"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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Do you have a magnetic compass in your head?
Turns out pushups are more telling than treadmill tests when it comes to cardiovascular health.
- Men who can perform 40 pushups in one minute are 96 percent less likely to have cardiovascular disease than those who do less than 10.
- The Harvard study focused on over 1,100 firefighters with a median age of 39.
- The exact results might not be applicable to men of other age groups or to women, researchers warn.
On Thursday, New Zealand moved to ban an array of semi-automatic guns and firearms components following a mass shooting that killed 50 people.
- Gun control supporters are pointing to the ban as an example of swift, decisive action that the U.S. desperately needs.
- Others note the inherent differences between the two nations, arguing that it is a good thing that it is relatively hard to pass such legislation in such a short timeframe.
- The ban will surely shape future conversations about gun control in the U.S.
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