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The Great Commandment, Tao, and the Survival of Humanity

Beale, Nicholas

But why should the species be preserved? ... Stepping outside the Tao, they have stepped into the void.

At present humans appear wildly successful in evolutionary terms: with a mass comparable to other primates we have an abundance comparable to insects. But this success is entangled with a paradox: evolutionary success is tradition- ally seen as based on fierce competition, yet our current success is unsustainable without unprecedented levels of cooperation. A partial resolution of this paradox comes from realizing that cooperation is a fundamental principle of biology, and indeed from our earliest primate ancestors, our biological origins lie in the emergence of the most complex and long-lived cooperative behaviors among extended families. Without these levels of cooperation the success of humankind would have been impossible. It is also significant that a number of major world religions attach great importance to widely-directed love, compassion, and respect for Creation, and that religion has historically been a substantial factor in widespread cooperation. So, we must now find out – quickly – whether the biological gift of a habit of cooperativeness, aided and abetted by religious or other underpinnings, will also be sufficient to save us as a species from the future consequences of our current success.


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Union Seminary Quarterly Review
Union Theological Seminary

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Union Theological Seminary
Union Theological Seminary
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September 10, 2015