The Cheater’s Manifesto (The Case for Non-Monogamy)
The evolutionary psychology book Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá provides the reproductive motivations behind why men and women cheat in monogamous relationships.
There is something paradoxical going on in this article. The author stresses that although evolution makes cheating in a relation somehow reasonable – it’s part of human nature, so to speak – but at the same time repeatedly states that evolution can not be used as an excuse for our actions – "Sorry, hon’, didn’t mean to hurt you, it’s just that my genes, you know…"
Let me first say that I agree on this: I believe the author is right when she argues that we can acknowledge our ‘natural’ urges, without giving in to them. What gives us the ability to distance ourselves from our evolutionary inheritance – the male urge to produce as much offspring as possible – is not explicitly identified. The author hints at reflective reason in her closing paragraph. And that’s what so paradoxical about the article, I believe. Although it seems that we are put against evolution – we can surpass evolutionary reasons to act in certain ways and choose a different path – in fact we are only using what evolution gave us: our reflective reason, and/or – not mentioned by the author – our cultural values. For me, as a theologian, that’s where the interesting questions come up: what does it mean for a Christian to acknowledge that we acquired the ability to make our own choices through the evolutionary history – a combination of chance and necessity – of our species? Is it possible to identify revelation with (aspects of) cultural evolution? Can Christian belief in divine creation give us a deeper understanding of human free will, or can it only add some colour to the picture science paints?
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