What do you think is the root cause for humans treating others so badly?  Money, religion, death, imperfect evolution, ...

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One thing's for sure, it's not religion, which comes in a kazillion shapes, sizes and shades.  And religion can be used in a multitude of ways: to control, comfort, blame, inspire, etc.  Are religionists "deluded"?  Sure.  But so is everyone who has bought into the Myth of Progress.  

To me, this is the root of evil in the modern world, because it is our addiction to non-stop, expansive growth that's killing us and the planet.  Take, for example, technology.  As media theorist Marshall McLuhan once said, every tool is an extension of the body: the wheel for the foot, the phone for the voice, clothing for the skin, the computer for the brain.  Due to the greed of corporations and stockholders, there is never a time in technological expansion where we say "enough".  We're going to let the earth do that, when climate change and multiple ecological collapses put a damper on unrestrained technological innovation.  
Indeed, growth in economics, technology, etc is our secular replacement for religion.  Ironically, religion has a part that encourages the Myth of Progress, and another that fights it.  The Bible has both the command to "have dominion over the earth" and then the book of Ecclesiastes where all human striving for growth is mocked.  That's because the "Bible" is an artificial collection of diverse documents that often contradict each other.  But Ecclesiastes is the closest you get to a skeptical, non-theistic worldview that critiques unceasing "development": "All things are full of weariness beyond uttering. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing." (1:9)  
One form of dissatisfaction is beneficial: it keeps us growing as people, on our journey to enrich our lives, families, & communities.  But the other type, expressed in The Myth of Progress, pressures us to push the planet to its limits until it springs back on us like a rubber band and smacks us in the face.  The Myth of Progress, or TMOP, can be religious, atheistic, whatever.  Same shiest, different pile.  Our challenge is to move beyond it and touch reality.

 Same shiest, different pile.

I agree, high tech and economics, they are but tools that can be used in religious ways. Though I don't think in terms of "good" and "evil", cancerous growth of humanity is as close as it comes for me to "evil". Religion is a human tool of power, written by humans, to control humans. Until our value systems escape from these sorts of writings that have ruled humanity for 5000 years, declaring ourselves "godless" is entirely futile.

The root of all evil is the thought or act that does not promote the flourishing of an individual. 

Competition for food and sex....and natural selection which caused hominid's brain to scheme and plan and think abstractly (as physical prowess and strength retreated) and sexual selection which caused females to adorn themselves and males to degrade their rivals all leading to culture and a concomitant but unfortunate atavism in biology...rrrr whatever man, don't have a cow man.

The most likely reason is that aggressive behavior held, at some early stage in evolution, advantages for reproduction and survival. At a time when food was scarce, and illness ravaging, the more agressive individual may have had a clear survival advantage.

We see in many animal species a hierarchical structure in which the stongest male dominates and holds all the sexual cards until he dies or is displaced by a younger stronger male in a fight for leadership.

This may have been the organization of human societies at an early point when there were only small tribes of hunter-gatherers and agriculture had not yet developed. Only after the development of agriculture was cooperative behavior superior to hierarchy for the group survival.

There has always been cooperation, it is the nature of any social animal. Furthermore, there is no anthropological indication that hunter-gatherer tribes had that sort of male structure (dominates and holds all the sexual cards until he dies or is displaced by a younger). Penis size to body ratio, to the contrary, infers that females of early tribes practised promiscuity. The anthropological most likely scenario is that a small proportion of males and females - alpha males and alpha females - did most of the breeding, the and rest of the tribe had support roles.

There has always been a balance between violence and cooperation, between ingroup and outgroup. But as population sizes increase, the relative amount of resources diminishes, and this pushes the equilibrium, the larger the society the more violence, and the more top down dominance is necessary to maintain "order". That is how religion/patriarchy developed around 5 millennia ago, as a power/control tool. There is no real distinction between patriarchy and religion, one is the left hand, one is the right hand.

Today, as our population continues to increase and the ratio of resource availability continues to decrease, top down controls will continue de become stronger, to attempt to control the increased violence inescapable by overpopulation, and this is biologically true in most species.

Violence is not "evil", it is simply a stress reaction, it is simply the flip side of the coin of cooperation. One without the other is impossible. Only the balance between the two varies.

My point was carelessly worded. I meant to suggest that the balance between hierarchical social structures and cooperative social structures favored the former in pre-literate pre-agricultural tribal societies. Despite the immense variety of social structures in human societies hierarchy and dominance are still strong in most. It is almost irresistable to view social history as a struggle to achieve a balance between cooperation and hierarchy.  

Here is a quote from one paper:

Dominance appears to be written deeply into our physiological, social,
and cognitive functions. It emerges early as a defining trait of individuals
(personality) and hence produces a propensity for human social groups to
organize themselves hierarchically, and for the majority of individuals to
displace responsibility for their actions by obeying authority. So large a
part does it play in our social lives that it also shapes and modifies our
cognitive strategies and physiological responses


Do you have a reference for this point? I'm interested to read about it.

The anthropological most likely scenario is that a small proportion of males and females - alpha males and alpha females - did most of the breeding, the and rest of the tribe had support roles.

That seems to support the notion that some kind of social dominance hierarchy was the normal mode of organization in early tribal societies. Cooperation would have been present as well, but within a hierarchical structure.

Hunters cooperate.

Indeed. Cooperation always coexists with violence.

I like that reply TNT except that I wonder how promiscuity can be reconciled with alpha mating.

Inuit peoples (used to be called Eskimos) displayed some variation on this until very recently. Neither the male nor the female were sexually exclusive, but there was a definite alpha structure for both sexes. Alpha males did some choosing, alpha females did some choosing, others settled for leftovers or did not breed.Wolves display some variation in the alpha males / alpha females breeding pattern.

And of course chimps also display female promiscuity within an alpha male / alpha female structure.

There is really no serious biological/anthropological evidence for sexual monogamy in H.sapiens before modern religions, and parenting monogamy, somewhat older, began around the beginnings of patriarchy/religion, 5-6 kya, when males began to consciously understand their role in reproduction. And neither advanced at the same speed in different regions.

I would ideally like to see a reduction in violence, not only bodily violence, but systemic/structural violence, but I don't see that ever being realistic with a growing population.

The root of all evil could be pride. It is the obvious root of many evils. LIke greed, money, power, popularity and of course not being able to admit your wrong when you see someone else's point of view that is reasonable. Try to be humble and see how you can become.


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