Is Rape Culture Darwin’s Fault?

Via Brooks Hall
on Sep 26, 2011
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Has the remnant that was inspired by Darwin‘s research on natural selection that has been popularized, “survival of the fittest” given us the permission to tear at each other at will? …like whenever the opportunity strikes or the weakness of another is seen?

I’ve found myself questioning the values of the culture I’m living in. It’s a culture that tends to look the other way when many people are raped. Why? Why is it that people out late at night, or intoxicated, in prison, dressed like “sluts”, gay, transsexual, lesbian are blamed for how they express themselves when they are victims of the crime of rape?

It is never the victim’s fault when it comes to a sexual assault. It is never okay to rape another person. This is what I think.

The subject is on my mind right now because I recently taught a yoga class that benefitted Rape Victim Advocates. And I realize that participating in this event has allowed me to use my voice to say what I think about this important issue.

I left the class feeling deeply satisfied. I spoke my truth with words, service, time and money. My small contribution felt so good.

If we misinterpret what Charles Darwin was saying we might think or believe “only the strong survive.” And in this case we might feel like we have to dominate one another as much as possible just to get by.

The “blue balls” idea that there were certain times that men had to have sex is an old myth. Men never need to assault another being for biological reasons.

Nobody is ever dressed so sexy that they are asking for it.

Sexual assault is a crime of domination and violation, not sexual desire that can’t be stopped.

I think that raping someone should be thought of as just as horrible and wrong as slavery or cannibalism. And rape should never be tolerated. It is wrong to rape.

Why does anybody think it’s okay to do that to anyone else under any circumstances?

“Survival of the fittest” when misinterpreted could paint an image of procreation as the only meaningful act in life. Someone blinded in a domination mindset might think that the species survives through the sexual expression of man, so others should step aside or look the other way as a man does what he was put on the planet to do: spread his seed.

It seems nuts to me, but I’m trying to understand why the world is like this. Why is rape basically condoned in many cases? Why do so many men and women in this culture blame the victim in a rape crime?

Sex should always be consensual. Always. And never coerced. The trouble with this is that the forces of coercion are so deeply embedded in the fabric of life that it can be hard for individuals to be clear enough to consent to having sex. There is a lot of pressure to be sexual.

I want this culture to clear its vision to see that that all people are so much more than their bodies. There is someone to honor and appreciate in every body (including your own).

The following is an excerpt from the article ‘Survival of the Interesting’ by David Rothenberg, Parabola, Vol. 35:4. He doesn’t mention the culture’s propensity to rape, but I think it fits with the content.

The idea of survival of the fittest might inspire you to compete ever harder against all your friends and colleagues, or it may instill in you a vision of the world as a rat race from which you wish you could jump off. If this sounds like a picture of all life as some kind of free-market capitalist paradise, at least know that this is not the world as Darwin saw it. He knew that we don’t have a world designed perfectly, as even chance might design it. Instead we have a world of crazy beauty, improbable solutions to life’s greatest problems, a wild and wonderful mess.

Beauty perplexed Darwin his whole life. “The peacock’s tail!” he exclaimed. “There is something that really makes me sick.” How could evolution produce anything as outlandish as that?

Clearly, rape culture is not Darwin’s fault, but our tendency to oversimplify thoughts might be partly to blame for the perpetuation of a crime that has been committed over and over on those considered by rapists to be weaker or somehow deserving of violation and domination.

And someone might wonder if this is too intense of a subject to bring into a yoga class, but it might actually be a great place to do some healing around this issue. A friend pointed it out to me that the victim of a rape crime can experience a profound separation of body, mind and spirit, and yoga along with other help can be a way to invite healing. Also it’s a way to hold an important issue as a caring community, as well as raise awareness and support one another in building a more compassionate and caring culture.

When we come together and see that we agree on something like this it means something and builds strength of conviction.


