SCISSION VIII - EVOLUTION: FAMILY
As relates to human propagation and habitation, Webster's Dictionary
defines family as 'the basic
unit in society traditionally consisting
of two parents rearing their own or adopted children.' It has been
stated that the purpose of the family as a social unit is to produce
and reproduce persons, biologically and socially.
This rather ambiguous representation
of a family - two parents and
a child -
appears in the garden of the Palace of
Nations, Geneva, Switzerland.
Art work by Edwina Sandys.
Taken from Wikipedia.
Author John Russon states that the family serves to locate children
socially and plays a major role in their enculturation and
conjugal, or nuclear, family
includes only the
husband, the wife, and unmarried children who are not of age.
Scholars immediately latched onto Darwin's theories to state that the
family is evolving as a
Such a convenience has led to
much broader modern interpretation of just exactly what family is, if
it can be defined as anything 'exactly'. Darwin proposed a theory of
the three stages of human progress, progressing from Savagery through
Barbarism to Civilization3|.
Friedrich Engels used such evolutionary
analysis to define the changes of the family in society - specifically
a class-divided society. Such analysis of 'family' seems to have held
sway until the latter part of the 20th century when structural
functionalism gained prominence. Structural functionalism simply
that family is one of the interdependent elements that make up a
The late cultural anthropologist, Margaret Mead, was much more
specific; she viewed the family as an essential social safeguard to
continuing human progress. She writes, 'It is not without significance
that the most successful large-scale abrogations of the family have
occurred not among simple savages, living close to the subsistence
edge, but among great nations and strong empires, the resources of
which were ample, the populations huge, and the power almost
Ms. Mead is 'spot on' about the modern family. Societies close to the
subsistence level need a strong family institution in order to organize
social functions in an efficient way. Children are taught the proper
morals, ethics and laws by their parents or guardians, and are given
the support to assure their accession. In modern industrialized
societies those unions which divorce does not weaken are shredded by
single parents, foster parents, day care, drugs and alcohol, poor
schools, child predators, street gangs. . . etc.
Divorce, or the final
termination of a marital union, occurs at least
as long ago as Old Testament times. The Catholic Church and Catholic
communities are about the only modern institutions that still try to
deter divorce among its members. Redefining 'marriage' has only clouded
the picture even further.
'No-fault' divorce has taken precedence in Western post-Christian
cultures. 'Pre-nuptial agreements' also add a dimension to today's
divorce claims. Generally a civil court decision is necessary to make
All these factors have made it difficult to quantify divorce as a
percentage overall. For example, 57% of women between 1985 to 1989 who
married for the first time reached their fifteenth anniversary; second
marriages lasted an average of three and a half years5|. The
Group, that does surveys among Christian groups, has documented more
divorces when church attendance is poor, or the two marrieds are of
There is likely little disagreement that the worst after-effects of
divorce are reflected in the children. Children of divorced parents do
less well in school, often drop out of high school, and are less likely
to attend college7|.
Young children tend to believe that they are the
ones responsible for their parents breakup; older children often
experience feelings of anger, grief and disorientation. Single
parenthood often leaves the children with less parental guidance and
can make them more prone to seek outside support relationships such as
gangs, drugs and child predators.
One suspects that when a child sees their parents break their marriage
vows [for better or for worse . . .
'til death do us part], the child
places less value on honesty and commitment.
Children that have failed to find a close relationship with a parent
will not feel encouraged by the prevalence of abortion - a parent
totally rejecting the gift of life to an offspring.
The phenomenon of Babel makes it difficult to define the term abortion,
just as it does with marriage
and divorce. A broad
definition of any of
these terms results in an adjustment to the others. In the broadest
terms, we will define abortion
as 'voluntary induced termination of
pregnancy prior to full delivery at birth.'
Abortion alternatives range from 'morning after' pills to short-term
abortifacients such as RU-486 [often administered with prostaglandin:
misoprostol] to medical surgical abortion right up to 'partial birth
abortion'. Partial birth abortion is where the full-term baby is
delivered feet first and then, holding the head within the birth canal,
the skull is punctured and the brain vacuumed out; this maintains the
pretense that the child has not yet been 'born'.
Well-known pictorial representation of the partial birth abortion procedure.
Children dealing with the >
partial birth abortion issue.
