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Author Topic:   Original Sin - Scripture and Reason
Stile
Member
Posts: 2924
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 3.9


Message 151 of 203 (668890)
07-25-2012 2:58 PM
Reply to: Message 146 by jar
07-25-2012 2:04 PM


Instincts and Consciousness
jar writes:

Maybe you should stop trying to state what my position is.

Maybe. But I don't think I will. I like to try and understand what other people are talking about when they are vague. One of the best ways to do that is for me to say what I think they mean and see if it's anywhere close to what they actually mean. Stopping that and simply imagining what it is you're trying to say without any further input from you seems... inefficient.

In the examples I have mentioned I believe that it is 100% possible to determine if my motive for those particular examples is 100% conscious because I do not always behave the same way. When I do not behave the same way I can also determine why I behaved differently.

If you simply believe that this is true, then I don't see any reason to argue. I do have some questions, though:

When I do not behave the same way I can also determine why I behaved differently.

Do you think it is possible to mistakenly identify a reason for doing something as a conscious motivation when in reality it was an instinctual action?
I think it is possible for such a rationalization to occur without one knowing it. If not... how can we tell the difference?

Do you think instincts are limited to only one possible outcome, always, given the same situation?
I don't think this is true.
Any given deer running out into the middle of the road at night and seeing headlights may freeze, or may bolt into the bushes.
I would guess that some deer have escaped by bolting into the bushes at least once or twice before the night their instincts tell them to freeze up and they get hit.
So... then it seems possible for a human to "not always behave the same way" and also "determine why they behaved differently" while their actions were even 95% instinctual (let alone 20% or even 1%...).


This message is a reply to:
 Message 146 by jar, posted 07-25-2012 2:04 PM jar has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 152 by jar, posted 07-25-2012 3:06 PM Stile has responded

    
jar
Member
Posts: 29136
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 2.7


Message 152 of 203 (668891)
07-25-2012 3:06 PM
Reply to: Message 151 by Stile
07-25-2012 2:58 PM


I am also not a deer.
I don't see how the specific behaviors I've mentioned could be anything but conscious decision.

Edited by jar, : fix sub-title


Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!

This message is a reply to:
 Message 151 by Stile, posted 07-25-2012 2:58 PM Stile has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 153 by Stile, posted 07-25-2012 3:11 PM jar has responded

  
Stile
Member
Posts: 2924
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 3.9


Message 153 of 203 (668892)
07-25-2012 3:11 PM
Reply to: Message 152 by jar
07-25-2012 3:06 PM


Re: I am also not a deer.
jar writes:

I don't see how the specific behaviors I've mentioned could be anything but conscious decision.

Personally, I agree.

I actually think that we are capapble of having actions that are 100% conscious, and also having other actions that are 100% instinct. With most actions falling somewhere in between.

But, I don't know that, and I also havn't heard of any specific, conclusive scientific progress on figuring it out.
I was basically asking those questions to see if maybe you have heard of such a thing.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 152 by jar, posted 07-25-2012 3:06 PM jar has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 155 by jar, posted 07-25-2012 3:31 PM Stile has acknowledged this reply

    
Stile
Member
Posts: 2924
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 3.9


Message 154 of 203 (668895)
07-25-2012 3:16 PM
Reply to: Message 149 by Modulous
07-25-2012 2:33 PM


Re: we are in part, by nature, selfless beings.
Modulous writes:

Stile writes:

When Dawkins says "selfish genes" he's talking about the processes and chemical reactions that occur within our bodies that are simply out of our control. A closer more general term would be "animal instincts."

No, he's really talking about genes, and genes specifically. I wouldn't say that 'animal instincts' is either closer or more general. Some selfish genes do go into constructing the brain structures that give us our instincts, but some selfish genes go into making toes.

Right. I have not read the book so my thoughts here are more focused on this behaviour discussion. By "processes and chemical reaction" I was trying to incorporate the "making toes" idea while also incorporating the "brain structures that give us our intincts". I do agree that the "instincts" term would not be helpful in other non-behaviour discussions of Dawkins' ideas.