About Brooks Hall

Brooks Hall is a Yogic Muse from Chicago, Illinois. In this capacity she teaches Yoga, writes about Yoga, and generally enjoys it. You can find her at:


62 Responses to “Is Rape Culture Darwin’s Fault?”

  1. carriw says:

    very powerful strong message well done xo

  2. yogijulian says:

    scientific observations about the underlying principles of evolution merely seek to find the truth at that level of inquiry. so the problem is with a) suggesting that these incredibly powerful and accurate observations shape our values and b) with the implication that we could somehow decide that these observations were not true and that this would make for a better world!

    no darwinian has ever suggested that morality, altruism and kindness are not part and parcel of the evolutionary process – it is a gross misrepresentation of evolutionary theory and completely unfair and incorrect to suggest that it somehow justifies violence of any kind.

    we may have certain biological drives as well as certain pathologies that have their roots in our genetics and evolutionary history =- but asserting this should in no way be confused with a cold hearted unempathetic worldview that sees violent crime, rape etc as ok!

    richard dawkins game changing and often misquoted book by people who haven't read it called "the selfish gene" is all about how in higher apes, and especially humans our evolving genes compel us toward altrustic, self-sacrificing behavior as a way to ensure the survival of our genes…

    the confused idea that any true scientific observation about reality somehow encourages us to be less human, more callus etc is simply ill-considered.

  3. Brooks_Hall says:

    Thanks yogijulian! I find myself thinking about how our evolutionary situation of standing to reveal our hearts offers an imperative… I actually wrote a post about 'Pelvic Evolution' here:

    I just find difficulty in trying to understand the unsaid foundations that perpetuate our violent culture. I think that it needs to be brought out into the light, though, to allow healing. And maybe we can get smoothly on to spiritual connection and a loving culture.

  4. yogijulian says:

    understanding the actual underpinnings of our biology and therefore behavior makes it more likely that we can keep figuring out how to become more loving and less violent.

    believe it or not this is the LEAST violent time in human history! we get less violent all the time – we are evolving, but denying our origins and the part aggression has played in our evolution is not the way forward.

    deny the reality of our instincts at your own peril! we would ironically create a worse situation by denying reality and/or pretending we can just change the data.

  5. Brooks_Hall says:

    Who's denying? …trying to change data? I just want to understand. And I'd like to think that healing leads to LOVE!

  6. Sorry, Brooks, but I'm not with you on this one. Do you really think rape culture worse in our modern culture than in traditional societies? Are attitudes toward rape worse than they were in the past? With the possible exception of some northern European societies, where modern, scientific thought–including Darwin–is far more accepted than here, as well as a handfull of matriarchal societies sprinkled through the history of the world, the answer is most certainly, categorically NO.

  7. yogijulian says:

    very well said!

  8. yogijulian says:

    it seemed like you were trying to create a link between what biological science has revealed: "survival of the fittest" and a tendency to either a) be violent and b) turn a blind eye to violence as if it is inevitable…

    this is a common mistake amongst critics of darwin – AS IF pointing out what the evidence reveals somehow is an endorsement of what is observed. this is kind of like saying that someone who presents the evidence for certain snakes being poisonous is in favor of children dying from snake bites and if we could just have another view of snakes it would save children!

    when i say we can't change the data or deny our instincts that is what i mean – science just observes as objectively as possible what is the case….. if the case is that we are naturally competitive and violent then that is the reality, and acknowledging that gives us then a platform from which to try and change!

    we can't just a) ignore the science and pretend this is not our evolutionary history and still at play in us today or b) just willfully "choose" to believe something different!

    by knowing the facts we can more realistically create change, no?

    and the facts are: a) biological life is competitive but b) mammals, especially apes and humans have evolved empathy, altruism, self-sacrifice and c) therefore the world actually keeps getting less violent as we evolve more of a shared worldview that violence is unacceptable.

    you will not find a SINGLE evolutionary biologist evoking darwin as a reason to justify being amoral, unempathetic and turning a blind eye to evidence – it is an absolutely straw man argument, a gross mischaracterization of darwin, evolution and science in general and confuses ethical philosophical inquiry with scientific observation of biological reality.

