Zygon: Journal of Religion & Science
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Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science
11 (3), September 1976

Table of Contents

Religion’s Role in the Context of Genetic and Cultural Evolution—Campbell’s Hypotheses and some Evaluative Responses

Introduction by Ralph Wendell Burhoe

Increase of knowledge without wisdom has been a central hazard in human evolution, increasingly afflicting man from the moment his primate brain began to expand and give him too big a head for easy passage from his maternal environment. Hudson Hoagland—a significant worker in developing our understanding of the brain and a man passionately concerned with overall human welfare—wryly suggested, when reflecting upon some of the disastrous, possible consequences of the brain’s ingenuity that enabled us to develop the atomic bomb, that the evolutionary expansion of the mass of the brain might possibly prove to be a lethal tumor.¹

Ancient warnings of the dangers of technology and science without wisdom are presented in two stories. First is the fable of the sorcerer’s apprentice whose ignorance of how to shut off the machine that produced a good made the technology disastrous when too much of the good became a tragic evil. Second is the biblical story of the Lord’s warning to man that death might be the consequence of his eating of the fruit of the central tree in the garden of Eden, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The clever snake persuaded Eve that eating of this fruit would open our eyes so that we should be as gods, knowing good and evil. And, ever since, we have been eating this fruit and suffering the consequences.

These myths express a truth about knowledge that has a very wide application. As a matter of fact, our present understanding of the evolution of life as a whole from its very beginnings is the story of the increase of information or organized structures to shape energy flows to constitute stable dynamic patterns called living systems. The information or structural boundary conditions have been continuously edited, weeded, or selected to provide wisdom for life. We now understand something of how the genetic code—the DNA-coded information or boundary conditions central in every cell of every organism—is a cumulation of a symbolic memory of viable patterns of life discovered or evolved over the past billion years. We know it to be a library of information that provides the know-how to structure available disorderly flows of matter-energy into ordered and enduring patterns of life. We know something of how it has been selected and transmitted. We are familiar with the fact that its elaboration to generate more adapted and complex life patterns requires variation or mutation of the DNA code. We know that this variation is brought about by chance and that most of the new patterns are failures or lethal. But, at the same time, we know that natural selection, the survival of those that fit, has ever been weeding out the erroneous or unwise or unadapted patterns. This leaves in the gene pools of the species of the earth those rare collections of adapted information for patterns of living that are the treasured collections of millions of years of the creation process. …
notes
¹ Hudson Hoagland, personal communication.

Ralph Wendell Burhoe is director of the Center for Advanced Study in Religion and Science, affiliated with the Chicago Cluster of Theological Schools.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1976.tb00275.x

The Relations between Biological and Sociocultural Theory by A. Hunter Dupree and Talcott Parsons

The relationship between biological and social theory has been a subject of considerable intellectual concern ever since the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species and the rise of disciplines concerned with human social and cultural phenomena in the late nineteenth century. Our mutual interest in these matters goes back to a conference held at Bellagio, Italy, in 1969 which resulted in the publication of a Daedalus issue on “The Making of Modern Science.”¹ The belief that certain of the questions raised or implied at the conference deserved further consideration led to the organization of two planning meetings held at the House of the Academy [of Arts and Sciences] in 1972 and 1973. Subsequent informal discussions indicate that the promise of a fruitful interplay of ideas between biological and social theory continues to grow. …
notes
¹ Published in hardcover as The Twentieth-Century Sciences, ed. Gerald Holton (New York: W. W, Norton & Co., 1972).

A. Hunter Dupree is George L. Littlefield Professor of History, Brown University, and Talcott Parsons is professor emeritus of sociology, Harvard University. The work for this article has been carried out with support from the committees on research funds of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1976.tb00276.x

On the Conflicts between Biological and Social Evolution and between Psychology and Moral Tradition by Donald T. Campbell

A major thesis of this address is that present-day psychology and psychiatry in all their major forms are more hostile to the inhibitory messages of traditional religious moralizing than is scientifically justified.

