Survival of the kindest investigated at UC Berkeley, according to e! Science News, 9 December 2009.
Dacher Keltner, a UC Berkeley psychologist, and colleagues have carried out a number of studies of human behaviour that challenge the “every man for himself” interpretation of Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection. Keltner is co-director of the Greater Good Science Centre, whose research focuses on such human behaviour as gratitude, compassion, altruism, awe and positive parenting, and the positive effects these have on society. They call it “survival of the kindest” and claim that “human beings are successful as a species precisely because of our nurturing, altruistic and compassionate traits.”
To support their belief they have carried out a number of studies how people behave in groups when given the opportunity to contribute to the greater good of the group, and of physiological processes involved in mutual support. They found that people gained status and support within their peer groups if they behaved in a generous way, rather than selfishly.
Their physiological studies have reinforced previous studies on the importance of human touch and personal interaction in stress relief and good health. Keltner explained: “Human beings have survived as a species because we have evolved the capacities to care for those in need, and to cooperate. As Darwin long ago surmised, sympathy is our strongest instinct.”
He went on to say: “This new science of altruism and the physiological underpinnings of compassion is finally catching up with Darwin’s observations nearly 130 years ago, that sympathy is our strongest instinct.”
Editorial Comment: Whatever observations Darwin and modern scientists have made of kind and sympathetic behaviour, it cannot be explained by evolutionary theory. Darwin himself said that the “production of the higher animals” directly follows from “the war of nature”. The research carried out by Greater Good Science Centre may help us understand how kindness contributes to good health of individuals and groups, but it will not make people good, and it doesn’t tell you how people got to be kind when history is usually dominated by individuals such as Hitler and Saddam Hussein.
The fact is that human beings are a curious mixture of good and evil and the evolutionists may try hard but their story won’t beat the fact we were made in the image of the Creator God, who is good, but have disobeyed Him and our evil has ruined things since then. The only way we can become good is by being forgiven of our sin through faith in the Creator Christ who paid the penalty for our disobedience, and then living according to God’s instructions for human behaviour.
Evidence News, 28 April 2010
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