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When atheists get tired of Darwin …


The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion

… it’s bad news for atheists who are still milking the nonsense.

Here, for example, is Jonathan Rée, reviewing The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt in the New Humanist (“Ideas for Godless People,” March-April 2012):

Jonathan Haidt is a world leader in the new discipline of cultural psychology, which combines the psychologist’s understanding of what goes on inside our heads with the anthropologist’s interest in the social meanings that surround us. Cultural psychology applies the principles of Darwinian natural selection to problems about morality, consciousness and human existence, and Haidt believes that it offers definitive evidence-based solutions to the problems that have been baffling philosophers since the dawn of civilisation.

In his new book, Haidt applies his elephant simile to morality and politics, suggesting that most of our interactions with each other are processed by the elephant rather than the rider, and that we need to realise that the elephant is not a free agent but a pre-programmed product of evolution. Not that it is necessarily selfish: Haidt makes a good case for the idea that natural selection operates at the level of groups as well as individuals, and that it can favour the evolution of group-preserving instincts for mutuality and co-operation. He goes on to develop a theory of moral motivation on an analogy with taste: just as our tongues have evolved with several distinct kinds of receptors, one for each of the five essential elements of flavour (sweet, sour, salty, bitter and savoury), so our moral elephants have wound up with several distinct sources of moral perception.

Ree’s fun takedown offers ideas for Godful people too. Maybe atheism will amount to something one day, if atheists chuck Darwin. But who knows?

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