Religion and evolution are often percieved as the two very different sides to one issue. For years people have believed that they cannot both be religous and suscribe to evolution. However, religion and evolution are much more related than people might believe. So much so that some academics argue that religion is a direct result of evolution. Now this is a pretty significant and heavy statement. The irony in the idea that evolution has created a tendancy in our brain to create a sacred meaning that leads to our actual disbelief of what caused it is tremendous. Can this actually be possible?
This idea is discussed in Jonathen Haidt’s Ted Talk on Religion, evolution, and the ecstasy of self-transcendence. Haidt explains how grouping ourselves can be beneficial to the individual by analyzing the tendancies of different beings and presenting the ideas of other academics. This talk inspires questions regarding the achievements that could be possible if people were not so worried about survival of the fittest in the singular sense but instead in the plural sense. This is a wonderful thought but clearly we cannot be too united. The emphasis placed on the individual is a very important aspect of progress, or so capatalists think. Imagine a world in which everyone worked for the better of the community or the motherland. Would the world then not be perfect? Well there arises some key issues. Namely, as Haidt explains free loaders would take more than their share of the benefits and the rest of the community would be left behind to perish (if you didnt catch the reference, motherland was supposed to provoke thought of Soviet Russia). But as you’ll see there is an easy fix to the free loader problem. So then what? Does that suggest that there’s a middle ground? Some sort of balance between looking for individual gain and trying to bring everyone in a group up through a joint effort. Is their indeed an evolutionary benefit that supports &group selection& or is it simply a mistake in our hardwiring that leads to humans associating themselves into groups for which they sacrifice individual improvement? These are the types of question that Haidt is looking to inspire in his audience of academics.
It is important to note that Haidt is a social psychologist speaking at a Ted conference where ideas are ment to be provocative and inspire contemplation. Throughout his career Haidt has focused on morality and its effect on real life topics such as politics. However, Haidt’s goals have been met with serious criticism. Sam Harris, a &new athiest& claims that Haidt’s ideas justify human sacrifice for the common good of a group and Social psychologist John Jost claims that Haidt &mocks th eliberal vision of a tolerant, pluralistic, civil society, but, ironically, this is precisely where he wants to end up.& So what is Haidt trying to do here? Innocently introduce an idea to his peers or try and persuade the world?
In honor of our current reading of Rewriting, I suggest that we view Haidt’s talk more as a written piece of work. Notice how he incorporates or works with the ideas of other and previous academics. Can his doing so be considered stealing their ideas or is he innocently presenting a new idea and bouncing off of these previous theories? Notice how he structures his entire talk and his arguments. How does he break away from the 5 paragraph format? Does he use any of Joseph Harris’s techniques? Is it effective and persuasive?
Take all of these questions into consideration before watching the video and think of them as your mind is blown. I would suggest taking notes seeing as it is not as easy to look back in a video and you need to pay specific attention to his use of language. Enjoy……
*sorry I dont know why it is underlining a lot of the text