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Spirituality emerges in the function of culture to reinforce and yet redirect our genetic heritage. Our genes urge us to be concerned only for our own welfare, which can turn us to evil behaviors. Our religious traditions urge us to engage in behaviors of transkin altruism. These religious traditions have been selected for in the processes of natural selection. The challenge to spirituality is to discern the fundamental dynamics of the evolutionary processes, both genetic and cultural, that have created us and to direct our behaviors in ways that can be beneficial to the entire natural system. Reason is not enough; we must also cultivate spiritual discernment in order to perceive the true nature of our situation and the best responses that are called for. The religious communities have the major responsibility for cultivating the spirituality that can achieve the most adequate discernment.

Keywords: Donald Campbell; E. O. Wilson; culturetype; genotype; selfishness; spirit; spirituality

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Ralph Wendell Burhoe (1911–1997) was the founding editor of Zygon.

Publication date: 2005-12-01

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