Defying Our DNA

David P. Barash outlines the convergences between evolutionary biology and existentialist philosophy. He argues that “science has not completely destroyed our understanding of free will, as so many critics contend”:

As descendants of both existential and evolutionary perspectives, we have the opportunity to assert ourselves as creative rebels. We may elect intentional childlessness. We may choose to be less selfish and more genuinely altruistic than our genes might like. We may decide to groom our sons to be nurses and our daughters to be corporate executives. I would go farther, and suggest that we must do such sorts of things—deny aspects of our own biological heritage—if we want to be fully human. The alternative—to let biology carry us where it will—is to forgo the responsibility of being human …  We cannot assume the lifestyle of honeybees, or Portuguese men-of-war. But such restrictions are trivial and beside the point: Within a remarkable range, our evolutionary bequeathal is wildly permissive.