"The whole thing is so patently infantile, so incongruous with reality, that to one whose attitude to humanity is friendly it is painful to think that the great majority of mortals will never be able to rise above this view of life." Freud, Civilization and its Discontents (1930), commenting on religion.Examples from Everyday Life
Sometimes a theoretical argument is best illustrated by examples from everyday life. With that objective I want to start this chapter with the following three newspaper articles.
Item 1. On October 31, 1999, Egypt Air Flight 990 crashed shortly after taking off on a flight from New York to Cairo. The cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder indicated that a lone relief co pilot was at the controls at the time the tragic event began to unfold. The co pilot said the Arabic equivalent of "I put my faith in God," then disconnected the autopilot, pushed the nose down, and sped toward the ocean below at Mach 0.9. The pilot returned to the cabin, asked "What's going on?" He took his seat, and pulled up on his control yoke while shouting to the co pilot to "pull with me." But the co pilot persisted in pushing down, which dis engaged the tail elevator's coordination mechanism, causing the elevators to go in opposite directions, which made the plane start to spin. During the dive the engines were turned off. It crashed, killing all 217 aboard. This information was recovered and reported by the American FAA about 3 weeks into their investigation, and implied that the co pilot may have committed a mass murder suicide. However, in Egypt the public reaction was one of disbelief. The Egyptians suggested that the Americans had engaged in a cover up to defend the reputation of an American airplane manufacturer (Boeing) and a desire of the Americans to discredit Egyptians. American newspapers began reporting on "the cultural chasm between the two societies." The Egyptian newspaper Al Akbar described the American interpretation thusly: "This hallucination might be accepted in an American movie. But it is difficult to be convinced of this [being done by] a mature and sensible Egyptian." An Egyptian magazine editor summed up the different philosophies: "The American has learned to conquer life and put trust in science and technology, while the Egyptian has learned [that] time is more powerful than the human being, and we cannot stand alone, but that it is better to have God by your side." My summation would be that "The Americans have learned how to conquer life by relying upon the left brain to use science and technology to understand and live effectively in the world, while the Egyptians have continued to view the world with the right brain perspective in which God is one’s guide for serving the genes."
Item 2. The Santa Barbara News Press reports (1999.02.07) that "LightShift 2000" wants everyone to "meditate for planetary harmony" at noon on the first day of every month. They claim that synchronized meditation is “a catalyst for positive energy” that will affect the surroundings. They believe that "silent, compassionate meditation can shift the collective consciousness of the world, reverse our course of destruction and truly create positive healing change in the approaching millennium. ... If you get people banding together and create a chain reaction of positive energy, that ... creates the light shift." The movement was instigated by a book written by astrologer Ken Kalb, residing in Summerland, CA (near Santa Barbara) titled LightShift 2000: Let's Turn on the Light of the World, which has sold 12,000 copies so far. A LightShift web site (www.lightshift.com) has been visited 1.3 million times. The stated goal is for a 6 million person mass meditation January 1, 2000, at 12:12 AM. Somehow they determined that if only the square root of any population would synchronously meditate, the overall quality of life would improve. According to my math this means they need only 78,000 people to save 6 billion, not their 6 million. I guess math isn't their strong suit. Even if you're "at work or in a meeting, a short prayer is better than nothing. Or just repeat the affirmation: 'May peace prevail on Earth.'"
Item 3. Some people are an embarrassment to the human race! They keep coming up with weird beliefs that defy logic, which causes the rest of us to conclude that they are “logic challenged.” One example of a recurring belief is that God will put gold crowns on the teeth of the faithful "as a sign." After attending a revival at a church where the magical appearances are reported to have occurred the faithful will check their mouth, and behold, gold crowns, plates bridges and bands materialize. This phenomenon first appeared in Argentina in the 1980s, and spread to Mexico, South Africa, Canada, Britain and now America. The claims fade after several years, then reappear. A Canadian went to his dentist to prove his claim, and the dentist reported that he did the gold work 10 years earlier. When this was reported in the newspapers, the gold teeth reports mysteriously stopped. "Faith springs eternal" because it is in our genes. Fortunately, not all humans have it in the same amount, and those who lack it are blessed with a modern left cerebral hemisphere.
