we are animals

Today is no braining Tuesday, so I bring you this interview of de Waal

Why are so many people wedded to the idea that humans are special?

We’re raised with those ideas. It’s an old Christian idea that humans have souls and animals don’t. I sometimes think it’s because our religions arose in a desert environment in which there were no primates, so you have people who lived with camels, goats, snakes, and scorpions. Of course, you then conclude that we are totally different from the rest of the animal kingdom because we don’t have primates with whom to compare ourselves. When the first great apes arrived in Western Europe—to the zoos in London and Paris—people were absolutely flabbergasted. Queen Victoria even expressed her disgust at seeing these animals. Why would an ape be disgusting unless you feel a threat from it? You would never call a giraffe disgusting, but she was disgusted by chimpanzees and orangutans because people had no concept that there could be animals so similar to us in every possible way. We come from a religion that’s not used to that kind of comparison.

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Conclusions of the Territorial Imperative

Usually, at the end of a good book, I prefer to write my thoughts about what I have read. In this case, however, you will allow me to be lazy and let Ardrey talk for himself.

He writes towards the end, and I think the conclusions make sense;
1. We must know that man, while the alpha fish among species, is unique only in his capacity for getting himself into troubles that for other species nature would be compelled to provide
2. We must know that as body and behaviour evolve as a collective enterprise,  so human behaviour like the human body is governed by evolutionary laws comparable to those of any other species
3. We must know that while the human brain exceeds by far the potentialities of that possessed by any other animal species, its psychological processes probably differ not at all from those of other higher animals, and from those of lower animals perhaps as well
4. While granting that the varying cultural achievements of human populations set man apart from other animals, still we must know that such cultures, however complex, simply serve to fill out behavioural patterns, some as ancient as recorded life
5. Man no different from any other animal is a complex of expressions, frequently conflicting, in which no single determinant- territory, society, dominance, sex, economic necessity or single innate need for identity, stimulation or security – holds exclusive or permanent domain.
6. Our capacities for sacrifice, for altruism, for sympathy, for trust, for responsibilities to other than self interest, for honesty, for charity, for friendship and love, for social amity and mutual interdependence have evolved just as surely as the flatness of our feet, the muscularity of our buttocks, and the enlargement of our brains, out of the encounter on ancient African savannahs between the primate potential and the hominid circumstance. Whether morality without territory is possible in man must remain as our final, unanswerable question.

I will add here, contrary to Jean Jacques Rousseau, the capacity for violence is innate but the tools is what we must learn.

I hope this summary doesn’t disappoint all those who were expecting more, Victoria I am pointing at you😀

Against intelligent design

All the works and all the productions of nature are really made by necessary and accidental causes, which are blind and completely deprived of Reason. These works and productions do not at all demonstrate or prove the existence of a sovereign intelligence or consequently, the existence of a god who made them as we see them.
It is therefore absurd and ridiculous to say or think that printed characters, ink and paper, which have no movement in themselves, could arrange and bind themselves so well together that they could make a book.
The above are wise words by Jean Messlier

god, science, evolution

Does science disprove god? so the question gets asked.

Most who are scientifically minded quickly say no. They quickly add science is not in the business of god and accommodationists argue science and religion occupy different magestria.

But is this really the case or is this about modesty?

Take for example the case of evolution. If evolution is fact, Genesis 1 is disproved and this is a case of science disproving god. I may add here, for the benefit of my critique, that the theist could argue that it is their god that put the mechanism for evolution in place. This could be the case but they will have to choose whether such a god is beneficent or omnipotent.

In the same scenario, does an old universe disprove god? I think it does. And more still, whereas both the theist and atheist are ignorant of whether the universe is self existing or created, the atheist can say that so far as we know, all manifestations in nature (that is phenomena) need no supernatural push and to this extent science has shown no divine agency is necessary.

But one may ask about the nature of things in themselves and whether there is an Unknowable something beyond it all. Here, the theist may argue that at the beyond phenomena, in the dark areas where human knowledge can’t penetrate, there, their god resides. The atheist will argue from the indestructibility of matter and persistence of force, lies the source of all things. Since this is beyond all possible experience, conceding this to the theist gives them no advantage over the atheist.

In conclusion, in the area of experience, which is, in my view, the purview of science, it has been demonstrated there is no god, whatever they are conceived to be, but beyond the level of experience, everyone, atheist and theist alike are free to speculate all they want. Each must however remember that to think something could be, does not translate to it being.

Evolution of the gaps

“Evil isn’t the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as Evil, maybe more so, and it’s a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against Stupid. That might actually make a difference.”
― Jim Butcher, Vignette

I contend some people attend bad schools or get a poor education. And I am unable to tell whether the author of evolution of the gaps is jesting or is being serious.

I am not sure I have read anyone who writes

I don’t know how it happened so it must be evolution

so I may have to widen my reading.

There is a difference between

Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose – Richard Dawkins

and concluding the world is designed. They are worlds apart.

A retelling of Paley’s watchmaker argument, in this case, as

Let’s say Atheist Scientist Sam is walking along in the jungle. Lots of organic life mingling together in one place. Awesome! Now let’s say that Sam comes across a wall with “Andrew is a Sexy Tiger. Rawr” engraved in it. Why doesn’t he say, “My! What a marvel of evolution!

is fallacious. An engraving on a wall is recognizable as human endeavour. From experience, Sam knows only humans write or engrave walls. He can’t for a moment think it was evolution that resulted in those words. So the theist who trots this argument either hasn’t read the objections to the watchmaker argument or simply acting dumb. I will go with dumb.

And Dawkins doesn’t say

Simply put, things that appear to be designed, even as Dawkins admits, have a designer.

To talk of something being designed, you must at least know or have a way of knowing the end to which the thing is designed. I have seen beautiful natural landscapes that have resulted from erosion but would seem to have been designed. What are we to say about them?

When we see things that appear to be designed, it is reasonable to always remember, it is appearance. We shouldn’t infer from appearance to being.

A stupid man’s report of what a clever man says can never be accurate, because he unconsciously translates what he hears into something he can understand.”
― Bertrand Russell