Within this thesis, one background argument not stressed in this article is that in the areas of disagreement (as to how people should live their lives, child rearing, sex, duty, guilt, sin, self-indulgence, etc.) we are unable to experiment or in other ways to put well-developed theories to rigorous test. On these issues, psychology and psychiatry cannot yet claim to be truly scientific and thus have special reasons for modesty and caution in undermining traditional belief systems.

An argument that receives more attention has to do with the possible sources of validity in recipes for living that have been evolved, tested, and winnowed through hundreds of generations of human social history. On purely scientific grounds, these recipes for living might be regarded as better tested than the best of psychology’s and psychiatry’s speculations on how lives should be lived. This argument comes from a natural-selectionist theory of social evolution and is taken up in the first section of the article to follow. …
Donald T. Campbell is professor of psychology at Northwestern University.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1976.tb00277.x

Commentaries

Expanding Conceptual Horizons by William R. Charlesworth

By virtue of having taken on the most complex phenomenon possible to study, psychology is more underdeveloped than perhaps most of us want to admit publicly. But, apparently, it is developed enough, at least “evolutionarily,” to have a sufficient number of viable mutants in its conceptual (and, alas, even bureaucratic) gene pool to produce a president like Donald T. Campbell. Historians someday will say psychology, sooner or later, was bound to have a mutational jolt coming to it. It now has. …
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1976.tb00278.x

Social Evolution, Science, and Ethics by Wayne R. Gruner

Science has many important things to say to ethics. That, certainly, is one of the very significant messages conveyed by Donald T. Campbell’s presidential address, a landmark statement that deserves to be widely studied.¹

We may hope that this particular message will be taken to heart especially by contributors to the literature that goes under the rubric “science and ethics.” Their writings, it seems to me, have been characterized almost preemptively by the assumption-rarely explicit and often, probably, unconscious-that ethics or moral philosophy is purely a matter of taste and as such not accessible to scientific analysis. (The taste involved will be divine or human, depending upon the particular author.) In this too conventional literature, then, ethics is accepted as ready made; the only intellectual problem recognized is to interpret it in a form applicable to the workings of science. The resultant mode of discourse may best be termed “moralizing at science.” …
notes
¹ Donald T. Campbell, “On the Conflicts between Biological and Social Evolution and between Psychology and Moral Tradition,” in this issue.

DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1976.tb00279.x

Altruism in Sociology by Edward A. Tiryakian

I would like to say that members of the American Psychological Association are to be congratulated for having elected a person capable of producing such a provocative, synthesizing, and innovative presidential address. It is necessary, yet infrequent, for the intellectual leadership of the social sciences to grasp new trends or paradigms in related and relevant disciplines and use this external stimulus to redirect attention to the core foundations of one’s own discipline. This is my impression of the gist of Donald T. Campbell’s “On the Conflicts between Biological and Social Evolution and between Psychology and Moral Tradition.” …
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1976.tb00280.x

Altruism Ethics by Robert L. Munroe and Ruth H. Munroe

Donald T. Campbell’s wide-ranging, provocative essay undoubtedly will stimulate several new lines of highly fruitful inquiry in psychology.¹ We agree with one major ramification of Campbell’s message—that modern psychology mistakenly treats modern man separated from his social tradition. However, we would like to comment, from an anthropological perspective, on some of his suggestions about the course of social evolution. He makes the following argument: (1) complex urban societies of the past independently but regularly evolved inhibitory moral traditions; (2) these moral norms and transcendent belief systems were remarkably similar to one another; and (3) they probably possessed adaptive functions, particularly the curbing of some aspects of human nature in order to achieve complex social coordination and collective purpose. …
notes
¹ Donald T. Campbell, “On the Conflicts between Biological and Social Evolution and between Psychology and Moral Tradition,” in this issue.

DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1976.tb00281.x

Behavioral Theory, Functional Ideology, and Moral Tradition by Edward C. Uliassi

In his presidential address to the American Psychological Association, Donald T. Campbell again has demonstrated impressively that “nature is not organized as universities are.”¹ The descriptive and normative significance of such transdisciplinary contributions to behavioral theory as behavioral genetics, sociobiology, and related emerging disciplines is suggested cautiously but imaginatively. Arresting analytical syntheses are revealed in a succession of epigrammatic passages of remarkable power within the “cybernetic reach” of its overarching theoretical framework. Precisely because of the reconstructive character of Campbell’s programmatic proposals, they are likely to provide an agenda for years of further study. An invitation to Campbell or others to make explicit the implications of this work for related bodies of theory, particularly in psychology and sociology, therefore appears appropriate.

This comment suggests two areas in reference to which metatheoretical elaboration of Campbell’s work appears particularly necessary: (1) methodologically individualist theory within the newer traditions of mathematical behavioralism and (2) functionalist theory in sociology. …
notes
¹ Donald T. Campbell, “On the Conflicts between Biological and Social Evolution and between Psychology and Moral Tradition,” in this issue; the quote is from Bertram M. Gross, “Systems Theory” (Symposium on Systems Theory, Syracuse University, New York, 1967).

DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1976.tb00282.x

Developments

The Evolutionary Success of Altruism and Urban Social Order by F. T. Cloak, Jr.

Donald T. Campbell’s address has had exactly the effect he intended, upon me at any rate. Like most of his cross-disciplinary writings, it juxtaposes ideas and facts in new ways, practically forcing the reader (especially the would-be critic) to respond creatively.¹

On my first reading I simply agreed with everything Campbell says. Everything: I have always agreed with his premises—his hard-science epistemology, his Darwinian “blind variation and selective retention” evolution and his recognition that learning is a form thereof (or at least analogous thereto), and his belief that the social organizations of humans and amoebas can be explained by the same basic processes. The logic of argument, too, seems impeccable. The conclusions are humbly put, most tentative, laced with “perhapses” and “maybes,” and set in a context of skepticism; he is not really making assertions but only questioning the current conventional professional wisdom. So what is there to criticize?

After a second reading and a great deal of thought I realized that Campbell’s conclusions, tentative or not, are too important, too intriguing, too exciting to accept without probing the whole argument: Altruism is possible, but only culturally acquired altruism. How can that be if culture and biology are both products of blind variation and selective retention? What is painful for (some) people may be good for society and thus, presumably, good for people. But does that latter presumption hold, and what has pain got to do with altruism? …
notes
¹ Donald T. Campbell, “On the Conflicts between Biological and Social Evolution and between Psychology and Moral Tradition,” in this issue.

F. T. Cloak, Jr., currently at liberty in Springfield, Illinois, is an anthropologist who has written extensively on the ethology, ecology, and evolution of human culture.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1976.tb00283.x

The Teaching of Social Science and the Preservation of Moral Tradition by John A. Miles, Jr.

What sort of person is drawn to professional specialization in the social sciences? When such a person becomes a college professor, what sort of character formation occurs around the edges of his instruction? Last fall, in an address entitled “On the Conflicts between Biological and Social Evolution and between Psychology and Moral Tradition,” the presidential address to the American Psychological Association, Donald T. Campbell spoke rather directly to these questions.¹ In what follows I shall expand and comment on his observations. First, however, I should like to present a fictional incident as a kind of foil.

In Flannery O’Connor’s “Everything That Rises Must Converge” Julian Chestny is a recent college graduate living in the South with his mother. He wants to be a writer and, in the meantime, is allowing her to support him. …
notes
¹ Donald T. Campbell, “On the Conflicts between Biological and Social Evolution and between Psychology and Moral Tradition,” in this issue.

John A. Miles, Jr., is associate editor, Doubleday & Co., New York.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1976.tb00284.x

A Simple Dual Inheritance Model of the Conflict between Social and Biological Evolution by Robert Boyd and Peter J. Richerson

Donald T. Campbell’s address is an important contribution to the understanding of human behavior because it takes seriously the problem of understanding how cultural and genetic processes jointly determine human behavior.¹ It is difficult to see how any useful theoretical approach to the human condition can evade specifying important roles for both genes and culture and for the mechanisms by which they interact. His approach is the intelligent middle ground between complete genetic determinism and complete cultural determinism, either of which simply ignores the real problem.

