1. Kensing

    I definitely share your sentiments regarding the tenuous link between morality in bonobos and atheism. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, and all that. Perhaps a better title would have been “The Bonobo and the Agnostic.”

    That said, might de Waals have been advocating not a complete abandonment of religion, but rather a reduced reliance on it by modern society? That might be a more reasonable view, not abandoning faith and its potential to help altogether, but rather combining both faith and secularism in our day to day lives. The old “trust in God but tie your camel” shtick. I dunno, though. I didn’t read the book.

    One final thought. Regarding your statement that de Waals saying that he is knowledgeable about Christianity is like saying that you’re a primate expert because you once saw monkeys in a zoo doesn’t seem to be a fair comparison. To make a similar analogy, saying that de Waals can’t be knowledgeable about Christianity because he’s not a Christian is like saying that he can’t be knowledgeable about bonobos because he’s not a bonobo. The best anthropologists are able to evaluate societies from outside. It may even improve their ability to objectively evaluate the society. This isn’t to say that de Waals really does understand Christianity, but just that he might.

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