One of the great untold stories of the modern age is that
Christian "family values" are largely based on science
while secular promotion of non-traditional families is largely based on faith
and wishful thinking.
"Family values" that say, for example,
that a child is best off growing up with its biological father around,
actually make the most sense according to evolutionary biology.
Evolution has designed us to care more about our genetic offspring.
We would not have evolved at all if we did not feel that way.
Now of course we are smart and we can rebel against evolution.
But let us at least be clear that we are rebelling against it.
Raising your girlfriend's kids by another man
is as unnatural as celibacy from an evolutionary point of view.
And that is why statistically people find it hard.
We should expect that statistically,
children are cared for better by their biological father
than other men
- and indeed that is what the statistics say.
Now let me deal with two issues:
None of this means that good stepfathers don't exist, and bad fathers.
We are talking about statistics here.
None of this means we should suppress non-traditional families.
In a liberal society, we should allow all sorts of arrangements,
including multiple marriages, no marriage,
gay marriage, communes, polygamy, swinging
and indeed any arrangement consenting adults want.
This may surprise you, but liberty means you should be free to do X.
It does not mean you should do X.
You should be free to live in a free love commune.
It does not mean you should live in a free love commune.
Liberty does not mean that X will make you happy.
But you are an adult. You must be free to make your own choices.
What this debate is about is understanding evolution,
and understanding how hard it often is to work against it.
And this may help us make better personal choices,
and understand the consequences of taking the sexual revolution too seriously.
The evolution of altruism
Altruism towards our own young
needs no evolutionary explanation.
Altruism towards any other young
Parenting is a decades-long marathon of self-denial.
It requires a massive internal drive to stay the course.
It is easier to stick it out
if you feel primitive, evolutionary, biological drives
or a love for a girlfriend that may fade.
The killing of young that are not genetically yours.
Evolution explains why.
Much discussion on these issues
takes place in the absence of statistics,
and is driven by ideology (what we want to be true)
instead of statistics (what is true).
Even the fundamental difference between anecdote and statistics
is not grasped by many people.
The stats, however, are clear.
Christian "family values" are based on science.
And secular promotion of "alternative" families is based on faith.
Many statistics are little known because they do not fit in
with the prevailing ideology.
We wish these things weren't true,
so we ignore them.
A few major examples are:
Child abuse, rape, and violence against women
are statistically far more common outside marriage than within marriage:
statistically far more likely to abuse than natural fathers.
unmarriednatural fathers are
statistically far more likely to abuse than
married natural fathers.
Children of divorce have (statistically)
more problems of all types,
and are statistically more likely to divorce themselves.
While we're at it, married men are richer, live longer
and have more and better sex than single men.
Why are all these statistics so shocking
and contrary to the pious politically-correct
ideas we were taught growing up?
"The Evolution of Divorce"
by W. Bradford Wilcox.
Study estimates that if the United States enjoyed the same level of family stability today as it did in 1960,
the nation would have
about 600,000 fewer kids receiving therapy, and
approximately 70,000 fewer suicides every year.
Divorce and unmarried childbearing increase poverty for both children and mothers.
Married couples seem to build more wealth on average than singles or cohabiting couples.
Married men earn more money than do single men with similar education and job histories.
Married people, especially married men, have longer life expectancies than do otherwise similar singles.
Marriage is associated with better health and lower rates of injury, illness, and disability for both men and women.
Divorce appears significantly to increase the risk of suicide.
Married women appear to have a lower risk of experiencing domestic violence than do cohabiting or dating women.
Parental marriage is associated with a sharply lower risk of infant mortality.
Growing up outside an intact marriage increases the likelihood that children will themselves divorce or become unwed parents.
Parental divorce (or failure to marry) appears to increase children's risk of school failure.
Parental divorce reduces the likelihood that children will graduate from college and achieve high-status jobs.
Children who live with their own two married parents enjoy better physical health, on average, than do children in other family forms.
Children whose parents divorce have higher rates of psychological distress and mental illness.
A child who is not living with his or her own two married parents is at greater risk of child abuse.
There are many other statistics that make sense under an
evolutionary-biology or a conservative view, but that don't make
any sense under a PC view.
