Tag Archives: genetics

Genetics of Good and Evil

Good is something that would increase our collective chance of survival as a species. Evil is just the opposite. Certain things look good and noble to us precisely the same way healthy babies look cute to us. Our genes survived because we are the kind of people who would find our collective survival a noble thing, and wanton destruction of lives a cruel or evil thing.

The genetic explanation of good and evil above, though reasonable, may be a little too simplistic. Many morbid things are considered great or noble. Mindless brutality in wars, for instance, is thought of as a noble act of courage and sacrifice. Certain cruel social or cultural practices were once considered noble and are now considered abominable. Slavery, for instance, is one such custom that changed its moral color. The practice of slavery was condoned in some parts of the world while slave liberation was frowned upon, in an exact reversal of the current moral attitude.

Can we understand these apparent paradoxes in terms of our DNA replication algorithm? What exactly is the scope of the DNA replication algorithm? Obviously, it cannot be that a DNA wants (or is programmed) to replicate all DNAs. We would not be able to eat or survive in that case. Even the maximsurvival of the fittestwould not make any sense. Neither can it be that a DNA wants exact clones of itself. If that were true, it would not take a father and a mother to make a baby.

There is some behavioral evidence to suggest that DNA replication is optimized at sub-species or even intra-species level. A male lion, when he takes over a pride, kills or eats the cubs so that the lionesses of the pride have to mate with him. This behavior, however cruel and evil by our own genetic logic, makes sense to the male lion’s DNA replication program. His DNA is not interested in replicating the species DNA; it wants to replicate a DNA as close to itself as possible. Other examples of sub-species level optimization are easily found. Gorillas are fiercely territorial and protective of their groups. Their violent behavior in promoting their own specific DNA is in stark contrast to our perception of them as gentle giants.

Such blatant genetic motivations are mirrored in human beings as well; ethnic cleansing and racism are clear examples. We are also at least as territorial about our countries and homes as our gorilla cousins, as evidenced by the national boundaries and Immigration and Naturalization Services and so on. Even our more subtle socio-economic behavior can be traced back to a genetic sub-species level struggle for survival of our DNA.

This sub-species genetic division leads to the apparent paradox of the mixing of noble and the evil. Patriotism is noble; treason is evil. Spying for our country is bravery, while spying for some other country is clearly treason. Killing in a war is noble, but murdering a neighbor is clearly evil. A war for liberation is probably noble; a war for oil is not. Looking after our family is noble, but ignoring our own and looking after somebody else’s family is not that good.

Even though the actions and effects of each pair of these noble and evil deeds are roughly equivalent, their moral connotations are different. This paradoxical difference can be explained genetically by the notion that the DNA replication algorithm distinguishes between sub-species.

Ref: This post is an excerpt from my book, The Unreal Universe.

Evolusie,,en,Omgekeerde logika,,en,Evolusie word gewoonlik beskryf as,,en,die oorlewing van die sterkste,,en,of as spesies ontwikkel om by die omgewing aan te pas,,en,Om te oorleef,,en,om te ontwikkel,,en,Om aan te pas,,en,dit is aksiewerkwoorde,,en,impliseer 'n soort intensie of algemene plan,,en,Maar daar is 'n vreemde inversie van die logika,,en,of omkering van oorsaaklikheid in die evolusieteorie,,en,Dit is amper die teenoorgestelde van die bedoeling of plan,,en,Dit is die maklikste om hierdie omgekeerde logika aan die hand van voorbeelde te illustreer,,en,Gestel jy is op 'n tropiese eiland,,en,geniet die mooi weer en die pragtige strand,,en,Jy sê vir jouself,,en,Hierdie is perfek,,en,Dit is 'n paradys,,en,daar is 'n spesifieke geen wat die blou druk van u breinproses bevat wat daartoe lei dat u so voel,,en,Dit is vanselfsprekend dat daar op 'n stadium genetiese mutasies kon wees,,en–Inverted Logic

Evolution is usually described as “the survival of the fittest,” or as species evolving to adapt to the environment. To survive, to evolve, to adapt—these are action verbs, implying some kind of intention or general plan. But there is a curious inversion of logic, or reversal of causality in the theory of evolution. This is almost the opposite of intention or plan.

It is easiest to illustrate this inverted logic using examples. Suppose you are on a tropical island, enjoying the nice weather and the beautiful beach. You say to yourself, “This is perfect. This is paradise!” Of course, there is some specific gene containing the blue print of your brain process that leads you to feel this way. It stands to reason that there may have been genetic mutations at some point, wat sommige mense hierdie soort paradys laat haat het,,en,Hulle het dalk Alaska in die winter verkies,,en,Klaarblyklik,,en,sulke gene het 'n effens laer kans op oorlewing omdat die Alaska-winters nie so gesond is soos tropiese paradys nie,,en,Oor miljoene jare,,en,hierdie gene het alles behalwe uitgewis,,en,Wat dit beteken, is dat die tropiese paradys nie 'n intrinsieke skoonheid het nie,,en,Dit is nie eens dat jy dit mooi vind nie,,en,Skoonheid lê nie noodwendig in die oë van die kyker nie,,en,Dit is meer soos die oë, want ons is die soort mense wat sulke gasvrye omgewings mooi sal vind,,en,Nog 'n voorbeeld van die inversie van logika in evolusie is die rede waarom ons oulike babas oulik vind,,en,Ons gene het oorleef,,en. They may have preferred Alaska in winter. Evidently, such genes had a slightly lower chance of survival because Alaskan winters are not as healthy as tropical paradises. Over millions of years, these genes got all but wiped out.

What this means is that the tropical paradise does not have an intrinsic beauty. It is not even that you happen to find it beautiful. Beauty does not necessarily lie in the eyes of the beholder. It is more like the eyes exist because we are the kind of people who would find such hospitable environments beautiful.

Another example of the inversion of logic in evolution is the reason we find cute babies cute. Our genes survived, en ons is hier omdat ons die soort mense is wat gesonde babas oulik sal vind,,en,Hierdie omkering van kousaliteit het implikasies in elke faset van ons bestaan,,en,tot by ons begrip van vrye wil,,en,omgewing,,en,genetika,,en,logika,,en,evolusieteorie,,en,oorsaaklikheid Argiewe,,en. This reversal of causality has implications in every facet of our existence, all the way up to our notion of free will.

Ref: This post is an excerpt from my book, The Unreal Universe.