Wilson uses the word “consilience” in regards to various academic disciplines by stating that thinking clear thoughts about specific fields can only be done through the use of the coherence (consilience) between them. Wilson describes the importance of integrating what we know from natural science with our knowledge of social science and the humanities in order to tackle many of society’s daily concerns. (ie poverty, overpopulation, abortion.) An example of a “consilience” explanation to a given phenomenon is claustrophobia.
- Sociological – Claustrophobia can be intensified, if not caused by experiencing first hand a bomb exploding inside a building and then begin trapped inside for a certain period of time.
- Psychological – People like to know they can always go outside if and when they please. This makes people feel free and uninhibited. An explosion inside a building creating entrapment causes the mind to panic. People’s psychological makeup enables them to stay calm for only a short
period of time.
- Biological – Biologically speaking, the body’s composition of nerves will cause a person’s blood pressure to rise as well as more blood pumping to the heart causing it to beat faster.
- Physics – Because no one can predict how much time on has before a building would crumble had it been bombed, the law of physics would discuss the description and prediction of the heat and the atoms in order to say when and if the building would fall to the ground.
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The MEME theory can be compared to an idea behavior that causes people to use the same pattern. Some examples are catch phrases, slogans, chain letters or fashions. Memes are a contagious information pattern that replicates by making the human mind alter it’s behavior so it uses the same simple pattern. Memes are different than genes because we are genetically predisposed to adopt our parents genetic make up. Memes on the other hand are not genetically predisposed, they are created and exchanged through society. Genes are not necessarily a tangible object where as a meme can be. For example chain letters. The reason certain religions are more successful than others in terms of popularity is the US is because of the desire to achieve happiness and inner peace. Take for example the (meme) slogan, “Jesus loves you,” or “if you believe in Jesus, you will go to heaven, if you don’t you will burn in hell.” Both of these slogans are slogans in society created and replicated by the Christian faith to promote their religion. People in today’s society read something to believe in whether it’s real or not. If millions of people can believe that Jesus, a Jew, rose from the cross and is the Messiah, then the above slogans must be doing the trick because Christian make up the religious majority in the US. Many people want a fairy tale “like” religion to believe in, not necessarily a realistic, factual religion like Judaism. Christians use the meme theory quite often when promoting their religion door to door. They missionaries use roman slogans such as “come and be saved” to promote the theory that Jesus died for people’s sins, so come and join in the worship of him. The Jewish religion on the other hand will always be the minority which is a credible characteristic because common phrases and slogans to promote what is supposed to be a sacred and personal journey will never be used.
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The evolutionary theory helps in understanding human migration, cultural development and social identity because in many ways all of these three aforementioned concepts are somewhat interlinked. For example, the world was not always such an organized system of countries and states. The world was once a mass of land sectors with different people inhabiting them. As times begun to get hard in one place, people would migrate to other places seeking happiness or freedom. As people move from one place to another, they tend to pick up the different cultural traits (characteristics) and slowly adapt to them. The evolutionary theory helps in understanding this human migration because as people evolve and babies are born, they must adapt to their environment. For example, a Chinese born baby is transported to the middle of South Africa. This Chinese born baby will eventually grow up in a completely different environment than which it was made to originally survive in, but because humans are made to adapt to change and so is the human body, that Chinese baby will accept it's new environment. This is how human migration is made possible. Cultural development then follows. The Chinese born baby will grow up in South Africa and become part of this new culture which will eventually become very familiar to him/her. There are basic instincts which humans tend to follow regardless of where they are. So, although the people may be different from what a Chinese baby would expect to grow up with, the Chinese baby will be culturally accepted because at such an early age, he/she would not know any better than to just follow the South African cultural norms. As the Chinese baby grows up, he/she will gain a social identity of his/her own. He/She will either like the environment he is in or he will migrate somewhere else, become part of a new culture and find himself/herself a new social identity. Therefore one can see how human migration, cultural development, and social identity interlink one another, and can also see why there are so many different people that make up the world we live in today.
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- Muslims fast for one month during Ramadan
- Judaism - Jewish people fast once a year on Yom Kippur
- Islam scripture is the Quran
- Judaism’s scripture is the Torah
- Muslims pray at a mosque, Jewish people pray in a synagogue
- Muslims practice G-d’s law through people called Ulama
- Jewish people are taught by Rabbis
- Muslims worship G-d five times a day. Jewish people do not have a set number of times to worship, but generally pray three times a day, morning, noon, and night.
- Muslims celebrate the Sabbath on Friday, Jewish people celebrate on Saturday.
- Islam follows the teachings of Mohammad, Jewish people follow the teachings of Moses.
- In Islam, G-d's law is through the "shariah". In Judaism it is in the Ten Commandments.
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The notion of race is biologically obsolete yet culturally viable because as accurate as the notion is about humans deriving from Africa, every culture has adopted the fact that among the people in society there are different races that exist . Many people compare one place to another using memes like, “in their culture” to actually describe a different race. It is not so much that race is biologically obsolete, it is that people have accepted the idea that if people look differently than themselves, they must belong to a different culture. For example, people from an Asian descent have very narrow shaped eyes because the winters are very harsh and to adapt to their environment they were created that way. People from Africa have dark skin, not necessarily because race is biologically obsolete, but to protect their skin from the sun. G-d made us all look different and also created us with the intention of us all being physically compatible with our society and environment. And this makes us able to adapt to the culture we all live in.
