Suicide evolution and determinism bamboozle

Many recent, and not so recent, suicides of celebrities, stirred up some questions whether humanity is actually progressing, or evolving, especially when the noticeable increase of mental health issues is taken into consideration, such as depression or anxiety disorders that often lead to suicidal thoughts and suicide…

My question is: How does suicide fit into the evolutionary theory?

Also:

How does suicide fit into the deterministic notion popular among many evolutionists and materialists who claim that humans have no free will?

Here is how one article Why Doesn’t Evolution Discourage Suicide? elaborated on the issue of suicide in light of evolution:

“Humans, like all animals, are designed to pass along genes to the next generation. But ending your own life means, in stark evolutionary terms, cutting off, or harming your future reproductive success. When young people kill themselves, their genes are eliminated from the gene pool; when adults kill themselves they can no longer care for dependent children; when elderly people kill themselves, they, too, abdicate the role of caring parent for the next generations.”

So, suicide, even thoughts of suicide, makes no sense, at least from an evolutionary point of view…

Another problem is the choice involved in suicide itself. If humans have no free will, as supporters of determinism claim, why only some commit suicides and the great majority of suicidal people don’t?

Here is how another article explains the issue of choice involved in suicide:

“In order to commit suicide one has to (consciously or subconsciously) assess the reasons, the pros and cons, evaluate the methods and elaborate on the process and its possible after effects. This may take a long or a short time, even hours or minutes. But what is important is that there is the ability to go through these processes. Therefore, intelligence and a process of rationalization (not necessarily a rational thought process) are necessary here. Even deeply depressed people have some background rudimentary ability to implement at least some parts of the above processes. So one could say that true intentional suicide (the conscious decision to end one’s life) is only found in humans. Of course, many other species may kill themselves but this is based on hard-wiring, on their instincts, and it is not a question of free will.”

Is culture to blame?

In the article Americans are depressed and suicidal because something is wrong with our culture USA Today implies the following:

” Rather than pathologizing the despair and emotional suffering that is a rational response to a culture that values people based on ever escalating financial and personal achievements, we should acknowledge that something is very wrong. We should stop telling people who yearn for a deeper meaning in life that they have an illness or need therapy. Instead, we need to help people craft lives that are more meaningful and built on a firmer foundation than personal success.

Yes, there are people who have chemical imbalances who should be supported and treated with medicine. But most Americans are depressed, anxious or suicidal because something is wrong with our culture, not because something is wrong with them.

Changing our culture is critical. Being honest with others about our own personal struggles and dark nights of the soul is the first step. People on the edge need to hear stories that assure them there is a way through the all-consuming pain to a meaningful life.”

So, often times, the lack of deeper meaning in life is the underlining culprit of depression and anxiety that can lead to suicide…

The philosophy of materialism – with universe and life having no purpose – with its driving force of mindless evolution is one of the leading causes of despair among many leading to depression, anxiety and sometimes suicide…

I’m pretty convinced that neither suicide fits into the current evolutionary narrative, nor it can be explained by determinism…

What’s new about evolutionary theory other than it’s based on one assumption: Evolution must be true even if the evidence suggests that is false….

BTW: I realized Barry Arroganton did a similar OP at UD:

Why Do Rich and Famous People Kill Themselves?

It seems his assumption is that clinical depression (related to chemical imbalance in the brain) doesn’t affect believes…

64 thoughts on “Suicide evolution and determinism bamboozle

  1. I would like to update this OP a bit with another category of a slow, deliberate (in a sense) suicide…

    I just found out that one of my cousins drank himself to death… He died yesterday… It was a suicide he has chosen a few years ago as he had no guts to do it in any other way…

  2. How does suicide fit into the evolutionary theory?

    I would not think it very relevant.

    People die of many things. Suicide is only one of many. As long as it affects only a small proportion of the population, it won’t have much effect.

    Yes, if there is an inheritable tendency toward suicide at a young age (before producing offspring), one might expect that natural select would tend to diminish the proportion of the population with that inheritable tendency. But I would guess that this would be hidden behind the noise so not very important. (Maybe the suicide rate is higher than I assume, in which case my assessment could be wrong).

    How does suicide fit into the deterministic notion popular among many evolutionists and materialists who claim that humans have no free will?

    I don’t see much of significance here, either.

    Personally, I am not a determinist. But those who are determinists would presumably say that suicide depends on a complex web of causes which include social conditions.

    Is culture to blame?

