Ever since Darwin first published “On the Origin of Species,” scientists have struggled to figure out the evolutionary origins of altruism. How can the theory of “survival of the fittest” be reconciled with the incontrovertible phenomena of cooperation and self-sacrifice? Are what appear to be acts of generosity in truth acts of individual self-interest? Can there be a goodness that is, so to speak, “pure”?
Fans of Dan Brown’s latest novel, “The Lost Symbol,” may well profit by perusing Bruce Feiler’s new book, which argues that the true secret of American history is not Masonic, but Mosaic. “Moses helped shape the American dream,” Feiler writes toward the end of “America’s Prophet: Moses and the American Story.” “He is our true founding father. His face belongs on Mount Rushmore.” Feiler’s book reads like a brief for such an addition to the famous monument.