Darwinist: Charity Is Really Selfishness
According to one Darwinist, selfish societies evolve into egalitarian ones, for selfish reasons. It’s all in the math, the genes, and natural selection.
Sergey Gavrilets, a “Distinguished Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and Mathematics” at the University of Tennessee according to his webpage, decided to show that the French ideals of “liberty, equality and fraternity,” along with charity, mercy and all morality is really just dressed-up selfishness that evolved by natural selection. His paper, titled “On the evolutionary origins of the egalitarian syndrome,” was published in PNAS this week ( creates the conditions for the emergence of inequity aversion, empathy, compassion, and egalitarian moral values via the internalization of behavioral rules imposed by natural selection.” It’s genetically determined: he spoke of “the evolution of a particular, genetically controlled psychology” that produces egalitarian behavior in his model. The paper makes it clear he is including the conscience and all moral behavior.
From the outset, he had to admit that explaining human kindness (altruism) has been a difficult challenge for Darwinists. “The evolutionary emergence of the egalitarian syndrome is one of the most intriguing unsolved puzzles related to the origins of modern humans,” he admitted. “Standard explanations and models for cooperation and altruism—reciprocity, kin and group selection, and punishment—are not directly applicable to the emergence of egalitarian behavior in hierarchically organized groups that characterized the social life of our ancestors.” This immediately renders those earlier catch-phrases like “kin selection” obsolete. Would Gavrilets be the man of the hour, able to solve the puzzle?
The paper looks scientific. It has charts, equations and graphs. It ends with 59 references. It includes predictions about how human social groups with bullies and victims will arrive at egalitarianism over time. But the upshot is really an attempt to “naturalize” morality– to undercut the ontological significance of all human love and charity, and replace it with genetic determinism. As Gavrilets explains in his conclusion, it is his contribution to a complete reduction of everything in biology to genes and uncaring natural laws, forces that make humans act as if they really cared for one another when they really only care about their own survival:
The origins of moral values have intrigued scholars for millennia. Darwin saw human morality as derived from animal “social instincts” that transform to a “moral sense or conscience as soon as . . . intellectual powers become . . . well developed” (ref. 59, p. 8). In a modern perspective, viewing human conscience as a mere by-product of intelligence is an oversimplification. Boehm (6) convincingly argues that additional processes and factors such as moralistic punishment, internalization of culturally enforced norms, symbolic language and gossiping, and social selection for altruism and self-restraint applied by groups to its members need to be considered. That notwithstanding, identifying evolutionary roots for and the dynamics of genetically controlled egalitarian social instincts is a necessary step in getting a better understanding of the origins of a uniquely human sense of right and wrong.
So is he right? What is right? If it’s just a “uniquely human sense,” how would he know? For more on Gavrilets’ evolutionary theories, see the 11/06/2006, 2/09/2009 (bullet 4), and 6/10/2012 entries.
This is a prime example of why Darwinism, when taken to its logical conclusion, is pure, unmitigated evil. This is not to call Gavrilets himself evil; his Maker will judge that. He may be a pawn of the training he had that indoctrinated him into the notion that everything in biology must be reduced to natural selection. He is, after all, a Distinguished Professor of Ecology, Evolutionary Biology and Mathematics, if he says so himself. But whether he intended it or not, his model means, as C. S. Lewis called it, the Abolition of Man. Think of it: all the ideals, the philosophy, the instruction in right living has been destroyed by Darwin and his committed disciple, Sergey Gavrilets. Throw out the Declaration of Independence. Throw out the Ten Commandments. Throw out the whole Library of Congress while you’re at it. It doesn’t matter. Mother Theresa was a fool. Soldiers awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for sacrificing themselves on the battlefield for their comrades are dupes. Voting is in vain. All of us are pawns of our genes; all our behavior are necessary consequences of equations. Nothing we value in life matters. In Darwinland, where Natural Selection works aimlessly and pointlessly on random mutations, the only morality is Self, Self, Self. You’re not merciful; you’re selfish. You just don’t know it. So why not give up on any attempt to better yourself or your society, and just let Self be your god? What’s the use? You can’t help it anyway.