  9. Brooks Hall says:

    Hi Jay! Thank you for not agreeing.

    “Do you really think rape culture worse in our modern culture than in traditional societies? Are attitudes toward rape worse than they were in the past?”

    Um. Okay, I guess I’ll just shut up about it… just kidding! It seems irrelevant to my intended point which is: nobody deserves to be raped.

    And rape is a real problem—even in our advanced scientific society… A great link from a friend:

    And thanks for the thoughts. Undoubtedly religious beliefs play a part… but I’m not convinced that the institution of science doesn’t. And I really do appreciate what I’ve learned of Charles Darwin. “survival of the fittest” didn’t come from Darwin himself: it’s an interpretation that became popularized.

  10. yogijulian says:

    all of that said i am 110% with you that rape is unacceptable and the victim should never be blamed.

    i also acknowledge that you said if one misinterpreted survival of the fittest it might lead to such attitudes – but i think you would have a very hard time finding anyone who does this kind of misinterpretation.

    in fact it is our evolution that allows us to come to the place of realizing that rape is unacceptable!

    you might actually take a look at the other side of the aisle for your target – religion is a much bigger player in terms of oppressing women, suppressing sexuality, blaming women for men's sexual misdeeds, creating the madonna/whore complex in which any woman in touch with her sexuality is labelled a slut who gets what she deserves if she is mistreated…

    i also wonder though where these people are who condone rape – i don't know any, who are you talking about?

  11. Brooks Hall says:

    Thank you for offering your thoughts.

    Here is a great article on the misinterpretation of Darwin:

    The title: Evolution Myths: ‘Survival of the Fittest’ justifies ‘Everyone for Themselves’ 
    says a lot. I just wonder how deeply imbedded this misinterpretation is in the cultural psyche. It’s been blamed for free market capitalism that doesn’t take into account the wellness of others in the community and world. And I just found my mind stretching into wondering if this ‘everyone for themselves’ sensibility might also help someone justify inappropriate sexual behavior.

    Thank you.

  12. Suri kate says:

    Sorry still cant see the connection between "the institution of science" and rape.

  13. yogijulian says:

    read the article brooks – thanks.

    still find that it's a flawed premise and plays into the hands of the weird anti-science bias that haunts pop spirituality.

    no offense though – i follow what you were trying to get at. 🙂

    also what is this "culture of rape" and who are the people who condone it? strange assertions…

  14. yogijulian says:

    nobody deserves to be raped. ever. period. the concept is ridiculous and offensive….. no one is arguing otherwise, nor that it is not a real problem.

    oh goodness – REALLY?! what on earth does science has to do with it….. are you suggesting that there was less rape in the world before darwin!?! did the theory of evolution somehow create a moral decline that has resulted in more rape? think this through, because not only is the answer to these questions "no", but you are a hairs breadth away from sounding like a conservative christian!

  15. yogijulian says:

    let's get this clear once and for all: science is merely the attempt to find out as honestly as possible what is demonstrably true with as little bias as possible – and it is the most spectacularly successful project in the history of human consciousness…