Empowerment of the Masses
The 20th Century LBS (Left‑Brain Styled) scientist is acutely aware of the threat posed by the newly‑emboldened common man, who is preponderantly RBS and considers his opinion on scientific matters to be just as valid as the expert's. Keay Davidson (1999) captured this concern using the example of Harlow Shapely, a Harvard astronomer who opposed pseudo science. Shapely was especially irked by the readiness of the Macmillan publishing house to publish the book World's in Collision by Velikovsky (an RBS exemplar). Shapley's position was summarized by James Gilbert (1997) in the following manner: Science "...by its very nature should never be molested by popular belief; it is the sole purview of those who understand it." Keay contrasts this position with that of William Jennings Bryan, who believed in "the democratic community's right to decide the validity of scientific theory" (Gilbert, 1997).
Jose Ortega y Gasset wrote in his 1930 book The Revolt of the Masses that the unschooled common man began, in the 19th Century, to view his opinion on all matters as having equal validity to those of scholars who devoted their life to the same matters. Part of this new boldness may be due to economic growth that brought increasing wealth to the masses; the new boldness was also nurtured by the entitlements that a democracy creates. But the mass man's mistaken belief was outwardly attributed to the conviction that Truth could be found by looking inward, with earnestness and faith. This subject is treated in greater length in the next section.Oriental Rejection of LB
Oriental philosophies, such as the Tao, eschew LB‑styles of thinking, and attempt to discredit it in their philosophies for thinking and being. In their place they counsel ways of thinking and being that are transparently RB‑styled. I will assume that the reader is familiar with the late 20th Century neuropsychological findings on brain laterality, as reviewed in Chapter 7. During the 1980s there was so much reportage in the popular press about brain laterality findings, many of which were indeed astounding, that some purists referred to the phenomenon of an over enthusiastic embrace of these new ideas by coining the term "dichotomania." During the 1990s the purists effectively squelched those inclined to even a reasonable version of dichotomania, so the exploration of RB versus LB issues was "still‑born." Be warned; I am a dichotomaniac!The Tao complains that "we have learned to put excessive reliance upon central vision, upon the sharp spotlight of the eyes and mind..." and that "we cannot regain the powers of peripheral vision unless the sharp and staring kind of sight is first relaxed." Alan W. Watts (1957, p.19). A neuropsychologist would immediately recognize the brain laterality connection of this thought. The old RB is continually monitoring sensory input for signs of danger, and it does this in a computationally fast and subconscious method, relying upon parallel processing, comprised of interconnected neural networks. When the conscious mind focuses upon something, it most‑often does so under the direction of LB, and uses the high resolution central visual field for this task. It is uncanny how the Oriental has captured this signal difference in left/right roles for looking at the world, and prefers one over the other.
The I Ching encouraged the Chinese mind to arrive at "decisions spontaneously, decisions which are effective to the degree that one knows how to let one's mind alone, trusting it to work by itself." (Alan W. Watts, op. cit., p.19). Again, this advice essentially counsels a person to "turn off" LB, and trust RB to make decisions. (This is remindful of the advice to tennis players, golfers, businessmen, etc. presented in a series of The Inner Game of... books by W. Timothy Gallwey, starting in the 1974).Alan Watts describes Chuang‑tzu's advice "The perfect man ... grasps nothing..." Also, "it 'fuzzes' itself a little, to compensate for too harsh a clarity." Later,
Wattswrites "...both Tao and Confucius thought that the natural man is to be trusted." (Note that "natural" must refer to primitive, RBS man.)
