domingo, 4 de diciembre de 2011

An Humanity seeking the Good and God, for the shake of evolution

From "I do good when someone is watching me" to "I must do good because Someone is watching me everytime". Discussion about the possible evolutionary break-even of morality and religion.

My theory supposes an evolutionary bottleneck caused by wathever environent pressure (The Toba supervolcano eruption). That is not dsputed that has happened. This pressure modified human natural morality from a primitive "do good when someone is watching you" to a God based morality "do good because Someone is watching you everytime" by selecting some mutations (see evolutuionary psychology) That permitted the survival of the group of mutants. Since then, we are religious. This is only a naturalistic explanation that does not precludes a wider supernatural explanation that could embrace these natural causes and effects.

The modification is small enough to have evolutionary sense.(It is parsimonious enough).  

This is a comentary in the excelent essay of Richard Cocks God Or Moral Nihilism: The Ending Of The Meno in which he righty demonstrates that, like Plato said in "The Meno, or the Virtue", Morality is, and only can be, a matter of Faith just like mathematics and, indeed all human knowledge has to be founded in axioms and unproved truths. Whoever says "ethics, is socially constructed but is useful", he starts from the notion that useful is good, so he invokes an unproved moral axiom . Whoever that says that morality is good for the survival and thus was selected by evolution is resorting to the notion that survival is good, another unfounded moral axiom. So moral can not be rationally asserted.

What rationally we can do is to bury the roots of morality from the scrutiny of the rational mind so we lie ourselves about our unexistent rationality which we confront morality.  But this happens with any human knowledge. being maths, phisics or anything, it is founded on unfounded truts. The reason why we doubt about morality more than about maths is because it is more nebulous and flexible, and because morality implies a tension of what is good in the long term for us with our selfish inmediately seeking pleasure self . This tension is released when we break with morality. This tension does not exist in mathematics, for example. But some people do. This is why breaking with ultimate truths can lead, in the case of rational, honest and sensible, but naive people, to paralisis and suicide.

But we have a natural sense of what is good and perhaps God and this good is naturally tied to God. Here is my comment about why this is so. Note that although this is a naturalistic explanation, that does not imply thr inexistence of God. It means that there are compelling natural reasons besides the supernatural ones for our seeking of Good and God:

I agree with Mr Cocks on that Darwinian explanations add nothing essential to the discussion of the foundations of morality, but it can help moral nihilist int embracing the  ultimate truth of value of human life. Not only Psychopaths are moral nihilists; Stalin was a loving grandfather, he was very goof with their familly, most of the time. To be good at someone does not proves to be good with others.

An evolutionary explanation, although it can not help into rationally demonstrate what is good and what is bad, it may help into accepting our impulses for Good and God, if he shows that these impulses are biologically inprinted in us.

My point start from the datum that humans are descendant from a very small population of less that a thousand peoples living in Africa 60.000 years ago. That was the only surviving people after  volcanic winter provoked by the eruption of the super-volcano Toba in Indonesia. So in a literal sense, we al humans are a family with more " blood" ties than a single group of chimpanzees ( the genetic variation between any two humans is less than what can be found bettwen two chimpanzees of a single group).

The reason for survival of this few hundred people form the great extinction is unknown, but one of the reasons for sure was an increased mutual help. What is known in evolution is that similarity in the genetic information maintains stable the collaboration. Perhaps many of these people had some fortunate mutations that imprinted in the subconscious the notion of the value of human life or the notion that Someone in the beyond (a God or many) is watching them (This is higuly plausible, as I explain below). These notions, as I will show, enhanced selfless help for others of non kin, in eternal struggle with other more  preexisting selfish impulses.  The enhanced collaboration that this group had permitted the survival. They were in a literal sense, almost a family. maybe this mutation  extended the notion of familly. and the familly notion has not abandoned us because we inherited this fortunate set-of mutations.

