Evolution of monogamy in humans the result of infanticide risk

See on Scoop.itCultural evolution

The threat of infants being killed by unrelated males is the key driver of monogamy in humans and other primates. (Evolution of monogamy in humans the result of infanticide risk: The threat of infants being killed by unrelate…

Tom Uytterhoeven‘s insight:

Food for thought: if monogamy is the result of natural selection, is then the love that both partners in such a relation feel for each other also the result of natural selection and would that diminish its value/meaning? 


While the first question can be considered a scientific question (it seems logical to me to argue that love indeed is the result of natural selection, but I’m not a scientist), the second one is a philosophical one. Is an aspect of human life less valuable when we can frame it in evolutionary terminology, when we can trace its origins to natural processes? Or does that rather enrich our insights in who we are? I tend to take the later stance.


But on the other hand: identifying a certain aspect of human life as "natural" is of course not the same as giving that aspect a normative status. Infanticide may be tolerable in many primate species, I wonder how tolerable it is/has been in human societies. What I mean is: in what way did culture – something no other species has – build upon our genetic disposition to engage in monogamic relations? There probably exists literature about the relation between infanticide and family structure in different cultures throughout history and in different environments, and I think it would be interesting to combine those data with research like this.


For a Christian theologian the possibility that one of our most fundamental features, namely the capacity to love, is the result of how – ultimately – matter organized itself, is fascinating. If we accept this as a presupposition, then what does this mean for divine action, for the way God created us? Is it still intelligible to talk about God, creating humans in his image? Or do we have to rethink what that powerful metaphor tells us? In a way, I guess, theology is culture at work, reflecting as it does on a narrative heritage that holds stories told by and about people who discovered ultimate meaning in their world, in their lives. So it should be only natural – no pun intended – that theology took itself to the task of discovering ultimate meaning in our evolutionary history.

See on www.sciencedaily.com

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