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jar
Member
Posts: 29136
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 2.7


Message 155 of 203 (668896)
07-25-2012 3:31 PM
Reply to: Message 153 by Stile
07-25-2012 3:11 PM


Re: I am also not a deer.
Well, we are over in Faith & Belief and so "any specific, conclusive scientific progress on figuring it out" is really pretty irrelevant unless it was pretty conclusive scientific evidence that it was not possible to have actions that are 100% conscious and even then it would likely have to show that overt acts such as the specific ones I mentioned could not be 100% conscious acts.

Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!

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 Message 153 by Stile, posted 07-25-2012 3:11 PM Stile has acknowledged this reply

  
GDR
Member
Posts: 4240
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005


Message 156 of 203 (668905)
07-25-2012 4:50 PM
Reply to: Message 144 by Modulous
07-25-2012 1:46 PM


Re: we are in part, by nature, selfless beings.
GDR writes:

Now I completely acknowledge that you and Dawkins believe that altruistic acts are a result of naturally evolved memes.

Modulous writes:

And, very importantly to the point I'm trying to make: GENES too.

Sure, I assumed that you would see memes evolving from genes.

Modulous writes:

The term 'original sin' was used as far as I know to describe Paul's understanding of the reason why Jesus came and died.

I dont see it that way. I see it as an attempt to understand the human basic condition and I assume that Pauls views would have been taken into account in that understanding. This is from wiki:

quote:
The doctrine is not found in Judaism[4] or in Islam.[5][6] Its scriptural foundation is in the New Testament teaching of Paul the Apostle (Romans 5:12-21 and 1 Corinthians 15:22).[2] It began to be developed by the 2nd-century Bishop of Lyon Irenaeus in his controversy with the dualist Gnostics.
In the theology of the Catholic Church, original sin is regarded as the general condition of sinfulness, that is (the absence of holiness and perfect charity) into which humans are born, distinct from the actual sins that a person commits. This teaching explicitly states that "original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam's descendants".[7] In other words, human beings do not bear any "original guilt" from Adam's particular sin, which is his alone. The prevailing view, also held in Eastern Orthodoxy, is that human beings bear no guilt for the sin of Adam.
My understanding, although Im not RC, is as near as I can tell consistent with the catholic view as it is expressed in that quote. Even if Paul is the scriptural foundation it would have been understood in the context of the entire canon, and who knows, possibly even through Dawkinian styled reasoning minus the biological knowledge.

Modulous writes:

I would argue that som ething that is part of human development does come natural to us. We are built to cooperate with our allies, a good deal of the Bible seems to be about defining who our allies are (fellow Israelites, 'neighbours' etc), but I think the drive to cooperate with allies pre-exists any commands to do so.

Ya, I would agree, but I would add that this is something that seems to be evolving over time which would be consistent with either an atheistic or theistic view of things. (At least theism as I believe it. ) I read a really good secular book on that called The Evolution of God by Robert Wright.

Modulous writes:

But it's not just that we evolve culturally through memes to be selfless, its that we are built by our selfish genes to be at times, selfless. Being selfless is completely natural.

I think that Dawkins view is that genes can behave unselfishly in terms of its own organism, but that the behaviour is actually selfish communally, so only appear to be unselfish. You and I will probably nuance this differently in light of our difference theistically.

Modulous writes:

As I said earlier, I'm happy to accept that there are 'divine memes' that are in some fashion important in moral decision making, my only point is that selfish genes can create selfless phenotypes. God might help, but it isn't necessary for cooperative behaviour.

Im not so sure as I think Dawkins position is that our selfish genes can lead us to be co-operative as it may be in our best interests or, (Im not sure that this is best way to express it), in the best interest of our gene pool. I dont see working co-operatively as necessarily being selfless. I think that is Dawkins point. It again comes back to The Prisoners Dilemma. If we co-operate we both benefit.


