Thursday, January 14, 2010

book notes

The Faith Instinct: How Religion Evolved and Why It Endures By Nicholas Wade

Evolutionary importance of religion in warfare. Humanoids who would not risk lives for the group would be eliminated by groups that included members who would.

As humans evolved larger brains, they also increased their ability to calculate individual interests over group interests. Religion was required as a countervailing force to avoid social disintegration.

Selfishness beats altruism within groups, atruistic groups beat selfish groups

The main enemy of ants are other ants -- they have chemical signals and strong generic bonds to organize. Humans have religion (although this doesn't address why chimps don't have religion -- lack of cognitive ability and strict social hierarchy?)

Ancient and modern religion both have focus on survival -- this world in ancient, afterlife in modern

Pews were introduced to prevent ecstatic dancing, Islam uses military-like rhythmic movement in unison.

Of the 40 cities that Jushua is said to have conquered, only 3 have possible evidence of pillage at the right dates. "So if the Israelites never invaded Canaan, how did they come to occupy it? Because they were Canaanites and always had been" The Bible was a political strategy to regain Isreal after Assyria withdrew 640-630 BC. Around 722 BC Assyria had resettled 27,000 Israelites in Assyria and moved people from other parts of the empire to Samaria.

Mohammed appears to have legalized polygamy in xxxx because he had lost many men in war and wanted to maintain a high birth rate. Polygamy can make sense if a society wants many unmarried young men available for war.

The first crusade was created primarily because there were too many young male religious zealots in Europe, creating instability and a threat to religious order.

Muslim violence with serbs in balkans, jews in israel, hindus in india, buddists in burma, catholics in the phillipines

Natural selection in warfare has created a human character that is capable of extreme cruelty (to enemies) and extreme loyalty, love and trust (to comrades)

Protestantism emerged in part because German states had foreign policy interests different than the Latin states, just as Islam emerged because Arab states had interests different than Constantinople as it withdrew from the Middle East.