If you’re not ready for that, maybe you’re worried that Gavrilets has shown scientifically that this must be the case. After all, he is a Distinguished Professor of Ecology, Evolutionary Biology and Mathematics, if he says so himself. Notice something before we proceed: even if egalitarianism were to “emerge” over time in a human social group, it does not validate his claim that genes and natural selection did it. Intelligent design and traditional morality can predict this behavior better. Because we are souls, and because we have consciences, and because we have a moral compass, we care (genuinely) that bullies not succeed; we make intelligent, moral choices to act in ways that will guarantee equal justice under the law, to the limits of our power to achieve it.
Don’t be intimidated by the charts, graphs and equations. Gavrilets said something foolish, and we can prove it. We’re not saying he’s stupid; obviously, he knows his math. A fool in the Biblical sense is someone who walks according to his own will, and by ignoring the Creator, turns wisdom into folly, light into darkness. Two simple points prove his ideas are folly.
First, he admits that the “emergence” of human kindness and morality remains “an unsolved puzzle” in human origins. Whether or not you think he solved it, consider that! How long has Darwinism been trying to solve this puzzle? 153 years! Good grief, how long do you give these guys before you call foul? Look: science is not an endless license to mislead people on fruitless quests. Sooner or later you have to face the music: Darwinism is incapable of explaining the main thing that makes us human: our moral sense. Say you were with a group trying to find a treasure. A self-proclaimed leader takes charge, and spends his whole lifetime leading your group on a failed quest, calling it “one of the most intriguing puzzles” he has ever seen. He insists on going over the same failed pathway over, and over, and over, with little detours for variety. For the sake of our story, imagine that the treasure is in the opposite direction. Wouldn’t you want to call the guy’s bluff and tell him his approach has been an utter failure, and it’s time to try a different path? Darwinists: your time is up! You have lost. You’re out. Stop leading, and become a follower.
Second, his argument is self-refuting. Why? Because he must include himself in the universe of humans predestined by natural selection. He cannot really mean what he is saying, because evolution made him say it. Don’t let him get away with making himself an exception. He is not Yoda on some exalted plane above the rest of humanity. He cannot, for instance, claim that his model provides “understanding” because that word has no meaning in the Darwin Dictionary. He cannot claim that natural selection does not preclude individual choice. It absolutely does. Don’t you remember how apostate-Christian-turned-Darwinist-professor William Provine emphasized this? He used his free will to insist this is what Darwinism means: we have no free will. Consistent Darwinists make this point from time to time (see PhysOrg about Anthony Cashmore’s views). True moral choices (including truth claims) are in the universe of concepts, ideas – immaterial entities involving intelligent design and reasoning. They refer to unchanging realities that are true, universal, necessary and certain. You can’t get there from natural selection. Concepts do not reside in the universe of material particles and forces. This proves that Gavrilets is a creationist in spite of himself. He argues for Darwin not realizing that rationality requires creationism.
That being the case, we already know Gavrilets has presented a certifiably foolish idea. Remember: any statement that is self-refuting is necessarily false. It cannot possibly be true, neither now, nor in the past, nor in the future. What do you call someone who propounds ideas that are necessarily false? Gavrilets is teaching, in a nutshell, that morality (a concept) came about by natural selection (particles and forces). This means that his own concepts, written up in his paper, so came about. But anything that emerges from particles and forces cannot refer to concepts that are true, universal, necessary and certain. This requires logically that his own ideas have been refuted: they are not true, they are not universal, they are not necessary, they are not certain. The “evolution of morality” is refuted. Q.E.D.
Dr. Gavrilets needs to cure his Yoda Complex and put himself in the universe of evolved apes for just a minute, until he realizes for himself, that he is not an evolved ape. If he tries to act like a human soul, we must rebuke him for breaking the rules. If he tries to act like an evolved ape, we who maintain rationality and morality as ontological realities have the right and privilege to laugh at anything he says and feed him bananas. But, being the altruistic, unselfish, moral individuals we are, we will have mercy on him and quote him the Ten Commandments in a soft, rational tone of voice. We will not, however, suffer him to teach self-refuting nonsense unchallenged, lest it frighten the children.
– How does Gavrilets get the right to tell us what we ‘really’ care about? And how is it scientific? Is he a mind reader? Does he know all human beings personally? In terms of Materialism, how is it meaningful for one set of chemicals to make claims about other chemicals?
The group that considers itself the intellectual elite delight in telling one and all what ‘really’ lies behind what the masses think and do; but we can easily turn the tables on them.
– e.g. how do we know Gavrilets cares about honesty and truth? maybe all he ‘really’ cares about is success playing the Darwin game.