Re: Anthropology and Religion

Gerold Firl (
10 Oct 1995 13:28:23 -0700

In article <45ce57$> (Scott Sellers) writes:

>People HAVE latched onto evolutionary theory to justify immoral
>actions. Look at social Darwinism beginning in the 1800's or the
>currently popular sociobiology. I don't think your religion really
>provides an antidote, however. Christianity's evil-driven sinner and
>sociobiology's biology-driven brute are two peas in a pod. I don't
>accept either.

Hmmm, sociobiology's "biology-driven brute"? Interesting choice of words;
you may not be as far from the True Believers as you think you are.

Christian tracts are full of exhortations to eschew the flesh, to abjure
our brute, animal selves, and to seek the more rarified and ethereal joys
of the spirit; a mind-body dichotomy based on a misunderstanding of
biology, a lack of comprehension concerning the physiological basis of the
mind. Your slant seems strangely similar.

You seem to assume that merely because human beings have animal instincts,
we are also "brutes". What exactly _is_ a brute? Is it bad to be a brute?
Does brutehood come with something like Original Sin; are you saying that
brutes are Inherantly Evil? Sounds all very christian, to me.

Sociobiology shows how our evolution has been influenced by our social
structure, and how our social structure has been influenced by biology.
It's really nothing to be afraid of. Instinct is not inherantly bad; our
instincts have evolved to be what they are because they have helped us
survive. If you see the history of man as one long tragic sequence of
horror, then I guess you might think that our bio-logic _is_ evil. But I
don't see what justification you can have for such a view. Human history
does contain many tragedies, to be sure, but it contains an equal number of
triumphs, and while our evolutionary heritage enables us to kill, it also
enables us to love. Love was not created by deus ex machina, it evolved to
enhance our survival probabilities. Even dogs feel love. Sure, it's
biology-driven, but I don't think we should hold that against them.

Disclaimer claims dat de claims claimed in dis are de claims of meself,
me, and me alone, so sue us god. I won't tell Bill & Dave if you won't.
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=---- Gerold Firl @ ..hplabs!hp-sdd!geroldf