Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Evolution of Creativity


Wilson is a remarkably productive biologist.  His intensive early studies of ants helped him found the biological subdiscipline we call “sociobiology” with a 1975 book by that name.  But the social behavior of ants is hard-wired into their small brains and not a particularly good model for social behavior of humans.  In searching for the evolutionary roots of social behavior, ants and humans diverged from their most recent common ancestor in the Pre-Cambrian, so answers to our creativity are limited to very fundamental aspects.  His book is fascinating and worth reading for the spectacular grasp of related facts and opinions, especially the role of language in creativity.

[Wilson, Edward O.  2017.  The Origins of Creativity.  Liveright Publishing Corporation.  New York – London.  A division of W.W. Norton & Co., New York.  243 pp.]

On page 68 Wilson describes his brief brush with Christianity and baptism.  Creativity seems to be tied to the humanities, especially language.  On pages 75-77 he expresses concern that organized religion siphons off funds that would be better spent supporting the humanities.  On page 194 he notes that “it needs to be recognized, and talked about more frankly, that for philosophy the elephant in the kitchen is organized religion.”  -because “the understanding of the human condition often foretold by the blending of science and religion is inhibited by the intervention of supernatural creation stories” of the separate tribes.

Dr. Wilson doesn’t have too many years left to get back to that old-time religion that inspired him as a fourteen-year-old about seventy-five years ago.  Perhaps this time he can apply his appreciation for the humanities to extract the good from the stories and traditions of the monotheistic religions.  It is not too late to develop a warm relationship with Jesus.

Joe Engemann      Kalamazoo, Michigan     January 24, 2018