Re: [asa] Altruism and ID

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Sun Jun 10 2007 - 06:20:18 EDT

I haven't been following this thread & don't know just what's being debated by whom, but thought that the following by Ernst Mayr (generally thought to know a bit about evolution) in his 2001 book What Evolution Is (p.259) might be of interest. After discussing such forms of altruism as that between kin and among members of the same social group which, he argues, can be understood in terms of natural selection, he comes to "behavior toward outsiders." About this he says, inter alia:

"How could such altruism toward outsiders have become established in the human species? Could natural selection be invoked? This has often been tried, but not very successfully. It is difficult to construct a scenario in which benevolent behavior toward competitors and enemies could be rewarded by natural selection. It is interesting in this connection to read the Old Testament and see how consistently a difference is made between behavior toward one's own group and behavior to any outsiders. This is in total contrast to the ethics promoted in the New Testament. Jesus's parable of the altruism of the Good Samaritan was a striking departure from custom. Altruism toward strangers is a behavior not supported by natural selection."


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Received on Sun Jun 10 06:21:13 2007

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