Darwin's Cathedral Evolution Religion and the Nature of ↠ Kindle 91videos.co

One of the great intellectual battles of modern times is between evolution and religion Until now they have been considered completely irreconcilable theories of origin and existence David Sloan Wilson's Darwin's Cathedral takes the radical step of joining the two in the process proposing an evolutionary theory of religion that shakes both evolutionary biology and social theory at their foundationsThe key argues Wilson is to think of society as an organism an old idea that has received new life based on recent developments in evolutionary biology If society is an organism can we then think of morality and religion as biologically and culturally evolved adaptations that enable human groups to function as single units rather than mere collections of individuals? Wilson brings a variety of evidence to bear on this uestion from both the biological and social sciences From Calvinism in sixteenth century Geneva to Balinese water temples from hunter gatherer societies to urban America Wilson demonstrates how religions have enabled people to achieve by collective action what they never could do alone He also includes a chapter considering forgiveness from an evolutionary perspective and concludes by discussing how all social organizations including science could benefit by incorporating elements of religionReligious believers often compare their communities to single organisms and even to insect colonies Astoundingly Wilson shows that they might be literally correct Intended for any educated reader Darwin's Cathedral will change forever the way we view the relations among evolution religion and human society

10 thoughts on “Darwin's Cathedral Evolution Religion and the Nature of Society

  1. says:

    David Sloan Wilson has made an interesting if ultimately flawed attempt to apply multi level group selection to the study of human evolution and religion Perhaps it's because the standards of this genre seem to have become non existent in recent times but I almost feel bad ragging on Wilson here uite unlike your average evolutionary psychology tract Wilson's work is very much informed by the scholarship in religious studies and anthropology There's much to be had in this than many of the scienceevolutionreligion books on the marketWilson's thesis however not only lacks strong empirical backing but is so conceptually muddled as to be flat out wrong in principle Attempting to apply group selection to humans Wilson defines religions as superorganisms This reifies religion into a pseudo biological entity Scott Atran in In Gods We Trust The Evolutionary Landscape of Religion dismantles Wilson's application of group selection and in addition exposes the biases in his ethnographic sample The second major hole in this thesis is the conflation of religion with morality It's simply not the case that all religions help to promote moral or social norms Many religions in stateless societies have or had gods and spirits that couldn't care less about enforcing moral norms The proliferation of the Abrahamic religions seems to have tricked even atheists into believing that religion and morality have historically always been necessarily interconnected throughout history The promoters of the religion as adaptation thesis and some of our holy men no doubt would do well to read Rodney Stark's God Rituals and the Moral Order There are a number of other issues as well One not so tiny one is that the earliest uncontroversial evidence of some kind of religious or ritual behavior in the archaeological record we have is a few instances of ceremonial burial which only date back to about 90000 years ago Even whether these burials represent a true belief in the afterlife or the supernatural or were simply a means of honoring the dead remains debated If Wilson is correct we should see some kind of evidence for religion much earlier in the course of human evolution The analysis in the case studies is often interesting but the choices eg Calvinism seem irrelevant in service of demonstrating religion as a biological adaptation Wilson has made the classic mistake of confusing cultural evolution for biological evolutionI'd like to say that this was a fine starting point for an argument that Wilson could refine and build on later into something really formidable But the theoretical basis is filled with so many holes that I don't see how any of it can be salvaged

  2. says:

