End Game of Evolution

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Have you ever thought about what would be the natural end game of the theory of evolution?

It isn’t a cooperative society, as some would have you think. Of course, there are a few selective advantages to cooperation, such as the group benefitting from different people’s gifts and talents, but in terms of natural selection, these are outweighed by the disadvantages of having to provide for every member of the society.

Natural selection alone actually encourages us to become sociopaths—people who use and exploit others to get what they need.

If evolution is correct and we’re all just animals trying to survive (and evolution would say that’s all we’ve ever been), why care about other people who are not as fit as you are? Why build nursing homes for the elderly? Why fund shelters for the homeless? Why develop special needs programs in our schools?

Evolution would say all of that is a waste of time and money, at best. At worst, it’s impeding the progress of the human race as a whole.

Based on the theory of evolution, Hitler teased out his idea for the Aryan master race. After all, if we’re evolving, then we must be evolving toward something. Hitler decided it was tall, blond-haired, blue-eyed Germans. In his mind, he helped evolution along by trying to exterminate the Jews—an inferior race (according to him).

Few people who believe in evolution would take it this far. But in the same vein, not many people who believe in evolution have actually thought about what this theory supports.

All the things we think of as distinctly human: the capacity for compassion, mercy, forgiveness and love. Those things would be selected out in the name of survival. If I’m on a survival mission, I don’t survive best if I use up my resources trying to take care of you. No, I survive best when I worry only about myself.

If we’re merely smarter than average apes, where did all these beautiful qualities come from? There’s no evolutionary advantage to them, and yet they are what makes humans different, what sets us apart from the animal kingdom.

What do you think? Why are most people compassionate and loving? Would evolution have encouraged us to be that way? What would be the evolutionary pathway/selective pressure that would bring about kindness?

(And just for the record, I think apes are pretty awesome and I wouldn’t mind being related to them, if I actually were)

 

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2 thoughts on “End Game of Evolution

  1. Hi Janice!

    Humans are not facing any significant challenges that would force us to set aside our compassion to aid our own survival. However, if the world suddenly ran out of oil tomorrow, we would no choice but to forget about nursing homes, charities, etc. Within a matter of weeks, the majority of the world’s population would die due to the inability to transport food and supplies. Looters would run rampant. Those capable of surviving on their own would reproduce, and those who are not capable of surviving would not reproduce. Natural selection does not demand that we forsake other peoples’ needs especially if meeting their needs is not impacting our own ability to survive. Natural selection has no power to encourage or demand anything… it is not an “entity,” it merely describes a process that takes place in nature.

    Kindness and compassion comes about because we know what it is like when we get hurt by other people. We have learned that the best way to avoid getting punched in the face is to not punch other people in the face. While treating others as you would like to be treated is a virtue that is clearly evident in the Bible, this is something that intelligent beings can learn on their own. Of course, not all humans display this behavior and they take more desperate measures to survive, e.g. burglars, drug dealers, etc. Many of those people would not meet the requirement to be medically diagnosed as a sociopath. They are just desperate and doing what they feel they must to aid their own survival. This is really no different than the example I gave regarding the world running out of oil. You would see a great number of people (even people you deeply admire) doing things you could not imagine just to survive.

    In summary, evolution by natural selection does not encourage, nor does it demand… it merely summarizes what happens in nature, i.e. those who survive pass on their genes and those who don’t survive do not pass on their genes. We should not deduce any moral meanings from that… it just is what it is.

    • Thank you for your comments! You are right, natural selection just is what it is. In short, natural selection just means that those who manage to survive pass on their genes (as you said). Of course, we see natural selection at work in nature quite often, but what we don’t see is evolution. My point in this post was to show that evolution is depicted as this thoughtful, creative process that uses natural selection, but there is no selective advantage to kindness as is so aptly said in your example of the world running out of oil. Again, thank you so much for commenting.

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