He has told you, O man, what is good ; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8


This message is a reply to:
 Message 144 by Modulous, posted 07-25-2012 1:46 PM Modulous has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 158 by Modulous, posted 07-25-2012 5:15 PM GDR has responded

    
GDR
Member
Posts: 4240
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005


Message 157 of 203 (668909)
07-25-2012 5:01 PM
Reply to: Message 147 by Stile
07-25-2012 2:06 PM


Re: we are in part, by nature, selfless beings.
GDR writes:

Would you agree if it was phrased this way? Out of the selfish genes of our birth we can become beings that have the potential to act selflessly or altruistically.

Stile writes:

I would.

We need to remember the equivocation that is going on with Dawkins' use of the term "selfish genes." If we keep the general definition of the word "selfish" as we usually use it in every day life, it is absolutely impossible to have a "selfish gene." The term simply doesn't make sense (it's an oxymoron) since we are taking a word that implies conscious behaviour and applying it to something that has no consciousness.

When Dawkins says "selfish genes" he's talking about the processes and chemical reactions that occur within our bodies that are simply out of our control. A closer more general term would be "animal instincts." And, if we rephrase your statement with this in mind we get:

Out of the animal instincts of our birth we can become beings that have the potential to act selflessly or altruistically.

And, since we all know humans have intelligence which allows us to reflect upon and even sometimes override our animal instincts... this is obviously a simple and true statement.

I'm essentially in agreement with that but I also agree with Modulous' response. The only other thing I would add is that I'm not sure that to some degree, many animals aren't able to function above its animal or base instincts. (Actually, from an atheistic POV in particular that would make sense, although it wouldn't be in conflict with a Christian perspective either.)


He has told you, O man, what is good ; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8


This message is a reply to:
 Message 147 by Stile, posted 07-25-2012 2:06 PM Stile has acknowledged this reply

    
Modulous
Member
Posts: 7410
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 158 of 203 (668911)
07-25-2012 5:15 PM
Reply to: Message 156 by GDR
07-25-2012 4:50 PM


Re: we are in part, by nature, selfless beings.
I dont see working co-operatively as necessarily being selfless.

Well, it's being less than selfish in the direction of total selflessness. Total selflessness is very rare, but not impossible to understand in terms of selfish genes. When I say 'cooperative behaviour' I mean any behaviour that costs the individual and benefits someone other than the individual (though there may be benefits to the individual as well).

I think that is Dawkins point. It again comes back to The Prisoners Dilemma. If we co-operate we both benefit.

That section of the book is building the argument that it can be in our self-interest to behave as doves rather than hawks. But in other sections he talks about actions that come at a cost to the individual, that might have no benefit to the individual at all - but which can still evolve because it isn't the individual's interests that are importance - it's the interests of the gene that's key. Oftentimes the interests coincide, but sometimes they do not.

This means it is possible to have pure selfless behaviours - situations where only one party really benefits (such as dying to save someone else), coming out of self-interested genes.


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 Message 156 by GDR, posted 07-25-2012 4:50 PM GDR has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 159 by GDR, posted 07-25-2012 8:34 PM Modulous has responded

    
GDR
Member
Posts: 4240
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005


Message 159 of 203 (668937)
07-25-2012 8:34 PM
Reply to: Message 158 by Modulous
07-25-2012 5:15 PM


Re: we are in part, by nature, selfless beings.
Modulous writes:

Well, it's being less than selfish in the direction of total selflessness. Total selflessness is very rare, but not impossible to understand in terms of selfish genes. When I say 'cooperative behaviour' I mean any behaviour that costs the individual and benefits someone other than the individual (though there may be benefits to the individual as well).

OK, but I would think that by definition co-operative behaviour is designed to benefit both parties or at least their genes.

Modulous writes:

That section of the book is building the argument that it can be in our self-interest to behave as doves rather than hawks. But in other sections he talks about actions that come at a cost to the individual, that might have no benefit to the individual at all - but which can still evolve because it isn't the individual's interests that are importance - it's the interests of the gene that's key. Oftentimes the interests coincide, but sometimes they do not.

Can you point me to that section of the book?

Modulous writes:

This means it is possible to have pure selfless behaviours - situations where only one party really benefits (such as dying to save someone else), coming out of self-interested genes.

