Sunday, June 3, 2012

Double Helix: Thoughts about evolution and religion vis-a-vis nontheist f/Friends/Quakers, Socioculture and religion, 'Evolutionary biological-bodyminded f/Friends'

Hi I (and J? - one other nontheist Friend (NTF) who responded directly to me in this email list about some of my thoughts about evolution and religion, but I'm not finding this email),

Thanks for your thoughts. I added some of your web page and blog entries, I, to World University and School's 2, (explicitly), Friendly, wiki subjects:

In general, when I think of 'evolution' I think of evolution by natural selection, and of the 3-100 million species, and genetic replication over 3.5 billion years, adaptations (both species and genetic, etc.), mutations, etc., and the very broad implications of this on one species of higher primates, humans, that only began writing possibly around 5,500 years ago, with our language origins lost in the mists of time (100,000-2 million years ago?). Other higher primates are communicating with language now, with human assistance, and there is even one study of a higher primate group (Bonobos, I think), which primatologist Sue Savage-Rumbaugh is studying as a group (a rarity in primatology over the past 7 + decades, with its focus on individual, nonhuman, higher primate, language use). (See Sue's 2007 paper co-authored with 3 Bonobos, all Wambas, here - - and here - - and which you can find online by googling, if interested. This paper is both 'co-authored' by two, different species of primates - humans and Bonobos - and it mentions one group language study among Bonobos).

I find fascinating some implications of evolution on human behavior most relevantly expressed, for me, in John Money's (Oxford 1988) "Concepts of Determinism" (transcultural, transhistorical and universal) - John Money was a Harvard Ph.D., a medical psychologist, a sexologist, a New Zealander, and a long time Johns Hopkins' university researcher and professor.

In addition to expanding on John Money's 'troopbonding' and 'ycleptance' exigencies, perhaps in relation to 'foredoomance' (read his "Concepts of Determinism" above), as one, beginning, evolutionarily-informed, possible explanation (mine) of religion, I also think Scott Atran's "In Gods We Trust: The Evolutionary Landscape of Religion" (Oxford 2002) is another interesting explanation of religion from an evolutionary perspective.

In terms of implications for Friends/Quakers, friends, and NTFs, I see Quakers as well as NTFs, as 'sociocultures,' (a problematic word for anthropologists and sociologists, if only because it's too
static/reifying/thingifying). Our Nontheist f/Friends' group as subculture seems significantly mediated by the internet, something fascinating to me with my anthropological interests in the internet, and which is relatively new in the Quaker world.

'Evolution's' connotations, in its many other senses, such as you are exploring in your online writings, Ian, are interesting. As a sociocultural anthropologist, and NTF (studying and writing a book about Harbin Hot Springs and with plans to create a virtual Harbin in something like OpenSim or Second Life or Google Earth, for comparative research - with parallels I see between silent Quaker Meeting and the Harbin warm pool), I go in other directions with the word evolution, as well as thinking about/understanding people / human behavior (in all our 3000-8000 languages, diversity, etc). I see the caring and community of Friends as a result of socioculture and language, and not evolution by natural selection.

Ian, I invite you to add more references to the above WUaS wiki pages, if interested, as well as to other NTF sites, like the main one James is administrator for, as well as the Wikipedia NTF entry.

In this NTF conversation, I appreciate the abundant diversity of ideas/views, but am curious how we might experimentally move toward a kind of reasoning conversation-in-harmony {(informed by Quaker silent meeting?), as well as by the Harbin warm pool}, and even toward love, and warm caring, in our communications.

So, I find the name 'Evolutionary biological f/Friends,' and even better 'Evolutionary biological-bodyminded f/Friends,' interesting name possibilities, because they ring true, within the broad context of biological evolution I've outlined above, - but I'm comfortable with 'Nontheist f/Friends,' as well as 'Atheist Quakers.'

I've made plans to head to the Friends' General Conference gathering in Rhode Island in July, and look forward to meeting some of you there. I signed up for "Leadings in Ecstatic Dance" workshop ... and am curious how we might engage this among NTFs :)

Friendly regards,


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