A Further Note

Robert Snower (rs222@WORLDNET.ATT.NET)
Sun, 28 Jul 1996 16:15:09 +0000

At 11:58 PM 7/26/96 +0000, Dwight W. Read wrote:

>While I thus would disagree with Tanner's discounting genetics when we
>discuss religion, I would equally agree that we don't get very far from a
>genetic/fitness framework when we want to account for and understand the
>variability we find in how religion (or other cultural phenomena) is
>expressed across different societies.
> ----------------------------------------------------

It being my conjecture that the common feature (origin) of all religions is
to be found in its express primordial purpose, the defeat of natural
selection at the individual level, and its replacement with a cultural
device, I would want to second your statement that "we don't get very far
from a genetic/fitness framework when we want to account for and understand
the variability . . ," but with a big revision.

Why can't the variability of religion (or other cultural phenomena) be laid
to the ordinary trial and error exploratory free process we find throughout
nature, whether thermodynamics or evolution, both biological and cultural?
But then we must introduce an ordering principle, SUCH AS NATURAL SELECTION
(successfully) to eliminate this ordering principle, at the individual
level. BUT NOT AT THE GROUP LEVEL. It seems to me quite plausible that the
myriad of early societies were compelled to complete ONE against the OTHER
for survival, the group's destiny, and its particular BRAND of cultural
solution, being at stake. This conversion of the selection process from the
individual unit to the group unit being the whole point of the primordial
cultural device, thereby enabling the altruism required by a highly
differentiated society of animals not genetically qualified for it.

Best wishes. R. Snower rs222@worldnet.att.net

A further note:

But this "selection" is a little different. It is truly a "natural"
selection, because biological life and death survival--of the group--is at
stake. But a biological trait is not being selected. A biological
structure of the group is not being selected. A cultural construction is
being selected. Therefore outsiders do not have to lament their biology.
No need to blame it on genetics. Every culture is free to change. Or any
individual is free to move, to emigrate from one culture to another, and to
adopt the new culture, as is commonly in fact done. Unless the local
nativist politicos keep him out. After all, culture is a hypothesis.
Anyone is free to make it. Unlike genetics.