They must have  been strange people for the rest who died: They helped neighbours, instead of killing to dead for the very scarce resources. We know weird people  that have hallucinations, that have strange impulses, that do weird things. Imagine that a catastrophe changes the environment so that it makes some of them very successful because they are complementary. If they are the only survivors, their descendants will inherit these hallucinations and impulses. these phenomena will be part of human nature from this moment on, for the rest of the History.

In fact we hallucinate every second. We perceive a person as a person with all their moral implications. Instead, for a chicken, a person is something completely different. What we experience, our mind, is determined by our brain architecture, and this architecture depend on developmental genes, and these genes were selected depending on the success of our minds, that they produced, in the task of own survival in society.

Some genes are regulatory, so the change in a gene can make a great difference. I dont say that we are equal, We are very different. I said that other species are much more diverse (Except the cheetahs, that are almost clones)  Genetic similarity makes collaboration stable because if an individual collaborate by a genetic tendency , it is higly probable that other individuals of the specie are collaborative too. Moreover an evolutionary bottleneck makes the selection of a genetic tendency to collaboration more probable because if there is a prexhistent adaptation for detection of kin signals and kin collaboration (to increase inclusive fitness), such signals will be present in most of the surviving individuals because they are genetically similar. Then the kin collaboration is extended to all the specie. Cheetahs usually do not collaborate in the human sense, but their evolutionary bottleneck made them the most peaceful of the felines. That probably is the most that selection can do for making a feline collaborative. Collaboration includes many different strategies. One of them is to invest efforts into detecting and punishing free riders. If this does not exist, collaboration is unstable. This can be demonstrated by evolutionary game theory. There are evidences that we suffered a process of autodomestication.  So our leap-forward to modern moral and religion did not made us more peaceful guys, but different. Probably the size of the average group grew. Within the group,  individual violence where reduced by religious beliefs but also by violent punishment. And violence between different groups remained

So, if this is right, our higher sense of morality is inprinted in us. Maybe the sense that Someone in the Beyond is observing us is also an innate part of this moral sense.  This last is interesting, because being observed by another human impel a primitive sense of self image to do good things. But when nobody watch us, many people do bad things.  So the notion of Good and God did not evolved  entirely in the course of the extinction event, but it builds from a  more primitive notion of selfish “do good when yo are observed, do whatever you need when not”.  So most of the people befrore the extinction event steal food, kill neighbours etc but had a notion of primitive, selfish moral from which Moral evolved as a result of the brutal selection that operated during the extinction event.  Imagine some strange and crazy familly in the stone age that has the obsession that Someone is observing them every time. They would have been very unsuccessful in a normal environment. But when the Toba eruption began, they could have been very successful because their enhanced collaboration. After the volcanic winter, they give thanks to the someone that apparently helped them to survive. We are their descendants with the same inherited notion of Morality and Religion.

It is necessary to emphasize that if we accept thie existence of Good and an a vigilant Someone as part of our nature, this implies that it is part of our Reality, because Reality is what we experience with our minds.  There is no "alternative" mind, so there is no alternative experience of  Reality.   External reality apart of the mind exist, but it can not be conceived. But this would move us to other discussion. See a previous article.

However, the "Someone above which is watching" is colored with cultural contexts. from a religious god, to a political Leader, to a lost family member, to a renowned scientist or philosopher. This Someone must be extended to a Panteon of Someones. People believe in many entities. For example a monotheist believe a single god, but at the same time, if he loved the example of his father, it is influenced by the sensation that its father is watching him. For this reason altough there are gods that are not concerned directly with moral of the individal, moral it is an integral part of the religion in a way or another. Usually in politeistic religions there is a division of labor in moral matters. For example, althoug ancient religions like the Greek and Chinesse were not concerned with moral in the personal sense, they were moral in the group sense (their gods were immoral personally, but castigated men for bad political behaviors). In the personal,,  apart from the public gods, they had also  familiar gods that were concernet with individual moral.

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