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Depressing News

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LanDroid

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Depressing News

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Quote:Americans are three times as likely to believe in the Virgin Birth of Jesus (83 percent) as in evolution (28 percent). ... Americans believe, 58 percent to 40 percent, that it is necessary to believe in God to be moral. ... America is so pious that not only do 91 percent of Christians say they believe in the Virgin Birth, but so do an astonishing 47 percent of U.S. non-Christians. www.nytimes.com/2003/08/1...5KRIS.htmlAmazing, but stupid. Well, I 'spose this is not news, but it is depressing, especially after reading the Joshi collection with articles written over 100 years ago and Sagan's Candle in the Dark. __________________One planet.One experiment.- E. O. Wilson Edited by: LanDroid at: 8/15/03 8:23 pm
rielmajr

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I read the Kristoff column, too, and was similarly appalled, but not surprised.Several years ago the New Mexico State School Board was dominated by rightwing fundamentalists, and they made a concerted effort to require the teaching of creation "science" as a theory of equal standing with evolution. I wrote at least half dozen letters to the paper blasting the school board's idiocy. And the biology dept of UNM wrote a joint letter condemning the board. The effort was dropped.But now the whole issue has re-surfaced, with "Intelligent Design" theory now taking the place of creation science. I think we need to view this phenomenon as a vicious recessive social gene. When we think it has gone away, it merely re-emerges in a mutant form. Do you think the surprisingly large number of people believing in the virgin birth might explain Bush's continued high approval rating -- that the public is inclined toward belief in comic book level fantasy?
Dom

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More evidence of the power of the religious memplexes we have. Each one (except buddhism) contain the memes:'do not question your faith for it is the word of '.'Question all others as they don't have the true word of 'Science, however, contains the meme:'Question everything, even science itself'Science only exists within the context of science itself - you cannot be a lone scientist as you need the concerted questioning of peer review & analysis to become part of science. It is this critical review of everything that is fundamental to the science memeplex and marks the territory between scientist and crank.It is certainly morally right to foster memes in the next generations that allow people to question their surroundings. It is the memetic change that brought us the industrial revolution and all that followed. It also does not detract from enjoying the vast natural wonder taht is the universe.Teaching them memplexes that are self-referrential in their justifications and rely on you not questioning them for their veracity can be seen as a form of 'memocide', and possibly marks all religions (except maybe buddhism) as criminal acts to humanity.
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tarav

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Why do you think the U.S. is still so religious? In the books we read, this is often pointed out. Is it because so many came here to avoid religious persecution? Did so many of those that came to America have and pass on that "vicious recessive social gene" that rielmajr referred to? Edited by: tarav at: 8/24/03 12:16 pm
Dom

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I think many of those who came (went from my perspective ) to Anerica had, and passed on a 'vicious recessive social MEME'.Societies depend very much on the memeplex that defines your upbringing. It differentiates 'us' from 'them', and deep down your chimp-self really want to be counted as 'us'. This is a good thing, it promotes social unity among other things. However, religeons are the most nefarious and devious memeplexes, and are very self-referential, and require that to be a true part, you must not question. You must have 'faith'.In Europe, we've had a *few* wars over this sort of thing (what better reason than beliefs to kill for, good job we've all grown up a bit) and eventually got around to seperating religion and state to a large degree. (The idea of our government suggesting teaching creationism in schools is simply ridiculous). It helps of course that the wars did away with most of the fundamentalist majorities. Its hard to seperate church and state when half your voters are deeply religeous.
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Quote:deep down your chimp-self really want to be counted as 'us'.Agreed!Quote:This is a good thing, it promotes social unity among other thingsSorry Dom I could not pass this up; I could not disagree with this statement more. What you are describing is tribalism, or what the evolutionary psychologists call In Group/Out Group behaviour, where the cohesion and unity of the in-group is bought at the expense of the disenfranchisement of the out-group. If we did not have this recessive characteristic there would be no international boundaries. There could be no war. There would be no ugly xenophobic behaviour like racism, sexism, ageism or speciesism. There would have been no genocide, no holocaust, no slavery. If we were all able to see everyone as "us" there would be no torture either. Some criminal behaviour would disappear. There would not have been a class system in the West nor a caste system in the East. The potential danger to our species of nuclear war would be gone. In group/out group behaviour with its chief support, and stable mate: religion, (I agree with your view here) are the only things that stand in the way of what would be a near utopia for us all.This is why I don't think we can justifiably claim to be intelligent beings and why I think that it is more accurate to say that we are intelligent animals. Edited by: PeterDF at: 8/28/03 2:00 pm
seanf 2003