I think that Dawkins is saying that may come about because our genes have a genetic, (metaphorical), interest beyond the individual. I think he always saying that our memes have evolved within humans from a base creature that was solely guided by its selfish genes.

He has told you, O man, what is good ; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8


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 Message 158 by Modulous, posted 07-25-2012 5:15 PM Modulous has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 160 by Modulous, posted 07-26-2012 8:51 AM GDR has responded

    
Modulous
Member
Posts: 7410
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 160 of 203 (668968)
07-26-2012 8:51 AM
Reply to: Message 159 by GDR
07-25-2012 8:34 PM


Re: we are in part, by nature, selfless beings.
OK, but I would think that by definition co-operative behaviour is designed to benefit both parties or at least their genes.

Yes, cooperative behaviour needs to 'pay for itself', so it needs to benefit something - either the individual or their genes or whatever.

I wouldn't say that by definition, both parties need to benefit, but that's how it probably works out.

But in other sections he talks about actions that come at a cost to the individual, that might have no benefit to the individual at all - but which can still evolve because it isn't the individual's interests that are importance - it's the interests of the gene that's key.

Can you point me to that section of the book?

Kind of difficult, its sort of a theme of the book, and I haven't memorised where the best places that show it off are. I might also be drawing off memories of the companion text, The Extended Phenotype.

Try chapter 6, 'Genemanship'. A lot of that is about kin-based altruism I think, which is one of the effects I've brought up.

quote:
Albino genes do not really 'want' to survive or help other albino genes. But if the albino gene just happened to cause its bodies to behave altruistically towards other albinos, then automatically, willy-nilly, it would tend to become more numerous in the gene pool as a result.

I think that Dawkins is saying that may come about because our genes have a genetic, (metaphorical), interest beyond the individual. I think he always saying that our memes have evolved within humans from a base creature that was solely guided by its selfish genes.

And I agree with that - I'm just saying that selfish genes are responsible for building the brains that find altruistic acts worthy of replication for them to become memes. That is - our selfish genes are responsible for a lot of our kindness, selflessness and so on. Culture has redefined the limits of our sphere of kindness, and has given us a more thorough understanding of what it means to be kind etc.


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 Message 159 by GDR, posted 07-25-2012 8:34 PM GDR has responded

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 Message 161 by GDR, posted 07-27-2012 11:01 PM Modulous has responded

    
GDR
Member
Posts: 4240
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005


Message 161 of 203 (669201)
07-27-2012 11:01 PM
Reply to: Message 160 by Modulous
07-26-2012 8:51 AM


Re: we are in part, by nature, selfless beings.
Modulous writes:

I'm just saying that selfish genes are responsible for building the brains that find altruistic acts worthy of replication for them to become memes. That is - our selfish genes are responsible for a lot of our kindness, selflessness and so on. Culture has redefined the limits of our sphere of kindness, and has given us a more thorough understanding of what it means to be kind etc.

I went through chap 6 and couldn't really find an example that fit the discussion.

I agree that a good case can be made for kindness being the result of selfish genes if only for wanting to be treated kindly in return. I think that the case for selflessness is another matter.

For example. How would a selfish gene be the cause for someone in middle America giving a sizeable portion of his not overly large income to some mission in the Sudan to help people with no genetic or relational connection whatsoever? This individual is not only giving up his personal resources but is in fact making things more difficult for his gene pool. His gene pool is going to be better off in the long run if the Sudanese ceased to exist so that the resources might be available to the gene pool of the donor.

It definitely seems to me that there is something beyond our selfish genes that is having an impact. I suppose memes could be viewed as some kind of answer but these memes are somehow going to have to pick up an unselfish message that originated from selfish genes if the materialist's position is held. (Actually as a theist it is much easier to explain. )

Edited by GDR, : No reason given.


