Sep 26, 2012
According to evolutionary anthropologist Christopher Boehm, “our moral sense is a sophisticated defence mechanism that enables individuals to survive and thrive in groups. One of the biggest risks of group living is the possibility of being punished for our misdeeds by those around us. Bullies, thieves, free-riders, and especially psychopaths are the most likely to suffer this fate. Getting by requires getting along, and this social type of selection, Boehm shows, singles out altruists for survival.”
It makes sense. In a recent “debate” between Britain’s Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks and biologist Richard Dawkins, the origins of our moral compass were discussed. Dawkins, I imagine would agree with Boehm and he suggested that in a post-religious world, communities would decide on what is moral, he pointed out that this is already happening and the morals of even the 1960s, are very different from those of the 1860s and certainly shifted from our current “Western” morals. Sacks responded by saying that the true origin is God and yet then went on to say how community with 3500 years of history had settled on the morals and that those same morals would apply even if you didn’t believe in God.
Bottom line, evolutionarily we’re moral because it benefits us in terms of procreation. Belief in God is probably just an accident.