Altruism and Christian Ethics (New studies in Christian by Colin Grant

By Colin Grant

Separated from its anchorage in faith, ethics has the social sciences in seeing humans as essentially characterised through self-interest, in order that altruism is both naively idealistic or arrogantly self-sufficient. Colin supply contends that, as a contemporary secular suggestion, altruism is a parody at the self-giving love of Christianity, in order that its dismissal represents a social leveling that loses the depths that theology makes intelligible and faith makes attainable. He argues that to dispense with altruism is to dispense with God and with the divine transformation of human percentages.

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61 Now we are assured that we can leave all this evolutionary legacy behind. ``We have the power to defy the sel®sh genes of our birth and, if necessary, the sel®sh memes of our indoctrination. ''62 The prospects for such an unprecedented phenomenon do not appear great, but of more immediate consequence for this whole position is the high cost at which even this prospect is achieved, the apparent repudiation of the central conviction of the position itself, that genes are the determinative agents of life.

20. Mary Midgley, ``Gene-Juggling,'' Philosophy 54 (1979): 444. 18 Alien altruism nothing but expediency will restrain him from brutalizing, from maiming, from murdering ± his brother, his mate, his parent, or his child. 32 D. D. Barash attempts to explain the apparent altruism of Kamikaze pilots by contending that their families would enjoy enhanced social status, an explanation that hardly seems to eliminate altruism. 33 E. O. Wilson himself even goes to the extent of impugning the integrity of Mother Teresa.

M. T. Ghiselin is under no illusions that the explanation is con®ned to the genetic level. Where it is in his own interest, every organism may reasonably be expected to aid his fellows. Where he has no alternative, he submits to the yoke of servitude. Yet, given a full chance to act in his own interest, 29 30 31 Michael Ruse, Sociobiology: Sense or Nonsense? (Dordrecht: D. Reidel, 1979), p. 198. Marshall Sahlins, The Use and Abuse of Biology: An Anthropological Critique of Sociobiology (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1976), p.

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