    I would not use the word “blame” there. Yes, there might be aspects of our culture that lead some people to suicide. If we could identify those and change the culture to avoid them, perhaps the only affect would be that a different set of people would commit suicide. I doubt that there are any easy answers here.

  3. Neil Rickert: I would not think it very relevant.

    People die of many things.Suicide is only one of many.As long as it affects only a small proportion of the population, it won’t have much effect.

    Yes, if there is an inheritable tendency toward suicide at a young age (before producing offspring), one might expect that natural select would tend to diminish the proportion of the population with that inheritable tendency.But I would guess that this would be hidden behind the noise so not very important.(Maybe the suicide rate is higher than I assume, in which case my assessment could be wrong).

    I don’t see much of significance here, either.

    Personally, I am not a determinist.But those who are determinists would presumably say that suicide depends on a complex web of causes which include social conditions.

    I would not use the word “blame” there.Yes, there might be aspects of our culture that lead some people to suicide.If we could identify those and change the culture to avoid them, perhaps the only affect would be that a different set of people would commit suicide.I doubt that there are any easy answers here.

    Lovely!

  4. I’m pretty convinced that neither suicide fits into the current evolutionary narrative, nor it can be explained by determinism…

    Questions are easy. What’s your explanation then?

    What’s new about evolutionary theory other than it’s based on one assumption: Evolution must be true even if the evidence suggests that is false….

    You don’t seem to want to say it, but you are claiming that suicide proves evolution is false.

    So if evolution is false, then something else must be true. Knowing you as we do, that something is is no doubt the god of the bible. God did it. An old man in the sky did it. We are as he created us.

    So, to sum up. We know the all loving god of the bible exists because people are driven to kill themselves, as that seems like the better alternative to living in the world god made them as god made them.

    Sounds about right to me.

  5. Neil Rickert: one might expect that natural select would tend to diminish the proportion of the population with that inheritable tendency

    No relevance…and yet the impotence of the supposed god-like-creative powers on natural selection have been exposed again…

    Same like the impotence of natural selection to eliminate the gender dysfunctions, like homosexuality that are increasing instead of being eliminated…

    Laughable!

  6. J-Mac: No relevance…and yet the impotence of the supposed god-like-creative powers on natural selection have been exposed again…

    Who supposes that there are god-like creative powers? Or is that just a strawman for you to knock down?

  7. J-Mac: Same like the impotence of natural selection to eliminate the gender dysfunctions

    If natural selection did not do it, then your god did it. Right?

    Who are you to judge your creators creation?

  8. Neil Rickert: Who supposes that there are god-like creative powers?Or is that just a strawman for you to knock down?

    Well, if scientists can’t replicate the supposed creative powers of natural selection apparently seen by some in evolution, what or who is left?
    The destructive power of mutations, as per Joe Felsenstein???

  9. According to Arrington, Mullings and Cunningham, suicide is the inevitable consequence of the nihilism caused by atheism and Darwinism. God’s punishment for not believing in him? More proof that Trump is God.

  10. Acartia:
    According to Arrington, Mullings and Cunningham, suicide is the inevitable consequence of the nihilism caused by atheism and Darwinism. God’s punishment for not believing in him? More proof that Trump is God.

    Are you serious? Where does Arroganton say that???

  11. Acartia:
    According to Arrington, Mullings and Cunningham, suicide is the inevitable consequence of the nihilism caused by atheism and Darwinism. God’s punishment for not believing in him? More proof that Trump is God.

    So, Arroganton thinks Catholics don’t commit suicides?

  12. If one is a materialist, why not commit a suicide now, if the rest of his life is purposeless?

  13. J-Mac:
    If one is a materialist, why not commit a suicide now, if the rest of his life is purposeless?

    Because at that point committing suicide would be the purpose of our lives, so not purposeless anymore

  14. J-Mac:
    If one is a materialist, why not commit a suicide now, if the rest of his life is purposeless?

    I guess some people can’t seem to live according to their believes…which is the great majority on both sides…

  15. J-Mac: “… the lack of deeper meaning in life is the underlining culprit …”

    I know Im wasting my time on this, but, J-Mac, what sort of ‘deeper meaning’ would you suggest ?

  16. graham2:
    J-Mac:“… the lack of deeper meaning in life is the underlining culprit …”

    I know Im wasting my time on this, but, J-Mac, what sort of ‘deeper meaning’ would you suggest ?

    Ain’t it obvious? The love of Jeeesusss.

