all, i'm a little concerned that we may have been discussing a caricature of the idea of political correctness because none of us there was prepared to defend the position, although of course i made some attempt yesterday.  We can, however, transcend that by saying that the definition of political correctness on which the argument was based was taken from Wikipedia and reads as follows:

a term which denotes language, ideas, policies, and behavior seen as seeking to minimize social and institutional offense in occupational, gender, racial, cultural, sexual orientation, certain other religions, beliefs or ideologies, disability, and age-related contexts, and, as purported by the term, doing so to an excessive extent.

Leaving off the end of that sentence is fine, incidentally.  We believed it was excessive, but for the purposes of this video, you needn't accept that.

Firstly, political correctness involves an attempt to avoid over-generalisation and recognises the flawed and possibly fallacious nature of inductive thought.  However, induction has to be used in order to function healthily and to abandon it completely would indeed be psychotic - almost literally, "political correctness gone mad".  Induction exists because of biological and social evolution and has been selected for.

Secondly, political correctness is an attempt to quantify ethically and politically acceptable behaviour.  It enables one to account for behaviour to an authority which may have legal force, and to convince oneself that one has done the "right thing".  In doing so, however, it misses out the messiness of empathic interaction in everyday life and as such may be more about making oneself feel better about what one does than actually doing well.  It reminds me of the Pharisees, in fact.


Actually, the reason this was done in the woody bit next to the erstwhile Bowstring Bridge is that i had to fit a lot in this morning, being assaulted as i was by incessant urges to make and upload videos, and this was a way of fitting two in today without it making the day unbearably frenetic.  I did, however, have some difficulty finding a quiet spot sheltered from the wind.  I'm happy with how it turned out though.

I also feel i should say we pursued a notion of political correctitude which was probably rather simplistic.  However, so do many advocates of the idea.

The second video is the reason i've entitled this entry as above, but seems to be a bit screwed up, which is a bit problematic.

Stop press:  it's now sorted and here it is:

Click to tweet:  http://clicktotweet.com/0aUyW .  Most people would probably either believe in the Fall literally and be creationist, probably Young Earth Creationist, or see it as a metaphor or allegory of a process we all go through in early life and believe in evolution, or of course they might reject both and simply believe in evolution as non-Christians.  I hold a third position.  Although i agree with the allegorical understanding of the Fall, i also think that it may reflect a series of real events.  Whereas i do present a particular hypothesis here, i'm not attached to it and am prepared to accept that i'm wrong.  In the context of the Fall, this is the correct and humble thing to do.  It would be perverse of me to assert that in spite of my sinfulness, limitation and proneness to error and self-serving "rational" thought, this is the definitive, correct version of events.  It's more presented as an illustration of how believing in a literal Fall is compatible with evolutionary theory.  I doubt anyone else at all believes this, including Christian palaeontologists and palaeoanthropologists.

This is my hypothesis:

Back in the Miocene, there were many different species of ape (incidentally, the Aegyptopithecus zeuxis in the video was not an ape although it was, like apes, a catarrhine primate - sorry about the mistake).  The climate back then was somewhat more humid and warmer than today, and there were widespread rainforests.  Apes were found in Europe, Asia and Africa.  Then, at the close of the Miocene, the climate became more arid.  This was due to the build up of ice, possibly due to the diversion of the Gulf Stream northwards and the appearance of snow in high latitudes, or orogeny (mountain building).  The following epoch, the Pliocene, was therefore more arid and the rainforests shrank.  Hence our ancestors were forced to survive on the savannah, where food sources were scarcer and not ideal nutritionally for a species which had evolved in the rainforest.  As a result, they effectively suffered from malnutrition, since the phytoestrogens and MAOIs in their diet were missing.  Even today it's possible to tell we are not eating the ideal diet because we cannot produce our own vitamin C.  This diet along with the harsh environment jointly led to a situation where foetuses did not develop healthily in the womb due to brain and hormonal problems, and the harsh environment and impairment of development combined to brutalise the species.  By the time of recorded history, this vicious cycle had been going on for many millenia and we had come to believe it was natural.  This is the biological explanation of how sin entered the world - this is the Fall, a uniquely human problem.

It's crucial to recognise two things about this.  One is that every single neurotypical individual since this event has been confronted with the choice to avoid or commit sin, and with one single exception throughout the whole of the history of the human race, every single one of us has chosen freely to sin.

As i said this is an hypothesis, but i also believe there is some evidence for it.  One is the behaviour of chimpanzees compared to that of bonobos.  The relative harshness of the environment of chimps has led to them being more aggressive than bonobos.  They are examples of the kind of thing which went "wrong" in the Pliocene and led to "Adam and Eve" being "expelled" from the Garden of Eden.

It may be possible to test this hypothesis via the analysis of wear and tear on fossil teeth, dating the production and nature of stone tools and the isotope ratios of calcium and phosphorus in fossilised bones, but it probably isn't.

OK, so it sounds completely insane, but as i say i'm not 100% attached to this idea.  I'm just presenting it to show that evolutionary theory is compatible with a literal Fall.


This is a bit crazy of course, but it's not about the specific hypothesis so much as the principle that a scientific world view including belief in evolution is compatible with belief in the Fall.