In reading a short article on the web about bears rubbing against trees (it’s marking by both males and females and not scratching a different itch), I saw a comment about females marking partly to protect their young: a male bear will sometimes kill a female’s young to bring a mother back into heat and mate with her.
Behavior of that sort is truly ‘sometimes’ even for bears which are typically one of the less social of social mammals — especially the males and most especially the big males who need lots of food and wander over large territories. Still, I’ve read articles by wildlife biologists who have observed males socializing with cubs while the mother looks on without objecting.
Yet, brutal behavior remains a factor, behavior that I would call immoral even for non-human social mammals. This leads towards a very difficult problem, one not handled well by any view of evolution that I’m aware of:
Some of our less desirable instincts and tendencies were necessary for the survival and reproductive success of our ancestors. A male who left more young left more young even if he did it by occasionally killing the young of another male.
This is a real problem for mainstream Christian interpretations of the story of Adam and Eve and, in general, for mainstream Christian understandings of human nature. Put a bit simplistically:
If our ancestors had been sinless, they wouldn’t have survived, or at least wouldn’t have left as many descendants as their nastier neighbors.
Most modern Christians claim to accept some version of evolutionary theory and accept that we share common ancestor with the chimpanzee, a creature capable of as much nastiness as a man. Presumably, that ancestor was as nasty as his two major descendants. At what point in the evolution of humanity would we expect a ‘sinless’ Adam and Eve to have arisen? From nasty animal to sinless ancestors of all men to fallen man? Not plausible.
A real problem for those who think our ancestors were some sort of sinless Platonic archetypes who fell into a state of sin by their own (culpable) fault. In fact, the evidence is growing that we were born into a world, a phase of Creation, which is a battleground between order and disorder. We are creatures born as true citizens of this world.
Is this viewpoint in conflict with the story of Adam and Eve, with the Bible as a whole? As most Christians understand that story and that book, yes. However, my reading of the story of Adam and Eve would lead me to believe it wasn’t a story of a fall into a state of sin but rather a story of an awakening of man into an awareness of his state. Try reading those chapters in the book of Genesis and the following chapters giving the ‘genealogy’ of human technology — the founding of cities and crafts and so forth. Read those verses and keep your mind open. Do you really find anything supporting those many sermons and homilies and books of theology about the fall of Adam and Eve? Or was it a moral awakening which occurred in conjunction with a sudden awareness of at least divinity if not of the true God?