The problem is that this entire framework of Darwinian analysis does not even come close to explaining morality. It confines itself to explaining altruism, but it only succeeds in explaining what may be termed “low altruism.” But humans also engage in “highaltruism: which may be defined as behavior that confers no reciprocal or genetic advantage. A man stands up to give his seat on a bus to an old lady. She is nothing to him, and he is certainly not thinking that there may be a future occasion when she or someone else will give him a seat. He gives up his seat because he is a nice guy. There is no Darwinian rationale that can account for his behavior.

Richard Dawkins concedes that the Darwinian thesis cannot explain why people give blood, a fact that he puts down to “pure disinterested altruism” that confers no benefit to the genes. Nor can the Darwinian model account for Christ’s maxim “love your enemies.” Or for Patrick Henry’s cri de coeur, “Give me liberty or give me death!” Or for Mother Teresa’s lifelong dedication to the sick and dying on the streets of Calcutta. Or for the biblical story of the Good Samaritan who went out of his way to assist a stranger from a reviled community.

Some time ago, I read the true account of a Catholic priest, Maximilian Kolbe, who was imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp for his anti-Nazi activities. Each day the Nazis would choose one person from the group for execution. One of the first persons they selected was a man who pleaded for his life, saying he had a wife and children who were dependent on him and he needed to live in order to look after them. Just as the Nazis were about to drag him from the room, the priest stood up and said, “Take me in his place.” The Nazis were uncomprehending and refused, but the priest insisted. The man was equally uncomprehending, so the priest told him, “I don’t have a family. I am old, and won’t be missed like you will.” The Nazis finally agreed, and the priest went to his death. The man whose place he took survived the war and returned to his family.