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There's a large amount of anti-religious sentiment on this site, isn't there? For one thing, saying all faiths other than buddhism require you to limit your viewpoint is inaccurate - Hindu teachings recognise the validity of other paths and other faiths. Also, the more relative sections of the other major religions are accepting of science and other faiths - most of the christians I know believe in evolution. This may come across more here in Europe - we have a lot less fundamentalists than the States.Peter, what exactly is the technical distinction between 'intelligent beings' and 'intelligent animals.'
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PeterDFQuote:If we did not have this recessive characteristic there would be no international boundaries. There could be no war. There would be no ugly xenophobic behaviour like racism, sexism, ageism or speciesism. There would have been no genocide, no holocaust, no slavery. If we were all able to see everyone as "us" there would be no torture either. Some criminal behaviour would disappear. There would not have been a class system in the West nor a caste system in the East. The potential danger to our species of nuclear war would be gone.But we would also have no love, which evolved for group bonding; Probably no art, certainly not on a large scale; no sports, for anyone who thinks they are a good thing; most germane of all, we would have no humans, for group making is an integral part of who we are. Let's move toward "everyone is us"; a worthy goal, no doubt. But let's not deny that us/them had to have come first.p.s. what do you mean by "recessive" in this context? I certainly can't see it as a mendelian recessive, since it appears to be a human universal. Science is neither a philosophy nor a belief system. It is a combination of mental operations that has become increasingly the habit of educated peoples, a culture of illuminations hit upon by a fortunate turn of history that yielded the most effective way of learning about the real world ever conceived. E.O.Wilson
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Center for Theology and Natural Sciences is an international non-profit organization dedicated to research, teaching and public service. The central scientific focus of CTNS is on developments in physics, cosmology, evolutionary biology, and genetics, with additional topics in the neurosciences, the environmental sciences, and mathematics. With regard to the theological task, CTNS engages in both Christian and multi-religious reflection. The Christian theological agenda focuses on the various doctrinal loci of systematic theology. The multi-religious agenda attends primarily to theological issues arising from the engagement between the sciences and religious traditions such as Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, and indigenous spiritualities.www.ctns.org/pub_articles.html
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PeterDF
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Hmm! this is going to be a difficult post!I can probably deal with your objections best if I summarise them separately.1. The removal of in group/out group behaviour would mean that we would no longer feel love: I think this statement is wrong because other species which don't have in group/out group behaviour still have something very much like love. Probably the best example is the Orang utan, they are almost completely solitary. Adults only come together for mating then they separate. But the females form strong bonds with their young, which is probably hard to distinguish from the love a woman would have for her child. (See also the bonobo example below.)2. The removal of in group/out group behaviour would mean that there would be no sport: team sports yes, individual sports no. It is hard to think of team sports as being anything other than a kind of stylised warfare anyway. (Would anyone really think that the disadvantages of losing team sport would outweigh the advantages outlined in my preceding post?) 3. There would probably be no art: I'm not sure about this one because art can be enjoyed in its creation, and in its observation, by individuals irrespective of group bonding. 4. Now the difficult bit: The loss of this trait would mean that we would no longer be human? I think: yes! But it won't happen. Even if there was a selection pressure currently in force that was leading us to lose this trait, and I suspect there might be, (God! Now I am seriously oversimplifying) it would never erase it completely for complex reasons I won't go into now. If there were a selection pressure it could only ultimately ever lead to a shift in gene frequencies. So would a shift in gene frequency mean that we were no longer human? If it did would it have to affect every single human? How you define human? How long is a piece of string? In other words: I haven't got a bloody clue, it depends on where you draw the line.There is a huge difference between chimpanzee behaviour and bonobo behaviour. In group/out group behaviour in chimps seems similar to the human model, in that war-like behaviour has been recorded in wild chimps. In bonobos, not only has war-like behaviour not been seen, it seems unlikely ever to be seen. Bonobos are (in comparison to chimps and humans) gentle, inoffensive beings. They are more empathetic, they have societies where the easy-going males have lower status than the females. (It seems inappropriate to talk about bonobo behaviour without discussing their remarkable sexual behaviour, but this is getting complicated enough) But - and it is an important "but" - bonobos are competitive, they can be nasty, selfish and self centred. They are emphatically not archetypal noble savages. (There is an excellent book about the bonobo: "Bonobo the Forgotten Ape" by Franz deWaal and Franz Lanting. I also highly recommend DeWaal's "The Ape and the Sushi M aster". ) The point here is that bonobos handle their social affairs without tribal in-fighting or competitive group disputes, while retaining their individual competitiveness, their self-awareness, theory of mind, and experiencing something very much like brotherly and motherly love. A pretty neat trick if you think about it.5. Why do I say that we are intelligent animals as opposed to being intelligent beings? Because it may have escaped some people's notice but we don't live in tribes now, we live in a global village. I think that if we were properly adapted to the new global community in which we live, we would not behave as we do. We let our archaic, tribal (animal) behaviour influence the way we interact with each other instead of behaving as a mature, properly evolved, intelligent species would. Ok! I know some of you won't agree with this point of view. It's just the way I see it.P.S. Jeremy: you are right that "recessive" was a bad choice of word. Substitute "regressive", or "retrograde", or "anachronistic" any will do.
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