He has told you, O man, what is good ; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8


This message is a reply to:
 Message 160 by Modulous, posted 07-26-2012 8:51 AM Modulous has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 163 by Granny Magda, posted 07-28-2012 7:25 AM GDR has not yet responded
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Granny Magda
Member
Posts: 2301
From: UK
Joined: 11-12-2007


Message 162 of 203 (669216)
07-28-2012 7:16 AM
Reply to: Message 110 by GDR
07-23-2012 12:11 PM


Re: Selfish Genes and Original Sin
Hi GDR, sorry for the delay in reply, I've been away.

Here are a couple more quotes from The Selfish Gene

And neither of them say that we, as individual animals are selfish. They say that genes are selfish. But this is your problem; the selfishness of genes is only a metaphor, a way of helping us understand how genes operate. Genes are not and never will actually be selfish. They can't be, they're mindless. You have hooked onto a metaphor as if it were real.

Note that neither of your quotes describe individuals as selfish. The theory is there to explain individual altruism, not individual selfishness - that already has an explanation in "survival of the fittest". You would be able to draw better comparison between original sin and survival of the fittest, at least that would make some sort of sense as it would actually be about the biological drive toward selfishness. Your version makes no sense in that you are trying to link sin to a theory that is intended to explain altruism.

He is essentially saying we are our genes, our selfish genes, and it is into that state we are born. After that we have the ability to rise above that selfish state, because we become cultured by memes.

Except that, as PaulK notes, memes are selfish too. I know that you responded to that with a Wiki quote, but your quote does not say what you seem to think it does. Memes are selfish in exactly the same way that genes are selfish, i.e. they're not selfish at all, because they're not sentient. It's just a metaphor. Genes are no more selfish then an apple is being selfish when it falls to the ground in accordance with gravity. Genes are just objects, obeying the laws of chemistry. The selfishness is just an explanatory tool that Dawkins concocted to explain how survival of the fittest could co-exist with the evolution of apparent altruism and self-sacrifice.

I dont think that they are synonymous. Selfishness is a state of mind and sin are the actions that flow from that state of mind.

And genes don't have minds.

Rabbits do though. I asked you this question for a reason and you have thus far ignored it; where in my example does the rabbit sin? When he risks his own life to save his fellow bunnies? that doesn't sound like sin to me. When his genes tell him to do this? That''s no sin either, since mere chemicals cannot sin when they obey the laws of chemistry. So where's the sin? I contend that there is no sin and that this is why the two ideas are such a poor fit.

I dont think that they are synonymous. Selfishness is a state of mind and sin are the actions that flow from that state of mind.

In my opinion, the false concept of "sin" is a barrier to a positive and effective moral framework. It should be abandoned.

The Genesis story is a metaphor for the understanding of our base nature which is that we are selfish or self serving. Over the millennia since then men have worked at sorting out what it all means. One concept that was proposed, (after the time of Paul for that matter), was that of original sin. It is a term that stuck and so I decided to use it in the title of this thread as it gives us a term of reference to work with. Im not at all keen on the term either.

Well abandon it then. The term carries too much cultural baggage to be of use.

It isnt that a baby is born in sin but that he is born as a blank slate composed of his/her genes and that those genes are selfish replicators.

Well then you're not sticking to the concept of original sin any more than you're sticking to the concept of the selfish gene. You are mangling both of them to fit them together and you are achieving nothing by doing so except bungling the science and making what looks like apologetics for one of the most evil ideas in the history of thought. Please drop this idea, it's just broken.

Mutate and Survive


This message is a reply to:
 Message 110 by GDR, posted 07-23-2012 12:11 PM GDR has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 167 by GDR, posted 07-28-2012 1:05 PM Granny Magda has responded

    
Granny Magda
Member
Posts: 2301
From: UK
Joined: 11-12-2007


Message 163 of 203 (669218)
07-28-2012 7:25 AM
Reply to: Message 161 by GDR
07-27-2012 11:01 PM


Re: we are in part, by nature, selfless beings.
I went through chap 6 and couldn't really find an example that fit the discussion.

