Archive for November, 2006

Liberals and Conservatives, In Brief

Tuesday, November 21st, 2006

Over the past 50 years, powerful new medical, agricultural, industrial, and weapons technologies have literally changed our world. Over the past 50 years, science has given us new understandings of who and where we are as human beings on this planet in this space and at this time. These new technologies and new perspectives have altered our understandings of our relative position and importance in the universe and affect how we relate to each other and other species. They have changed the environments – whether social and physical or religious and philosophical — in which we must survive.

Those of us in the liberal camp acknowledge the change in our world and are striving to adapt to this change by developing new ways of relating to each other at a personal, national, international – and species — level. We know that we are entering liminal space which is always scary and where mistakes will be made. But the reality is that the changes in our social and physical and intellectual environments mean that we have no choice but to go forward, carving out a new worldview as we go along.

Conservatives on the other hand are in denial that anything has changed – including the climate. They want to stick to the tried and true. They want to live in a well-ordered society where America is as innocent as the dawn, God’s in his heaven and all’s right with the world. They want to believe that we live in a world where Daddy’s at work, Mom’s at home looking after the kids, and corporations are run by honest, simple, straight-talking CEO’s and managers. They want to live in a world where women make babies and men make the rules, for this is the world they know and understand and can manipulate to their advantage.

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Taking Religion Seriously: Moral Minds and Mary Midgley

Wednesday, November 1st, 2006

Even though I’m sure I’ll disagree with a lot of what it has to say (I’m a post-modern deconstructionist, after all, and words like universal always raise my hackles), I am so glad that a book like Moral Minds has come out (Moral Minds: How Nature Designed Our Universal Sense of Right And Wrong, Marc Hauser). We need some sort of antidote from the scientific community to books which have recently been published denouncing religion as too silly to take seriously. I have not yet had a chance to read Moral Minds, but based on the NYT review and some brief participation in Professor Marc Hauser‘s online research project, it appears that, although Moral Minds does not address religion per se, focusing instead on what Professor Hauser believes is the significant role of morality in human evolutionary biology, Moral Minds at least opens the way for serious scientific discussion of the function of religion in human evolutionary biology – given that religion is a primary provider of moral system and therefore a shaper of moral minds.

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