Monday, March 21, 2016

ISIS and The Faith Instinct

ISIS is similar to the Aztec empire, as seen in the movie Apocalypto. It is driven by the belief that life on this Earth doesn’t matter compared to the next. Devalue life, and killing becomes easier—especially if you see yourself as a emissary of God. Demonize the opposition, as all major religions have done at some time in their history, and slaughter becomes a way of life (or death.) Mayan ball courts were their basketball courts (their “March Madness“), and the losers got their heads lopped off. In the audiobook THE FAITH INSTINCT by Nicholas Wade, the history of all religions with violence is examined, and one of the conclusions reached is that because many Islamic countries (except perhaps Dubai) have yet to separate church and state, Islam cannot accept democracy or western values. The Christian crusades were bloody, and the Pope’s escapades in the Middle Ages rivals that of ISIS, but western religions have largely separated church and state in the modern era, and this has led to the kind of freedoms which radical fundamentalists in Islam decry (and want to see die.)

From the publisher: "For at least the last fifty thousand years, and probably much longer, people have practiced religion. Yet little attention has been given, either by believers or atheists, to the question of whether this universal human behavior might have an evolutionary basis. Did religion evolve, in other words, because it helped people in early societies survive? In this original and controversial book, Nicholas Wade, a longtime reporter for the New York Times' Science section, gathers new evidence showing why religion became so essential in the course of human evolution and how an instinct for faith has been hardwired into human nature. This startling thesis is sure to catch the attention of both believers and nonbelievers. People of faith may not warm to the view that the mind’s receptivity to religion has been shaped by evolution. Atheists may not embrace the idea that religious expression evolved because it conferred essential benefits on ancient societies and their successors. As The Faith Instinct argues, however, both groups must address the fact, little understood before now, that religious behavior is an evolved part of human nature. How did we evolve to believe? Wade shows that the instinct for religious behavior is wired into our neural circuits much like our ability to learn a language. Religion provided the earliest human societies with the equivalents of law and government, giving these societies an edge in the struggle for survival. As a force that binds people together and coordinates social behavior, religion supported another significant set of social behaviors: aggression and warfare. Religious behavior, both good and ill will remain an indelible component of human nature so long as human societies need the security and cohesion that belief provides. Social scientists once predicted that religion would progressively fade away as societies advanced in wealth and education. They were wrong. The first objective and nonpolemical book of its kind, The Faith Instinct reveals that to understand the persistence of faith, one must first acknowledge that religious behavior is embedded in human nature." Narrated by Alan Sklar.

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