2012-12-24

The Moral Animal

A short piece in the New York Times today points out the adaptive strength of religion in terms of human evolutionary biology and psychology. The author makes the astute observation that religious traditions tend to bolster group-oriented behavior, essentially boosting altruism in the balance of acting impulsively for oneself and with consideration for one's group. Highlighting this adaptive characteristic of religious traditions, he writes, helps us understand why religion persists in the era of modern science.

However, the author unfortunately concludes by prescribing religiosity as "the best antidote to the individualism of the consumer age." Even if it is, the persistent and often terrible side-effects of that medicine still afflict enough people, particularly in America, that the need to develop alternative treatments should be clear.