Furthermore, we applaud the extension of natural selection explicitly to cultural modes of inheritance. Even if rational strategizing or other processes play roles in shaping human culture, limitations on the calculating ability and the availability of information ensure that “chance variation and selective retention” will play a role in cultural as well as genetic evolution. It is interesting to note in this connection that Darwin, in chapter 5 of Descent of Man, was perfectly willing to posit selection of “mental and moral faculties” which he treated as inherited in a Lamarckian fashion.² The triumph of genetical theory in this century has caused biologists to overlook the peculiar importance of a non-Mendelian form of inheritance in humans, much as the reaction to Social Darwinism has caused most social scientists to ignore the importance of both genes and natural selection. Campbell’s raising of these issues in so prestigious a forum as the presidential address of a major social scientific society, we hope, signals the end to the neglect of the problem and of the possible contribution of the natural selection mechanism to its solution.

While agreeing with Campbell that human behavior is shaped chiefly by natural selection acting on both culture and genes, we believe that the detailed nature of the interaction between these codes is so complex and difficult as to preclude any immediately definitive generalizations about the resulting system. Our own approach has been to consider the simplest possible mathematical models of the interaction of culture and genes in the hope of obtaining at least a clear, if rudimentary, picture of the mechanisms involved.³ …
notes
¹ Donald T. Campbell, “On the Conflicts between Biological and Social Evolution and between Psychology and Moral Tradition,” in this issue.
² Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex, 2d ed. (London: Murray, 1886).
³ Peter J. Richerson and Robert Boyd, “A Dual Inheritance Model of the Human Evolutionary Process,” Journal of Human and Social Biology (in press).

Robert Boyd is a lecturer in environmental studies, and Peter J. Richerson is assistant professor of environmental studies, both at the University of California, Davis.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1976.tb00285.x

The Source of Civilization in the Natural Selection of Coadapted Information in Genes and Culture by Ralph Wendell Burhoe

In concluding this issue featuring Donald T. Campbell’s presidential address to the American Psychological Association, “On the Conflicts between Biological and Social Evolution and between Psychology and Moral Tradition,” I have been tempted to defend his primary theses by correcting the multitudinous errors that I see in the negative responses published in the May 1976 issue of the American Psychologist and elsewhere. To me, most of the negative responses evidence a failure to read Campbell with sufficient care or with sufficient background in recent interdisciplinary developments of evolutionary theory to be able to understand fully or correctly what he is saying. But republication of his address in Zygon demands a more positive response, for Campbell’s paper conforms with and amplifies our basic hypotheses that have been reiterated in editorials and papers for more than ten years.

Also, Campbell’s presidential address may mark a new age in the history of psychology and of psychotherapy. Speaking “from a scientific, physicalistic (materialistic) world view,” he has pointed to how a most plausible and hardheaded science of human behavior can embrace in a coherent and empirically validated conceptual system a spectrum of data that ranges from the DNA substrate of organism at one extreme to religious myth and theology at the other. He has pioneered in the seemingly impossible synthesis of this broad range of intellectual perspectives upon human behavior. To some it is frighteningly incredible or incomprehensible. At one extreme, his use of the genetic mechanics prohibiting altruism may symbolize the lowest level of reductionism beyond the pale of psychology even for most of those in the biobehavioral wing. The opposite extreme, pointing to scientific grounds for the essential validity of what currently appear to many as “insubstantial” religious myths, is likewise beyond the pale even for most in the humanistic and social wing of psychology. …
Ralph Wendell Burhoe is director of the Center for Advanced Study in Religion and Science, affiliated with the Chicago Cluster of Theological Schools. For this paper I am greatly indebted to Professor Donald T. Campbell of Northwestern University for many years of stimulating challenge on the problems involved, to Professors Alfred E. Emerson of the University of Chicago and Elving E. Anderson of the University of Minnesota for their careful readings of manuscripts and helpful suggestions. and to my wife, Calla, whose readings of drafts and many helpful suggestions greatly enhance the readability. But to them and the many others who have helped in lesser ways there should be no ascription of the faults that still remain.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.1976.tb00286.x



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