Humanism is Tribalism on Steroids

                Many theists have difficulty in understanding how atheist/humanists get their morals if they did not get them by stealing them from Christianity. The answer is really quite simple: Tribalism evolved to become more and more inclusive until it reached all of humanity.

As descendants of a common primate ancestor, bonobos and Homo sapiens demonstrate altruistic behavior.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altruism_in_animalsAltruistic behavior in animals is most commonly observed in immediate family members. Such altruism can easily be explained evolutionarily by virtue of a species’ innate desire to pass on their genes. It also makes sense for animals, including humans, to be kind to their extended family because of the common genetic makeup. In spite of the genetic aspect, primates have been shown to have mirror neurons in the brain that enable empathy. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirror_neuron#Empathy. The ability to empathy was not selective for relatives. Acquiring the ability to empathize with relatives also allowed empathizing with non-relatives.

With the ability to emphasize, we humans can experience the feelings of others. It is this empathy that is manifested when we help out or risk our life for a family member or even a fellow tribe member. In prehistoric eras, humans lived in tribes based on extended families. In order for these family tribes to survive they needed to cooperate. For example, to kill a giant mammoth, the cooperation of several men was required. Empathizing also helped form larger tribes that included non-family members. These tribes formed common beliefs and religions, which caused them to be different from other tribes. Tribes formed confederations and villages. As more people adopted a particular belief, many times through conquest, villages became cities and cities became nations. Culture and religion was the glue that held groups together. This cooperation helped the population growly; thus, empathy had an evolutionary value since it helped perpetuate the species. Unfortunately, religion also caused wars because of the in-group and out-group effect. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In-group%E2%80%93out-group_bias

Religions such as Christianity and Islam helped perpetuate the species by spreading the religion throughout the world. For example, after the 1492 eviction of Muslims from Spain, the religious fervor of success helped inspire them to send Columbus to the New World, which spread Christianity. In the United States, Manifest Destiny (the belief that God wanted the U.S. to expand west) helped spread the settlement in the western United States.

Now that the world’s population exceeds 7 billion, religion is no longer needed to perpetuate our species. Now, we need to unite to preserve our home on this small blue dot. Humanism is a worldview that looks beyond in-groups and out-groups of religion in order to pursue what is best for all of humanity. Humanism considers all of humanity to be one big tribe.

My thesis is not that the world is going to unite as one big happy family. My point was that religion stands in the way of world peace. This blog entry was inspired by an Ardent Atheist Podcast (#62) in which a guest asked where atheists get their morals. The podcast did not give an adequate answer, in my view, so I tried to explain where morality comes from. Our morals, in my view, come from society evolving, based on empathy, toward larger and large tribes. Humanism, in my view is superior to religion because it takes into account the interest of all humans, not just those inside a subgroup.

Views: 240

Comment

You need to be a member of Atheist Nexus to add comments!

Join Atheist Nexus

Comment by Alex Barnham on May 11, 2012 at 9:45am

Millions of gods later, humans alone have survived.  Growing up a catholic, I was shocked when I found out there were millions of gods.

Comment by Alex Barnham on May 11, 2012 at 9:42am

Humanism is antithetical to cannibalism, war, murder, treating humans as mere toy, objects, possessions and objects of worship.  Cannibalism is usually not related to starvation or eating meat...it has to do with psychosis, revenge, superstition, war, punishment, and viewing humans as objects rather than respect, honor, love, compassion, and protection.  One amazing fact, the eating of human brains results in increased  psychosis.  Warriors have to be worked into a psychotic frenzy to overcome the pain and fear of combat.  Boot camp molds the soldier into a subhuman killer and teaches to kill or be killed.  If the enemy doesn't kill the soldier, the military will.  Oppressing the human spirit basically kills the human and creates a monster.

Comment by Rudy Ruddell on May 11, 2012 at 9:27am

While I find your comment interesting, since I too wonder why we glorify murderers, I am still unclear about its connection to the thread. After all, humanism is not analogous to vegetarianism:) 

Comment by Alex Barnham on May 11, 2012 at 8:50am

Cannibalism is the eating of your enemy in the belief that their spirit will fill you with their strength.  Cannibalism was practiced separately in all parts of the world, not out of a need to eat meat, but rather as a religiious practice.  In the Fiji Islands, the bodies were eaten alive to test their ability to withstand pain, or baked and reheated for later feasts.  Renowned cannibal Ratu Udre udre reportedly ate between 99 to over 900 people.  It is believed that had he consumed his 1000th body, he would become immortal.  It has also been postulated that one of the motives was revenge.  Since the island was isolated, one can possibly draw the conclusion that such practices were the culmination of increasing tribal numbers.

http://www.fijiancustomculture.com/2009/10/fijis-cannibal-history.html

The Wesleyan missionaries first discovered this practice on the island but it cost them an arm and a leg.  The island is now mostly christian and hindu.  The major groups are Fijian, Indian, and Chinese.  Previously a British colony, the Fijians speak fluent english and the Indian and Chinese were previously brought to Fiji to cultivate sugar cane plantations.  The influence of the British, Indian, and Chinese populations curtailed all cannibalism.

