The Bonobo and the Atheist: In Search of Humanism Among the Primates
It has been speculated that moral behavior does not at all begin and end with religion and that it could be developed through evolution. Frans de Waal, a primatologist, contends that morality is not imposed by god; it actually comes from within. This book is a lively discussion of De Waal's landmark research, which seemed to confirm his theories.
De Waal's research shed more light on the issue with fascinating new evidence on the beginnings of ethical behavior among primates. Through years of observation, the primatologist established that bonobos share their food and chimpanzees actually comfort distressed neighbors. This is further proof that human fairness and morality could actually have biological origins and are not dictated or formulated by some supreme being.
The book features vivid tales of animal kingdoms and societies interspersed with philosophical analyses, where the author seeks an explanation for morality that would take humans' connection with animals into the equation. He asserts that the evidence from primates which are deemed a close relative to the human species reveals that morality lies deep within us.
With the Catholic Church wrapped in scandal and other religions caught in violent conflict, it is now all the more difficult to accept that religion dictates morality. De Waal also explored what his observations could mean for morality, religion and our understanding of such. He regards religion's role in morality merely as an addition to what is already within us - a natural predisposition for empathy and cooperation.
With cultural references and notes on primate behavior, the book is able to present a unique and engaging argument with foundations in science and philosophy.
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