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Saturday, 12 December 2009

Personality Types and Student Views of the Origins Debate: Series Introduction

Last fall, Marlowe Embree published a series on The Social Psychology of the Origins Debate. In that series he mentioned that he was conducting some original research on whether personality differences affect a person’s conclusions regarding creation and evolution, and how likely they are to change their views. I’m pleased to welcome Marlowe back to "An Evangelical Dialogue on Evolution". In a new three-part series to be published over next couple of weeks, he will provide a brief review of some of his research results. The subjects of this research were students at the college where he teaches, somewhat serendipitous given that our last series provided perspectives on the science / faith dialogue from various post-secondary students.

Psychology is often treated by Christians with even more suspicion than biology, with the interface between psychology and religion being the “worst of the lot”. So I suspect that this discussion about the affect of personality factors on views of origins could be somewhat contentious. After all some people (from all sides of the debate!) may maintain that (correct) conclusions on human origins are a matter of examining the evidence (whether scientific, theological, or biblical), and that these conclusions are not influenced by an individual’s personality. Others who share my evangelical faith will probably point out that this faith is provided to us by the grace of God through the leading of his Holy Spirit, and that an individual’s personality type does not influence our, or God’s, decisions. I would even wholeheartedly agree with the first clause in both these statements, but not necessarily with the conclusion that personality plays no role in these matters. (At a minimum, I’d like to hear more of what Marlowe and others are discovering in this area).

I believe that this discussion is both worthwhile and helpful for the evangelical community; after all, if we are to peacefully settle this ongoing debate about origins (and unfortunately, notwithstanding the efforts of many evangelicals, it is still a debate and not a dialogue), shouldn’t we try to understand how and why people make decisions and form their beliefs?

Enjoy the series.

3 comments:

ZDENNY said...

Personality doesn't have anything to do with it.

If Darwinians could actually demonstrate evolution, then their would be no debate. However, they only have circumstantial evidence which really can be interpreted in many different ways.

Once we actually have something concrete from Darwinians, then we will have some science.

At this point, Christians argue for a Common Designer and Darwinians argue for a Common Ancestor. We don't have any demonstration that a common ancestor is the correct conclusion to the debate.

In fact, all the evidence seems to point to a common Designer. The science supports the Evangelical view at this time.

Jordan said...

I'd be curious to know how you fit within Marlowe's personality evaluation, ZDENNY. Your disposition is similar to that of many neocreationists I've interacted with online.
(BTW, Greg and I are waiting to discuss your evidence for a common creator in the "Speaking the Truth in Love" thread. Hope you'll reply there soon!)

Greg said...

ZDENNY:

This has been explained ad nauseum. If God really had designed entire organisms essentially de novo, there are almost unlimited available options whereby He could have made it quite obvious that they were in no way related.
Take humans and chimps (the most important organisms to anti-evolutionists), He could have put entirely different genes, in entirely different orders, or simply used an entirely different genetic code. Yet what we see is not only virtually identical amino acids for each gene, all in the same order for gene after gene, but they have the same underlying DNA code. This is the case across essentially the entire genome, including pseudogenes, and things that are known to insert essentially randomly in organisms' genomes such as Alus and ERVs.
Then remember this is also the case for gorillas and orang-utans, each with just slightly increased differences, and continues all the way down the phylogenetic tree.
Honest creationists, such as Todd Wood, recognise that ad hoc appeals to a common designer are not adequate. On what grounds do you disagree with probably the best trained creation scientist around?