In Oriental thinking there is a strong resentment of LB intrusions. They extol the virtues of a form of unconsciousness, something "exponents of Zen later signified by wu‑hsin, literally 'no‑mind,' which is to say, un‑self‑consciousness. It is a state of wholeness in which the mind functions freely and easily, without the sensation of a second mind or ego standing over it with a club." (Alan W. Watts, op. cit., p.23). The term "second mind" thatConsider this passage from
Wattsuses refers, quite transparently, to LB. “Me thinks RB doth protest too much!” Why are the Orientals so against the intrusion of LB? I believe a balance is possible, but my optimum balance point is different from theirs! Watts(op. cit., p. 23) where he quotes Lin Yutang: "The baby looks at things all day without winking; that is because his eyes are not focusing on any particular object. He goes without knowing where he is going, and stops without knowing what he is doing. He merges himself with the surroundings and moves along with it. These are the principles of mental hygiene." LB, being the last to evolve phylogenetically is also the last to develop ontologically, so the baby begins life with only the rudiments of a functioning LB but a more fully functioning, behavior‑controlling RB. In essence, the Oriental mind is counseling adults to become like the baby, and forsake, as an individual, evolution's latest accomplishment for us as a species. Why would anyone counsel that unless they’re dutiful agents for the genes willing to squelch individualism?
Eastern Thought as a Genetic Solution to the Dangers of IntelligenceI used to wish for peace of mind, to be "centered" and to be rid of "inner mental turbulence." This desired mental state is often sought through meditation, a component of Eastern Thought. However, I now look at this ever‑more popular pursuit with mixed feelings.
Recall that when a baby comes into the world it's only memories are of a peaceful womb, where the temperature was constant, noises were muffled, and there was no danger of being hurt by falling or bumping into things. After birth the task of maintaining physiological conditions within limits is thwarted by the conflicting task of exploring the world. Physical mobility and social interactions are a challenge to maintaining physiological homeostasis. (Poor baby; it's beginning an Odyssean mission, for it has a job to do ‑ for the genes.)Engaging the outer world requires mental vigilance and physical effort, which often produce displacements from homeostatic equilibrium. The overriding task of safeguarding homeostasis sometimes requires that the individual withdraw from the world. Fortunately, the baby is endowed with instincts for learning how to balance these conflicting goals. The dual goals of engaging the outer world and later returning to equilibrium must become a lifelong, recurring theme.
Growth requires that each exploration become bolder and more engaging of the outer world. Childhood is a time for practicing adult skills. Adulthood, however, is a time for performing the business of life; and the business of life is to place ones genes in as many offspring as possible so that they may grow up to do the same. Thus, individuals do all kinds of things that an alien observer would find remarkably silly, irrational, and ill‑self‑serving, such as waging warfare on neighboring tribes, sacrificing oneself unquestioningly to questionable patriotic causes, striving for status, wooing mates, making love, raising offspring and performing all manner of ridiculous rituals.Because our recent ancestors evolved to be more intelligent they have placed us ever closer to a dangerous psychological border, a fuzzy border on the other side of which the individual thinks for itself, and is prone to consciously abandon irrational acts that in the past assured genetic survival. Such an individual asks "Why? Why should I do as my ancestors have done? Why should I wage war, strive for status, woo mates, make love, create babies, commit to decades of burdensome parenting, and perform ridiculous rituals?"
In short, the individual is asking why it must be enslaved in service to its genes the way its ancestors have been, when it is possible to become liberated from these onerous and exhausting tasks. For our genes these are dangerous thoughts! And anyone who believes the genes have neglected to deal with this challenge to their supremacy should think again.
