The Pen is mightier than the sword, but the Pen must sometimes move the sword against corruption if the corrupt are not moved by the pen.. An idea without an implementer is useless. "The Rulers do not carry the sword in vain"Rom 13:4

Friday, February 6, 2015

Human Behavior and the Dopamine Reward Sub System of the Brain.

The prevailing orthodoxy about 'what' a human being is, contends that we are 'an organism' who's primary function is to replicate and pass on our Genes.

It follows from this, like night follows day, (and on the basis of formal logic) that theoretically, all behavior which contributes to this goal of genetic propagation is valid, right, and proper.

SO.....this is where it all goes 'complicated'. Generally, we propagate our genes via the medium of 'marriage' with a person of the  opposite sex.  Presumably, our collective human consciousness over millennia  has determined that 'marriage' and nuclear heterosexual  family are the most effective ways of achieving this genetic goal.

BUT..... if our primary concern is to propagate our genes....surely the most effective way to do this is either:

i)   -Use polygamy and multiple wives to have lot's of babies.
ii)  -Spread our seed far and wide with whoever is receptive.

The problem with i) above, is most basic to human nature... we have this capability to 'love'. Love is not a mechanical idea, it is highly emotional. In fact the willingness of a women to expose herself and body to the genetic desires of a man depend highly on this emotion. It might be argued that 'modern' pill popping women now feel free to enjoy the 'technology' of reproduction without the responsibility of actually having babies.  I think this is a distortion of the natural order and a denial of our fundamental natures.  Unless one is a thorough going full on narcissist, we do generally care about how others think of us.

Perhaps this is somehow related to the dopamine reward sub system, where that deep inner (neurological/chemical?) voice tell us that there is more reward and a more assured future by avoiding narcissistic selfishness?  A narcissist will be lacking in both Oxytocin and Vassopressin, - 2 chemicals which cause people to think more of intimate bonding, ethnic solidarity, and 'family values'.

ii) See last paragraph above and....A person who's brain is deficient in the two above mentioned chemicals, will not be worried about how people view him, or her, nor about the kind of reward that comes from faithful family values. So, wide broadcasting of his genetic seed is more about short term high intensity physical gratification than reproduction.

I am not persuaded by any means that our awareness of love, our desire for faithfulness, our hatred of betrayal can be explained purely in terms of neuro-science.  We (the scientific community)  still have little idea of what 'self consciousness' is.  The very real danger is that we view all human behavior in chemical terms and not moral. If it's just chemistry, don't worry about the serial rapist and murderer, it's just a mild chemical imbalance, and if we temporarily incarcerate the individual, whil dosing him up with Oxytocin etc... his neurological balance will be restored and all will be well......???  I suppose such an approach might suit Philosopher Dr Peter Singer, unless of course it was his wife or daughter who was the victim of such heinous behavior. (can I even call such behavior 'heinous' ?)

I don't have a vision of a 'chemistry/neurology' based society, I have only a nightmare of one.

Of one thing we may be sure, brain chemistry and it's balance are definitely effected by many factors, including how we react to situations, what we are taught at school, how our parents raised us, our general culture etc etc....

May I suggest firstly that we are far more than neurons and chemicals and biological circuits! I believe we were created, by 'God'.  The best we can be is outlined in a letter from the Apostle Paul to the Roman Christians as follows:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Rom 12)

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