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 (August 13, 2012, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1201718109).  The abstract promised to show that his model “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….

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