Awesome, thought-provoking questions? Sure thing.

Q: Awesome, thought-provoking questions? Sure thing. This is something that’s been bothering me for a while. Why do you think members of Abrahamic faiths seem so wont to hate eachother? All Abrahamic holy books have violence. Why argue over the less violent?

I saved this one for last, even though it was first.

I wouldn’t point out Abrahamic faiths as having a corner on the market of hate — cooperative violence towards others is so widespread as to be considered a basic human tendency, a trait that was selected for over and over for many millennia, as it tended to yield the most survivors. Social groups that were able to band together and oppose other groups would succeed if they were more ruthless, bloodthirsty, and willing to do whatever it took to win, to survive. Since cooperation is an important aspect of this behavior, it’s probably the rather brutal nature of the environment in which early hominids existed that also reinforced the violent tendencies. Being hairless apes with more brains than brawn, the main advantage they had was the ability to channel their aggressive, self-preserving behavior into focused, vicious, remorseless acts of violence.

Dunbar’s number (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunbar%27s_number) comes into play here — the limits on social group size heavily influenced our ancestors, and when it came time to manage or control larger groups, the individuals who tended to be selected (or self-selected) to be in power were by nature the most aggressive in the group, those willing to do whatever it took to gain power — so their tendencies towards suspicion of others and the use of violence to achieve an end had great influence over those they led. When we look at religions, we are looking at some of the first groups who exceeded this number, and it’s logical to assume that the atmosphere of hatred came from the shepherds rather than the sheep.

Also, consider the middle ages, when invader/conquerors ran roughshod over early civilizations, what did they do? Killed the men, raped the women — spread their aggressive DNA. To manage groups larger than the natural social groupings our limited brain size supports, it is necessary to employ powerful motivators, and fear and hatred are powerful, atavistic forces, which find a ready audience in our genetic makeup.

Just my theory, of course. But, wonderful question! And why have you not blogged? I still have your RSS feed in my Google home page, waiting … patiently.

go ahead, ask. it's (probably) ok.

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