Lucky then that i gave you just such an example in Message 20.

quote:
When a rabbit spots danger, say a buzzard overhead, it drums its foot on the ground. This drumming acts as a signal to the other rabbits, who, alert to the danger, can flee for the safety of their burrows. For the individual rabbit that drums however, the action is a risk. It opens itself up to added danger, as instead of immediately running for safety itself, it takes that time to warn its fellows, time that from an individually selfish point of view, would have been better spent running. The rabbit is, in effect, sacrificing its own safety for a moment in order to benefit its fellow rabbits.

This is an innately altruistic act. From the individual point of view, the rabbit is being selfless. From a wider point of view though, the rabbit's genes are being selfish, as the drumming behaviour benefits the whole group and thus the rabbit gene pool as a whole. The selfishness of the gene is taking place at the expense of the individual rabbit.

The whole point of the Selfish Gene idea is to explain why evolution would compel a creature to act against its own survival.


There is nothing going on here that is even remotely comparable to sin, original or otherwise.

How would a selfish gene be the cause for someone in middle America giving a sizeable portion of his not overly large income to some mission in the Sudan to help people with no genetic or relational connection whatsoever?

Holy crap GDR! Do you have any idea how many genes you have in common with people in Sudan? All humans share over 99% of our DNA. That's more than enough for group selection to make sense.

Mutate and Survive


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 Message 165 by Modulous, posted 07-28-2012 10:46 AM Granny Magda has responded

    
Modulous
Member
Posts: 7410
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 164 of 203 (669224)
07-28-2012 8:50 AM
Reply to: Message 161 by GDR
07-27-2012 11:01 PM


Re: we are in part, by nature, selfless beings.
I went through chap 6 and couldn't really find an example that fit the discussion.

I said:

quote:
But in other sections he talks about actions that come at a cost to the individual, that might have no benefit to the individual at all - but which can still evolve because it isn't the individual's interests that are importance - it's the interests of the gene that's key.

You asked for a reference for that claim, I provided Chapter 6. In Chapter 6 he talks about individuals performing acts that cost the individual but which exist because of the benefit to the genes causing that behaviour. From the chapter:

quote:
The key point of this chapter is that a gene might be able to assist replicas of itself that are sitting in other bodies. If so, this would appear as individual altruism but it would be brought about by gene selfishness

So I'm baffled how you missed the parts of Chapter 6 that were or relevance to what I was saying.

I agree that a good case can be made for kindness being the result of selfish genes if only for wanting to be treated kindly in return.

But its more than that! It isn't just reciprocal altruism (doing good to others so as to expect others to do good to you)! Sometimes acts that have no benefit at all to the actor (such as a 'suicidal' act of heroism), might have a benefit to the genes' chances of replication. That's the point of Chapter 6! Now granted, the genes might make 'mistakes'. That is, they may cause behaviours that in certain specific cases don't benefit them at all, but it should be the case that on average those genes that cause that kind of behaviour to those that possess it should benefit the gene. We are living in an almost entirely different environment than the genes we possess prospered in - so we should expect lots of these kinds of 'mistakes'.

How would a selfish gene be the cause for someone in middle America giving a sizeable portion of his not overly large income to some mission in the Sudan to help people with no genetic or relational connection whatsoever?

I've already explained in previous posts, this very thing. In short: Your genes are influencing you to behave in certain ways. Be nice to family, family are those that are closest to you, who you live with. Help out other allies. All that kind of stuff.

And then you have memes/learned behaviour. We have learned that all humans are part of one big family. We have learned that all humans are fundamentally are potential allies. We have believed this idea, we have spread this idea.

Therefore, since the genes are telling us to look after our own, and the hypothetical American considers the Sudanese one of their own, then they will take action to 'look out for them'. Donating money or food or whatever.

We should see that same American will probably reserve more money for his own family, and will probably be more inclined to help out friends who are difficulty too. If they spend all the money on the Sudanese and don't give any for their family to eat or clothe themselves, we'd probably say they were mentally ill.

As I quoted Dawkins saying in Message 23

quote:
misfiring by-product of our Darwinian past when we lived in small villages...which meant we were surrounded by close kin...one good pre-requisite for the evolution of altruism...we would have been surrounded by people who we are likely to meet again and again throughout our life - which provides the basis for the other main Darwinian reason to be moral or altruistic...although we no longer live in small bands, the same rule(s) of thumb...are playing themselves out under the alien conditions of modern urban society...

