A study of evolutionary psychology

The Evolutionary Theory of Psychology

         The Evolutionary theory attempts to explain modern behavior by analyzing the scientific theory of evolution and suggests how different human characteristics may have evolved. At the core of this theory is the belief that the human brain has areas that have developed through evolution and allowed humans to adapt to the world and survive. As an area of distress or need arose in the history of humans, an area of the brain responded to deal with it. This supposedly accounts for areas of the brain such as the Brain Stem (monitors breathing, heartbeat, blood pressure), Cerebellum (movement, balance, posture), Cerebral Cortex (thought, voluntary movement, language, reasoning), the left hemisphere of the brain (logic, language, rational thought), the right hemisphere of the brain (creativeness, image oriented, emotion control), and the lobes (which control many other bodily functions and thought processes). The evolutionary theory suggests that we are nothing but animals with the ultimate goal of spreading our genes down the line of history with the maximum possible effect. This has different applications for males and females. Males supposedly seek to blindly impregnate as many women as possible, not caring what happens to them, or the kids; only that the genes are passed on (this reminds me of the turtles that lay thousands of eggs on a beach and hope a few survive). The women actually have to care for the children that are produced, and therefore they seek men who are willing, able, and committed to helping them raise the child and provide emotional support for the family. This has some basis of evidence to support it in the common observation that men seem to be more sexually driven, while females tend to be more commitment driven. I would like to submit the thought that this is merely because men don't have to wake up the next morning worrying about carrying a baby inside them, while women do and suffer the consequences of careless mating. So men get away without a hitch unless of course they catch a disease. If we are thought to have gotten here by accident, a logical explanation might be that parts of the body and mind developed to counter threats encountered in nature. The theory that the mind evolved just as the body, closely follows the theory of macroevolution. If one believes and accepts evolution, this theory appears to be very logical and makes sense.

         In an attempt to study the effects of this theory and application of it, I would like to look at not just one person, but society as a whole. In other words, I would like to study the consequences of believing or not believing this evolution theory, as opposed to studying the scientific and rather indisputable and unexciting fact that a person with a damaged Cerebellum will have problems with movement, balance, and posture. First of all, how can this theory be applied to explain what we are and what we do? What was going on inside the brains of the Columbine gunmen? This theory suggests that they were merely biologically driven to do it because of a mixed up Cerebral Cortex, or the entire sides of their left brains were out of whack. Or maybe this was just a poor and unintelligent answer in response to a certain stress in nature, where they responded incorrectly and their genes were therefore wiped out. At any rate, how does this explain the frequency of these attempts? How many times has someone committed a massacre, only to end his or her life after it is all over? Wouldn't this be merely a freak occurrence (their genes are almost always wiped out in the end, anyway), and not just another day on the streets? What I am getting at here is motive. What motive is there for that? How does evolution explain that someone would pointlessly massacre innocent people and then possibly themselves? What good does this accomplish? I would point at evolution itself as the cause. People are taught that they are an accident, some cosmic blunder with no purpose or real value. What does an ameba do? It wanders around aimlessly in search of food and an opportunity to reproduce. When it finds an enemy, it eats it. Are we degrading ourselves to a bunch of Amebas by teaching that they are our fathers? The goal of today's society is to live a life with no regrets, teaching kids to think for themselves and do what's best for them. They are taught not take any lip from anyone, to be superior in all that they do- pushed to be the strongest, most attractive, most popular, and smartest in the class. All of this is favorable to the advancement of their genes and is supported by the evolutionary theory. What strain does this place on the individual? What kind of psychological effect does this have? Sooner or later, people realize that they can't be all these things, and eventually age steals whatever evolutionary advantage they had away. The real question is this- what happens when this realization hits home? Columbine. The total loss of respect for all those that have these favorable traits and a willingness to degrade or rob them of their advantage in order to once again regain their superiority. The disrespect of others is brought on by the thought that they are also an accident and have no real value either. The only way one can gain value is, according to the evolutionary theory, to become better than those around you.

         Neither are we biologically controlled, as this theory suggests. We all have choices in life. I chose to write this paper. I was not biologically driven. I could've shut it down and gotten a few more hours sleep, which seems to make more biological sense- I need at least some sleep to survive a college life. This thought fits in nicely with what the humanistic psychologists have to say, and although I do not agree with them in every area, this is one area where I believe they are right. I also believe this thought is the downfall of the belief that our actions are products of millions of years of evolutionary thought and we are biologically driven with little or no free will. This of course leads to the Kansas State Board of Education's decision. I applaud it. The psychological effect is this- the students are given a chance to seek the truth of their existence out for themselves, and obtain purpose and meaning in life because of it. For what is more important to psychology than motive? What is more important than purpose and meaning? What's the purpose in living if life has no meaning for you? What kind of effects will it have on society to tell the kids that there is no purpose in life other than self-gratification and living for the moment, or to selfishly seek whatever they can get to "spread their genes", no matter the consequences? This is what evolution condones, and what I despise. I have found purpose and meaning in life through serving and loving God. I abhor the thought that I am an accident and this beautiful world, with all its beautiful sites, and all the beautiful people in it are just a mistake and a glitch in time, a scientifically illogical blunder. The psychological effects God has had in my life are numerous, wonderful, and yet totally off the subject of the paper, so I will ignore them for your sake and for the sake of the paper. I will only say that the meaning in my life has changed from self-promotion to loving and caring for others, and living in accordance to the rules and wishes of God. As for the evolution of mind and behavior theory, the net result is that humans are pushed, forced, and expected to rise above society and emerge as a powerful and dominant gene dispenser.

This is an actual paper I wrote for my psychology class