TOrterrable, your bias is that you are entering the discussion with your mind made up that there is a biological reason for altruistic actions. You are saying it is not a choice of empathy, it is not a decision to do a kind act for the sake of doing a kind act, you are saying all of these are not possible from the get go. You are entering this pursuit, already decided that there IS a biological reason for why people do nice things.
And, not to be insulting, but I find that mindset to be petty, and frankly very insulting.
I actually grew up with two men who are the embodiment of what you say is true of us all. Every action they took was self serving, and in some way benefitted them. It made them feel like they were helping others, made them feel like good men, when in reality they were the closest thing to true evil I have ever met in my life. One of these men would tie my mother to the foot of the bed to make certain she didn't go anywhere, or disturb him in the night. Yet he would go to church and give money, and help people, to make him feel like the great man he perceived himself to be.
Meanwhile there is my mother, who now is with a good man, and they have financial trouble. They had this christmas just barely reached the point of treading water in the financial issues they had, and barely managed to buy presents. Yet they went to the cafe, where they talked to the waitress that just moved to this area. They found out she was a single mom working two jobs with a 3 year old boy. And they learned she hadn't been able to really buy him anything for christmas. They went out, and hurt themselves financially to spend a couple hundred dollars on a kid they hadn't met, and bought toys, food, and snacks, so that this kid would have a good christmas. They didn't hurt themselves financially from a deep seated biological need to make themselves feel good. They did this action because they have both lived through hard times, they have both been abused, both been hurt, both lived through rough patches, and they saw someone who was having a hard time, and they wanted to help.
The perception that every action we take has a biological source removes the concept of the soul, of the spirit, of our inner desire to help others and do good. Of the CHOICE, and that is key to my life philosophy, the CHOICE to take action, and at expense to yourself aid another. In the secret service, there is one agent whose only job is if the president is attacked, he is supposed to jump in the path of the bullets. That is his ONLY job, not to find the shooter, not to push the president to safety, he is supposed to get in the way of that bullet and take it. How does that help him? What biological stimuli would override the urge to live? Sometimes we choose to do the right thing, we choose to live and act with honor, we choose a life of duty and service to others. Explaining it away as some simple biological impulse cheapens the sacrifice made by many, and makes light of those who seek to aid those around them. Are you saying that Mother Theresa was only such a good, helpful person because her biological impulse was greater than that of others?
Again, I am not trying to deride or insult you Torterrable, I just think perhaps your life experiences haven't exposed you to some things it seems like myself and others here have encountered, and which probably inspired our acts of charity to others.