Thursday, 8 December 2016

New Scientist: Thank Evolution for Fear

Inherited fear? Darwinians think so.

Joel Kontinen

Darwinists are fond of thanking evolution for all kinds of everything.
Often, their explanations are more or less bizarre – often more –, as in social living shrinks our brains.”

Clever attempt, but there’s no evidence.

Professor Philip Skell famously wrote that the Darwinian explanation tends to be “so supple that it can explain any behaviour.”

A recent article in New Scientist credited evolution for our sense of fear:

Evolution has given us an inbuilt fear factory. But by engaging a different way of thinking we can stop panicking and weigh up the real risks.”

The magazine makes a distinction between two kinds of approaches to fear that are known as system 1 and system 2 thinking:

System 1 is the product of evolved biases shaped over thousands of years.”

It quotes author Dan Gardner, who brings up the standard Darwinian explanation:

If you saw a shadow in the grass and it was a lion and you lived to tell the tale, you’d make sure to run the next time you saw a shadow in the grass.”

Way back in 2008, TIME magazine used slightly different words for the same thing: “Fear is … embedded by evolution in our lizard brain.”

There is no evidence that any of us ever had a lizard brain. A human being, like all other creatures, is designed as a whole.

What is more, we are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” as Psalm 139: 14 puts it.


Adee, Sally. 2016. Super-you: Train your brain to beat the inbuilt fear factory. New Scientist (7 December).