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EVOLVING DARWIN (psychological discoveries since his death)

  • Aug 14, 2013 · 7:00 PM


Our modern view of our humanity is greatly influenced by Darwin.  But his view of our species was based on psychological information now out of date.  Since his death we have discovered we have an unconscious portion of our psychology, and we are beginning to see that it is different in important respects from our conscious psychology.  The differences very much affect our view of ourselves.  Since our view is so influenced by Darwin, we need to evolve Darwin’s work to reflect our psychological discoveries since his death.

Darwin’s basic description of us starts with competition for sustenance.  He said that each of us is pitted against each other in the quest to bring children into the world and
sustain them to adulthood.  He saw the world as fairly harsh because the consequence of failure to obtain sustenance is genetic death.  Darwin did see the possibility that our group relations might soften some of the competition, but he and those who apply his work in science have a hard time explaining how generosity or morality could have arisen in Darwin’s theory.  The problem for Darwin was we had not discovered we had a deep psychology in his lifetime; the problem for modern scientists is that the evolution of our psychology is very difficult to take into scientific account because the evidence for it is so speculative, so intuitive, and therefore largely outside the interest of scientists.

Since Darwin’s death we have discovered that our psychology has depth and that the depth seems to provide inspiration and guidance to us, and it does that by being a God in our psychology.  It feels like God, it inspires hope in us like God and it guides us with conscience like God.  There may be a real God outside of our psychology, but there most definitely is a psychological God in our psychology and it has been inspiring and guiding our psychology for a long time. 

This psychological God is the foundation of our psychology.  It is very appealing to us
and we are drawn to follow what it calls us to do.  It calls us to live in relation to it and to
each other.  As a result, our species seeks sustenance in cooperative groups, where competition is largely confined within limits and where sharing of the work and the sustenance is a prominent feature.  These limits and the sharing are the kind of generosity and morality Darwinists can’t explain, but once our psychology is included in evolutionary calculations, they fit the theory.  This psychological God evolved in our
ancestor species, and the rest follows.

This is difficult to appreciate, for a number of reasons.  First, we could not think of
ourselves objectively until we became self-conscious, which was only five or
seven thousand years ago.  Then it took us quite a long time to develop skills for objective thinking, including the separation of the work of science and religion, which only occurred very recently.  Then it took a huge effort to find the physical vestiges of earlier species and put Darwin’s theory to work.  We had to invent lots of new scientific disciplines and new equipment and techniques.  We also had to study living primates and other creatures to learn about their behavior by observation.  And we also had the frightening and very
difficult work of delving into the psychological depths of our fellow humans
whose brains had been injured in some telling way, or who were suffering some
grievous problems in their psychological functioning, such that their lives were in disarray.  This last work was carried on most prominently by Freud and Jung, and Jung was the one who first observed the behaviors of thousands of patients that allowed him to intuit that
a psychological God was the core of our psychological depths.  Jung studied religious art and symbols from all over the world and found additional evidence of his intuition that humans always and everywhere share the same response of awe to this psychological God and strive to express it. 

As part of discovering awe and our depths, we learned that this deep part of our psychology is almost hidden from the conscious part of our psychology.  This deep psychology is much different than our conscious part, much more psychologically soulful
and relational, and establishes the values we judge our lives by and struggle to live by. 

So Darwin could not know about the natural awe in our depths and about how psychologically soulful and relational our lives are.  As a result he described us incorrectly: as creatures who live a relatively harsh, competitive struggle for sustenance.  In fact, we are creatures who live from an evolved psychology that gives us soulful and relational lives
which we judge to be rich and fulfilling.  Far from being a harsh universe, it is a wonderful universe in which scarcity leads us to each other.



1.  Do you think that the notion of inspiration and guidance coming from a deeper layer of our evolved psychology is a reasonable notion?

2.  Do you think our view of ourselves will change as we learn more about our unconscious

3.  Do you think it is possible Darwin’s description of us has to be revised as we learn more about our hidden psychology?

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  • Craig Y.

    A few things I question Darwin. For biological species, failures are incentive for change and adaptation. A species does not fail, it does not evolve and becomes successful. A more competitive and therefore unchanging species may not be a good thing. If you look at human history, nations rise and fall, often unpredicted at the time. A nation was not looked upon as a success material, be it England which was looked upon by the Romans as dumber than a servant and Americans by England as a wild Indian territory and LOSERS sent there. After they were successful historians later on rationalized it. So Darwin would change his theory about those countries if he were borne at the time of failure or success. And to my Jewish friends, the same. The Jews failed when the temples were destroyed twice. After a few centuries look at how successful they did. A weaker one if can survive and change can become strong, because the strong does not need to change, and will result in failure.

    August 9, 2013

  • Gene R.


    August 8, 2013

  • Joel B.

    unfortunately will be building sand castles w/my grandchildren.

    August 8, 2013

  • Joel B.

    Personally I don't find concepts such as God, or words such as inspiration, guidance, or deeper layer to be useful in discussing modifications to a crude version of "survival of the fittest" which I take to be the topic here. (?) Our minds are what our brains do, that's very complex and far from completely understood, but for me at least those words don't help. I've read some about how behavior that fits one or more of the several definitions of altruism might be consonant with a fuller (I wouldn't say revised) view of Darwin's insights (Richard Joyce, Richard Dawkins, E.O. Wilson, Franz de Waals, others) and my take-away is that we are directed by COMBINATIONS of genes (nature) and memes (nurture), and truly altruistic behavior is indeed a possible result of such direction. Differentiating the separate effects of each may be interesting to try but may be impossible to achieve. I do think that it's a fascinating topic, thanks for suggesting it.

    August 8, 2013

  • Carolyn

    OOOHHH! I wish this was Thurs the 15th as I have app'ts on Wed nite. How long are you there 'til? As far as #1 question, I believe several religions direct us to our core. Of course, we must first recognize it's existence and then it's relationship to others so as to quell the anxities and function as a unit.

    August 8, 2013

    • John W

      Carolyn, we usually begin wrapping up around 8:30 as Panera closes at 9:00.

      August 8, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Love this topic!

    August 8, 2013

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