  16. Ben_Ralston says:

    Rape is abuse. One form of abuse – admittedly, an extreme form, but nevertheless abuse (violation of boundaries).
    Our society is abusive. Invading other countries, journalists hacking phones, the death sentence, corruption, etc are symptoms of this.
    The real cause of abuse – survival instincts. When a person's consciousness gets blocked and locked into the survival instinct 'Fight' (or variations such as Dominate, Kill, Subdue etc) then that person needs to fight, dominate, etc in order to fees SAFE. They are a victim of their own unconscious association between safety and 'fight'.
    At the same time, almost always, the victim of abuse has poor boundaries. This means, basically, that the victim's consciousness is usually blocked and locked into the survival instincts 'Flight' (variations: hide, run away, disappear, escape) or Freeze (variations: numbness, paralysis, passivity, inaction). So the abuser is attracted to the victim. That is why most victims of abuse have not suffered one isolated incident of abuse, but more likely a lifetime, or pattern, of abuse. Because until the trauma and the poor boundaries are healed, the cycle perpetuates itself.
    Please, please note: I am not saying that the victim is in any way to 'blame'.
    I have come to these conclusions after working with almost 500 clients over the course of two years (almost all of whom have abuse trauma). And based on my own personal experiences of being a victim of abuse, and healing it.
    It sounds complicated – it's not. It's actually really, really simple. And healing it is also simple and easy, and nobody has to 'relive' anything.
    I'm writing articles about abuse at the moment, I hope very much that they'll be widely read, because personally I feel that this is THE biggest issue of our times. If we as a species can deal with this, our society will become more peaceful and responsible.

  17. Brooks Hall says:

    But, my dear Dr. Jay:
    Isn’t science the religion of our modern society? There certainly aren’t any timeless truths here… And if we believe ourselves to be animals, then don’t you think that we might allow ourselves to act how we think ourselves to be?

  18. Brooks_Hall says:

    But, Jay… Science reduces us to our material substance. According to science I am however-much-I-weigh divided up into the chemical components that make me up. It is a brutal place to put a human being into. Yes, science has come a long way towards helping us control nature, but unless we open to a more heartful understanding of ourselves our scientific mastery—such as it is—threatens to gobble up our beautiful planet with human—more like robot—footprints…

    Science has taught us to forcefully inseminate the females of the animals we eat because it’s cheaper than having those male and female beings know each other. It’s this kind of scientific reductionism that I am repelled by.

    And I appreciate science. But science without conscious, compassionate decision-making is not good. So science by itself is not enough of a new religion for me.

  19. yogijulian says:

    absolutely not.

    science is based on evidence and observation and is an open process that revises it's position based on new information. science requires that you believe nothing on faith or on the authority of a book dictated by an invisible supernatural being. scientific ideas are based in evidence that can be reviewed by anyone.

    evolution is not just a belief or perspective alongside creationism – it is a scientific fact, the most well-evidenced theory in all of science, the basis of all biology, and as true a description of reality as anything in cosmology, physics and chemistry.

    whatever we would like to believe – we simply ARE animals, uniquely evolved animals who are capable of kinds of empathy, compassion, selfhood, insight and abstract thought because of our neocortices that allow us to even have this conversation and to live in societies where we do not simply follow our instincts in an unconscious way.

    you are making a creationist christian argument i have heard a hundred times – "we believe that each human being is created by god and did not come from an evolutionary process. those who believe in darwin think we are animals and therefore are amoral and see human beings in an ugly light…"

    no offense but your thinking on this is incredibly simplistic – i highly recommend a) reading up on evolutionary theory and b) reading up on moral philosophy and moral psychology so as to step away from a position that is basically an anti-science christian creationist argument in yoga drag… 🙂

  20. yogijulian says:

    YES! i am always trying to point out how we shoot ourselves in the foot when we don't realize that so many of us liberal spiritual folks unintentionally align with conservative christians in ways that put ourselves on the wrong side of several essential issues in our times.

    global warming, stem cell research, evolution or creationism in schools, gay rights, vaccinations – to name just the top ones: on each of these the science is in – we know what the facts are and failing to respect evidence out of some well-meaning PC fear of acknowledging the difference between true and false beliefs just gives the right wing crap machine more air time.

    they have created this rallying call around "teach the controversy" AS IF there is one – and the postmodern liberal position that all perspectives are equally valid and science is just another belief/perspective gets suckered by this clever republican ruse.

    it is also just a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of science. it is 100% antithetical to scientific method: the process of forming a hypothesis, testing it and then comparing the data with others who have done the same tests – to be anything like religion: the process of believing something on faith regardless of lack of evidence or convincing evidence to the contrary.

