11th January 2013

“God-centered religion and atheistic communism, are opposed by a third and in some ways more radical worldview, scientific humanism. Still held by only a tiny minority of the world's population, it considers humanity to be a biological species that evolved over millions of years in a biological world, acquiring unprecedented intelligence yet still guided by complex inherited emotions and biased channels of learning.”

E.O. Wilson

9 Responses to “11th January 2013”

  1. Dan Says:

    Sadly, if you can’t give it a good tag-line, it won’t sell.

    Saying that we “evolved over millions of years in a biological world, acquiring unprecedented intelligence yet still guided by complex inherited emotions and biased channels of learning,” is just a wee bit too complicated for the average nitwit to comprehend.

  2. Sinjin Smythe Says:

    Dan do I detect a certain disdain for Professor Wilson? You have been critical of him before, and while I recognize your authority in biology is far greater than mine, I’m having trouble reconciling your criticisms and all of the professor’s acolades and awards. Is there a central issue you have with the professor?

  3. Dan Says:

    Don’t get me wrong, E.O. Wilson has written some great books and made great contributions to science. And I agree with the point of the quote. It’s just that humanism doesn’t “sell,” and I find myself a bit sad over that.

    But yes then there is my distaste over evol psychology. Kudos to you for a good memory!

  4. Capt'Z Says:

    To Bruce from yest: LOL! Heaven forbid!

  5. Sinjin Smythe Says:


    Being a layman, biologically speaking, I have found Professor Wilson’s ideas dare I say “hopeful”, but I have repeatedly found professional scientists, particularly where subject matter gets wrapped up in philosophy to be dismissive out of hand. The reaction “bunk!” might typify the response.

    Is it the testability of hypotheses problem that bugs you about evol psy?

  6. Sinjin Smythe Says:


    As for humanism I found this book to be uplifting and fascinating:

    The End of the Soul: Scientific Modernity, Atheism, and Anthropology in France by Jennifer Michael Hecht Permalink: http://amzn.com/0231128479

    I love the way this person writes and I read everything I can of hers.

    I’m reminded of the line from Carl Sagan’s Contact “Small moves, Ellie, small moves.”

  7. Dan Says:

    Interesting book. I’ve read Jennifer Michael Hecht’s Doubt: A History, and loved it. I can only imagine that The End of the Soul is as good. Thanks for the recommendation!!!

  8. Sinjin Smythe Says:

    I’d be very interested in your take on it Dan.

  9. Skepticsteve Says:

    Seems to me “atheistic communism” and “scientific humanism” are not necessarily in conflict with one another, whereas “God-centered religion” is by definition in conflict with both. Atheism is simply an awareness that gods are works of fiction. Communism [with a small “c” at least] is one of the more innocuous “isms” in that it’s really just a concept for how to share access to resources. Like most “isms”, communism is an over-simplification difficult to put into practice. Neither of these concepts seems to me to conflict with science or humanism in any way. By contrast, believing one has been created by, is in communication with, or is being directed by an anthropomorphic parental figure or figures is a form of mental illness.