It is true that the genes were rewarded when they created intelligent brains, for intelligent people were better at waging war, striving for status, wooing mates, etc. However, genes were punished for creating intelligent brains, for those individuals were more likely to question their genetically‑assigned slavish role. How might the genes have the benefit without the cost? Solution: new genes were selected that placed blinders upon intelligence, and inhibited "bad" thoughts! Bad thoughts, of course, are whatever leads to individual liberation. Any gene that sanctioned submission to continued enslavement by them were "good" and thus selected, whereas those that rendered an individual prone to question authority and the way things are, and who was attracted to eschewing enslavement, were "bad" and were selected out. All of these changes happened naturally, and inevitably, as the effects of the blind "forces" of natural selection.I now suggest that Eastern Thought incorporates mechanisms for assuring continued genetic enslavement by inhibiting aspirations of individual liberation. Specifically, I am suggesting that one of the purposes of Eastern Thought is to preserve the individual's acceptance of his condition in life. This compliance is accomplished by inhibiting or discrediting all forms of skepticism, questioning the existing order, and any thoughts that might lead the individual to abandon his network of family and tribal duties. When life is tough, Eastern Thought consoles by sustaining the belief that "this is the way things are, and you are a mere part of an immense whole; don't complain and don't fight it; be submissive." The individual then fails to ask if there are roads not taken, alternative decisions that would have been wiser, and changes that might still be made to better one's individual well‑being. For the genes, no individual sacrifice is too great!
If meditation is palliative enough to keep an enslaved person enslaved, then the genes will produce meditation. If a person believes that "bad things happen because spirits need more attention," and if this belief discourages a slave from taking matters into his own hands and breaking free, then the genes will create minds that deflect attention from real causes by predisposing them to explain things as the doings of neglected spirits. If an excessively curious left brain asks too many subversive questions, Eastern Thought will subjugate it so that it will be more obedient to the right brain. It is possible that the Oriental brain is wired to prefer culturgens that assist the right brain in retaining control of the individual.
As my left brain is dominant over my right in terms of setting values upon things, it is inevitable that I must accept "mental turbulence" over "mental quietude." I worship the individual, and applaud his efforts at liberation. I also detest any attitude that inhibits this individual quest, especially if it smacks of a trick by the genes to keep the individual enslaved forever in service to themselves. Is my attitude lacking in gratitude? Should I worship the genes, indiscriminately? No! I shall worship only those genes which "respect" their individual creations!
I therefore question the wisdom of withdrawing from the tumult of questioning, as I challenge the ideas of timid thinkers and pursue individual liberation. You can have my secret mantra, the popular word "one," as I enthusiastically proclaim "bring on the turbulence!"
FictionOur distant ancestors were dumb enough to do whatever the genes wanted. But lately, with the emergence of powerful prefrontal areas and a re‑engineered LB possessing newfound powers of rationality, individuals are more able to challenge the genes by ‑ sit down for this one ‑ thinking!
Many tools are employed by the genes to keep us in their service. Emotions have been adjusted for this purpose, walls to subversive thoughts have been erected, and curious rewards have been put in place for tricking us into wanting what is often bad for us as individuals.
The genes have targeted sex and patriotism for special reinforcement since the thinking mind is capable of discovering how harmful they can be to individual welfare. Incautious sex exposes the individual to 1) disease, 2) bodily harm from a partner not wanting to be cuckolded, or 3) if one follows the rules, the prospect of a life‑long burden of child rearing. Enthusiastic and thoughtless patriotism leads one into war, which exposes the individual to lifelong injury or quick death. For years I have been using this pair, sex and war, as the strongest examples of the individual's worst genetic enemy, placing them in my figure's “outlaw gene” lower‑right quadrant.
What a coincidence, then, that sex and violence are the two most reliable themes for selling fiction. A theory for imagination that doesn't account for this salient feature of fiction is incomplete. I am suggesting that the genes are "concerned" that we might abandon our appetites for sex and violence, as a person might do if he allowed himself to be guided by this new thing that a fast‑evolving LB has come up with, called "logic."
