[FoRK] Re: Anything to be learned from religion?

Strata R. Chalup strata
Thu Aug 11 15:04:40 PDT 2005


You might be interested (if you like speculative SF) to read Robert Sawyer's 
'Neanderthal Parallax' trilogy.  (Hominids, Humans, and Hybrids)

Some physics handwaving of decent respectability is used to explain a parallel 
dimension portal which allows the author to examine an earth on which 
neanderthals, rather than homo-sap, won the evolutionary race.  One of the 
points turns out to be a genetic component to religiosity, and whether that 
would be a good thing or a bad thing for a society, and whether finding a 
genetic component, or not, would prove or disprove anything about religion (eg, 
could a creator have PUT it there so that sentients would be prodded into 
inquiring in that direction, etc).

Covers a lot of arguments, and reasonably well-written.  Sawyer is no Julian May 
(whose prose complexity and referents to history, literature, and other cultures 
always make me feel both deeply respectful and painfully ignorant in 
comparison), but he's not an 8th-grade-reader type either.

BTW, current advance thinking on the neanderthal/homo-sap front is kind of 
startling-- domestication/cooperation of humans BY wolves, leading in turn to 
human domestications of wolves (eg dogs).  Symbiotic relationship with different 
species was the key-- neanderthals did all the things we used to think only 
homo-sap did: family units, tribes, toolmaking, etc.  But they aren't found 
co-buried with wolf or dog skeletons.  Woo! Eeeeenteresting!

Franz de Waal's "the Ape & the Sushi Master" goes into this a bit, and darned if 
I can remember the name of the other book I was reading on the topic.  Bah. 
That's why I save my library checkout lists, but no time to dig through dead 
tree strips right now.

SRC

Regina Schuman wrote:

> I thought religion sprang from self-awareness and our yearning to
> understand ourselves and our place in the cosmos.  I think the "why"
> question sueprcedes the "how" question and is best investigated by
> psychology and neuroscience.  
> 
> Ya know how there's a genetic link between tameness and color in dogs? 
> Might there is a genetic component to our - humankind's - godsearch?
> 
> 
>>>>elias at cse.ucsc.edu 8/11/2005 11:29:20 AM >>>
> 
> Corinna wrote:
> 
> 
>>If you want to make science compete with religion
>>
> 
> The competition is over, science won. What are we currently witnessing?
> 
> Simply grudge matches to humor the sorest of losers. Fortunately for 
> science, there is this thing called 'reality', which pretty much
> ensures 
> repeat performances of those which occurred over the last several 
> hundreds of years.
> 
> 
>>science needs to [...] provide answers with meaning
>>
> 
> Science will provide answers, of that much we can be certain. Also 
> certain is that the meaning is solely our own - bring as much as you 
> want to the table, there cannot be enough.
> 
> 
>>promote a sense of unity with the world
>>
> 
> I'm not sure you can find a clearer sense of this than *understanding*
> 
> how the world works. . . The experience you related with your child is
> 
> beautiful; at her age there is no reason to be apart from the world,
> for 
> it is most natural for us to simply be in and of it.
> 
> 
>>people tend to think of science as cold, uncaring, and empty.
>> 
>>
> 
> Blame the teachers and the modern school think. Seriously. 
> Traditionally, science has always been about engaging in the world in 
> order to better understand it and ourselves. There is nothing more
> warm, 
> caring or full of meaning to be found.
> 
> As a side note, all religions arose out of a basic desire to understand
> 
> and put meaning to the world, or more specifically, the cosmos. A 
> cultures cosmology, recapitulated in oral traditions and refined over 
> countless generations, becomes its' religion. Probably the most
> terrible 
> thing to ever happen to religion was writing because it terminated this
> 
> coevolutionary dance of human culture and created religous artifacts 
> (the books). Subsequently, worship of the artifacts effectively
> eclipsed 
> worship of the experience (being in and of the world) and now the 
> experience of the devine is largely mediated through religious 
> institutions. Seems like we got a pretty raw deal with that one. . .
> 
> Anyway, antiquated belief systems are just that - they should be shed 
> like old skin.
> 
> 
> Regards,
> Elias
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