  21. Brooks_Hall says:

    You seem to be jumping to conclusions and labeling where you imagine my belief system to be without asking more questions about my viewpoint. I appreciate your presence in the conversation, and I enjoy reading about how you are thinking about the topic, except I think that you are calling me names without finding out my position. You are not sizing me up correctly.

  22. yogijulian says:

    these kinds of horrific rape scenarios in times of unrest and war are not new – and yes in really impoverished and war torn parts of the world societies DO regress and people do behave more primitively.

    our outrage about rape, and our desire to live in a world where no-one is raped are evidence of the progress of societal evolution.

    countries with a predominance of old world religion have more rape, more violence against women and children, more violent crime in general and more war than countries that have evolved beyond the worldview of outdated religious superstition.

    this is in part because old world religion is vengeful, dualistic, anti-sex, anti-feminine, and comes from times of tribal warfare, ethnic identification and strict scriptural ideas of moral taboos etc punishable by violent retribution. for example in some middle eastern countries women are punished for certain crimes by being raped. the amount of rape that goes on and has always gone on during war is something many people do not realize. the amount of rape that takes place between men in the prison system is similarly prevalent and shocking.

    again i want to reiterate that it is by understanding our biological and psychological nature that we can continue to move forward – and in this project great scientific minds like darwin's actually are incredibly valuable – knowing that we have an brutal and aggressive instinctive core in our brains that gets activated under certain conditions and can be tamed via certain education, spiritual practices, psychological healing and awareness etc allows us to move forward….. buying into simplistic notions of just believing we are not animals as a solution, or blaming science for ending some nonexistent golden age in which there was no rape just keeps us confused!

  23. Brooks_Hall says:

    Hi Ben! I appreciate your support of my article. Thank you! And I think you raise some good and interesting points.

    [Note: You have me until you say, “It sounds complicated…”

    I wish that you’d let me decide if I feel something is complicated or not. I don’t need to be told this. I don’t find your ideas complicated. I find them worthwhile to ponder. I just don’t like to be told how to think about something. I (and other readers) can choose that.]

    And I agree that these are important issues: they may have the potential to save us.

    Thanks, again.

  24. Brooks_Hall says:

    Thank you, Sunita. I sense apathy in your comments around the presence of rape in our culture. I think that as long as I'm conscious and able to speak out towards where I think things should go, that I should do so and not give up. And, personally, I've definitely been down the dark hole of "lost hope" before… I hope to never return.

  25. Thaddeus1 says:

    "countries with a predominance of old world religion have more rape, more violence against women and children, more violent crime in general and more war than countries that have evolved beyond the worldview of outdated religious superstition."

    I was wondering if you have any references with which to back this statement up.

    It seems to me, at least regarding the aspect of war you mention, that the vast majority of war, at least within modern history, has been perpetrated by those who are affirmed atheists, or at the very least base their ideology on an interpretation of modern science ushered in by Darwin et al. Here I'm thinking of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot. Now, perhaps you view genocide as different as war, but the amount of destruction and death wrought by the above 4 is hard to beat…and you'll not find an "outdated" religionist amongst them.

  26. yogijulian says:

    oh my goodness – where to start!? 🙂

    "Science has taught us to forcefully inseminate the females of the animals we eat because it’s cheaper than having those male and female beings know each other. It’s this kind of scientific reductionism that I am repelled by. " really?! please show where this mythic "science" "teaches" us to be such mean people…. just because we can figure out how to do something using science (which by the way just means discovering how things work) in no way implies that science is a belief system that says we should do such things – this is the domain of ethical philosophy, and there are many non-religious, science informed ethical philosophers who make excellent evidence based arguments for why such behavior is unethical/immoral.

    you are using the word science incorrectly, this is very common in our zeitgeist – it just happens to be dead wrong. "science" has not taught us to do anything of the sort, we do such things because we are greedy. you have bought into the straw man.