The genetic preoccupation with sex and violence helps explain them as persistent themes in fiction, but the genes influence fiction in other ways. Everyone has different roles to play in life. The roles may conflict, as when a mother secretly celebrates her son's philandering, thus spreading her hitch‑hiking genes more widely in the local gene pool. Or when a father applauds his son's virility, the better to plunder neighboring tribes and rape their women, thus sewing his hitch‑hiking genes more widely and winning resources for future misdeeds. These mental conflicts are capable of producing "cognitive dissonance" (Festinger, 1957), and literature is a way of working out the conflict so that the cognitive dissonance is not disabling.
Some attitudes and behaviors which are not tolerated within one's tribe have to be elicited when dealing with people from the neighboring tribe. Epic tales seem fashioned to hone this distinction and inspire awe for the desired performance ‑ even though it jeopardizes individual welfare and makes no logical sense from the individual's perspective. Chimpanzees don't need inspiring epic tales to fling them into war, because they do not have left brains that cause them to question foolish actions. But humans do, so epic tales are used to enforce unthinking adherence to the genetic script.Not all fiction is meant to keep the individual enslaved. Mothers might recite Hansel and Gretel stories to their children to alert them to the dangers of step‑fathers, who are prone to kill step children so they will not compete for parental resources with the children he fathers (Daly and Wilson, 1988). Monster stories are psychological preparation for marauders from a neighboring tribe. These stories can in fact be helpful to the individual by reinforcing the existence of unpleasant realities that children must learn.
The genes must deal with both categories of story, those that maintain genetic enslavement and those that are actually helpful to the individual. It may have happened that the genes have created pre‑wired brains that are "attracted to" stories of both categories. It may not matter that a few unenslaving or uninstructive stories catch a free ride; it matters more that the vehicle for safeguarding the real message is preserved.We should not be surprised when we find evidence that the brain has pre‑wired us to reject stories that celebrate individual liberation from the tribe, and all the other enslavements that the genes demand. The human taste in fiction seems designed to keep us individuals on the straight and narrow path the genes have set for us.
Since adaptation really means "adaptive for the genes," not adaptive for the individual, every thinking human must have an ambivalent attitude toward those little molecules that give us life. We were not part of the negotiation of life's conditions, but we are awakening to the option of saying "no thanks."Yet there's a danger to "civilization" when LB‑style individuals have a prominent presence. I save this matter for the next chapter.
The Dilemma of Spiritual Scientists
The annals of science have many examples of weird coexisting beliefs. In this section I wish to present a few examples. They illustrate that the two sides of our brain are able to retain their preferred styles of thinking without persuading the other. I include these examples at the risk of creating the impression that most scientists are capable of the same level of intellectual dissociation that permits profoundly incompatible styles of thinking to coexist in one brain. It is important to realize that scientists, on the whole, eschew non‑science relics, such as spirits, ghosts and prayer. The different scientific disciplines differ in their success with this (Larson and Witham, 1997, 1998, 1999); the less disciplined studies (such as sociology) fare worst, and the most rigorous sciences (such as physics) fare best. Because it is so rare to find spiritual people in the physical sciences, and because it is rarest among the most accomplished physical scientists, it should be most instructive for us to study examples from among this small group that are the exception to the rule. For them, the dissonance of their thoughts should be most glaring. For my examples of "spiritual scientists" I have chosen
, Townes and Dyson. Newton
Isaac Newton (1643‑1727), who some describe as the greatest scientist of all time (not my assessment), formulated "Newtonian physics," a view of the natural world that is the basis for "reductionism." Newtonian physics starts with F=ma to explain motion (Chapter 1).
