Monday, October 20, 2008

Re: EO Wilson

The subject of an EO Wilson article came up at Washington Monthly;

Here's what I had to say on the subject:

if we can hold both that morality is a human contrivance and that biology is not relevant to answering moral questions

I feel compeled to point out that biology is an inescapable part of moral reasoning. After all, how can we possibly speak of 'suffering' or 'pleasure' or otherwise describe the results of our choices except upon the substrate of bodies and minds that feel pain and hunger or triumph. We can certainly think of such things at a hiogher level of absraction but without biology, we would be nothing more than rocks.


Wilson, Dawkins and Dennett among others all struggle against the question, "Why in spite of all my efforts, do people insist on continuing to be religious?" They then go on to argue (convincingly in my view) that religious feeling is actually a selected adaptation that has among its effects, the potential to motivate people into fatal acts in defense of their tribe (and hence their fellow gene-carriers) What they fail to consider is that the resolute absence of religious feeling is an effect of precisely the same force.

Certainly a congregation of athiest is capable of creating the same sense of belonging and community that churchgoers enjoy and at its fringes is capable of fomenting actual hatred against those who insist on viewing the Universe differently.

I might say the above in the shorter form. "Even atheists are capable of religious intolerance."

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