Kingdom of Priests

Kingdom of Priests

The Enigma of Adoption

posted by David Klinghoffer

If I may amplify my previous post on evolutionary psychology, we’re supposed to be believe that DNA, while directing only the production of proteins and other cell components, is ultimately in charge of everything else about us too — as David Berlinski puts it, “altruism, date rape, aggression, eating disorders, and a taste for Mansfield Park,” and much else. An infinity of “much else.” 

I was adopted and did not meet my birth mother until I was in my mid 20s. She and my adoptive parents have very little in common — not religion, not background, not country of origin, not tastes. Almost nothing. (You can read more about the story in my first book, The Lord Will Gather Me In.) I inherited from my adoptive parents many culturally rooted preferences. Of course I did. But I inherited from my birth mother other things, as I’ve come to realize over the years since we developed a relationship. Hair color and complexion. Yeah sure, big deal. But also attitudes, habits, tastes — not for Mansfield Park but Graham Greene, whom she was reading when pregnant with me, for one example. Just a lot of things that if you’re Robert Wright, you’d have to assume were granted through the coded language of DNA, a language that codes for cell components and nothing else
This is what I mean by magical thinking.

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posted August 24, 2009 at 11:08 pm

Another enigma:
David, in his post on Francis Collins: “On the other hand, that life has an evolutionary history including billions of years of change — that is unassailable as science and unobjectionable to me as a Jew.” Please explain to me how this is this article which you linked to awhile back, you’re on record as saying, “Normally, I think it’s best for friends of ID to avoid a defensive posture and generally let critics say what they want without our always feeling obliged to respond.” (emphasis added) You obviously hew closely to that ethos, but is that anything like the real debate, discussion, or dialogue you claim to want? Is this how you view what you’re doing–assert and assert and assert, ignoring all calls for answers, responses, or dialogue? If this is how you view things, why have a blog with responses at all?

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posted August 24, 2009 at 11:21 pm

David: we’re supposed to be believe that DNA, while directing only the production of proteins and other cell components, is ultimately in charge of everything else about us too….
No evolutionary biologist believes this. The interactions between genes and the environment, and for that matter between each other, are enormously complex and still very poorly understood. Some genes “switch on” in some contexts and not in others; some genes interact with other genes in very complicated ways; and so-called “junk DNA” seems more complicated than first thought.
In any case, just to give a very, very simple example of the synergy among various factors: the height of the average American has increased several inches since the Founding. Likewise, when immigrants from parts of Asia come here, the second and third generations are often much taller than their parents and grandparents. If DNA was “in charge of everything about us”, this wouldn’t happen, would it? But the answer is simple–the vast improvement of nutrition over the centuries, and the better nutritional standards here as compared with some very poor countries, is the reason for this. Genes set limits (if your parents and grandparents are both 5’2″, you probably won’t grow to be 7″), but within those limits lots of different things can happen.
Anyway, anyone who has small children has probably had the experience of seeing a child do something that he or she couldn’t possibly have learned–and in many cases, the something doesn’t even resemble either parent’s behavior. My six-year-old daughter mystifies me on a regular basis. As I’ve said before, I doubt that human cognition (and thus behavior) can be reduced to any completely comprehensible system (I follow Roger Penrose on much of this argument, though not completely). However, this is not a basis for dismissing evolution and genetics as such, especially on the basis of something it most definitely is not. Do your research first, at least!

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Gabriel Hanna

posted August 25, 2009 at 8:44 pm

Once again, David chooses to argue with the caricature of evolution he made up, and not the one that scientists actually work with.
He has enough education to know better, so I am forced to conclude he is a liar.

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posted August 25, 2009 at 10:22 pm

Come down from your high horse, Gabriel. Can’t you “force” yourself to think that David simply didn’t (or maybe often doesn’t) formulate accurately what he wanted to say?

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Gabriel Hanna

posted August 25, 2009 at 11:01 pm

Can’t you “force” yourself to think that David simply didn’t (or maybe often doesn’t) formulate accurately what he wanted to say?
If he can’t represent his opponents’ views fairly and accurately he has no business talking about them.
I know, however, that he does it on purpose. All the DI fellows do it. They do it on purpose as a rhetorical tactic.
They also chop up people’s statements and string them together to deceive you about what they actually said. They are not people who argue in good faith. We have amply documented this on this blog and elsewhere.

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posted August 26, 2009 at 12:55 am

“If he can’t represent his opponents’ views fairly and accurately he has no business talking about them.”
Good to know you’re never guilty of that.

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posted August 26, 2009 at 3:26 am

David wrote: we’re supposed to be believe that DNA, while directing only the production of proteins and other cell components, is ultimately in charge of everything else about us too….
And Turmarion replied: “No evolutionary biologist believes this. ”
Biochemistry Professor Richard Strohman complained that “the lay public is under the impression that DNA controls everything.” I wonder how that (mis)impression came to be. So, I googled on “DNA controls everything” (something I suspect Termarion wished he had done) and found this link:
where the encyclopedia says “the central dogma in genetics became that DNA controls everything.” In other words, I think he’s blaming this misconception on evolutionary biologists.
Now, when people say “DNA controls everything,” maybe they don’t really mean it literally, not meaning to include things like the environmental factors. Is that right, David?

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posted August 26, 2009 at 9:50 am

Mark, I’ve been asking David to clarify certain of his views for a long, long time, as you see from my first post here. Moreover, there has been more than one occasion on which he has posted small snippets of quotes taken out of context in order to make them seem to mean the opposite of what they actually say (e.g. with Maimonides). I and others have pointed this out, with full quotes cited, again and again. The response? Crickets. Besides, I think David’s quote (also in my post above, with citation) about not taking a defensive posture (i.e. not responding to arguments) is very telling. Given all this, I think Gabriel is exactly right in saying that David is either unwilling or unable to represent his opponent’s views fairly and accurately. Until and unless David actually responds to some of this (and I’m not holding my breath), the accusation stands.

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