But the above lineage is not the complete range of choices. Some
college professors are advocating 'post-birth abortions', what others
call 'infanticide'. Princeton University's bioethics professor Peter
Singer has found all sorts of rationalizations to evince the 'lack of
humanity' of an infant up to eighteen weeks8|. In
1997 MIT professor of
psychology Steven Pinker argued in the New York Times Magazine in favor
of infanticide - which he terms 'neonaticide'9|. In
terms of 'Babel',
Professor Pinker completely muddles the meaning of the term 'birth', an
idea we all thought we always understood.
Many advocates for abortion are not just comitted to their own point of
view; they demand that everyone else embrace their philosophy. They
also demand that a male has no portion of the 'fetus', that it is
solely part of the woman's body. 1 Corinthians 6:19 says, 'know ye not
that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which
ye have of God, and ye are not your own?'
Pre-Columbian Indians as well as Near Eastern cultures in Biblical
times practiced child sacrifice. Deuteronomy 12:31 implies that the
kingdoms neighboring Israel sacrificed children. Genesis 22 implies
that God's tasking Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, was common
to local practice.
This is not to suggest that women who seek abortion are practicing
heathen religious rites. However those who dogmatically promote
abortion and fanatically drive the issue in the public forum might be
suspect of having some innate relation to ancient child sacrifice.
Popular culture has established the incidence of 'group marriage', a
broadening of the 'extended family'. Author Robert A. Heinlein [1907 -
1988] wrote a number of novels displaying group marriages, or what he
terms 'line marriages'10|.
One Sunday morning this author sat in a WalMart coffee shop with a few
friends when he noticed what appeared to be an 'extended family' group
marriage sit down to breakfast across the room. There were six young
adults, three men and three women, all lightly dressed and all with
some sort of tattoo. There were two children accompanying the group.
The children seemed quite comfortable with any of the adults, and all
adults tended to the childrens' needs without fuss.
The atmosphere within the group seemed to be a happy one and peaceful.
Still, one wonders about the long-term stability of such a family. Will
all the partners remain until the maturity of the children? Or will
'parents' leave and others join the group? When they sign a lease or a
contract, who is held responsible in a court of law? Certainly Western
societies have yet to legalize group marriages. Will the children grow
up well-adjusted and happy? Will those children, as adults, form stable
relationships? Who will inherit what in the instance of tragedy?
This sort of family structure is not really only 'modern'. Many
variations of group couplings have existed in all sorts of societies,
among primitive hunter-gatherers as well as agricultural agrarian
societies and developed societies such as those found in the Bible. As
part of a communal social structure there is almost universal support
for such extended family relationships. Societies with a shortage of
one sex have been forced to adopt shared relationships with some form
What remains to be seen is how productive to social and individual
development such structures will prove to be in the 'post-modern'
context. As Margaret Mead points out, in small primitive societies
there is vigorous support for the family in order to ensure the
survival of the culture. In the 'post-modern' era it almost seems the
family is under assault.
American historian and moralist Christopher Lasch [1932-1994] has
lamented the displacement of the importance
of the family in modern
life. In his 1977 book Haven in a
Heartless World he states, 'Without
for a moment abating its claims to scientific objectivity, sociology
began to work out a theory of the family's "functions" that could
hardly fail to reassure those who worried about its decline—to reassure
them, in part, just because it appeared to rest on an objective
analysis having nothing in common either with conservative alarmism or
with the attacks of radicals who not only predicted the death of the
family but did everything possible to hasten it11|.'
Lasch folows up on this point in another work, The Culture of
Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations;
writes, 'The Culture of Narcissism
[was not] conceived of as a book
about the "me decade" or the retreat from the political activism of the
sixties. It grew out of an earlier study of the American family, Haven
in a Heartless World, which had led me to the conclusion that
family's importance in our society had been steadily declining over a
period of more than a hundred years. Schools, peer groups, mass media,
and the "helping professions" had challenged parental authority and
taken over many of the family's child-rearing functions. I reasoned
that changes of this magnitude, in an institution of such fundamental
importance, were likely to have far-reaching psychological
The book Diversity in Families
[multiple editions] has picked up on
Lasch's observation: 'This "family as haven" image of a refuge from an
impersonal world characterizes the family as a place of intimacy, love,
and trust in which individuals may escape the competition of
dehumanizing forces in modern society13|.'
