Online reading group and book discussion forum
View unanswered posts | View active topics It is currently Sat Oct 22, 2016 11:04 am

<< Week of October 22, 2016 >>
Saturday Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
22 Day Month

23 Day Month

24 Day Month

25 Day Month

26 Day Month

27 Day Month

28 Day Month

Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 1 post ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average. 
Author Message
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership Hall of Fame

Platinum Contributor

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 5558
Location: Berryville, Virginia
Thanks: 1399
Thanked: 1404 times in 1097 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Appendix
Building on geo's statement that Wright reaches too far in the final two chapters, I think his section called "Is God Love?" in "Afterword" was unnecessary. I would simply answer, of course God is not love. To consider this question is to translate God into a feeling, which voids "God" of all specific meaning. This also ignores what Wright talks about in the next chapter, that love is one of the emotions built into us by natural selection. We should value love and even put it on top of the pantheon of emotions, but it is after all but one of the emotions we live by, only one of the ways natural selection has given us to increase the chances that we will survive to produce offspring. Fear and even disgust are useful emotions, too. These could reasonably be called "God" as well. The ultimate "why?" of love or any emotion is something we might not ever be able to understand, but that alone doesn't seem to justify calling it God. Similarly, whatever it is about the universe that we can't put our finger on--and I would say there's a lot--doesn't seem to lend itself well to the label "God."

However, the Appendix is a valuable discussion of why all human societies have religions. Wright says that, in the main, evolutionary biologists don't think of religion as being selected for its survival value. Rather, they think of its component emotions as being selected and of religion as being an offshoot of these, not having value in the Darwinian sense. Wright begins by pointing out that we really have no firsthand evidence of the way in which primitive religion developed. Lest we had the idea that his early chapters pertained to primitive religion, he tells us we are wrong; we call the observed hunter-gatherer religions primitive, but in fact they represent development of religion over many millennia. To see the development of religion in the true primitive phase, we'd need evidence from earlier phases of our evolution, phases when we were not even homo sapiens. The closest we can come to that is our relatives the chimpanzees. Wright tells us that we examine chimp society, as Frans DeWaal has done, we can see how the important ability to attribute causation could have begun with consequences chimps experience in dealing with other members of their troop. If one chimp takes something that another chimp of higher rank sees as belonging to him, for example, he learns a simple version of cause and effect. DeWaal has observed chimps reacting to a storm with an angry display, as though taking the storm "personally," as an act done to them by something else. Instances like these can explain how, as our ancestors' cognitive capacity grew and we began to observe larger causes around us in the world, we would still conceive of these causes socially, as it were. Everything is personified, anthropomorphized, even when natural forces are given the outward form of animals. this explains why it is so "natural " for God to be much like a more powerful human.

Wright also explains why natural selection makes us prone to accept and create us beliefs that are untrue, when looked at objectively or scientifically. It might seem that false beliefs would somehow be selected against, but in this case they are neutral or even valuable in that they may cement social bonds. What he says here is has been said by others, but it's worth taking a look at.

I liked the quotation from William James: "There is religious fear, religious love, religious awe, religious joy, and so forth. But religious love is only man's natural emotion of love directed to a religious object; religious fear is only the religious fear of commerce, so to speak, the common quaking of the human breast, in so far as the notion of divine retribution may arouse it; religious awe is the same organic thrill which we may feel in a forest at twilight, or in a mountain gorge; only this time it comes over us at the thought of our supernatural relations" (from The Varieties of Religious Experience).

No, it is impossible; it is impossible to convey the life-sensation of any given epoch of one's existence--that which makes its truth, its meaning--its subtle penetrating essence. It is impossible. We live as we dream--alone.

Joseph Conrad, The Heart of Darkness

Last edited by DWill on Mon Nov 01, 2010 7:54 am, edited 3 times in total.

Mon Nov 01, 2010 7:52 am
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 1 post ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average. 

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests

You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for: Newsletter 


• Resources related to Uncle Tom's Cabin
Mon Sep 19, 2016 10:28 pm

Site Links 
Forum Rules & Tips
Frequently Asked Questions
BBCode Explained
Info for Authors & Publishers
Author Interview Transcripts
Be a Book Discussion Leader!
Book Awards
• Book Reviews
• Online Books
• Team Picks
Newspaper Book Sections

• Great resource pages are coming!

• Great resource pages are coming!

Featured Books

Books by New Authors


FACTS is a select group of active members passionate about promoting Freethought, Atheism, Critical Thinking and Science.

Apply to join FACTS
See who else is in FACTS is a free book discussion group or online reading group or book club. We read and talk about both fiction and non-fiction books as a group. We host live author chats where booktalk members can interact with and interview authors. We give away free books to our members in book giveaway contests. Our booktalks are open to everybody who enjoys talking about books. Our book forums include book reviews, author interviews and book resources for readers and book lovers. Discussing books is our passion. We're a literature forum, or reading forum. Register a free book club account today! Suggest nonfiction and fiction books. Authors and publishers are welcome to advertise their books or ask for an author chat or author interview.

Copyright © 2002-2016. All rights reserved.
Display Pagerank