dealt most with the force of gravity, as it governs planetary motions; but the concepts were found to hold well for electricity and magnetism (until the 20th Century revisions of quantum physics, which must be taken into account when dealing with interactions at microscopic scales). Newton "invented" calculus (at the same time as Leibnitz). These accomplishments are a tribute to Newton 's left brain. But his right brain was equally active. He is quoted as saying "The Supreme God is a Being eternal, infinite, absolutely perfect. We must believe that he is the father of all things, & that he loves his people as his children that they may mutually love him & obey him as their father." And also "This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being." ( Newton was an early adherent of what is now called Intelligent Design, a tool of the devout for questioning Darwinian evolution.) The following is from a Christian web page, expanding upon the coincidence that Newton was born on Christmas Day: "The very incidents surrounding his birth seemed to indicate God had some special plan for him ‑ at least that's what Isaac Newton thought." Also from this web page: "The design of the eye required a perfect understanding of optics, and the design of the ear required a knowledge of sound. The solar system itself could not have been produced by blind chance or fortuitous causes but only by a cause 'very well skilled in mechanics and geometry.' Gravity itself was an active principle God used to impose order on the world. Newton spent a tremendous amount of time studying the Bible, especially the prophetic portions of Scripture. He believed history was under the dominion of the Creator, and prophecy showed how the Creator was to establish His earthly kingdom in the end. His Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms, Amended used astronomical data to argue that the Bible was the oldest document in the world and that the events of Biblical history preceded all other ancient histories." Newton wrote as much on religion as on science, but rarely published the former (mindful of there heretical nature). He believed in the possibility of transmuting the baser metals into gold, and he wasted much time on this project. Newton
Ironically,Charles Townes (1915‑) won a nobel prize in 1964 for his contributions to quantum theory. He invented the maser (microwave amplification by stimulated emission of radiation) and is co‑patent holder of the laser. In spite of this strong background in science and technology, Townes has no trouble retaining a religious faith. In an interview (http://www.ssq.net/html/brief_interviews.html) he states that "the physical laws are laws that God made," and the universe has a "purpose and meaning." On many occasions his views seem to negate each other, creating the impression of a slippery evasiveness. For example, when asked how he reconciles the lack of a place for God in the equations of physics, he answers "Well, I would say that we don’t know that the equation is complete" as if to imply that there is room for religion to somehow sway the unfolding of physical events, which sounds like RB telling LB what to say. Yet, later, when asked about God affecting the universe outside physical law, he answers "...in terms of what we know at present, our present laws allow no room for a separate action of God. While things are not deterministic, nevertheless there is no room for some superimposed outside force coming in and affecting things. There's no room within our physical laws. [That's his left brain talking; but get ready for a shift.] However, that doesn't trouble me as a religious person because I recognize that there are a lot of things we don’t understand, and that there may be such a possibility which is there but we don’t understand it yet. So, for me, that's not a problem; it's an interesting puzzle, but not a problem." With oblivious disregard for the devastating denial of God just spoken by his left brain, he ends with a shrug of the left shoulder (controlled by RB) and says "that's not a problem."
was not a Newtonian, as the term is used today. Much of Newton 's non‑science beliefs are ridiculous in light of today's more thoroughly developed understanding of physics and evolution. It is easy to criticize someone from the past, so on that account let us turn to contemporaries for examples of spiritual scientists. Newton
Perhaps we can attribute this odd coexistence of a primitive outlook with an impressive understanding of modern physics to his upbringing inFreeman Dyson (1923‑) is another "spiritual scientist." His commitment to bringing religion and science together earned him the Templeton Prize (and almost a million US dollars). In his acceptance speech (
, South Carolina 's bible capital. He's one of the few outstanding scientists who have retained religion during their ascent to notable achievement in the physical science. He's not alone, though; there are others who are somehow able to maintain the two world views in the same brain. America March 22, 2000) he stated "I am saying to modern scientists and theologians: don't imagine that our latest ideas about the Big Bang or the human genome have solved the mysteries of the universe or the mysteries of life... Science and religion are two windows that people look through, trying to understand the big universe outside, trying to understand why we are here [make note of the phrase “two windows”]. The two windows give different views, but they look out at the same universe. Both views are one‑sided, neither is complete. Both leave out essential features of the real world. And both are worthy of respect."
