It takes a well-known atheist to come to the conclusion that there is value in having values. That is to say, having a system which promotes community-strengthening values increases chances of survival on several levels. Organized religions, for all their inherent problems, seem to help in this regard. Score one for Eywa vis a vis the Na'vi.
According to atheist Jonathan Haidt
in his new book "The Righteous Mind
" scientists miss the point when they focus on individuals rather than on systems. One study he cited reported that "...of 200 communes founded in the 19th century, only 6 percent of the secular communes survived two decades, compared with 39 percent of the religious ones. Those that survived longest were those that demanded sacrifices of members, like fasting, daily prayer, abstaining from alcohol or tobacco, or adopting new forms of clothing or hairstyle.
“The very ritual practices that the New Atheists dismiss as costly, inefficient and irrational turn out to be a solution to one of the hardest problems humans face: cooperation without kinship
,” Haidt writes."
And that's what you guys are discussing here: tribal cooperation without kinship. How are you going to make that likely to work?
It seems that there is long-term tribal survival value in creating a system
of values, which is exactly the kind of thing which seems to overlap with religion. A new book, “Religion for Atheists,”
by Alain de Botton
, a man from a Sephardic Jewish background who was raised in a secular family. He maintains that atheists can derive benefits from the study of religion.
“One can be left cold by the doctrines of the Christian Trinity and the Buddhist Eightfold Path and yet at the same time be interested in the ways in which religions deliver sermons, promote morality, engender a spirit of community, make use of art and architecture, inspire travels, train minds and encourage gratitude at the beauty of spring,” de Botton says.“The error of modern atheism has been to overlook how many aspects of the faiths remain relevant even after their central tenets have been dismissed.”Science as we have it today is arguably made possible by the more cohesive elements of religions, which can provide a stable social platform for their development. These values which some religions promote are not only not acknowledged by scientists, but are deliberately exorcised from their equations. It is taboo within the sciences to consider the value of one's concepts of god, and some espouse this taboo so religiously that they have to make light of it whenever they see it in others.
I am not promoting religion here. The article I read and quoted above made me curious about the etiology
and enculturation of values within the proposed tribe, and how these might best be used to promote cohesive survival of the group. If you guys can address these respectfully with each other, you have probably just enhanced your chances of survival as a group entity.