[ExI] Rick Warren on religion

Stuart LaForge avant at sollegro.com
Sat Dec 15 05:37:54 UTC 2018

Keith Henson wrote:

> Humans don't possess "evolutionary psychology."
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolutionary_psychology  EP can't be
> possessed.  It is an approach to understanding which human psychological
> traits are evolved adaptations.  We do have a long list of psychological
> traits.  I suspect your intent here is to say those human psychological
> traits changed about as much as the expansion of the brain.

What I meant by "evolutionary psychology" was the psychology of man as he
evolved not the discipline that studies that very thing. Under the
"psychology" entry at dictionary.com: definition 3. the sum or
characteristics of the mental states and processes of a person or class of
persons, or of the mental states and processes involved in a field of
e.g. the psychology of a soldier; the psychology of politics.

But I understand your confusion now.

> Translating into something that could be measured, your expectation
> would be that the percentage of captives (almost all women) who adapted to
> being captured would have gone up over the period where the brain
> expanded.

But capture bonding is just a single EP trait, unless there are
differences between sexes in which case there may be two different traits.
But I think rather than trying to measure individual traits you would be
better off counting the number of traits by keeping track of when they

Incidentally one of the tenants of Evolutionary Psychology (this time I
mean the discipline) that I hold exception with is that "our modern skulls
house stone age minds". If minds could not evolve faster than genes, then
there would be no point to having evolved minds in the first place. Minds
went from cave paintings

>> How do you distinguish this capacity for religion from any other
>> cultural phenomena that allows memes and social constructs to override
>> genes? It is certainly more sophisticated in humans but it occurs across
>> the spectrum of social animals.
>> In wolves for example, typically only the dominant pair of alpha male
>> and female breed.
>> Why would the average (non-dominant) wolves in the pack allow this? Why
>>  would these average wolves cooperatively hunt, protect, and help feed
>> pups that are unrelated to them effectively throwing their own genes
>> under the bus?
>> Sure one could argue that they are related so this is some kind of kin
>> selection going on but this is typically true only of the females who
>> tend to be siblings. The males are typically completely unrelated and
>> randomly get adopted into packs.
> Can you provide a URL for these statements?  It's been a while since I
> read up on the subject.


>> The upshot of the Nature article is that humans are about six times
>> more likely than the average mammal to die by the actions of a member of
>> our own species. Based upon paleontological and archaelogical evidence
>> during the Stone Age about 3.5% of humans died by the hand of another
>> human. This fluctuates throughout history, with a maximum during the
>> middle ages where approximately 12% of humans died by another's hand.
> Some places much higher
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_Before_Civilization

>From what I have been able to gather, Keeley's claims in "War Before
Civilization" rest more on the behavior of tribes that remained
isolationist all the way into the 20th century. That likely means there
would a heavy bias toward xenophobia. The only ancient evidence he touts
are remains from a single grave site in the Sudan. From what I have been
able to gather independently from this source:

"The most ancient clear-cut evidence of deadly group violence is a mass
grave, estimated to be 13,000 years old, found in the Jebel Sahaba region
of the Sudan, near the Nile River. Of the 59 skeletons in the grave, 24
bear marks of violence, such as hack marks and embedded stone points."

So the only hard evidence Keeley has is 59 skeletons 24 of which were
killed by violence. At least according to the reference to Jebel Sahaba in
in the wiki link you provided as I have not actually read his book.

The Gomez et al. Nature paper I cited claims to have analyzed 2003 remains
in the old world and 1973 remains in the new world from the same time
period (mesolithic).

That makes for some robust statistics so I trust the Nature paper more
than Keeley.

> You might note that meerkats have a high reproductive rate and not
> much predation.  The environment can only support so many of them so they
> have to kill each other.  It's the same problem humans have.

Well meerkats actually do have plenty of predators but they use a clever
system of lookouts and alarm calls to avoid them. But yes, I agree with
you. Meerkats will kill their own newborns if resources are too scarce.
The Gomez paper actually addresses your more general point:

"Thus, the temporal pattern in the level of lethal violence seems to hold
even after considering these potential biases. Concomitant changes in the
cultural and ecological human environment may have caused this pattern.
Notably, population density, a common ecological driver of lethal
aggression in mammals was lower in periods with high levels of lethal
violence than in the less
violent Modern and Contemporary ages. High population density is therefore
probably a consequence of successful pacification, rather than a cause of

On the other hand, one planet can only sustain so many of us sacred
monkeys when even the insects are dying. So we are going to have to make
some tough choices soon. But a war to thin the herd is not the best or
only option.

>>>>> So you would expect genes to get this judgment for "a time for
>>>>> war" correct, and genes that get the tribe into "attack mode" when
>>>>> needed would be positively selected.
>>>>> The major religions where we know something of their historical
>>>>> origins seem to have started as a set of xenophobic memes.
>> Cultural identity may not be possible without some measure of
>> xenophobia. There cannot be a "self" without an "other".
> This is in conflict with outbreeding.  Very often the people a tribe
> got their wives from where the same as the ones they fought.

Ok so which xenophobic memes would a capture-bonded war wife believe?
Those of her birth tribe or those of her captors? Would her belief be
sincere? Or might she think both tribes are wrong about the other and try
to make peace?

In lieu of trying to find statistics on how outbreeding is beneficial for
a tribe, allow me to introduce you to the Va Doma tribe of Zimbabwe. They
veritable poster children for inbreeding.


Stuart LaForge

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