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2. Taboos and Darwin

What protects us from ourselves and from one another when we, as a people or an individual, wish to do wrong? Laws (state), shame (church), and taboos (community).
Laws can currently be changed according to the will of the people. Religious shame can disappear by changing one's belief in God or even by choosing to stop believing in God altogether. Taboos, the social limits we subconsciously place on ourselves, can be changed by challenging our views of those taboos.
Where did the taboos come from though? Why do we have them? A possible answer may come from Darwin.

"The Concept of Natural Selection."
"The central argument of Darwin's theory of evolution starts from the existence of hereditary variation. Experience with animal and plant breeding demonstrates that variations can be developed that are "useful to man." So, reasoned Darwin, variations must occur in nature that are favourable or useful in some way to the organism itself in the struggle for existence. Favourable variations are ones that increase chances for survival and procreation. Those advantageous variations are preserved and multiplied from generation to generation at the expense of less advantageous ones. This is the process known as natural selection. The outcome of the process is an organism that is well adapted to its environment, and evolution often occurs as a consequence."
"Natural selection, then, can be defined as the differential reproduction of alternative hereditary variants, determined by the fact that some variants increase the likelihood that the organisms having them will survive and reproduce more successfully than will organisms carrying alternative variants. Selection may be due to differences in survival, in fertility, in rate of development, in mating success, or in any other aspect of the life cycle. All of these differences can be incorporated under the term "differential reproduction" because all result in natural selection to the extent that they affect the number of progeny an organism leaves."
(Quoted from Britannica CD 98 Standard Edition ©1994-1998 by Encyclopędia Britannica, Inc.)

Does a person's moral belief structure affect their chances of reproducing? Does a person's moral belief structure affect the chances of their children successfully growing to adulthood? If a man's morals do not insist that he feed his children, his children may die as a result. If a woman's morals do not insist that she bear children, the woman will sometimes have abortions or even abstain from childbearing altogether, thereby resulting in a decreased number of offspring. It would seem that, yes, a person's moral belief structure does affect their chances of reproducing as well as the chances of their children's survival to adulthood.
According to Darwin and Natural Selection, any quality that prevents a person from reproducing, will be less or not at all present in future generations of people, simply due to the fact that there are no or fewer children around to perpetuate it. The result will be that the condition in question, any condition, will become less frequent, favoring other conditions that are more favorable for creating offspring.
If Natural Selection plays a part in the shaping of one's own moral limitations, then it is also possible that the taboos that have been placed within us or that we have shaped for ourselves are pieces of information that, for whatever reason, are or once were essential to our existence and survival.
It is also possible that as a society, such as ours, increasingly accepts the nihlistic philosophies, that Nietzsche suggested, as mentioned in section 1, that the moral taboo structure of the society will also change. As Natural Selection suggests though, this change of our moral taboo structure may bring about a disharmony with the reproductive cycle and survival in general, resulting in death, both in a reduction of the number of offspring that are created and in actual death.

Jonathan Scott
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