The authors, however, feel
that the modern family is little different from the family in the past:
'Desertion by spouses, illegitimate children, and other conditions that
are considered characteristics of modern times existed in the past as
In the spirit of Babel, many of today's commentators declare that the
decline of family depends on the definition
find is that people are moving away from a traditional definition of
family and they're moving towards a modern definition of family. That
includes a much greater array of living arrangements. They're including
a much broader group of people, broader combination of people as
This quote by sociologist Brian Powell continues, '[We]
identified three clusters of Americans: "exclusionists" who hold onto a
more narrow definition of family; "moderates" who are willing to count
same-sex couples as family if children are involved; and
"inclusionists" who have a very broad definition of family16|.'
most common factor defining family in surveys done by the authors was
if there were children included.
The Pew Research Center conducted surveys over a period of time. In
1960 72% of all adults in the United States were married; in 2008 the
number was 52%. In 1960 76% of college graduates were married, 72% of
high school graduates, a four point difference. In 2008 64% of college
graduates were married, only 48% of high school graduates, a sixteen
point gap. In 1960 68% of 20-somethings were married; in 2008 only 26%
were. In 1969 68% of those polled believed that premarital sex was
wrong, 21 % thought it was alright; in 2009 32% thought premarital sex
was wrong, 60% thought it was acceptable17|.
The same Pew survey page says that, in the United States, among black
women giving birth in 2008, 72% were unmarried; 53% of Hispanic women
giving birth were unmarried as were 29% of white women17|.
In the year 2012 some school districts in America are insisting that
they must feed children three meals a
day: breakfast, luch and dinner.
They claim that that is the only way to guarantee proper nutrition for
children. Such a move would sever one of the last ties that bind the
family into a 'cocoon' suitable for protection and social training.
Children will become property of the state.
Fifty years ago if people noticed under-nourished children, the parents
would have been investigated for poor child care, perhaps causing the
courts to relieve the parents of custody. Today we are expected to
believe that most parents are incapable of providing proper nutrition
for their children. It is an ominous sign portending the end of the
family social unit in the wake of an over-bearing government.
In ancient Israel detailed genealogies
were kept, because one's
birthright was their guarantee to access to the culture and to paradise
in the after-life. The first requirement was to be a 'son of Abraham'.
Nor were genealogical lists uncommon in other cultures of the ancient
world. Pharoah Seti I lists his 76 predecessors on the walls of his
temple at Abydos, Egypt.
Rows of cartouches in the Temple
of Seti I representing the names of
76 of his predecessors - although
the names of a few controversial
Pharoahs - the female Hatshepsut
and the heretic pharaoh Akhenaton
for example - are omitted.
© 2003-2005 R. Fingerson
In today's Western cultures many cannot name their grandparents, and
few can name their great grandparents. Perhaps their lot is not much
worse than their great grandparents. This author worked for some years
as a semi-professional genealogist. A century ago it seemed desirable
to attempt to establish some nobility or royalty in the family
notably attached to the nobilities that took part
in the Norman invasion of Britain in 1066 CE. Many published
genealogies were terribly inaccurate. Still, people of that time in
America could normally name their great grandparents.
Total fertility rate is a
method of measuring the birth rate, usually a
national birth rate, in relation to the number of women of
child-bearing age [about 15-47 years of age.] The highest fertility
rates in the world for 2013 appear to be in equatorial Africa - 4 - 7
children born to a woman over her child-bearing years. The lowest
fertility rates are generally Canada, Australia, China and a large part
of the old Soviet Union, including Russia - 0 - 1 child19|.
a forced abortion law.]
Obviously if the number of children is 2 or below, replacing the two
parents, then the population of that country is not growing; if the
number is below 2 then the population is shrinking. Western Europe is
below 2, except for France at 2.08 and Ireland at 2.01. The United
States is 2.06. Japan is at 1.39. The world as a whole is at 2.47.
Since the replacement level is considered to be around 2.1, the United
States, France and Ireland would be considered 'on the edge'. This may
explain why such countries tend to encourage more immigration.
