The Evolutionary Significance of Religion: Multi-Level Selection
Author: Michael Dowd
2012 promises to be a pivotal year for proponents of group selection and multi-level selection theory.
Last summer, I had an opportunity to read and comment on an early draft of a book by Jonathan Haidt that will be published next month. Titled The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion
, I immediately perceived that this book has enormous practical implications for how economic, social, and political leaders attempt to solve civilization-scale problems.
Over the past few days, I have become aware of two more forthcoming books that likewise will further our understanding of human social evolution: The Social Conquest of Earth
by Edward O. Wilson and Moral Origins: The Evolution of Virtue, Altruism, and Shame
by Christopher Boehm. All three of these books make the case that group level selection is needed to explain human morality.
The purpose of this post is to give you a preview of these three books—and to draw your attention to several previously published books and essays grounded in the same paradigm shift, and which therefore deserve renewed attention in this pivotal year.
What they all have in common is the realization that we are in the midst of a significant expansion in evolutionary thinking, beyond the confines of individual- and gene-level selection to what has come to be called "multi-level selection theory."
Read more at Metanexus