...it has become modified and refined through culture...


This individual is not only giving up his personal resources but is in fact making things more difficult for his gene pool. His gene pool is going to be better off in the long run if the Sudanese ceased to exist so that the resources might be available to the gene pool of the donor.

As per the above, because they are operating in 'alien conditions' we should expect that we see a some genetically influenced behaviours 'misfiring'. But on the whole - we should still see the pattern of preference for friends and family. This can be examined by observing the history of the memes of the equality of all man.

I mean, it wasn't too long ago that it would have been almost impossible to find a single average American giving any money to any Africans. They were basically considered subhuman savages by most individuals.

The genes of people in the 19th Century and before, are not that different from the genes today. The same genetic influences of behaviour exist - but they are operating within an environment where the Sudanese can potentially be seen as being 'just as important as anybody else (except maybe family/friends).'

It definitely seems to me that there is something beyond our selfish genes that is having an impact. I suppose memes could be viewed as some kind of answer but these memes are somehow going to have to pick up an unselfish message that originated from selfish genes if the materialist's position is held.

Indeed. It's in the gene's interests to invest some costs into other people. The closer the stronger the influence. They don't have to be relatives for the genes to 'treat' them like relatives. If you learn that your brother of 25 years was adopted, you don't generally find yourself loving him any less. Likewise, if you consider your fellow churchgoers as 'brothers and sisters' you may find you treat them better than the genes would otherwise have caused.

So yes - whether it is selfish memes exploiting certain brain structures built by selfish genes or whatever - 'selfishness' will almost certainly be an important part of any description of selflessness that is prevalent.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 161 by GDR, posted 07-27-2012 11:01 PM GDR has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 169 by GDR, posted 07-28-2012 5:20 PM Modulous has responded

    
Modulous
Member
Posts: 7410
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


(1)
Message 165 of 203 (669236)
07-28-2012 10:46 AM
Reply to: Message 163 by Granny Magda
07-28-2012 7:25 AM


Re: we are in part, by nature, selfless beings.
Holy crap GDR! Do you have any idea how many genes you have in common with people in Sudan? All humans share over 99% of our DNA. That's more than enough for group selection to make sense.

Dawkins rejects group selection effects outright and insists that selection primarily operates at the gene level. Group selection, he believes, does not explain what we see.

As for the 99% of DNA line of thinking - this is actually similar to number 5 on Dawkins' Twelve Misconceptions of Kin Selection:

quote:
Whether 99% is an exaggeration or not, Washburn is certainly right that any two random
members of a species share the great majority of their genes. What, then, are we talking
about when we speak of the coefficient of relatedness between, say, siblings as being
50%? We must answer this question first before getting down to the error itself.
The unqualified statement that parents and offspring share 50 % of their genes is, as
Washburn rightly says, false. It can be made true by means of a qualification....

Why is it not the case that
natural selection will favour universal altruism, since most genes are universally shared
in a species? I think the simplest way to explain it is by using Maynard Smiths (1974)
language of evolutionarily stable strategies...Let there be two strategies, Universal Altruist U, and Kin Altruist K. U individuals care
for any member of the species indiscriminately. K individuals care for close kin only. In
both cases, the caring behaviour costs the altruist something in terms of his personal
survival chances. Suppose we grant Washburns assumption that U behaviour is based on
the shared 99 % of genes. In other words virtually the entire population are universal
altruists, and a tiny minority of mutants or immigrants are kin altruists. Superficially, the
U gene appears to be caring for copies of itself, since the beneficiaries of its
indiscriminate altruism are almost bound to contain the same gene. But is it
evolutionarily stable against invasion by initially rare K genes?
No it is not.



This message is a reply to:
 Message 163 by Granny Magda, posted 07-28-2012 7:25 AM Granny Magda has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 166 by Granny Magda, posted 07-28-2012 12:02 PM Modulous has acknowledged this reply

    
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