“The more evolution encourages niceness within groups, the more it produces nastiness between them,” writes Matt Ridley in the Wall Street Journal (8/27/11). Matt notes that evolutionists agree that people, like other animals, “evolve the instinct to be nice (or acquire habits through cultural evolution). This happens within families but also within groups, where social solidarity promotes the success of the group at the expense of other groups.”
Really? How then do great, civil societies of people not genetically alike arise?
Why do people on the Toronto subway give their seats to tired old ladies they have never met and never will again? Why do they contribute to ovarian cancer research even though most of the money will benefit women they will never meet? Not members of their group? Selfish genes do not do that. Where have these people been all these years that they do not know about the civil society?
This theory is espoused by David Sloan Wilson, in “The Neighborhood Project,” in which he uses his hometown of Binghamton, NY, as his laboratory.
Yes, evolutionary theorist Wilson decided to descend from his ivory tower eminence and try to fix a has-been town and its religion. Never a dragon-filled moat around when you need one ….
The idea is that you give what you get, and if you are treated nicely by others, you will respond in kind, and be more trusting, too. The implication is that if you give social support, “you will create a better neighborhood.” The limitation, however, as Matt points out, is that such kindness works only “among friends and relatives.”
It’s astonishing that institutions of learning fund people to spout this nonsense. Clannishness is learned – and so is civil society. It gets better:
The point is that “though human beings do kind things unrewarded for their neighbors, for reward they do kind things for strangers: They hand more cash to merchants than they do to beggars.”
Of course people hand more cash to merchants – they provide needed goods and services. The average beggar provides an opportunity to do local charity – one among many others, and usually a questionable one at best.
People risk their lives for strangers. The Toronto subway has a policy of reproving people who jump into the pit to save an accidentally fallen person they have never met, for that reason.
If Darwinism depends on data from failed societies … well, it would depend on that, wouldn’t it?
Hat tip: Five Feet of Fury