  17. graham2:
    J-Mac:“… the lack of deeper meaning in life is the underlining culprit …”

    I know Im wasting my time on this, but, J-Mac, what sort of ‘deeper meaning’ would you suggest ?

    Deeper meaning in life? Or in this conversation?

  18. J-Mac: Oh Jesus! What a moron!

    He was a little self-righteous, but a moron? I think that’s a little harsh.

  19. Acartia: https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/why-do-rich-and-famous-people-kill-themselves/

    If I were still a Catholic, I would leave the church because of nonsense like Barry’s. But, I had seen more than that. I had worked with an Irish scientists who supported the Church in Ireland significantly… One day he told me, he is not going to do it anymore and he stopped going to church. He didn’t open up until few years later. It turned out that he was sending money to the an orphanage in Ireland where the most of sexual abuse of minors by clergy was revealed…
    I don’t know the details but it is possible that he came from that very orphanage…

  20. To me, if life is without true purpose, it is meaningless…
    I know people who find some kind of purpose or meaning in flying to France, renting a villa in southern France and painting some abstract canvases and drawing some satisfaction or meaning from it… I think they can..but this is not what I’m talking about…

  21. Well, some of my subscribers don’t seem to agree with me on the free will thingy…One in particular email I got says that our free will is free but it is restricted in a sense by what we can do or how far we can go, say, in damaging the Earth, the environment and so on… I’m clueless what that means, so I will let the anonymous writer comment on this theme here…

  22. J-Mac: deeper meaning … in life? Or in this conversation?

    I cant read your mind, whatever you meant when you wrote it in the OP.

    I know you don’t like to give direct answers to direct questions, but you kicked the whole thing off, so I thought you might make an exception.

  23. Oh boy! I think that most of really interested people should read Barry’s post. To me, it is purely racist… Am I wrong?

  24. graham2:
    J-Mac: deeper meaning… in life? Or in this conversation?

    I cant read your mind, whatever you meant when you wrote it in the OP.

    I know you don’t like to give direct answers to direct questions, but you kicked the whole thing off, so I thought you might make an exception.

    Thank you so much for making a comment! My kids told me to ease up on commenting on TSZ, because they think I’m “too much info”…

  25. graham2:
    J-Mac: deeper meaning… in life? Or in this conversation?

    I cant read your mind, whatever you meant when you wrote it in the OP.

    I know you don’t like to give direct answers to direct questions, but you kicked the whole thing off, so I thought you might make an exception.

    So, ask directly! What do you want to know?

  26. J-Mac:

    My kids told me to ease up on commenting on TSZ, because they think I’m “too much info”…

    More likely they’re tired of watching their father make an ass of himself.

  27. keiths: More likely they’re tired of watching their father make an ass of himself.

    Nah, they are busy replicating the experement where J-Mac changes the interference pattern displayed on a screen by thinking at it.

    It’s funny how easy words are and how rare they are followed by action.

  28. J-Mac:
    If one is a materialist, why not commit a suicide now, if the rest of his life is purposeless?

    What makes the materialist’s life purposeless, and what makes the life of a non-materialist purposeful? Please explain both. I’m neither, so I’m really curious.

    What is the purpose that keeps a non-materialist alive? What’s the difference?

  29. Entropy: What is the purpose that keeps a non-materialist alive? What’s the difference?

    Exactly so. If you truly believed that Heaven awaited, why burden yourself with this life longer then it takes to realise that?

    The belief that suicide bars you from entry into heaven is not supported by many Christian scholars.

    Is King Saul burning in hell after killing himself? Having been anointed by Samuel, I doubt it.

    So, what’s the hold up? If you don’t fancy suicide, then take up high wire rope walking or similar. Accidents != suicide.

  30. J-Mac:
    and yet the impotence of the supposed god-like-creative powers on natural selection have been exposed again…

    It’s your problem if you think of natural selection as having god-like powers. Those who understand what it meansI don’t expect it to arrive at perfection. It has obvious limitations. Seems like these god-like powers you’re thinking about are mere projections from your religious inclinations.

    J-Mac:
    Same like the impotence of natural selection to eliminate the gender dysfunctions, like homosexuality that are increasing instead of being eliminated…

    More like now that society is not as discriminating, more homosexuality is revealed. Yet again, you are thinking of natural selection as some god. It’s not. It has never been proposed as such. It’s a natural phenomenon. It’s dependent on the kinds of situations life forms confront, and the evolutionary history of a population. Sometimes the population doesn’t have any room for the variations that allow it to continue and extinction occurs. Sometimes there’s still room. It’s enough if some proportion of individuals continue having enough offspring for the population to continue evolving.

