Getting Scientific with Religion: A Darwinian Solution... Or Not?

Journal of Consciousness Studies 17 (3-4):3 - 4 (2010)
Abstract
Introducing non-Darwinian mind as a nonaptation (raw materials of evolution) I argue that
Darwinian mind evolved from non-Darwinian mind through the evolution of desire and
aversion. The subject position within Darwinian mind is Darwinian self and is inherently selfish.
However the cathexis whereby the subject prioritises motivations of desire and aversion is not
an inherent property of mind. Instead it is proposed to be an adaptation, a predisposition to
respond to pleasant/unpleasant sensations with desire/aversion. This explains why self-sacrifice
and disengagement from desire/aversion are the sine qua non of serious commitment to the
spiritual path, i.e. Darwinian self and desire/aversion are two sides of the same coin and erosion
of one is erosion of the other. Thus, through self-renunciation and suspension of desire/aversion
the seeker passes from adaptive selfish Darwinian mind towards nonaptive selfless non-
Darwinian mind. But Darwinian mind automatically resists this transcendence by intensifying
motivations of desire/aversion thereby explaining the extreme difficulties of the spiritual path. A
theoretical distinction is made between evolved Darwinian “morality” (self-serving
“unselfishness”), “Darwinian” morality (genuine unselfishness) and amoral non-Darwinian
kenosis (selflessness). These distinctions make it easy to disentangle scientific and religious
jurisdictions on morality with important implications for both religious ethics and science’s
view of spirituality. All in all, the nonaptive theory of spiritual mind offers a unified solution to
age-old problems which have been uncomfortably shifting this way and that in the interstices
between biology, psychology, theology and philosophy.
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