    science in no way reduces human beings to just what they weigh and chemical constituents – this is simply nonsense that any scientist would laugh at, and a demonizing of science in an incredible naive way that romanticizes some other perspective without naming it….. just because we can use science to discover our chemical constituents and measure our physical attributes in no way would imply that ANY scientist would deny the distinction between chemical elements, living organisms, sentient animals and the extraordinary scientifically demonstrable uniqueness of human beings.

    to say that science just wants to turn it's cold and mechanical gaze on us and reduce us to something lacking in feeling, awareness etc is just not true – you have bought into a very weird reactionary attitude toward science and want to blame it for the world's ills.

    let me ask you this – what is the alternative to recognizing that we are animals, biological creatures who have evolved neocortices? are you longing to return to a time when we thought we were placed here by an invisible deity who created our world at the center of the universe for us, put the sun in the sky to go around the earth and gave us immortal souls that will join him in the world to come if we obey all of the commandments in the book he dictated to our prophet?

    the earth goes around the sun, we evolved along with all biological life and our nearest relatives are the great apes, we are at the edge of a minor galaxy called the milky way in an enormous universe and our consciousness and compassion are the product not of an invisible immaterial soul but of complex neurological processes.

    NONE of this makes life any less awe-inspiring, spiritually rich or meaningful – it just makes us more educated as to the nature of reality.

  27. yogijulian says:

    i am not calling you names brooks! i am naming the incredibly simplistic and confused perspective on science you are expressing… though i know you have the best of intentions.

    i am not calling you a creationist – i am saying that are unwittingly falling into the same fallacies that they use. does anyone else see this here?

  28. Brooks_Hall says:

    I am done talking to you for now, yogijulian.

  29. yogijulian says:

    oh dear that old chestnut!

    i am sure you are familiar with the correct response: dictatorial governments with maniacal leaders are a form of religion in that they are irrational and rely on stirring up a frenzy of loyalty, patriotism, quasi-religious deification of the leader etc….

    no culture ever suffered from too much reason and no war has ever been waged in the name of peer-reviewed evidence! graduating to reason and evidence as a way of finding out what is true generally marks the beginning of a move away from chaos and oppression for most countries on the planet.

    the major difference between the western world and everywhere else is that the rational enlightenment gave us an exceptional edge in terms of how we make sense of reality and also ushered in the idea that human beings were deserving of equal rights, democracy an end to monarchy, religious repression etc..

    the vast majority of wars and genocides have been religious in their motivation – hitler's genocide of the jews is unique in some ways but still rests on the ethnic/tribal/religious hatred that has marked much of human conflict from the balkans to the middle east to northern ireland to the crusades and inquisitions, jihads etc…

    i don't have the links at hand – but if you are interested check out the statistics on western european and especially scandanavian countries as compared to the middle east and america and you will see that the less religion dominates in a culture the better it seems to be for it's citizens – less violent crime, less war, more humane social programs etc….. think of the difference between living in afghanistan and in sweden for example, especially for women!

    actually here's a summary of the study that most comes to mind:

    this is the official website:

  30. Sunita Pillay says:

    So, the way I see it, it becomes a matter of creating balance. Someone mentioned Scandinavia. It's not as though there is no rape there and therefore no work to be done; of course there is, but it's not an epidemic of rape. And for the most part, in that culture people are psychologically evolved enough to understand that rape is an unacceptable act. But in the Congo (I know I keep referring to it, but it haunts me), the amount of rape happening there is utterly out of whack, which is why I called it a bleeding ulcer. And it needs to be quashed. But even in the best case scenario it will never be quashed, as such, just hopefully radically reduced using a multi-pronged attack.

    In the end, I believe, we should abandon all hopes of results and simply focus energies on the work that needs to be done, wherever we feel it needs to be done. The world will always be misery-filled, in one way or another, but that’s not to say we shouldn’t strive with all our might to create openings for joy and light.

    Thank you, Brooks, for allowing me to think deeply about this subject.

