Security and the Understanding of Belief and Belief in God

Why Natural Selection Selects for Traits That Increase Security

          To understand why security is the goal of all human behavior requires furthering present understandings of how natural selection works:

          First, it is presently understood that natural selection selects for traits that increase reproductive success. And it is generally believed that traits that sufficiently prolong survival (increase life expectancy) to include the reproductive years will increase reproductive success. But, as first explained in The Primal Instinct, this survivalist theory of natural selection is faulty because there is no specific gene for prolonging survival or for increasing life expectancy, nor can there be one. At first glance this may be confusing; it has confused evolutionary psychologists for decades. But prolonging survival or increasing life expectancy are not, themselves, mechanisms to increase reproductive success. They are goals that require a mechanism to increase life expectancy. That is, natural selection selects for traits that are mechanisms or are structures that enable mechanisms to prolong survival. As emphasized in Essay 3, the only type of mechanism by which life expectancy has been or is increased is one that increases security. No other mechanism has yet been discovered. (Lengthening telomeres might turn out to increase life expectancy, but is not yet feasible.) The behavioral traits that natural selection selected for in the past, when life expectancy was much shorter than it is today, were those that increased security, thereby making personal security the goal of human behavior. Understanding natural selection in terms of a security paradigm rather than in terms of a survivalist paradigm seems to be a minor change, but it has monumental consequences by reorienting thinking about how evolutionary psychology really works.

            Second, the only substantive argument that, to my knowledge, has ever been leveled against the “security” hypothesis involves the peacock’s tail. Although the peacock’s ornate tail may lead to sexual selection, which results in natural selection because it increases reproductive success, it does not increase the peacock’s security. It is an encumbrance that may even decrease the peacock’s security. Thus, although sexual selection may lead to the survival of a species, it does not accomplish this by enhancing the security and resultant survivability of an organism within the species. This, however, does not hold for genetic adaptations. All adaptations are naturally selected because they increase security. The universal objective of, and the reason for, almost all biological structures and behaviors that have ever existed in plants and animals – from cells to organ systems – is security. That is because almost all inherited traits result from genetic adaptations. Only when natural selection occurs for reasons other than for adapting to an environment, such as in the case of sexual selection, is security of no concern.

            Third, evolutionary psychologists hold that all human behavior originates from genetic traits that have been naturally selected. This is true in evolutionary biology and for instinctive behaviors in evolutionary psychology, but it is not true for volitional behaviors in evolutionary psychology, where behavior derives from the belief that originates from a belief system, but not from being naturally selected. A glaring example of evolutionary psychologists' mistaken thinking is the popular, ongoing controversy over how altruistic behavior is naturally selected: whether by kin selection (inclusive fitness) or by group selection (multilevel selection). These arguments, although prominent in evolutionary psychology's literature, are embarrassingly bogus because altruistic behavior is not naturally selected. There is no genetic trait for altruistic behavior, nor can there be, because altruistic behavior is volitional and volitional behavior, which includes almost all human behavior, is determined by belief. Belief originates from a belief system, not from a genetic trait that is naturally selected.

            Altruistic behavior results from emotional attaching. People attach to increase security because human behavior, including attaching behavior, is adaptive, and adaptations are naturally selected because they increase security. Security is acquired by physically possessing its source, as in the case of eyes, ears, shelter, or food, or by emotionally attaching its source, as in the case of gods, friends, or family. When emotionally attached, those attached are bonded together as one, and, therefore, they treat their attachments as they would treat themselves, which is altruistically. But I now recognize that although altruistic behavior primarily derives from emotional attaching, as I had previously written, (The Primal Instinct, pp23-31; Essay 1) altruistic behavior can also be learned. In either case, altruistic behavior does not derive from a genetic trait that has been naturally selected.