One might presume that poorly developed countries would have a lower
fertility rate but evidence shows that families in those conditions
desire more children for labor and caregivers. One reason for low rates
in developed nations is that women are more aware of birth control
techniques, as well as greater wealth, education and urbanization. The
United States fertility rate peaked after WWII at about 3.820|,
obviously in response to a large loss of population caused by the war,
plus less women in the workplace and the return of the male population
The Human Reproduction Update
compiled by the European Society of Human
Reproduction and Embryology attributes low fertility rates to
instability of modern partnerships and value changes21|.
report also cites government subsidies for increasing fertility rates,
but finds government policies that pay cash to families for pregnancy
and child support have a somewhat small effect on total fertility rate.
Notwithstanding, Sweden claims some success by offering up to 18 months
of government-paid family leave shared by both parents, plus subsidized
Countries such as Canada and Japan face an aging population needing
government services paid for by a shrinking younger working class.
Canada has faced criticism for not doing more to compensate for the
imbalance, although Quebec Province has singularly had some success
with government subsidies for day care and other incentives23|.
The breakdown of the marriage pact as a foundation for societal
security is highlighted in these statistics. The ESHRE report above
citing 'instability of modern partnerships and value changes' may
explain the decline of parenthood with marriage.
Christian family counselors such as James Dobson of Focus on the Family
believe that same-sex marriage
is destroying the institution of
marriage. Dobson writes, 'The legalization of homosexual marriage will
quickly destroy the traditional family. ... When the State sanctions
homosexual relationships and gives them its blessing, the younger
generation becomes confused about sexual identity and quickly loses its
understanding of lifelong commitments, emotional bonding, sexual
purity, the role of children in a family, and from a spiritual
perspective, the “sanctity” of marriage. Marriage is reduced to
something of a partnership that provides attractive benefits and sexual
convenience, but cannot offer the intimacy described in Genesis.
Cohabitation and short-term relationships are the inevitable result.
Ask the Norwegians, the Swedes, and the people from the Netherlands.
That is exactly what is happening there24|.'
Such comments have caused great controversy. In an article titled 'The
End of Marriage in Scandinavia' The
Weekly Standard states, 'The Nordic
family pattern--including gay marriage--is spreading across Europe. And
by looking closely at it we can answer the key empirical question
underlying the gay marriage debate. Will same-sex marriage undermine
the institution of marriage? It already has. More precisely, it has
further undermined the institution. ... Instead of encouraging a
society-wide return to marriage, Scandinavian gay marriage has driven
home the message that marriage itself is outdated, and that virtually
any family form, including out-of-wedlock parenthood, is acceptable25|.'
The Weekly Standard article
makes the point that while divorce rates
may not climb with the institution of same-sex marriage, marriage
istelf declines and thus the statistics are misleading.
Authors Chris Kirk and Hanna Rosin take exception in an article in
Slate Magazine. They write,
'Start with Massachusetts, which endorsed
gay marriage in May 2004. That year, the state saw a 16 percent
increase in marriage. The reason is, obviously, that gay couples who
had been waiting for years to get married were finally able to tie the
knot. In the years that followed, the marriage rate normalized but
remained higher than it was in the years preceding the legalization. So
all in all, there’s no reason to worry that gay marriage is
destroying marriage in Massachusetts26|.'
Concerning divorce the
article states, 'Another measure of the health of marriage is a state’s
divorce rate. Have those changed since gay marriage was introduced? Not
really. In each of the five states, divorce rates following
legalization have been lower on average than the years preceding it,
even as the national divorce rate grew. In 2010, four of the five
states had a divorce rate that was lower than both the national divorce
rate and the divorce rate of the average state.'
Perhaps the difference is in the amount of time elapsed: 25 - 30 years
in Europe, 5 - 10 years in the U.S. Or perhaps a decline in marriage as
a source of parenthood is just syptomatic of the times.
For those vigorously comitted to the theory of evolution perhaps the
family reinforces their ideas. As Margaret Mead said above, the more we
evolve into modernism the more the family becomes a beleaguered
foundation stone of society.
[All web links acquired in Summer
1| John Russon, 'Human Experience: Philosophy, Neurosis, and the
Elements of Everyday Life'; Albany:
State University of New York Press, pp. 61–68;
2| Encyclopædia Britannica, 'Sociology/Founding the discipline'; see at:
3| Lewis H. Morgan (1818-1881), 'Ancient Society'; Cornell University
Library, Title Page; (2009).