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The common ground Bellah and his co-authors discovered among religious believes of different faiths in America was the ideal of the pursuit of freedom which encompasses happiness and striving to be an individual. During the 1980’s because families are very important part of peoples lives, they become very influential in the actions we take and the decisions we make. One of the major difficulties religious believers face is on postmodern world is that in the post religion it was very familiar, and that was due to a life less complicated. People’s lives were much more simple yet today and going forward one difficulty religious believers must deal with is uncertainty about what is in store for the future. The fact that the world is constantly changing at a rapid pace and no one can tell where it is headed, only that we must all accept change. Science is also another concern because in the past people turned to religion to answer questions about life, today we turn to science.
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The religious practice of acknowledging the Sabbath has changed since coming to a North American environment. Whether it be the Jewish Religion which celebrates the Sabbath on Saturday or the Christian religion which celebrates the Sabbath on Sunday or the Islam religion which celebrates the Sabbath on Friday, they have all adopted different aspects since coming to the North American environment. In Israel, the Sabbath is recognized by turning off the lights, walking to synagogue, spending time with the family and not doing any shopping. In today’s North American environment, Jewish people still acknowledge the importance of the Sabbath, but many Jewish people drive to synagogue, and after services, resort back to their daily lifestyle. In Israel, it is considered the day of rest where this day should be set apart from the rest of the week, where all normal everyday practices are for one day set aside. In our North American environment, we are so used to living at large, especially in Big Cities, that it has become harder and harder to stop the phone calls or the cars, or even the shopping for one day. Therefore, although all Jewish people recognize that Saturday is the Sabbath, there has been a definite transformation in terms of practices once it reached the North American environment.
.: 12 :. Peter Berger's concept of the Heretical Imperative discusses the freedom to choose one's religion, although not many people have the option. We are all born into a certain religion, whether we chose to carry it out for the rest of our lives are the real question. Out parents bring us into the world and generally raise their children to believe in the same ideals they were themselves brought up with. The United States is a good example of Religious Pluralism because there are so many different people with so many different beliefs that we are exposed to every religion (almost). People don't necessarily chose their own religion, like some people believe they do, we are introduced to a certain religion through family and only later do we take it upon ourselves to chose our own path.
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Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was founded April 6, 1830 in upstate New York by a man named Joseph Smith. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints base their religion on biblical and folk traditions by redefining Christianity is “distinctly American ways.” (206) They believe that the United States is their promised land prepared by G-d for them and also that the United States is where the second coming of Jesus will take place. Latter Day Saints believe they are descendants of “the ancient House of Israel” and G-d’s chosen people whose mission it is to build their Kingdom of G-d. Latter Day Saints make up approximately 2% of the America population. Family life entails marrying at quite a young age and that men should accept the role as the economic back bone of the family while the women stay home to raise the children. The Latter Day Saints are a very family oriented group of people and who follow the Book of Mormon. Therefore, the Latter Day Saint religion is a pretty new faith based on the notion of Christianity, but has quite a few characteristics different to some other sects of Christianity.
MIDTERM – QUESTION #5
Q. Give an example of a "consilience" explanation to a given phenomenom.
A. I have chosen the fear and reverence of fire and my phenomenon for this exercise.
Religion – The bible refers to hell as a place of eternal fire thus implicating pain and suffering continuously. At the same time, God is represented as fire in the form of a burning bush when speaking to Moses. This implies that fire is sacred so to be revered and to be feared at the same time.
Sociology – Early man was fearful of fire, but harnessed it not only to cook but also to scare away predators. This may have been a way of early social relations as families gathered around a fire for protection and eating. We raise our children from their beginning to be fearful of fire by saying, "No! Hot!" or "Ouch! Bad!" This shows that we do not automatically fear fire but are socialized into a fearful relationship with it. We also love to gather around a fire to get warm and socialize on certain occasions. We are socialized to admire firemen for their bravery in fighting fires.
Psychology – If we were to be caught in a fire or burned the feelings of fear and pain we are socialized with would overtake us and the natural reaction would be "flight." Some people have a fascination with fire and more of a reverent fascination with it but would never want to be burned themselves – pyromaniacs and firemen.
Biology – The behavioral characteristics of fearing and reverence and usage of fire had an influence on the evolution of man. Having fire allowed early man to leave Africa and migrate to less favorable climates with new and dangerous animals. Fire also promoted social behavior as man gathered by fire for protection and cooking.
Chemistry – Inside our body we experience a chemical reaction when exposed to fire. The hypothalamus controls the "fight or flight" response in the central nervous system, which triggers a rapid heartbeat, increased blood flow, and faster breathing among other things.
Physics – Our experience with fire and the properties necessary in dealing with fuel, ignition, and combustion properties make us scientifically able to understand the necessary fear of fire. They also help us understand the methods of harnessing this energy and using it for our own purposes.
Math - Mathematical formulas have been created to help us understand the actual chemical changes that take place with combustion, ignition, burn rates, etc. As in the physics of fire, the mathematical properties compound the destructive nature of fire and enhance the rightful fear of it. At the same time, it should be revered for these same properties.
MIDTERM – QUESTION #6
Q. How can the theory of memetics help in understanding why certain religions are more successful than others (in terms of popularity) in the United States? Be sure to explain memes and how they are different from genes.
A. A meme is a "contagious information pattern that replicates itself by parasitically infecting human minds and altering their behavior, causing them to propagate the pattern." A meme is simply an idea or piece of information that "infects" one person’s brain, which in turn causes them to tell another person, thereby infecting their brain, and so on. Only if the idea is duplicated can it be considered a meme. An example of a meme would be a fashion trend, such as wearing short skirts. A popular TV star wears a short skirt even though the current trend is long skirts. The popularity of the "star" causes viewers to want to wear the same thing, and thus begins a new fashion trend or meme.
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