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Veneer Theory

The Big Idea for Sunday, May 19, 2013

If left to his own devices in a state of nature, man, a brute, would be completely immoral. That is why we need religion to govern our primitive nature and enable us to exercise the better angels of our nature. 

In today's lesson, the Emory biologist and primatologist Frans de Waal argues against this view, "that morality is a thin veneer over a nasty human nature." de Waal argues that morality was present long before religion. Not only is morality innate, it is found in other animals. In other words, it is not such a complex cognitive process as we have imagined.

And so, the question is raised, if morality and religion are distinct, can we keep the former and do away with the latter? 




  1. 1 An Experiment That's Never Been Tried: Morality Without Religion
    Jonathan Fowler and Elizabeth Rodd Big Think TV
  2. 2 Penn Jillette: Reconciling Atheism with Libertarianism
    Penn Jillette
  3. 3 Neil deGrasse Tyson: Atheist or Agnostic?
    Neil deGrasse Tyson
  4. 4 Richard Dawkins’s Faith
    Richard Dawkins

Veneer Theory

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