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Michael's Avatar Joined over 7 years ago
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Go to: Are Darwin's Theories Fact or Faith Issues?

Michael's Avatar Jump to comment 201 by Michael

As a retired surgeon I must express my profound embarrassment at Simmons woeful ignorance of basic biology. It is a sad fact that medics are not taught the really deep issues of biology and therefore miss out a lot.

Apropos some of Steve Zara's pertinent observations, it is interesting to speculate how far H sapiens was down the road to speciate. As a global species we were bound to speciate with time, but for the development of technology and wide travel this is now unlikely. More likely we will be the cause of the next mass extinction!

Mon, 04 Feb 2008 11:47:00 UTC | #115960

Go to: The OUT Campaign has its own Flea!

Michael's Avatar Jump to comment 177 by Michael

Dodger, I agree with al-rawindi. Atheism is not a belief system. It is merely disbelief of religious ideas.

At no time do I suggest that there is any truth in any religion, save some aspects of Buddhist philosophy. I wish to try and explain its prevalence despite complete lack of evidence in support.

Religions started with early culture and have persisted to this day, evolving the while. I suggest that this type of behavior has a genetic basis and is not simply intellectual misfiring.

We are very similar in our group behavior to that of a troop of baboons. Nearish relatives. Religion is a cultural gloss which comes with language and therefore abstract ideas.

Fri, 04 Jan 2008 14:21:00 UTC | #102397

Go to: The OUT Campaign has its own Flea!

Michael's Avatar Jump to comment 174 by Michael

Steve Z. My apologies for not addressing your second comment. I agree with Stephen Fry's remark, but I would argue that biologically, religions played a significant evolutionary role, perhaps even now.

They are ubiquitous and like us, evolve to fit the culture that produces them. They are very much about clan scent, identity and cohesion within large and often disparate members of the clan. This gives the clan considerable strength against competitors and the environment. It is also about power and dominance.

The Kings of England, until recently derived all their power directly from the catholic version and then the anglican model. Their authority came from god. No question!

If the gift of authority is supernatural it is less easily deposed and if it explains everything else so much the better.

Just look at the power struggles between the two most numerous proselytising religions which goes on even today.

Religious expression is likely to be polygenetic with some showing it strongly e.g. the archbish of Canterbury, despite lack of evidence for belief. Those on this site will have few or even no religious alleles, which is why we can't feel what many acolytes believe!

apropos your last post, I will ask RD to try and get Alan Grafen to do the mathematic model. Nothing ventured nothing gained! You might find the altruism model more comfortable than wasps!

Fri, 04 Jan 2008 13:30:00 UTC | #102379

Go to: The OUT Campaign has its own Flea!

Michael's Avatar Jump to comment 171 by Michael

Steve Z. The sexual distribution model would be very similar to the Digger wasp models used in the the Extended Phenotype. Non breeding males contribute to the strength, stability and productiveness of the 'clan' without wasting time soliciting breeding females and competing with other breeding males for mating privileges, some of whom would seek and spend a lot of effort on the 'Presidential' position, . The stable percentage would depend on whether we are really monogamous as a species which I doubt. Without doing the maths I would suggest about 25% +/- 10%.

Fri, 04 Jan 2008 12:33:00 UTC | #102327

Go to: The OUT Campaign has its own Flea!

Michael's Avatar Jump to comment 163 by Michael

Steve Zara. I complement you on your splendid and gentle demolition of the spurious logic on this thread and, in particular, the Artful Dodger's earlier post.

Qua homosexuality. I'm sure you are right that there is a strong genetic basis and persuing the arguments of the Extended Phenotype, it is fairly easy to produce an evolutionary stable model of 'sexual preference' in herd animals such as us. Our sexuality is no different from many other mammal species living in large groups.

Again following the thesis of the EP, I believe that the humans are genetically predisposed to creating 'religions' to enhance clan 'scent' and cohesion. One can make a case for religion being an important part of our evolutionary 'success'.

Most, if not all, religions facilitate the expression of dominance genetics and some enable those that have strong altruistic genes also to express those. Islaam and Christianity are very much about wielding power.

Doesn't make them any righter, but it does suggest that we non believers do need to offer some of the things that religions offer but in an intellectually coherent way. But I don't have the solution.

Fri, 04 Jan 2008 08:58:00 UTC | #102146

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