    J-Mac:
    Laughable!

    Indeed. Your religious proclivities and projections are laughable.

  31. Hi J-Mac,

    So, suicide, even thoughts of suicide, makes no sense, at least from an evolutionary point of view…

    Although I’m highly skeptical of Darwinian attempts to explain human nature, I don’t find this argument compelling. A Darwinist could argue that suicide is caused by bad mutations, which crop up occasionally in the population for no particular reason. And no, Darwinism does not predict that such mutations would rapidly be eliminated, if they proved harmful. Think of color blindness.

    Yes, there are people who have chemical imbalances who should be supported and treated with medicine. But most Americans are depressed, anxious or suicidal because something is wrong with our culture, not because something is wrong with them. (Kirsten Powers, writing in USA Today)

    Kirsten Powers has a legitimate point: there is something rotten in our culture, and some cultures are more rotten than others, for various reasons. However, facts are facts. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, 90% of all people who die by suicide have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder at the time of their death. What’s more, over 50 percent of all people who die by suicide suffer from major depression. If one includes alcoholics who are depressed, this figure rises to over 75 percent. Finally, depression is among the most treatable of psychiatric illnesses. If one wanted to lower the suicide rate, medical treatment would be the logical place to start, although it’s obviously not the whole story.

    Oh boy! I think that most of really interested people should read Barry’s post. To me, it is purely racist… Am I wrong?

    I’m afraid so. Here is Barry’s post. Can anyone here tell me where Barry Arrington even mentions the subject of race?

    If I were still a Catholic, I would leave the church because of nonsense like Barry’s.

    Barry Arrington is not a Catholic. Nowhere in his post does he mention Catholicism. And his only reference to Christianity is a passing remark, where he observes that Nietzche’s Übermensch “throws off the ‘slave morality’ of Christianity and anything else that would inhibit the unfettered expression of his will” (emphasis mine). Nowhere does Barry argue that Christianity is the cure for suicide, or that abandonment of Christianity is the cause of it. Rather, he notes that “Nietzsche recognized that the death of God had clear implications for morality,” and adds that Nietzsche “predicted that as the knowledge that there is no transcendent basis for meaning and objective moral norms slowly percolated down from the philosophers to the common man, western civilization would spiral toward despair and nihilism.”

    Hmm. Sounds familiar. Where did I read something similar? Why, in your OP:

    The philosophy of materialism – with universe and life having no purpose – with its driving force of mindless evolution is one of the leading causes of despair among many leading to depression, anxiety and sometimes suicide…

    Isn’t this strikingly similar to Barry Arrington wrote in his OP?

    Oh Jesus! What a moron!

    Why are you using such language about Barry Arrington, when his diagnosis of the root causes of suicide in our culture is pretty much the same as your own – a point which you acknowledge when you remark in your OP that he “did a similar OP at UD”? Or are there two people posting under the name of J-Mac?

  32. It seems to me that one of the consequences of having a brain that can reason, think abstractly, predict possible consequences, etc., all of which have a significant survival advantage, is that it is also more prone to malfunction (mental illness and depression).

    Just as wings for birds provides a huge survival advantage, a fracture anywhere in one of the bones in the wing will have far greater negative consequences to that bird than a similar break in the fore-limb of a human, or a beaver.

  33. vjtorley: Hi J-Mac,

    So, suicide, even thoughts of suicide, makes no sense, at least from an evolutionary point of view…

    Although I’m highly skeptical of Darwinian attempts to explain human nature, I don’t find this argument compelling. A Darwinist could argue that suicide is caused by bad mutations, which crop up occasionally in the population for no particular reason. And no, Darwinism does not predict that such mutations would rapidly be eliminated, if they proved harmful. Think of color blindness.

    Hi VJ!
    I’m glad you are back…
    However, I’m a bit disappointed with your comments but not totally surprised…

    Although I’m highly skeptical of Darwinian attempts to explain human nature, I don’t find this argument compelling. A Darwinist could argue that suicide is caused by bad mutations, which crop up occasionally in the population for no particular reason.

