Sunday’s Sermon: The Etiology of War

 

[My friend and colleague Dr. Lex Crane wrote this sermon some time before he died. It seems particularly relevant now. Please read and comment.]

Humanity at Hazard: The Etiology of War
© Lex Crane
2008

War and Peace

Human beings are extremely creative at making weapons and war, but persistently inept at achieving lasting peace. Why is this? The aim here is to seek an answer to this troubling question. A provocative insight emerged early in the course of research on the problem: as civilization spread across the world, the number of wars sharply increased. In the 16th century there were 87 wars; and in only the first forty years of the 20 th century there were 892. (Fromm 215)

This pattern continued during the remainder of the century. In the wars of the entire 20th century “not less that 62 million civilians have perished, nearly 20 million more than the 43 million military personnel killed.” (Hedges 13) In sum, over 100 million people died in the wars of the century past, not to mention the millions more, who were wounded, crippled. Since the number of wars has increased with the spread of civilization, it appears that society, not our natural humanity, is the source of the problem; and this has been the prevailing view in 20 th century social science – until recently, when an opposing view began to develop. Until then the consensus in 20 th century science had been that humans at birth are like a blank slate.  It held that cultural conditioning writes the contents of human nature upon it. . . .

 

 

Read the paper here: crane

Where do we get our morality?

 

Image

I’ll get to the above graph in a moment, but first I want to tell a little story.

A man sits in a bar with a bunch of his friends one evening. The group is having a pleasant night out until a stranger walks up to the table and speaks insultingly to the man. He sneeringly claims to have been having sex with the man’s fiancée on an ongoing basis, and states that he and the man’s fiancée have had many jokes about the man’s diminished sexual attributes and abilities. Hey lays it on pretty thick for another minute and then says, “I’m heading out to the parking lot now, and if you’re any man at all — which we all know you’re not already — you’ll follow me out and prove it.” What should the man do? When asked about cases like this, men and women from the southern US were much more likely to think that the man should go and punch it out, however bad the fight may be. While northerners, on reflection, tended to think that the moral course of action would be to ignore the provocation and laugh off the stranger’s insults, southerners tended to think that one wouldn’t be ‘much of a man’ if he didn’t respond with violence.

Go here for the complete discussion!