    TL;DR Treat this book as a textbook and take your time reading it It's brilliant but the author's thesis is new untested and reuires a lot of validationThis book deserves than a 35 David Sloan Wilson opened my eyes to a whole new way of applying a skillset consisting of math evolutionary biology and economics to the study of human society Actually that is a misnomer I had no conception of what it takes to really study religion before I began reading this book and thus Darwin's Cathedral is a revelation and a miracle in my eyesAt the same time the book is dense The first couple of chapters try to shoehorn entire classes worth of knowledge into a few dozen pages Had I not already known a lot of what is explained about evolutionary biology I'm uite sure I would have been lost understanding everything Understanding proximate and ultimate causes group selection theory multilevel selection theory and most importantly the theory of functionalism in an hour is next to impossible To truly understand the meat of this book one would need to pick up a couple of textbooks understand some mathematics Darwinian Selection and a good deal of biology not to mention do some background reading in anthropology and religious studiesBut once one does that the fruits of one's labour are many Religion is a topic couched in mysticism and myth than anything else we study There is no unified theory which explains the formation of religion its growth and its function How does one explain Hinduism Christianity Islam Shintoism etc as anything than a collection of beliefs which seem to have arisen in different societies through serendipity? Can one call Christianity a reaction to Islam? Calvinism a reaction to Catholicism? Is it even fair to say any of this? Is it right asking these uestions? Are they the correct uestions to ask?Professor Wilson takes the first step in answering these uestions He acknowledges that there is a lot to be talked about a lot data to be collected a lot nuance to be uncovered but his start is a promising one He starts by outlining the methodologies he would use to do so the theories whose principles he's operating by and what other people have already done in this field He puts the theories of behavioural evolution to the test by testing them on religion Do they pass? It's too early to tell It's difficult to conceive of religion as a purely functional social mechanism something evolutionary theory has done in the recent past to biological subjects On the other hand it's easy to dismiss religion using Marx's famous opium of the masses uipThe task is arduous the path difficult yet there is a certain elegance in understanding religion as the first kind of superorganism humanity was progressing towards making The study itself is niche not properly defined and not entirely built on rock solid foundations but it's a start The author hopes to build a unified theory of understanding all organisations using the bedrock of evolutionary theory be they religious or secular It's ambitious and the rough cut edges showA definite 355 rounded down because I probably need to read even

  3. says:

    Makes the case for multi level or group selection and once marshaling the evidence for group selection against Dawkins et al the author argues that religion in humans is a prime example of this multi level selection That religious impulses and altruism helped not only individuals survive but worked at the group levels as well Arguing with some mathematical arguments to demonstrate the possibility of multilevel selection and talking about the extreme egalitarian behavior of hunter gatherer groups and strongly altruistic behavior demanded by religion the author makes a case not airtight but a decent case I am ambivalent about natural selection I know it is the way the world and biology works I won't dispute that but like Darwin I am uncomfortable at this principle which created us It is a beautiful theory and biology doesn't work without it but in that distinction between ought and is I don't like how people extrapolate ethical intuitions from it I need not go too far into it as many a modern share this reservation about what natural selection means for us morally and politically Much mischief I don't know if group selection is ultimately true or not but either way I don't want to draw my ethics from an elegant if amoral principle

  4. says:

    This book should come with a warning – the first two chapters are terrifically boring and can probably be safely skipped Wilson spends the first 100 or so pages in a 230 page book summarising in some depth evolutionary biology and evolutionary psychology This has the frustrating effect of Wilson constantly telling you for 100 pages what he’s going to talk about but seemingly never getting there I can hear Monty Python in my head yelling “get on with it” These first two chapters are also unbelievably dry academic and theoretical Considering the fact that Wilson’s stated goal in writing this book was to make the evolutionary psychology of religion readable and understandable to a layperson sadly I think he fails in this regard Some parts of the text were so dense they had me wanting to bang my head against a wall and I’m a PhD student That’s basically my only criticism of the book but it’s a big one – Wilson’s ideas are fantastic but he’s not a great communicator The dryness of the writing and that long stretch of theory at the start will put a lot of people off It’s a great example of how NOT to write a book intended for the general publicThat said when Wilson actually gets to the point describing the adaptive nature of religion throughout history the book gets really REALLY good He covers Calvinism early Christianity Judaism and Balinese religions as examples of how religion has enabled people to cohere and succeed as a group Having only heard New Atheist type theories of religion religion as by product and parasite Wilson’s ideas were pretty much completely new to me and significantly changed my outlook on religion I’d highly recommend this book but only with a caveat – just skip the first two chapters and go straight to the good stuff

  5. says:

    The main thrust of David Sloan Wilson's argument in this book is that religion and other human cultural institutions can be meaningfully analyzed from an evolutionary perspective that in certain circumstances it makes sense to discuss the purpose of religion as it applies to the adaptive fitness of human beingsTo make that argument he has to show that a lot of what the Academy believes about evolution on the one hand and social science on the other is either inaccurate or misguided To those of us uninitiated in the literature this effort can be tediousIn the end he presents a convincing case he shows that adaptive explanation of religion has all the hallmarks of good science it's predictive it's logically consistent with what we know about evolution and it can be clearly disprovedWhat he doesn't do and to be fair never set out to do is go on to perform that analysis in all but a cursory manner I eagerly await the next installment

  6. says:

    Science and religion in our time are boxers in the ring Is it possible to bring the two together in a way that makes one appreciate both?Darwin's Cathedral has achieved this seemingly impossible task David Sloan Wilson looks at religion as a practical adaption a way in which a group of human beings can fit itself better for survival This useful aspect of religion is something that has no connection with the factual authentication of beliefs uite the contrary as Wilson states when speaking of Calvinism Calvin's catechism statement of beliefs turns faith from a belief designed to be modified by experience into a fortress designed to protect the belief system from experienceThe book is loaded with insight and rewards the careful reader again and again I read it twiceIn his investigation Wilson shows us the scientific method in action establishing his premises defining his terms carefully stating his hypothesis examining the history of the topic addressing the challenges to his theory posed by those who have other viewsI can't think of a better example of the beauty of the scientific method which at the same time shows the utility of religion at a time when many scoff at it as nothing but fairy tales for the fearful Wilson says he has a respect for religion something any good researcher must have for the subject of studyThe book first brings the reader into the know about evolution What is adaption? What is fitness? What defines an organism? Can a group of individuals ualify as an evolutionary unit? What is the basis of Darwin's theory of evolution and what did he think of group adaption?Anyone looking for a uick read will be disappointed Each page conveys a wealth of information that must be digested The language is clean and precise yet at the same time warm and inviting Please plan to spend a few days with the first part of this workThe second part gives examples of religion in history that the author believes prove his hypothesis Calvinism Judaism and early Christianity The detailed dissection of beliefs and practices with each identified with specific benefits for group survival is history at its bestI've left my copy of this book dog eared and heavily annotated Though I read a hard copy I think an electronic edition might be preferable for the ease with which you could find terms and refer back to earlier mentions of a topic It's imperative to keep definitions in mind or you will lose your way When the author says there are three reasons for this take a pencil and note 1 2 3 I didn't make a single note on the first reading then read it again with my pencil very busy and it all came together Sloan is at pains not to lose you taking every opportunity to clarify and summarize the concepts under examination but you have to pay attention The Professor from Heaven won't succeed with a dozing studentEducation is a joy that unfortunately too many people consider drudge work Discovery insight and the dawning of understanding on any topic are for me things that make life worth living immaterial gaining appeal with one's age always sitting in the distance gleaming beckoning enticing welcoming challenging wondrous than any materiel El DoradoApproached with mind open Darwin's Cathedral will let you experience these joys and leave you enlightened

  7. says:

    Interesting but somewhat labored thesis that religions like other human social structures develop according to an evolutionary model based on developing and nurturing characteristics that make then functionally likely to persist These characteristics are called group adaptive as they are played out in behaviors and actions which may not necessarily be to the advantage of the individual but are to the advantage of the group Wilson breaks this theory down to specific characteristics which he examines from this perspective The thesis is interesting and thought provoking The book is uite academic with many citations and is not the easiest read Frankly I was happy to get to the end of it

  8. says:

    A very solid and thought provoking book with major implications for the evolution of culture and the effects of group selection on how we think behave But as a non biologist I did not fully understand all of its contents This is a book I would like to read in a seminar or book club with a few scientists participating

  9. says:

    Demonstrates our religious nature better than Dan Dennett Nuff said

  10. says:

    Reread the book My review from 2006