The article mentions a "conundrum [that] has puzzled evolutionary biologists since the time of Darwin", namely "Natural selection argues against cooperation" and "If all organisms, including humans, are pitted in a ceaseless struggle for survival and sex, those who help others would quickly find themselves swamped in a rising tide of selfishness" but "most humans reflexively help another person in need even if there are no family ties or a direct benefit to be gained" (my emphasis).
But instead of concluding that natural selection must be false or limited, Darwinists simply posit what in ecology is called, "the ghost of competition past", i.e. "A term coined by J.H. Connell to stress that interspecific competition, acting as an evolutionary force in the past, has often left its mark on the behaviour, distribution or morphology of species, even when there is no present-day competition between them." (my emphasis).
That is, it is just speculatively assumed that "Human cooperation may have evolved out of a penchant for frequent warfare" in the past (my emphasis):
"Natural selection argues against cooperation. If all organisms, including humans, are pitted in a ceaseless struggle for survival and sex, those who help others would quickly find themselves swamped in a rising tide of selfishness, especially if those they helped bore no relation to them. Yet, most humans reflexively help another person in need even if there are no family ties or a direct benefit to be gained. This conundrum has puzzled evolutionary biologists since the time of Darwin, but a new study shows how internecine warfare among early humans might have allowed for the spread of a dominant group of altruistic tribes. Economist Samuel Bowles of the Santa Fe Institute examines the evolutionary forces at work on early human populations. He posits two distinct groups: the altruistic and the selfish, divided into many different tribes, which Bowles refers to as demes. Altruists are disposed to take an action helping others, but such actions have a specific cost. For example, an altruist might jump into the river to save a drowning child at the cost of her own life but to the overall benefit of the tribe. Reducing these sets of conditions to a mathematical equation reveals that altruists can only prosper if their altruism enables their group to acquire more territory. One of the primary ways that humans--indeed all primates-- acquire territory is through `contests,' or war. By sharing the costs of war, as well as its benefits, a group of altruists typically outnumbers and therefore defeats a less cohesive band of individuals. Thus, whereas individual natural selection would argue for the rise of the selfish, larger group dynamics showcase the triumph of the altruists. This latter type of selection also relies on that group sharing a large proportion of similar genes, because, in that case, altruists' genetic material persists in some form if they sacrifice themselves for others in war. This is the solution offered by Darwin in The Descent of Man and Bowles in a paper published in the December 8 Science [Bowles, S., "Group Competition, Reproductive Leveling, and the Evolution of Human Altruism," Science, Vol. 314, 8 December 2006, pp.1569-1572]. ... None of this evidence, of course, proves that altruism evolved in this manner, but it does provide an intriguing argument and some nice mathematical equations for describing human behavior. ..." (Biello, D., "Love Thy Neighbor Evolved Out of Vicious Competition: Human cooperation may have evolved out of a penchant for frequent warfare," Scientific American, December 07, 2006).
Note what a wonderful theory natural selection is! If humans were characterised by "a ceaseless struggle for survival and sex" then that can be explained by natural selection favouring "a penchant for frequent warfare" in the present. But if humans are not characterised by "a ceaseless struggle for survival and sex" then that can be explained by natural selection favouring "a penchant for frequent warfare" in the past! So heads Darwinism wins and tails Darwinism wins!
But the problem with that is, as the article says, "None of this evidence, of course, proves that altruism evolved in this manner." But since Darwinism is consistent with anything and its opposite, how could it ever "prove" anything?