Morgan was a model for socialism to Friedrich
Engels and, to some extent, Karl Marx; Morgan
married his cousin.
4| Margaret Mead, 'Male and Female'; Perennial Harper Collins, New
York; pp. 180-181; (2001).
5| United States Census Bureau, 'Newsroom: Marital Status & Living
Arrangements: Most People Make
Only One Trip Down the Aisle, But First
Marriages Shorter, Census Bureau Reports'; see at:
http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/ ... [removed from web site; July 1,
6| Barna Group, 'New Statistics on Church Attendance and Avoidance';
7| Kathleen B. Rodgers, and Hillary A. Rose, 'Personal, Family, and
School Factors Related to Adolescents´
Academic Performance: A Comparison by Family
Structure'; Marriage and Family
Review, V33 n4.
pp. 47-61; (2001).
8| Peter Singer, 'Rethinking Life and Death: The Collapse of Our
Traditional Ethics'; St Martin's Press,
New York; (1995; 2008). Professor Singer is
also an animal rights advocate.
9| Steven Pinker, 'Why They Kill Their Newborns'; New York Times
Magazine; November 2, 1997.
10| Robert A. Heinlein, 'Stranger in a Strange Land'; Ace Trade, NYC,
NY; pp. 449; 486; (1991).
'The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress'; Orb Books,
NYC, NY; p. 42; (1997).
11| Christopher Lasch, 'Haven in a Heartless World; The Family
Besieged' (Marriage as a Refuge from
Modern Society); Basic Books (W.W. Norton
& Comapny, Inc. NY, NY); p. 37; (1977). Oddly,
Lasch identified himself as a 'socialist'
before writing this book, but apparently had a 'come home'
change of heart, citing the 'Left´s' lack of
progress on social issues.
12| Christopher Lasch, 'The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an
Age of Diminishing
Expectations'; W.W. Norton & Comapny, Inc.
NY, NY edition; p. 238; (1991)
13| Maxine Baca Zinn, D. Stanley Eitzen, 'Diversity in families'; Allyn
and Bacon, Boston (6 ed.);
p. 7; (2002).
14| Ibid, p. 8.
15| Diane Sawyer report on ABC World News, 'What Makes a Family?
Children, Say Many Americans';
John Berman, Enjoli Frances, Sept. 15, 2010;
16| Ibid, Brian Powell,
sociology professor, Indiana University
17| Pew Research Center Publications, 'The Decline of Marriage and Rise
of New Families'; November
18, 2010; see at: http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1802/decline-marriage-rise-new-families
18| One line that was worked by this author, dealing with a signer of
the U.S. Constitution, had a
late-19th century 'professional genealogist'
that wrote at least four genealogies centered on that
particular signer's last name. Each of the
four was mostly different from the others yet traced back
to a line of nobility in Stafforshire,
England. A study of English parish records of the 17th century
not only failed to support the published
claims, but rather embarassingly proved a Staffordshire
family in deep moral decline. The parish
registers recorded the regular children of the unmarried
daughters as filius
populii - 'child of the
19| Total Fertility Rate, The World Factbook (2014), Central
20| Ben J. Wattenberg, 'The Good News Is the Bad News Is Wrong'
(Chapter 11: The Birth Dearth);
American Enterprise Institute; p. 63; (1985).
21| ESHRE Capri Workshop (2010), 'Europe the continent with the lowest
Update 16, Issue 6; pp. 590-602.
22| Elizabeth Bryant, 'European nations offer incentives to have kids';
San Francisco Chronicle,
August 10, 2008; see at (second page).
23| J. Bagnall, 'Subsidized child care is a proven way to increase
birth rate'; Montreal Gazette,
2007; read at.
24| Dr. James Dobson, 'Marriage Under Fire' (excerpt); see at:
25| Stanley Kurtz, 'The End of Marriage in Scandinavia'; The Weekly
Standard, Vol. 9, No. 20; (Feb 2,
2004); see at: http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/003/660zypwj.asp
26| Chris Kirk and Hanna Rosin, 'Does Gay Marriage Destroy Marriage? A
look at the data'; The Slate Group
(Washington Post), May 23, 2012.