Chimpanzees, our closest relatives, fighting.
Vocal atheist Richard Dawkins has suggested that the Pakistan school massacre earlier this week shows how religion can lead to great acts of evil.
More than 140 people, including at least 132 pupils, were killed by seven Taliban gunmen and suicide bombers on Tuesday at an army-run school in Peshawar, Pakistan. The Pakistani Taliban said the attack was in retaliation for an anti-terrorist military offensive.
Dawkins posted a number of tweets blaming the horrifying massacre on Islam and religion as a whole.
The best-selling author tweeted on Wednesday, “Mental illness can drive a lone nutter to it. But an organised group needs an extreme motivation— faith, in something like a god or Nazism.”
He added, “Very few faith-heads are as evil as Taliban or IS. Yet what else but faith is CAPABLE of making people do such evil?”…
For a man who specializes in evolution, he is really not thinking at all. The answer is staring him in the face: violence was clearly an evolutionary advantage.
Think of how well the Rule of the Clan for war worked: Kill the defeated men (because they a danger to you), take women as slaves and wives (why waste a chance to perpetuate your genes with conquered women?), enslave the children (they are too young to be a danger but they might be useful as workers for you).
It makes perfect sense. Sure it is brutal, but Dawkins should know better on the subject.
So why have we generally fallen away from this pattern? I’ve been through this before: the break up of the tribes of Europe for a start (a side effect of a ‘faith’). Then the Age of Enlightenment, Age of Science, spreading literacy, earnest attempts by (often Christian) do-gooders to try to alleviate suffering. Read a book on the Victorian age — the era was full of devout Christians trying to improve things.
But the basic nature of humans did not change. And sometimes the bad guys won — as they did in Nazi Germany and Communist Russia.
Meanwhile, in the world of Islam, nothing has changed much for centuries. Islam was tribal from the start and remains so to this day.
Human nature is not doomed to perpetual violence. Sometimes it was to a tribe’s advantage not to fight: co-existence could be better, depending on a range of factors: trading arrangements, for example. This is where evolved intelligence comes in: trying to decide which course to follow.