Please read this article.
This weekend, the New York Times released an article (link above) posing the argument that war is encoded within our biological make-up. Mankind has plagued itself with war since the beginning of functioning societies and will continue to in the future. Violence within humans can be thought of as somewhat instinctive, just like many other animals. Natural selection has separated the weak from the fit, affecting evolution in all species. Natural selection is considered “survival of the fittest”, and what better way to find the strongest of a group without violence.
In the 1960’s and 70’s, an anthropologist named Napolean Chagnon studied the Yanomamo people of South America. Chagnon believed that these people were in a constant state of war, causing extreme aggression. Though Chagnon did record sufficient data, we still can not make an assumption as to whether or not humans have a genetic coding for warfare. Chagnon’s sample size was too small, not taking into account cultural differences with the Yanomamo.
If humans look to their closest animal relatives, we can learn that violent tendencies hit both extremes. Chimpanzees are known to having a type of warfare, where as bonobos who are just as closely related to humans as chimps are have a high tendency for love making instead.
No scientific conclusions can be made about warfare being encoded in human genes. Violence has definitely evolved with our specie, but many other factors come into play when tendencies for war are being discussed. Cultural factors make warfare much more prevalent in some societies than others. Humans are all born with violence written somewhere in their genetic makeup, as shown with the classic fight or flight response. The extent to which humans take their violence sometimes does lead to war, but not all humans are the same in the way the would handle situations.
Recently, war has been a huge topic in current events. Violent outbursts like shooting sprees in large cities and genocide in Africa have shown the savage capabilities that we as humans have. Science will continue to try to understand why tragic events happen. But to some extent, not all things can be explained with science, and warfare is one of those things.