Blinded With Science

Barbara Oakley has a new book out, Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed, and My Sister Stole My Mother’s Boyfriend. Oakley has a long list of credentials involving both education and practical experience, a position in academia and world travel. She has written a science text that blends adept research with personal adventure and observation. All this tends to make her book accessible to a wide audience beyond her peer group.

Her basic premise is the exploration of “human evil from a scientific perspective.” She testifies that it was her own sister’s inexplicable, ruinous behavior that caused great pain to those around her that was the catalyst in researching this topic. From the scientific side, she discusses recent advances in brain imaging and the field of genetics to understand evil in humans. She believes science is revealing new details of how our brains work and how genes influence our ability to discern between right and wrong.

Oakley obviously writes from an anthropocentric perspective. She also writes from the black tower of the last bastion of modernity in this country, though I am sure postmoderns will be willing to borrow capital to advance their humanistic goals. Her base conclusion is that evil people are genetically crippled and that makes them dangerous and/or hurtful to others, even those who love them.

I can neither recommend this book nor condone its conclusions. I think it is something we need to be aware of. Man, since the fall, has sought to put new names on sin and shift blame off themselves. Today folks have problems, issues, episodes, genetic predispositions, but not sin. This is the culture we seek to evangelize and unless they own their blood-guiltiness before God, they will not be saved.

About Jeff Short