Wednesday, March 22, 2006

E.O. Wilson on Religion

Biology
Updated.
There's a good interview with E.O. Wilson at onegoodmove. E.O. Wilson is the living heir apparent to Charles Darwin, in an academic sense. Here he gives his thoughts on religion and evolution.
Okay, now my take. Spirituality and Evolution are completely incompatible. You read me right. It's easy to say that religion and evolution are incompatible, but to say that a belief in a cosmic ultimate/absolute spiritual feeling that transcends biology is incompatible with what is known about evolution strikes at the core. Why would I say such a thing? I have personally concluded that the human mind is wired for deception and similar impulses considered to be "immoral". I feel strongly that Spirituality is another biological illusion meant to coerce our behavior in a survivable direction. Not only were behavioral/mental traits of clear duplicity present in our ancestors, they were selected for and promoted to their zenith in human beings, especially with the onset of language. Spirituality seems to have been created by natural selection for non-spiritual purposes. The proof is in the pudding- simply observe people. Observes the hows and whys of their spiritual actions and beliefs. Or take a look at this website and witness the actual result of the world's most famous, most successful spiritualists-
The intelligent design debate seems preposterous to me. If there is an intelligent designer who is even remotely concerned with morality, how do we explain the continual and obvious selection process which eternally promotes duplicity with interpersonal and self-deception always masked in the guise of societal virtue (ie.. "success"- which seems to be little more than good social chess)? Are we to believe that there is a benevolent force making sure that assholes and sluts are the one's who breed most?
It seems unexplainable in any terms other than amoral randomness and chaos.
I am often accused of being a Neo-Darwinist, and I am. Although I agree that many hypotheses of ND are untestable and faith based, they make so much sense that it doesn't much matter, and besides, are there any other explanations for christ's sake? ND hypotheses are just like theories of asteroids and plagues killing the dinosaurs. Sure, we'll never know what happened exactly, and alot of it is untestable. But what we know is that something did happen. With ND, what we know is that evolution did happen. We know it's primary mechanisms, and they don't seem to include a single sketch of cosmic meaning or direction.
As E.O. Wilson explains, he cannot discount some sort of original creative force of the universe. I can't either and criticize those strong atheists who try to shitcan even the unfathomable mysteries. But the question of the origin of human nature and the origin of the universe are seperate and distinct. We have a very good handle on how human nature came about, and if there were a creator for the universe, it wouldn't change anything concerning what we know about the nature of this world. It wouldn't tell us anything about the nature of that creator either.

5 comments:

Charles said...

Aaron,

Clear up this contradiction:
Quote:
Spirituality and Evolution are completely incompatible.

Quote:
Spirituality is another biological illusion meant to coerce our behavior in a survivable direction.


Charles

VtPoet said...

Ouch.

Aaron, you been schooled man... you been schooled.

Aaron said...

It's poorly expressed, yes I'll admit. But in context its not a contradiction because I defined what I meant by "spirituality" with:

"but to say that a belief in a cosmic ultimate/absolute spiritual feeling that *transcends biology* is incompatible with what is known about evolution strikes at the core..."

Meaning that the idea of a personality distinct from the brain and biology which is independent of the forces of natural selection which chooses and governs actions freely- is completely incompatible with what is known about evolution (namely that environmental forces developed our drives and impulses).

I have not entirely dismissed the idea of free will or a panpsychic universe (even though it usually sounds like I have), but it seems pretty straightforward that whatever might exist when the body dies probably wouldn't be a human personality.

I am fond of saying, whether or not we survive death, we are our brains and bodies.

charles said...

Cool, that does clear it up a bit.
I wasn't trying to be a shitheel.

Aaron said...

Hahaha, a shitheel? And I wasn't trying to be a clodhopper.

The weather is getting balmy here. Time to go burn 1500 calories at wildcat hell-hole!