Difference between revisions of "Argument from altruism"

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(Naturalistic explanations)
 
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[[Argument from altruism]] says that altruistic behaviour in humans requires an explanation, which is God.
 
[[Argument from altruism]] says that altruistic behaviour in humans requires an explanation, which is God.
  
{{quote|the major evolutionary explanations of altruism fail [...] However, we observe altruism in nature and in the clear teaching of the Bible ({{Bible|John 15:13}}; {{Bible|Philippians 2:2-4}}). Altruism embarrasses evolution, but makes perfect sense in light of the biblical creation account. <ref>[https://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=9&article=1409]</ref>}}
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{{quote|the major evolutionary explanations of altruism fail [...] However, we observe altruism in nature and in the clear teaching of the Bible ({{Bible|John 15:13}}; {{Bible|Philippians 2:2-4}}). Altruism embarrasses evolution, but makes perfect sense in light of the biblical creation account.<ref>[https://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=9&article=1409]</ref>}}
  
 
{{quote-source|Agape, or selfless altruism, present a major challenge for the evolutionist. It is quite frankly a scandal to reductionist reasoning. It cannot be accounted for by the drive of individual selfish genes to perpetuate themselves.|[[Francis Collins]], ''[[The Language of God]]''}}
 
{{quote-source|Agape, or selfless altruism, present a major challenge for the evolutionist. It is quite frankly a scandal to reductionist reasoning. It cannot be accounted for by the drive of individual selfish genes to perpetuate themselves.|[[Francis Collins]], ''[[The Language of God]]''}}
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===Naturalistic explanations===
 
===Naturalistic explanations===
  
There are many theories of how [[evolution]] can give rise to altruism. <ref>[https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/out-the-darkness/201310/why-do-human-beings-do-good-things-the-puzzle-altruism]</ref> Simply put, caring for our offspring and close relatives makes it more likely that our genes will be passed on to the next generation. The evolutionary advantage of having the prestige associated with being altruistic may more than compensate for its disadvantages.
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There are many theories of how [[evolution]] can give rise to altruism.<ref>[https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/out-the-darkness/201310/why-do-human-beings-do-good-things-the-puzzle-altruism]</ref> Simply put, caring for our offspring and close relatives makes it more likely that our genes will be passed on to the next generation. The evolutionary advantage of having the prestige associated with being altruistic may more than compensate for its disadvantages.
  
 
{{wikipedia|Prisoner's dilemma}}
 
{{wikipedia|Prisoner's dilemma}}
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God is a poor [[explanation]] because it is not predictive (in the scientific sense) and is arguably a [[Ultimate 747 gambit|bigger mystery]] than that it tries to explain.
 
God is a poor [[explanation]] because it is not predictive (in the scientific sense) and is arguably a [[Ultimate 747 gambit|bigger mystery]] than that it tries to explain.
  
===What is self interest?===
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===What is self-interest?===
  
Altruism is said to be acting against one's interests for the sake of others. But who is to say what one's interests really are? Perhaps our self interest and altruism are actually the same thing?
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Altruism is said to be acting against one's interests for the sake of others. But who is to say what one's interests really are? Perhaps our self-interest and altruism are actually the same thing, at least in some cases?
  
===Self contradiction===
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===Self-contradiction===
 
{{main article|Heaven precludes genuine charity}}
 
{{main article|Heaven precludes genuine charity}}
God supposedly explains altruistic behaviour because he punishes and rewards certain types of behaviour which motivates moral conduct. This assumes that people act in their own self interest. This contradicts the premise that people act altruistically.
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God supposedly explains altruistic behavior because he punishes and rewards certain types of behaviour which motivates moral conduct. This assumes that people act in their own self-interest. This contradicts the premise that people act altruistically.
  
 
{{quote|This argument is self-contradictory. It aims to explain how people act without regard to their self-interest, but then assumes that there could be no motive for acting altruistically other than self-interest.<ref name="fiction">Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, [http://edge.org/conversation/36-arguments-for-the-existence-of-god 36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction], 2011</ref>}}
 
{{quote|This argument is self-contradictory. It aims to explain how people act without regard to their self-interest, but then assumes that there could be no motive for acting altruistically other than self-interest.<ref name="fiction">Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, [http://edge.org/conversation/36-arguments-for-the-existence-of-god 36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction], 2011</ref>}}

Latest revision as of 06:46, 14 January 2020

Argument from altruism says that altruistic behaviour in humans requires an explanation, which is God.

"the major evolutionary explanations of altruism fail [...] However, we observe altruism in nature and in the clear teaching of the Bible (John 15:13 Bible-icon.png; Philippians 2:2-4 Bible-icon.png). Altruism embarrasses evolution, but makes perfect sense in light of the biblical creation account.[1]"

"Agape, or selfless altruism, present a major challenge for the evolutionist. It is quite frankly a scandal to reductionist reasoning. It cannot be accounted for by the drive of individual selfish genes to perpetuate themselves."

Francis Collins, The Language of God

The argument[edit]

  1. Humans act altruistically at least some of the time.
  2. This requires an explanation.
  3. Natural processes, such as evolution, cannot explain altruism.
  4. God is the best explanation for altruism.
  5. Therefore, God exists.

Counter arguments[edit]

Argument from ignorance[edit]

Main Article: Argument from ignorance

Even if no known processes can explain altruism, that does not imply that God did it. It could have been caused by some unknown process. We may find better explanations in future, making this argument a God of the gaps.

Naturalistic explanations[edit]

There are many theories of how evolution can give rise to altruism.[2] Simply put, caring for our offspring and close relatives makes it more likely that our genes will be passed on to the next generation. The evolutionary advantage of having the prestige associated with being altruistic may more than compensate for its disadvantages.

Wikipedia-logo-en.png
For more information, see the Wikipedia article:

Also, game theory implies that cooperation is a stable strategy in some circumstances, such as repeated rounds of the prisoner's dilemma.

Altruistic behavior is seen in non-human animals:

Which God?[edit]

Main Article: Which God?

The argument supports no particular god or theology.

God is a poor explanation[edit]

God is a poor explanation because it is not predictive (in the scientific sense) and is arguably a bigger mystery than that it tries to explain.

What is self-interest?[edit]

Altruism is said to be acting against one's interests for the sake of others. But who is to say what one's interests really are? Perhaps our self-interest and altruism are actually the same thing, at least in some cases?

Self-contradiction[edit]

Main Article: Heaven precludes genuine charity

God supposedly explains altruistic behavior because he punishes and rewards certain types of behaviour which motivates moral conduct. This assumes that people act in their own self-interest. This contradicts the premise that people act altruistically.

"This argument is self-contradictory. It aims to explain how people act without regard to their self-interest, but then assumes that there could be no motive for acting altruistically other than self-interest.[3]"

See also[edit]

References[edit]