14 / CHRONICLESn(whose genetic relatedness is easily proven) over the childrennof their brothers. The avuncular bias is strongest innthose societies when paternity is generally least certain.nSuch correlations do not always exist. Recent studies havenfound that in contemporary industrial societies reproductionnoften decreases with wealth and status rather than thenopposite as predicted by natural selechon theory. Butnthe trends do occur frequendy enough to invite seriousnattention. In their seminal book The Biology of Religion,nVernon Reynolds and Ralph Tanner showed that survivalnand genetic reproduction can be faored by thentraditional practices of religion, including evangelism,nmarriage rites, and e’en celibacy and asceticism, the latternthrough their positive effects on group cohesion andnwelfare.nBut to come quickly to the point that most troubles criticsnof evolutionary ethics, it does not follow that the genehcnprograms of cognition and prepared learning are automaticallynbeneficial een in a crude Darwinian sense. Behaviorsnsuch as xenophobia and territorial expansion may havenbeen very adaptive in the earlier, formative stages of humannevolutionary history, but they are destructive now even fornthose who practice them. .Although the cultural ought isnmore tightiy linked to the genetic is than philosophers haventraditionally conceded, the two do not automatically translatenone into the other.nA workable moral code can be obtained not just bynunderstanding the foundations of human nature, but by thenwise choice of those constraints needed to keep us alive andnfree in a rapidly changing cultural environment that rendersnsome of our propensities maladaptive.nThe choice among the foundations of moral reasoning isnnot likely to remain arbitrary. Metaethics can be testednempirically. Already, it seems necessary on the basis of thenevidence to discard cultural relativism. One system of ethicsnis not as good as another. Not only are some less workable,nthey are in the profoundest sense less human. The corollarynis that people can be educated readily only to a narrownrange of ethical precepts. This leaves a choice betweennevolutionary ethics and transcendentalism. The idea of angenetic origin of moral codes can be further tested by ancontinuance of biological studies of complex human behavior,nincluding religious behavior itself To the extent thatnthe sensory and nervous systems appear to have evolved bynnatural selection or some other purely natural process, thenevolutionary interpretation will be supported. To the extentnthey are not, the evolutionary interpretation will have to benabandoned and a transcendental explanation sought.nHuman curiosity is a juggernaut that will eventuallynstrain our very notion of the meaning of science andnreligion. Somewhere out there we might even find ansurprising conjunction of traditional religion and secularnhumanism. I doubt that what lies ahead will be speciallyncongenial to any existing ideology or religious belief Yet tonpress on is infinitely superior than to retreat through fearnand distaste. Enrico Fermi put it as follows: “WhatevernNature has in store for mankind, unpleasant as it may be,nman must accept, for ignorance is •never better thannknowledge.”nTo the distinguished inventor of the nuclear reactor wenmay now respond in the face of more advanced biologicalnknowledge: yes, but let us step very carefully.nPOETRY lOUKNALnPlains Poetry Journal is committed to the theory that poetry is art and art is made. It’s the most refreshing concoctionnof real poetry you’ll find between the soft pages of a “little” magazine, by talented well-known and un-knownnpoets determined to use classical poetic traditions in vigorous, compelling new ways. Quarterly; $3.50/issue,n$14/year. Heartening editorial manifesto for SASE. Plains Poetry Journal, P.O. Box 2337, Bismarck, ND 58502.nnn