Date: February 28, 2021
“In 1859, Charles Darwin turned humanity’s understanding of our place in the universe on its head. Humans have not existed since the dawn of the universe as we are today, but in fact are among the descendants of an unbroken chain of ancestors stretching back billions of years. The same is true for every living creature on Earth – our extended family tree.
In 1871’s ‘Descent of Man’, Darwin applied his theory to human nature, and to morality. He argued that ‘the so-called moral sense is originally derived from the social instincts’, and that ‘any animal whatever, endowed with well-marked social instincts…would inevitably acquire a moral sense or conscience, as soon as its intellectual powers had become as well, or nearly as well developed, as in man’.
At the Darwin Day Lecture 2021, Dr Oliver Scott Curry presents the latest scientific explanation of morality.
This new science of right and wrong answers such questions as: How do ‘selfish genes’ make selfless people? Are there ‘genes for’ morality? When does morality emerge in children? How many moral values are there? Are there any universal moral rules, found in all cultures? How and why do individuals and societies have different moral values? And what does science tell us about how we ought to behave?
The answers to these questions show that Darwin was on the right track. Morality is deeply rooted in human nature, part of our evolutionary heritage. A hopeful message in a year when we have relied on one another more than usual, to overcome the common challenge of covid.”