  31. yogijulian says:

    i wish people in our community would just get some basic distinctions right:

    science proceeds by observation and evidence – it is not an ideology, a religion or even a belief system, it is simply an attempt to honestly find out what is actually true with as little bias as possible.

    is science materialist? well as it turns out in 400 years of inquiry there has been no evidence for anything immaterial – so because reality appears thus far to be material, science therefore has many layers of facts, evidence and theory based on observations of a material world.

    if there was a single instance of evidence for anything immaterial it would be included in science – because science is not an ideology or a religion – it is a way of finding out what exists and how it works.

    the lack of evidence for anything immaterial and the preponderance of evidence for our material universe and explanations that rely on materialism does not indicate a bias – that is like saying i am biased against the possibility of rocks having consciousness because i have never seen one that does and there is no reason given everything we know about rocks and everything we know about consciousness that this could be possible.

    the moment a conscious rock appears, science will have to revise everything it knows – the likelihood of this being the case is so close to zero that reasonable people are comfortable putting the question aside and thinking about more realistic possibilities…

    it is precisely because science is not an ideology that it's discoveries can be used by anyone in any way- in and of itself science is just about discovering actual knowledge. because knowledge is power it can be misused as well as used for good….. the problem of misuse of technology is not to be solved by limiting science – rather by having more respect for ethical philosophy and for hot to use scientific discoveries in ways that help humanity.

    likewise the problems with people distorting science for financial gain is a problem of administration – this is bad science and corrupted science and says absolutely nothing about the scientific method itself. good science can then be done to find out what is actually true and prove the science corrupted by big business wrong.

    the problem of rampant unregulated capitalism in medicine and pharmaceuticals is not a valid critique of science or scientific method but of government and human greed, it is also NOT a critique of darwin or evolution.

    the attitude of skepticism towards bad science is entirely in keeping with science itself.

    skepticism toward the scientific method though is a complete contradiction in terms – because the only way to demonstrate a supposed problem with scientific method is to use scientific method! otherwise you are just expressing opinions/beliefs based on anecdotes etc…

    science is in no way a threat to emotions, love, compassion, creativity, introspection, psychological awareness or spiritual growth/. the moment one moves out of literalist belief in impossible mythic or magical ideas, science and the humanities and contemplative life live happily side by side….. but we cling to magic and myth to our own detriment and make science the bad guy for pointing out that santa is not real.

    science cannot tell us a lot of things about subjective experience – for that we have poetry, mythology, meditation, psychotherapy art, etc…. but when any of these disciplines make claims about objective reality, well then it is wise to subject these claims to scientific method.

  32. dan says:

    ps forgot about this article,… The Myth of the Modern Religious War

  33. Thaddeus1 says:

    Just for your reading pleasure…

  34. Scott_Newsom says:


    Its good to see that you are still around and posting these really thought provoking articles. When I was researching my dissertation many years ago, I ran across some interesting studies in cultural anthropology that looked at a similar issue. There is this idea, not necessarily a Darwinian idea, that aggression/dominance among pack/tribal mammals leads to greater opportunities to pass along one's genes. This was the prevailing wisdom in anthropology until women started doing field research. They started carefully observing the females and less dominant males. What they discovered was the the males who were most cooperative actually got many more chances to copulate than the one male who appeared to be dominant. This was found to be most prevalent in primates who had a habit of procreating while face to face.

  35. Thaddeus1 says:

    By the way…interesting site…I checked it out and as it turns out, it doesn't even use an indicator concerning rape at all in its calculation of its "Global Peace Index"…a lot of stuff about military and weapons and conflict, very little about the status of women, or violence against them…once again, I am quite impressed with the way in which you approach and handle data…and ironically, or perhaps not, some of the countries with the worst ratings are ones in which we are currently conducting wars or have done so in the recent past…

  36. elephantjournal says:

    Amen. "Survival of the Fittest," I understand, is itself a gross simplification of Darwin's findings and conclusions. Rape is as horrible and cruel an act as exists in this crazy, wonderful, sad, sane world—it's okay under no circumstances. That said, staying safe and walking home with a friend and staying out of harm's way…does help reduce one's danger. I live in a college town and am continually nervous for the safety of drunk young women (and men). Advising safety and commonsense in no way "blames the victim"—it's always the aggressor's responsibility and fault alone.

