"Religion is not an adaptation," Robert Wright says in his Big Think interview. "That is, it's not here because it was conducive to the replication of the genes underlying it." But the author of "The Evolution of God" argues that faith—and the moral reasoning that accompanies it—does have its roots in genetically based human traits such as the capacity for disgust and awe. And even the most seemingly changeless beliefs are in part a product of cultural evolution: witness the cleaning-up of Jesus's message.
Wright, a writer-journalist whose main subjects include game theory and evolutionary psychology, also argues that moral reasoning itself progresses over time, whether independent of religion or within it. Thus, while he believes certain religious beliefs must be discarded on the path to moral progress, he dissents from the "New Atheist" position that religion itself must be jettisoned. In fact, he foresees a realistic chance that religious strife will abate, not intensify, as the world becomes more interconnected.
Does this spell good news in the fight against Islamic terrorism? Don't bet on it. The "Nonzero" author is highly pessimistic about America's unevolved anti-terror strategy, and believes we'll need nothing short of an FDR-caliber speech about "fear itself" to set us on the right course.
(Image credit: Jacopo Werther)
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A new study explores how certain personality traits affect individuals' attitudes on obesity in others.
- The study compared personality traits and obesity views among more than 3,000 mothers.
- The results showed that the personality traits neuroticism and extraversion are linked to more negative views and behaviors related to obesity.
- People who scored high in conscientiousness are more likely to experience "fat phobia.
The rise of anti-scientific thinking and conspiracy is a concerning trend.
- Fifty years later after one of the greatest achievements of mankind, there's a growing number of moon landing deniers. They are part of a larger trend of anti-scientific thinking.
- Climate change, anti-vaccination and other assorted conspiratorial mindsets are a detriment and show a tangible impediment to fostering real progress or societal change.
- All of these separate anti-scientific beliefs share a troubling root of intellectual dishonesty and ignorance.
The history of the Geneva Conventions tells us how the international community draws the line on brutality.
- Henry Dunant's work led to the Red Cross and conventions on treating prisoners humanely.
- Four Geneva Conventions defined the rules for prisoners of war, torture, naval and medical personnel and more.
- Amendments to the agreements reflect the modern world but have not been ratified by all countries.
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