These statistics make conservatism look like it is based on reason
(so long as it doesn't go too far,
like actually banning sex outside marriage, etc.
like it did in the past).
And these statistics make PC ideas look like pure ideology,
hostile to reason and evidence.
Obama grew up in a "non-traditional" home
with no natural father,
and yet he himself
promotes these stats:
"We know that more than half of all black children live in single-parent households, a number that has doubled - doubled - since we were children. We know the statistics - that children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of schools and twenty times more likely to end up in prison. They are more likely to have behavioral problems, or run away from home, or become teenage parents themselves. And the foundations of our community are weaker because of it."
If parents cannot mind a child, grandparents should get custody.
The child will normally be far safer with its grandparents than if it is put into "care".
Of course, other close relations like aunts and uncles should also be considered.
Grandparents should have some legal right to see their grandchildren,
even if the child's parents divorce or one dies.
This is good for the child and good for the grandparents.
Unless there are extreme circumstances, one parent denying a child the right to see the other parent
or its grandparents
is child abuse.
Mothers should be allowed live with boyfriends,
but statistically this will lead to far more abused children.
Priests running orphanages and institutions
are not the children's fathers,
and so are more likely to abuse them than their fathers are.
The Tuam babies scandal.
In mid 20th century Ireland, the Catholic church took children away from single mothers
and put the children in institutions.
It is now clear that these institutions
had incredibly high death rates.
Evolution explains why
children are much safer with their mothers
than in "baby homes".
Even without a father, the family of a mother and baby
is a much safer place than the non-family of an institution.
The high death rate in babies' homes is because
the church preferred institutions to families.
Image from here.
Divorce should be legal, but it is often a bad choice,
both for the children and for the adults.
There is evidence that,
for unhappy marriages,
getting divorced is statistically a bad idea.
It will (statistically) make everyone more unhappy than staying together.
Obviously, for some unhappy marriages, divorce is the correct choice.
But for most unhappy marriages, divorce makes things worse, not better.
Happy marriages and unhappy divorces
by Mona Charen, July 19, 2002.
"The data show that if a couple is unhappy, the chances of their being happily married 5 years hence are 64 percent if they remain together but only 19 percent if they divorce and remarry.
Those who enter marriage with a dim (some might say accurate) view of divorce
and a strong religious or other motivation for avoiding it are not only less likely to divorce, they are also less likely to be unhappy."
The main problem is that it is not enough to leave your unhappy marriage
- you must find something better.
That is the main problem.
The Story of Us
touches on the problem for many divorces
- you have to go out there and find something better, not worse,
than the current flawed situation.
In fact, it normally has to be something much better,
to make up for the
hurt of your children, the loss of income, the loss of the family home,
the pain of visits,
unhappiness with new partners,
and so on.
This is the problem.
I'm all in favour of the sexual revolution and sexual freedom,
but I think some people have taken it too seriously.
I'm not sure you're meant to live your entire life in it.
Interestingly, it is the poorer parts of society that have really adopted the
radical lifestyle of the sexual revolution, not the middle-class parts.
The almost total breakdown of the traditional family is a dominant feature,
perhaps the most dominant feature, of poor,
high-crime, "underclass" areas in the West.
In the poorer,
high-crime, "underclass" areas of the West,
the sexual revolution seems to have
led to the total
breakdown of the family
- the absence of fathers,
and an increased toleration for the abandonment of mothers and children
while men move on in search of new
This is a radical social experiment, and it seems strongly linked with crime
and other disorders.
You should party in
the sexual revolution, not raise children in it:
While the middle class experiment with sexual chaos when young,
they often avoid pregancy, get a career first, get married and then have children,
often very late, in their 30s.
And I quite like these aspects of
the sexual revolution,
and would not like to turn the clock back.
But people need to be responsible with their freedom,
by using contraception diligently, and not having children
until you have a job and a stable relationship.
The middle classes are often responsible, instinctively
(if only because they worry about their careers).
As Theodore Dalrymple
"All Sex, All the Time"
live in the world of sexual chaos that the middle class only flirt with.
They raise their children in this world, rather than just partying in it.
They take the ideas of the sexual revolution theorists seriously,
which in many ways the middle class do not.
And these bad ideas - that families are not necessary to raise children
- are clearly a major cause of crime and dysfunction.
