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The ecology of religion

Imagine an ecosystem in which all the players are groups defined by their religion: fundies, liberal believers, apathetics, atheists, etc. Then, use the ecological and evolutionary priniciples, e.g., competitive exclusion, niche-construction, arms-races, parasitism, camouflage, symbiosis, etc. to model the interactions between these entities (“populations”).

Amanda made a first stab at it. Can you do more?

How do Unitarians fit in that environment? Or Humanist Jews? How does the US ecosystem differ from that of other countries (island biogegraphy?)? What are the lessons for atheists from this excercise? How can we do our own niche-construction and modify the environment in a way that makes it more hospitable for us and less hospitable to the fundies? What would be the evolutionary response of the “moderates”?

Comments

  1. #1 John Emerson
    November 20, 2006

    Oddly enough, the oldest Unitarian churches are in the ethnic-Hungarian areas of Romania. The Unitarians (Socinians) got their start in Central Europe and only later caught on in the English-speaking world.

    My guess is that if you went to the Unitarian areas of Romania you would not find them to be populated entirely by nice, mild-mannered, open-minded, unjudgemental agnostics and atheists.

  2. #2 Rob Knop
    November 20, 2006

    What would be the evolutionary response of the “moderates”?

    It would probably depend largely on how strident the “all religious people are stupid ignoranamuses” claim from the PZ-type folks were in comparison to the “all people who don’t literally accept the Bible are going to Hell” claim from the fundamentalist-type folks.

    At the moment, the fundies are far more strident and annoying, unless you spend a lot of time on scienceblogs.com and cosmicvariance.com and not much time talking to fundies, in which case the PZ-types come to seem a lot more strident and annoying.

    (It’s like living in Berkeley; you can live there and get the idea that the political discussion in the country is entirely within the traditional left, and that there is no weight behind any form of conservatism at all. Clearly not right, but living in Berkeley it’s very easy to get overwhelmed by that.)

    -Rob

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