Interview: In the Name of God – The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Ethics and Violence

John Teehan is the author of In the Name of God: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Ethics and Violence, and has published and lectured widely on the impact of evolutionary theories on moral philosophy. In this comprehensive interview, John talks in depth about some of the themes in his book: how our moral minds may have been shaped by evolution, and how such a perspective can inform upon our understanding of religious violence.

Philosopher’s Eye: Why did you decide to write ‘In the Name of God: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Ethics and Violence’?

John Teehan: I’ve always been deeply interested in the study of morality.  Not simply in terms of what we ought to do, how we ought  to live—although those are essential questions—but also in terms of why do  we have the values we have, how do moral traditions develop. This lead me into a study of moral psychology, and in particular evolutionary psychology. If we want to understand how we got where we are today in terms of morality, then trying to understand the origins of moral behaviour seemed to be Continue reading “Interview: In the Name of God – The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Ethics and Violence”

Jerry Fodor’s critique of “Darwinism”

Superstar philosopher Jerry Fodor and cognitive scientist Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini have recently published a controversial book, What Darwin Got Wrong.  They argue that “Darwinism,” specifically the theory of natural selection, is not just false, but even incoherent and therefore couldn’t be true.  A summary of their argument is here.  Elliott Sober debates Fodor in a diavlog on Bloggingheads.tv here.  If you watch the diavlog (perhaps best to start about 6 minutes in: here) you’ll quickly notice that Sober doesn’t think Fodor’s argument works.  In that respect I think Sober represents the vast majority of philosophers and scientists.

Continue reading “Jerry Fodor’s critique of “Darwinism””

Are Scientists allowed to have Faith?

The_hand_of_godThe recent debate about Barack Obama’s nominee Dr. Francis Collins as the next director of the National Institutes of Health highlights a problem that is seldom discussed within philosophy of science. One leading opinion within the philosophy of science seems to be that in order for someone to be a good scientist or philosopher of science, one has to be at least an agnostic, if not an atheist. The general idea seems to be that it is absolutely irrational to believe in some higher being whose existence cannot be proven, and to be a good and dedicated scientist at the same time. The deeper reason for that idea seems to be that scientists that do believe have an “easy way out” if they encounter a difficult problem. Continue reading “Are Scientists allowed to have Faith?”