“[Let] nothing [be done] through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.”
There is no room in the harsh realities of evolution for selflessness. For example, evolution says if I help you, I do so because I’m going to get something for myself. Likewise, what appears to be friendly behavior among animals is said to be only an evolutionary adaptation designed to preserve an animal’s genetic code. But research is leading some to question this harsh materialism.
Black Mediterranean ants live in colonies ruled by a queen. Their young are all genetically related to the rest of the colony. As the young are cared for, they are carried about the colony and licked. Researchers wanted to find out whether larvae from other colonies, and therefore not related, would receive as much care as larvae raised by their kin.
The scientists transferred eggs from one colony to another, where non-kin cared for them until they reached the larva stage. They were then returned to their own nest. When these ants were adults, researchers gave them the choice of caring for the young of their kin or the young from the colony where they were nursed. These ants gave more care to their non-kin than to their own family. Researchers believe that this is because they remembered the scents of those who nursed them.
The idea that all relationships and altruism are a result of selfishness is a cold, hard way to look at life. It also ignores the features God has built into the creation so that life would not be a desolation of cold, hard selfishness.
I thank You, Lord, that even though sin rules the world, there is some relief from unrelenting selfishness. Forgive me for my coldness and help me to look to Your example so that I can be more selfless, even with those who are selfish. Amen.
“Ants Can Learn to Favor Friends Over Family.” Discover, May 1986. P. 10-13. Painting: Belisarius asking for alms by Jacques-Louis David, 1781.