From Christine Kenneally on Slate:
Philosophy and religion, as well as science, have long suggested that caring and kindness do not come from our biology but instead are ways in which we overcome our biology: Niceness is a refinement. …
But lately scientists, from biologists to psychologists—with de Waal at the forefront—have begun suggesting that nature is filled with compassion, too. This isn’t a mere pendulum swing to warmth and cuddliness. Research on social animals—like elephants, dolphins, baboons, chimpanzees ([primate expert and The Age of Empathy author Frans] deWaal’s specialty), and even hyenas—has complicated what has for too long been a reductive picture. These animals participate in dynamic societies made up of individuals, and their lives are replete with feelings, decisions, and intentions, rooted in biology yet elaborated in cooperative—and competitive—interaction. By comparing their worlds, with each other and with our own, de Waal explains, we can learn about the true anatomy of the social psyche. The result should deliver a jolt: Nature isn’t so red in tooth and claw, and civilization may not be so neatly edifying. In fact, if we have a destructive impulse to watch out for, it may be our readiness to embrace the “civilized” view that deep down we’re horrible.
This is just one example of why I prefer science and reason to religion and faith: as new evidence becomes available, science adjusts its theories to accommodate it, while religion condemns the evidence and those who gather it (see creationists like Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort, for example).