The Aztecs also practiced cutting the heart of the enemy out while they were still alive and eating it while it was still beating.  It has been postulated that humans became sacrifices as the result of a protein deficiency.  However, since the upper 25 percent of the population, who already received superior rations, were the only ones who ate human flesh, we have the anomalous proposition that the remaining 75 percent of the population was supposed to be motivated to fight and die in the expectation of a possible future reward that could only be of real dietary value to their children.

Modern day cannibals are still around.  We hear of cannibalism out of necessity but most of the time the practice is due to psychosis.  Most of the cannibal tribes worshipped gods, were extremely superstitious, practiced a lot of tribal warfare, and viewed other humans as toys and food.  The concept that people are mere objects and their goods are prizes of warfare may have ultimately lead to the psychotic practice of cannibalism.

Total disregard for a culture, destroying them and taking their possessions, resources, and people is psychotic, military madness, if you will.  To cook, bake, radiate, burn, shoot, choke, poison, dismember and otherwise physically destroy another human is cannibalistic.  Even if they are not eaten, they have been slaughtered.  They are treated as being merely on the menu of prepared goods.  We need to stop worshipping, adoring, supporting, and otherwise adulating war heroes such as Alexander the "GREAT", warmongering military leaders, weapons corporations, and other such psychotic people.  The big question is: HOW?

Comment by Ruth Anthony-Gardner on May 10, 2012 at 10:40pm

I agree that "we need to unite to preserve our home on this small blue dot. Humanism is a worldview that looks beyond in-groups and out-groups of religion in order to pursue what is best for all of humanity." However, not all atheists eschew in-group vs out-group dynamics. As a humanist, I despair to read posts in Atheist Nexus that put up atheists by putting down theists (rather than merely putting down their beliefs). Until we're ready to leave behind self esteem based on invidious comparison, we won't be ready to build a sustainable Earth community.

Comment by Rudy Ruddell on May 10, 2012 at 10:20pm

Alex, I am not sure what you are talking about. I was not speaking of the West in decline and I was not worshiping any insane cannibals.

Comment by Alex Barnham on May 10, 2012 at 9:45pm

The West is NOT in decline...it is growing old, tired of all the killing, and cannibalism in any form ought to be outlawed.  What will happen as we hit the wall of sustainability, all the big hitters who can no longer sustain their insane lifestyle will start fighting with each other over the remaining morsels and a whole lot of destruction will weed out many of them.  There are many documentaries about the insanity that prevails among the richest men and women on the planet and, once you get a taste of it, you will be more than disgusted.  Keep researching and you will soon lose your virginity in the worship of these insane cannibals.

Comment by Alex Barnham on April 24, 2012 at 5:39am

The world (all humans) is already united via telecommunications and transportation.  For the most part, humans are behaving well working and living together without a lot of tribal violence against each other.  The problem of planetary destruction, however, is real and pervasive.  Morality is a moot point when the destruction of soil, air, and water has reached a point of no return.  We will no longer have the luxury of sitting around arguing over religion, politics, morality, and who's who.

Comment by Rudy Ruddell on April 23, 2012 at 12:10am

Michael R, your point is well taken. My thesis is not that the world is going to unite as one big happy family. My point was that religion stands in the way of world peace. This blog entry was inspired by an Ardent Atheist Podcast (#62) in which a guest asked where atheists get their morals. The podcast did not give an adequate answer, in my view, so I tried to explain where morality comes from. Our morals, in my view, come from society evolving, based on empathy, toward larger and large tribes. Humanism, in my view is superior to religion because it takes into account the interest of all humans, not just those inside a subgroup.

Comment by Michael R on April 22, 2012 at 11:42pm

The facts don't support your theory. Where is the world headed? The Western World is headed for economic and military decline (not to mention internal cultural and demographic conflict), whereas Asia is becoming a group of racially homogeneous superpowers. So, alas, your optimistic one-worldism is just that: optimism without supporting facts. When China rules the world, do you think they will give a damn about out-groups? I wouldn't bet my house on it. Western Humanism has serious challenges if your optimistic one-worldism is to come true.

Support Atheist Nexus

Donate Today

Donate

 

Help Nexus When You Buy From Amazon

Amazon

AJY

 

© 2014   Atheist Nexus. All rights reserved. Admin: Richard Haynes.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service