The Evolutionary Significance of Human Goodness

13 Dec

I wish to discuss human goodness in relation to my personal experience of it and my latest convictions on the lack of evidence for a Personal God (see: http://satyaadvaita.wordpress.com/2012/12/09/dr-shantanu-panigrahi-says-on-9-december-2012-that-there-is-no-personal-god/). I will start by defining  goodness in human beings from the only way I can, a personal perception because that is what I know the most about.

I felt that being truthful, transparent, honest, free of conceit, pride, and ego, greed, non-violent, pacifying as far as it can go, were important to me and that these qualities made me a good person, as opposed to a bad person. The question that puzzled me is why was I so different from many other human beings in these regards. Humanity must be divided into a spectrum of human beings from good to bad. I had assumed that this division must have been due to the possibility that right inside me a God had taken up residence as the divine soul or super soul (atma in Hinduism) getting me to do only good things in life. But I was not satisfied with that assumption. It had to be tested for truth at all costs. So I neglected my material needs for my family in order to pursue the truth of this enormously difficult question. The only way it could be resolved was to communicate with this God in a clear way that could be relied upon. I started a process of trying to correspond with this preceived God in total faith and devotion on the belief that such a Personal God would provide me with the answers especially since it was vital to human progress so would be in God’s interests to help me determine. Using various exploaratory techniques of what God’s wishes were with the aid of a digital clock for God to show me particular numbers as answers to my questions to him on my daily activities that were designed to improve myself and my life without harming others (including varying the experiments to from periods no checks, to periods of constant checks, and varying the two changing checks by altering the time display numbers), I left no stone unturned to try and ascertain whether or not there was an inner voice of God who could be planting thought in my mind as revelations and get me to do various things in my life. After 15 years of such checks I reached the conclusion that there was God seated there who I could correspond with me to influence me in my decisions by acting on my body and mind. Despite all the faith and devotion God has shown no inclination to correspond with me in the only way that he could have if he was omnipotent and omnibenevolent. So he could not have made me a good person from within which would be a much more complex task of constant influence. There was therefore absolutely no Personal God in evidence. My goodness was therefore purely biological in aetiology.

To realise this for certain had mind boggling implications on how we see human evolution. That I came about biologically to be such a gentle and good person so different from many others but was not the only such person meant that some of us at least have evolved to be caring and altruistic in relation to our from animalistic predecessors. How did it happen, and is this tendency spreading through the human population? Is there a God that does not wish to be a Personal God but nonetheless directed evolution to generate gentle human beings like me? If not, what was the evolutionary significance of gentleness, of human goodness?

Since I have discounted the deistic position as untenable, could human ‘goodness’ have served a survival and reproductional purpose? How credible is this logic? Or are ‘good’ humans a variant in Homo sapiens whose numbers in the population will decrease in the battle between the supremacy of ‘good’ over ‘bad’ people in purely evolutionary terms?

It is increasingly suggested that early experience has a crucial role to play in engendering empathy or goodness in human beings (http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1982190,00.html#ixzz2Ew9cNkNX ).

studies show that those who experience such early trauma are at much greater risk of becoming aggressive or even psychopathic later on, bullying other children or being victimized by bullies themselves.

Some believe that goodness is the default position for human beings. The word ‘innate’ in the report indicates that our genes across entire humankind makes us all empathetic in nature in that we all have a certain goodness about ourselves no matter which human population one looks at in the world. Do we rule out that there might be actual genetic abnormalities/mutations in those genes that give us our basic kind and altruistic caring nature which could then make some of us excessively good or excessively bad, even only as a predisposition for the early experience to act on? Also overall is there any difference in between the two sexes as to their composition of good and bad people?

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2 Responses to “The Evolutionary Significance of Human Goodness”

  1. Diogenes December 13, 2012 at 3:00 pm #

    Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
    there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

    When the soul lies down in that grass,
    the world is too full to talk about.
    Ideas, language, even the phrase “each other” doesn’t make any sense.

    – Rumi

    • shantanup December 13, 2012 at 4:35 pm #

      Diogenes

      Would you give us an interpretation in 50-100 words of what is being conveyed by this piece of poetry?

      Shantanu

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