"Faith is the ability to see ourselves as joined to others by God's love... religion the miracle of religion which turns selfish genes in to selfless people".Søren Kierkegaard captures something of selflessness - "To love one's neighbour means ... essentially to will to exist equally for every human being without exception."
I enjoyed reading an article in the Times recently where Jonathan Sacks makes an interesting point. There is an irony that while disciples of Darwin are anti religious, that whether he knew it or not, Darwin put forward what Sacks calls one of the great arguments for religion. Darwin observed a paradox at the heart of his system - that society values altruism and self sacrifice, which does not make sense in the light of natural selection and the struggle to survive.
While selfishness may be advantageous to individuals it fragments communities. Sacks draws attention to the choice that faces us all; self -regard or concern for others, egoism or altruism, yet it is only in community that we can survive at all.
Sacks reminds us:There is a third way of getting 'individuals to act in a way beneficial to the group'. Helping people to capture the freedom of seeing the welfare of others succeeds to overcome selfishness where power and wealth fails. The paradox that 'selfishness is good for me and my genes but bad for us and therefore bad for my descendants' did not escape Darwin. No system captures the essence of selflessness more effectively than religion - "Faith is the ability to see ourselves as joined to others by God's love... religion the miracle of religion which turns selfish genes in to selfless people".
"God is the voice of the other within the self. It is God who taught us to love our neighbours as ourselves, to welcome the stranger, care for the poor, the widow and the orphan, heed the unheeded, feed the hungry, give shelter to the homeless, and temper justice with compassion."
Jonathan Sacks Times March 28 2009