I have great respect for Freeman Dyson, both as a scientist and a creative thinker, and a compassionate champion of people who are unfortunately "left behind" as others march forward to ever greater prosperity. Dyson writes "The great question for our time is how to make sure that the continuing scientific revolution brings benefits to everybody rather than widening the gap between rich and poor. To lift up poor countries, and poor people in rich countries, from poverty, to give them a chance of a decent life, technology is not enough. Technology must be guided and driven by ethics if it is to do more than provide new toys for the rich. Scientists and business leaders who care about social justice should join forces with environmentalists and religious organizations to give political clout to ethics. Science and religion should work together to abolish the gross inequalities that prevail in the modern world. That is my vision, and it is the same vision that inspired Francis Bacon four hundred years ago, when he prayed that through science God would 'endow the human family with new mercies.' "Dyson understands F=ma and quantum physics as well as anybody (better than me, for sure). It baffles me that he does not embrace the concept of a "rigid universe." How can someone so knowledgeable in physics be so blind to the primitive pedigree of religion and the misleading guidance it fraudulently purports to give.
Anybody reading this should ask "How can this author be so sure of himself, especially when he differs with a polymath scientist as esteemed as Freeman Dyson? He must consider the possibility that the person following the erroneous path is himself!" Yes, I have considered this, and it is possibly true. But is it also possible that Dyson is mistaken?I think Dyson is swayed by the pragmatic way religious groups help serve community goals. His Templeton award acceptance speech included the passage "Trouble arises when either science or religion claims universal jurisdiction, when either religious dogma or scientific dogma claims to be infallible. Religious creationists and scientific materialists are equally dogmatic and insensitive. By their arrogance they bring both science and religion into disrepute. The media exaggerate their numbers and importance. You media people should tell the public that the great majority of religious people belong to moderate denominations that treat science with respect, and the great majority of scientists treat religion with respect so long as religion does not claim jurisdiction over scientific questions. In the little town of
, where I live, we have more than twenty churches and at least one synagogue, providing different forms of worship and belief for different kinds of people. They do more than any other organizations in the town to hold the community together. Within this community of people, held together by religious traditions of human brotherhood and sharing of burdens, a smaller community of professional scientists also flourishes." Princeton
This is a gentle defense of religion, based on its perceived positive impact on society. It overlooks the fact that any good done by a belief system is irrelevant to the truth of its core beliefs. He also overlooks the long history of religious wars; apparently he’s focused on only the intra-tribal supportive aspects of religion.It is often assumed that without religion social order would break down. Garrett Hardin has argued (1999, p. 46‑47) that "consequentialist ethics" is fundamentally a far better guide for societal governance than any morality handed down from ancient times. In addition, sociobiology argues that humans inherit an acceptable intra-tribal morality, and this is an alternative to religion’s claim that religion is needed to maintain social order. Were Dyson to study Hardin's idea, and sociobiology’s intra-tribal amity instincts, he would have a weaker justification for defending religion as an essential part of a community and as a window upon reality with something to offer that cannot be obtained elsewhere?
The evidence is abundant and persuasive that humans think in different styles, with two main ones being frequently cited. The neurological substrate for this difference is the left and right cerebral cortices, which are shown by laboratory studies and neuropsychology experiments to have different neural architectures, abilities and thinking styles. The logic of the left brain is a relatively new evolutionary development, and I claim that it has had to compete with the old right brain for expression. Since I view brain function as being inherently "modular," with modules competing for comprehending a situation, and then competing for controlling behavioral responses, I suspect that the right brain "resents" the left, and tries to discredit it. Since civilization has been built largely by the efforts of people using their left brain, there is always some risk to civilization when right brain styles of thought gain influence within a culture. In the next chapter this concern is treated as one of many possible threats to the health of present‑day civilization.
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