    Thanks for this, Brooks–we can't have enough of such important issues and questions here on #elej.



  37. elephantjournal says:

    Just in case my comment gets buried above…I'm late to this discussion, apologies.

    Amen. I'm glad to see this discussion is for the most part respectful and earnest and kind and to the point. Brooks, thank you as always for raising important questions and connecting them to our path and practice. It's tough sometimes to put yourself out there, and then be the subject of people's projections and all. You however did a great job laying out your thoughts and your comments add a great deal more.

    "Survival of the Fittest," I understand, is itself a gross simplification of Darwin's findings and conclusions. Rape is as horrible and cruel an act as exists in this crazy, wonderful, sad, sane world—it's okay under no circumstances. That said, staying safe and walking home with a friend and staying out of harm's way…does help reduce one's danger. I live in a college town and am continually nervous for the safety of drunk young women (and men). Advising safety and commonsense in no way "blames the victim"—it's always the aggressor's responsibility and fault alone.

    Thanks for this, Brooks–we can't have enough of such important issues and questions here on #elej.



  38. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Just posted to "Popular Lately" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

  39. Brooks_Hall says:

    Thanks, Thaddeus1! I appreciate the link and your overall contribution to the discourse.

  40. Brooks_Hall says:

    Thank you, Dan! I agree that "blame the religion" is not totally correct and it threatens to oversimplify this important issue. And thanks for the link.

  41. Brooks_Hall says:

    Hey! Thanks, Scott! Good to hear from you. Women scientists and nice guys rule! But it's okay with me if you wipe your own bum! 🙂

  42. Brooks_Hall says:

    Hi Carol! And thanks! It's always great to hear from YOU!

    I hear what you are saying about rape culture and in a way I can see that what you are saying is literally true. Some places are safer than others. And at the same time there is a perceived and pervasive threat of sexual violence to women, men and children who are in certain situations, like a woman out alone late at night or wearing "slutty" clothes, or a transgender or man or woman, or someone in prison, or a child with a pedophile… Our world doesn't seem like a safe place to me unless you are a certain kind of person in a certain situation.

    And of course our culture is anything but monolithic, but I see a significant and pervasive problem when it comes to attitudes about rape.

  43. Brooks_Hall says:

    Thanks, Way!

    I think I understand what you are saying about wanting drunk young women (and men) to stay safe. I find myself thinking about that, 'cause, well, practically speaking we do live in a time where we need to take precautions to try to stay out of harm's way. But I can also speak about the fear involved in being in a female body, and when "walking with a friend" becomes a safety measure instead of a joyful activity, or "staying safe" means not expressing ones self with authenticity I see the oppression inherent in the current state of our culture.

  44. Scott_Newsom says:

    Believe me, I'll do just that as long as I can. I think I have my old age nurse wrappd up anyway. Married 21 years this summer.

  45. Brooks_Hall says:

    Seriously. Does she know that you refer to her that way?

  46. Scott_Newsom says:

    HaHa. Yes, she does. She is actually a nurse and we joke about getting old together all the time. I'm gonna have to learn sign lauguage because she is going deaf and since I'm older than she is, she gets to pull my plug when the time is right. 🙂

  47. Suri kate says:

    I totally agree with you….where would we be without science? It is scary how these religious fundamentalists want to push their medieval mentality upon everyone by means of discrediting science and by condemning any person who can think for him or herself and is independent…and this applies specially for women….in terms of religion women are always the big losers…

  48. Brooks Hall says:

    Hi Suri kate. Thank you for visiting and commenting. I honor your independence on the subject, and don’t expect that all readers will process the subject matter as I do. Be well.