    So, you are skeptical about the facts that the suicide is prevalent and seems to be increasing, especially in the West, but you are not skeptical about Darwinists’s claims that the mechanism that apparently designed and build 10 billion species on earth has a hiccup in the most advanced species known…

    I find your comment not only pretty weak and not well thought through, but also contradictory…

    I hope you don’t mind me pointing it out…

  34. vjtorley: Although I’m highly skeptical of Darwinian attempts to explain human nature, I don’t find this argument compelling. A Darwinist could argue that suicide is caused by bad mutations, which crop up occasionally in the population for no particular reason. And no, Darwinism does not predict that such mutations would rapidly be eliminated, if they proved harmful. Think of color blindness.

    It’s worth pointing out that there’s no basis in Darwinism for thinking that every aspect of human nature has a genetic basis. There’s plenty of room in Darwinism for the reality of culture.

    vjtorley: And his only reference to Christianity is a passing remark, where he observes that Nietzsche’s Übermensch “throws off the ‘slave morality’ of Christianity and anything else that would inhibit the unfettered expression of his will” (emphasis mine). Nowhere does Barry argue that Christianity is the cure for suicide, or that abandonment of Christianity is the cause of it. Rather, he notes that “Nietzsche recognized that the death of God had clear implications for morality,” and adds that Nietzsche “predicted that as the knowledge that there is no transcendent basis for meaning and objective moral norms slowly percolated down from the philosophers to the common man, western civilization would spiral toward despair and nihilism.”

    Arrington’s rather laughable reading of Nietzsche is worth correcting in a few major respects:

    1. Nietzsche thought that nihilism meant that more people would be content and happy — that with the erosion of transcendent values, no one would find it worthwhile or valuable to suffer, since there would be no meaning to suffering. Hence the elimination of suffering as an end in itself would be a distinctive feature of nihilistic societies — not despair.

    2. Nietzsche thought that nihilism was pretty much inevitable as a result of the collapse of transcendent meaning in Western cultures. He did think this was a bad thing, because Nietzsche valued culture in that very distinctive 19th-century German bourgeois sense, and he thought that culture would deteriorate without a conceptual framework of transcendent values that gave culture its sense and purpose. But that’s precisely why Nietzsche proposed an alternative, a conceptual framework of immanent value, that could do for Western culture what Christianity had ceased being able to do.

    3. For Nietzsche, the highest sign of the Ubermensch’s will to power is his self-discipline. Discipline and self-discipline are at the heart of all of Nietzsche’s thought. One might think of Nietzsche’s central question as “given that Christianity cannot function as the conceptual basis of Western culture, how else are we to justify and motivate the self-discipline on which culture depends?” Of the many things that Nietzsche is not, he does not celebrate “‘the unfettered expression of one’s will” in the sense of “doing whatever one likes or feels good.” In fact, the exact opposite.

  35. Kantian Naturalist: It’s worth pointing out that there’s no basis in Darwinism for thinking that every aspect of human nature has a genetic basis. There’s plenty of room in Darwinism for the reality of culture.

    There is no basis for Darwinism in every aspect of human nature including culture… There may be, and probably is, enough evidence that culture has a drastic, possibly often irreversible effects on human mind…
    But that’s not the same thing as changing human to another species vs leading the species to suicides…

  36. vjtorley: And no, Darwinism does not predict that such mutations would rapidly be eliminated, if they proved harmful. Think of color blindness.

    Identifying a genetic mutation or mutations responsible for suicide, or even for depression, would deserve a Noble Prize…

    “The NIMH estimates that in the United States, 16 million adults had at least one major depressive episode in 2012. That’s 6.9 percent of the population. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 350 million people worldwide suffer from depression. It is a leading cause of disability.

    20 million prescriptions for antidepressants were filled few years back in 1 year in USA. Now oxycodone has surpassed that… People choose to stay high on legal drugs and often overdose than continue to be depressed and wait for the impotent natural selection to get rid of depression/suicide mutations…

    In some neighbourhoods in Virginia the majority of youths are missing because of drug overdose….

    Darwinists could say we are evolving … I tend to agree… especially if we add the 27% of youths uncertainty about their gender…

    Yes, we are evolving into freaking zombies…

  37. J-Mac: Yes, we are evolving into freaking zombies…

    Trust in the LORD J-Mac. Everything is precisely as the LORD has willed it to be.

    Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

  38. OMagain: Trust in the LORD J-Mac. Everything is precisely as the LORD has willed it to be.

    I gave you one chance to write something of value.. You didn’t…
    Why would you even compare me to the loonies from evangelical mega churches?
    Didn’t I make myself clear enough to you that I’m not a part of the nonsense?

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