Getting back to the article's explanation of natural selection favouring "a penchant for frequent warfare" in the past, this was what the late Australian philosopher, David Stove, called "the `Cave Man' attempt to solve `Darwinism's Dilemma'" namely, "that although human life may not now exhibit the brutal struggle for subsistence that Darwin's theory postulates, it once did" (his emphasis):
"Again, if Darwin's theory of evolution were true, `there would be in every species a constant and ruthless competition to survive: a competition in which only a few in any generation can be winners. But it is perfectly obvious that human life is not like that, however it may be with other species.' Priests, hospitals, governments, old-age homes, charities, police: these are a few of the things whose existence contradicts Darwin's theory. Some of Darwinism's defenders respond by arguing that although human life may not now exhibit the brutal struggle for subsistence that Darwin's theory postulates, it once did. This is what Stove calls the `Cave Man' attempt to solve `Darwinism's Dilemma.' (The other attempts he calls the `Hard Man' and the `Soft Man' gambits.) But the problem is that Darwin's theory is not meant to be something that was true yesterday but not today. It claims to be, as Stove puts it, `a universal generalization about all terrestrial species at any time.' And this means that `if the theory says something which is not true now of our species (or another), then it is not true-finish.'" (Kimball, R., ed., "Against the Idols of the Age," , Transaction Publishers: New Brunswick NJ, Second Printing, 2000, p.xxix. Emphasis original).
But the problem with that, as Stove pointed out above, is that "Darwin's theory is not meant to be something that was true yesterday but not today" because if it "is not true now of our species then it is not true-finish" (i.e. "period" or "full-stop")!
The possibility that human altruism was straightforwardly favourable because a species that is characterised more by cooperation than competition is more likely to be successful (which actually is the case, not just in humans but in most species-hence the need for Connell's "ghost of competition past"), and that Darwinian competition and natural selection played a comparatively minor role in the origin of humans (at least), is not even considered!
Stephen E. Jones, BSc. (Biol).
Genesis 29:31-30:24. 31When the LORD saw that Leah was not loved, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. 32Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, "It is because the LORD has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now." 33She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, "Because the LORD heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too." So she named him Simeon. 34Again she conceived, and when she gave birth to a son she said, "Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons." So he was named Levi. 35She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, "This time I will praise the LORD." So she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children. 1When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, "Give me children, or I'll die!" 2Jacob became angry with her and said, "Am I in the place of God, who has kept you from having children?" 3Then she said, "Here is Bilhah, my maidservant. Sleep with her so that she can bear children for me and that through her I too can build a family." 4So she gave him her servant Bilhah as a wife. Jacob slept with her, 5and she became pregnant and bore him a son. 6Then Rachel said, "God has vindicated me; he has listened to my plea and given me a son." Because of this she named him Dan. 7Rachel's servant Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son. 8Then Rachel said, "I have had a great struggle with my sister, and I have won." So she named him Naphtali. 9When Leah saw that she had stopped having children, she took her maidservant Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a wife. 10Leah's servant Zilpah bore Jacob a son. 11Then Leah said, "What good fortune!" So she named him Gad. 12Leah's servant Zilpah bore Jacob a second son. 13Then Leah said, "How happy I am! The women will call me happy." So she named him Asher. 14During wheat harvest, Reuben went out into the fields and found some mandrake plants, which he brought to his mother Leah. Rachel said to Leah, "Please give me some of your son's mandrakes." 15But she said to her, "Wasn't it enough that you took away my husband? Will you take my son's mandrakes too?" "Very well," Rachel said, "he can sleep with you tonight in return for your son's mandrakes." 16So when Jacob came in from the fields that evening, Leah went out to meet him. "You must sleep with me," she said. "I have hired you with my son's mandrakes." So he slept with her that night. 17God listened to Leah, and she became pregnant and bore Jacob a fifth son. 18Then Leah said, "God has rewarded me for giving my maidservant to my husband." So she named him Issachar. 19Leah conceived again and bore Jacob a sixth son. 20Then Leah said, "God has presented me with a precious gift. This time my husband will treat me with honor, because I have borne him six sons." So she named him Zebulun. 21Some time later she gave birth to a daughter and named her Dinah. 22Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and opened her womb. 23She became pregnant and gave birth to a son and said, "God has taken away my disgrace." 24She named him Joseph, and said, "May the LORD add to me another son."