Dalrymple is different to many writers on family breakdown and the sexual revolution
because he is not religious. In fact, he is an atheist.
He is simply interested in whether
the sexual revolution
has made the underclass happy.
To which the answer is obviously no.
It has led to an increase, not decrease,
in rape, domestic violence, child abuse,
and all forms of abuse of women and children.
All but 3 of 23 studies found some family structure effect on crime or delinquency.
7 of the 8 studies that used nationally representative data
found that children in single-parent or other non-intact family structures
were at greater risk of committing criminal or delinquent acts.
A study that looked at the relation between divorce rates and out-of-wedlock birthrates
and violent crime between 1973 and 1995 found that nearly 90% of the change in violent crime rates
can be accounted for by the change in percentages of out-of-wedlock births.
Fatherless young people are 80 percent more likely to be involved in anti-social behaviour.
They are 76 percent more likely to take part in crime.
There is a class divide in non-marital births.
The destruction of the black family in America since the 1960s.
Does anybody seriously think this was a good thing?
The world of sexual chaos.
Fun to party in.
Not so much fun to live your whole life in.
The sexual revolution has led to an increase, not decrease, in child abuse.
Figures for child abuse and neglect by family type.
Colours are hard to read, but top-to-bottom maps to left-to-right.
("Married biological parents" is gold.)
There are few findings as solid as the fact that children are safest (by far) when their parents are married
and stay together.
From US Department of Health
"National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect"
Hat tip Tony Allwright, Mar 2010.
Note there is far more abuse and neglect among step-parents and non-parents
(adopted parents, foster parents, "care")
than among married biological parents.
There is also far more abuse and neglect among unmarried biological parents than
among married biological parents.
Worst of all for abuse and neglect is the single mother with the live-in boyfriend.
(Feckless men being expected to care for children that are not even theirs.)
None of this would surprise any
or indeed anyone who understands human nature,
but it seems to come as a surprise to the left.
Nature does not fit into neat categories.
In evolutionary history, there is no neat dividing line between non-human
There is no such thing as "the first human".
In personal history, "I" was once a separate sperm swimming towards a separate egg.
Then, "I" was a fertilised egg, a single cell.
There is no neat dividing line between that single cell, with no brain or body,
and something that is like me today.
I do not agree with pro-life people who imply there is a dividing line, at conception.
I do not agree with pro-choice people who sometimes imply there is a dividing line, at birth.
I think the law needs to artificially set a divide,
but it should be nowhere near conception
and nowhere near birth.
I am generally uninterested in the reasons for abortion (e.g. rape, disability, sex selection, whim).
Either the fetus has rights (in which case your reasons are irrelevant)
or it does not (in which case your reasons are irrelevant).
What I think abortion law should be:
Before time t, abortion on demand, for any reason. No reason needs to be given.
This is about the definition of what life we protect.
Why do we not protect chimpanzee life?
Would we protect Homo erectus life if they had survived?
Would we protect Homo erectus unborn life?
If all living things that ever existed were alive today,
which would we protect?
Let's imagine that, as we explored the world, we discovered that members of all these species were still alive.
Which of them should get human rights?
Religion has never seriously attempted to answer that question.
National Center for Science Education.
An interesting question is this:
If religious people really believe life begins at conception,
why do they not give names and funerals to miscarriages?
Why does the church not demand funerals and burials for miscarriages?
IVF routinely generates huge numbers (hundreds of thousands) of unused embryos.
These are normally then destroyed.
Destruction is the only alternative.
Surely it is better to use them in research than to destroy them?
The embryos used in research
4 or 5 days old.
The Virtual Wall
National Memorial for the Unborn.
I think abortion should be legal,
I think it
is probably the wrong choice for most people.
One issue people never consider is:
This might be
your only chance ever
to have a child.
Some people grow old having aborted their only child ever.
They just didn't know it at the time.
Who I block:
I will debate almost anyone.
I love ideas.
I will not debate (and will block) people who do the following:
(a) Make threats.
(b) Accuse me of crimes.
(c) Comment on my appearance.
(d) Drag in stuff about me not related to the topic. (My professional career, my personal life.)
(e) Complain to my employer.
Yes, people do all these things.