Christianity Essay

2416 Words 10 Pages

Humans love to think of themselves as fundamentally selfless, conscience-driven individuals, while, in Robert Wright's eyes, "we are all self-promoters and social climbers" (Wright 313). Wright explains all altruistic behaviors as a part of a "shameless ploy" by our genes to ensure the perpetuation of the invaluable genetic code (212). His assertion that human altruism is really fundamentally self-serving in nature is intriguing in light of many of the hallowed conceptions we tend to have regarding our own innate kindness towards each other. Viewed under the microscope of Christian morality, which demands that its followers perform good deeds without drawing attention to them, Wright's notion of altruism initially
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If the liquid food that one ant carries saves the lives of four of its full siblings, two of whom are sisters (and therefore share 75% of the sacrificial ant's genes instead of the usual 50% in brothers), then the ant's behavior is ultimately genetically beneficial. The sterile, altruistic ant's genes will be passed on to the next generation via its relatives if they survive; it scores major points in the genetic game. Thus, especially in the case of organisms with a high degree of relatedness, "altruism of extraordinary magnitude is justified in the eyes of natural selection" since it will, in the end, ensure the survival of the altruist's genes in one form or another (164). This kind of kin altruism makes sense, then; we should be willing to sacrifice ourselves for our family, especially those members who are most closely related to us, since they share at least a fraction of our genes.

How, then, do we explain non-kin altruism? Even if we accept that sacrificing ourselves for our family is really fundamentally self-serving, why are we inclined towards kindness for those who are not genetically tied to us? Again, the answer lies in selfishness. Wright proposes that people extend favors to each other simply because they will someday be able to collect on them. Take the vampire bat, for example; after extracting blood from its prey, a bat may return to its cave to regurgitate some food for a friend who has had less luck that night. By sharing what
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