The Morality Delusion

One of the best parts of the God Delusion is Dawkins’ systematic destruction of the notion that Darwinian evolution is inherently amoral or immoral. In fact, he argues persuasively that most of our moral precepts can be traced to evolution.

The problem is a misunderstanding of what “selfishness” means in the evolutionary sense. Evolution is not about the individual trying to survive and dominate and therefore push everyone else down. Evolution, in fact doesn’t really care about individuals at all because every individual is going to die. Evolution is about the species. It’s about the group.

Cooperative behavior and altruism are absolutely essential to the survival of any species. If we were to ignore the suffering of those in the Indonesia tsunami or the Louisiana floods, we as individuals might be better off. But the species is worse off. For one thing, there are fewer of us.

Some will say this takes the morality out of morals, that it reduces it to some cold calculation of what is best for humanity. Perhaps. But I can’t see that thinking morality only arises from the fear of hell fire is any better.