Re: [asa] Altruism and ID

From: D. F. Siemens, Jr. <dfsiemensjr@juno.com>
Date: Sun Jun 10 2007 - 17:56:50 EDT

George,
I thought you'd be the one to come up with something obvious: if Jesus
were only human, we might say that he had great genes (if that be the
cause of altruism). But he had the benevolence of the Godhead as well.
Dave

On Sun, 10 Jun 2007 16:58:01 -0400 "George Murphy" <gmurphy@raex.com>
writes:
> It's one thing to say that the behaviors found in human populations
> can be
> explained statistically by natural selection. It's quite another to
> argue
> that the behavior of every individual is determined by natural
> selection or
> other evolutionary factors. Just the fact that the degree of
> altruism found
> among human beings covers a broad spectrum, from that of Jesus to
> that of
> Dr. Mengele, argues against that. & the same is true of many other
> behavioral traits.
>
> & it also ought to be borne in mind that in the short term Jesus
> lost the
> "struggle for survival" to Pilate, Caiaphas et al. It is only by a
> quite
> extradordinary & unique event that he can be said to have survived.
>
> Shalom
> George
> http://web.raex.com/~gmurphy/
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "PvM" <pvm.pandas@gmail.com>
> To: "Christine Smith" <christine_mb_smith@yahoo.com>
> Cc: <asa@calvin.edu>
> Sent: Sunday, June 10, 2007 4:14 PM
> Subject: Re: [asa] Altruism and ID
>
>
> Interesting question. Was Jesus's crucifiction an altruistic act? If
> Jesus was fully human then surely he would have similar genetic
> backgrounds as other humans and would thus be subject to the same
> genetic influences as well as cultural influences. So why could
> Jesus
> not be guided by evolved altruism?
>
> Good questions.
>
> On 6/10/07, Christine Smith <christine_mb_smith@yahoo.com> wrote:
> > I just have a general question on this topic...if
> > altruism is *caused by/emerges from* our genes, then
> > did Jesus just have a really great set of genes, or
> > what? Being fully human, He should be subject to the
> > same evolutionary laws as we are, yes? And surely his
> > crucifixation was the greatest altruistic act in human
> > history. If altruism is all about genes and is simply
> > an evolutionary product, then how do you view Jesus's
> > altruism in this context??
> >
> > --- PvM <pvm.pandas@gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> > > While direct altruism is easier to comprehend from
> > > an evolutionary
> > > perspective, indirect/reciprocal altruism may not be
> > > that far behind.
> > > Mayr considers that the good samaritan kind of
> > > altruism can only
> > > evolve culturally not via natural selection. But he
> > > did accept the
> > > concept of group selection.
> > >
> > > <quote> EDGE: How can the evolution of human ethics
> > > be reconciled with
> > > Darwinism? Doesn't natural selection always favor
> > > selfishness?
> > >
> > > MAYR: If the individual were the only target of
> > > selection, this would
> > > indeed be an inevitable conclusion. However, small
> > > social groups that
> > > compete with each other, such as the groups of
> > > hunter-gatherers in our
> > > human ancestry, were ? as groups ? also targets
> > of
> > > selection. Groups,
> > > the members of which actively cooperated with each
> > > other and showed
> > > much reciprocal helpfulness, had a higher chance for
> > > survival than
> > > groups that did not benefit from such cooperation
> > > and altruism. Any
> > > genetic tendency for altruism would therefore be
> > > selected in a species
> > > consisting of social groups. In a social group,
> > > altruism may add the
> > > to fitness. The founders of religions and
> > > philosophies erected their
> > > ethical system on this basis. </quote>
> > >
> > > http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/mayr/mayr_index.html
> > > For instance Nowak et al provide a good overview of
> > > game theory and reciprocity
> > >
> > > Martin A. Nowak and Karl Sigmund, Evolution of
> > > indirect reciprocity,
> > > Nature 437, 1291-1298 (27 October 2005)
> > >
> > >
> > > Abstract
> > >
> > > Natural selection is conventionally assumed to
> > > favour the strong and
> > > selfish who maximize their own resources at the
> > > expense of others. But
> > > many biological systems, and especially human
> > > societies, are organized
> > > around altruistic, cooperative interactions. How can
> > > natural selection
> > > promote unselfish behaviour? Various mechanisms have
> > > been proposed,
> > > and a rich analysis of indirect reciprocity has
> > > recently emerged: I
> > > help you and somebody else helps me. The evolution
> > > of cooperation by
> > > indirect reciprocity leads to reputation building,
> > > morality judgement
> > > and complex social interactions with ever-increasing
> > > cognitive demands
> > >
> > > See also the work by Harbaugh
> > > http://harbaugh.uoregon.edu/indexmain.htm
> > >
> > > <quote>Harbaugh, Mayr and Burghart (2007) use fMRI
> > > to show that
> > > neural activation in the ventral striatum is very
> > > similar when money
> > > goes to the subject and when it goes to a charity,
> > > and that the
> > > relative activations actually predict who will
> > > give.</quote>
> > >
> > >
> > > Which takes us back to
> > >
> > > Altruism is associated with an increased neural
> > > response to agency
> > > Nature Neuroscience - 10, 150 - 151 (2007)
> > >
> > > <quote>Although the neural mechanisms underlying
> > > altruism remain
> > > unknown, empathy and its component abilities, such
> > > as the perception
> > > of the actions and intentions of others, have been
> > > proposed as key
> > > contributors. Tasks requiring the perception of
> > > agency activate the
> > > posterior superior temporal cortex (pSTC),
> > > particularly in the right
> > > hemisphere. Here, we demonstrate that differential
> > > activation of the
> > > human pSTC during action perception versus action
> > > performance predicts
> > > self-reported altruism.
> > > </quote>
> > > See also
> > >
> >
>
http://johnhawks.net/weblog/reviews/brain/function/agency_pstc_temporal_2
007.html
> > > how agency and our detection of such comes into
> > > play.
> > >
> > > Cool stuff
> > > On 6/10/07, George Murphy <gmurphy@raex.com> wrote:
> > > >
> > > >
> > > > 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."
> > > >
> > > > Shalom
> > > > George
> > > > http://web.raex.com/~gmurphy/
> > >
> > >
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> > >
> >
> >
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>
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Received on Sun Jun 10 18:01:22 2007

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