Zoology and Religion: The Work of Alister Hardy

The Human Context Of Alister Hardy’s Thought

Professor Sir Alister Clavering Hardy FRS (1896-1985) was Head of the Zoology Department in Oxford University between 1946 and 1961. He was widely recognised as the outstanding marine biologist of his day, and for reasons that will become clear, he had a great interest in organic evolution. Hardy was one of a group of Oxford educated zoologists who were strongly influenced by Julian Huxley during the period whilst he was writing Evolution: The Modern Synthesis, first published in 1942.2 That book was described in the American Naturalist at the time as "The outstanding evolutionary treatise of the decade, perhaps of the century.” Also, in 1974, when the 3rd edition of Huxley’s book was published, Hardy contributed to the extended introduction. Furthermore, with Huxley and E.B. Ford, he was one of the editors of the influential text Evolution As A Process.In other words Hardy was at the centre of the scientific establishment as regards evolutionary theory. His expertise in this field meant that he himself gave the complete course of fifteen lectures on evolution that were prescribed for his first year Oxford zoology undergraduates. (Incidentally, among those students was the well-known contemporary spokesman for the ‘new atheism’, Richard Dawkins). Unlike his student, Hardy was deeply and positively interested in religion, so much so that towards the end of his life he made the surprising admission that he had always been more fascinated by religion than zoology.

It is important to be informed of the personal context underlying Hardy’s concern. The modern emphasis on the decentring of the subject in social research requires that we are as aware as possible of these factors. The major social and biological sources of Hardy’s concern with religion were:


(1) As a child he was socialised into the mind-set of Anglicanism, having been baptised and confirmed in the Church of England. In addition he completed his secondary education as a boarder at Oundle School in Northamptonshire, which had a strongly Christian ethos.

(2) By the age of fourteen or fifteen Alister had assimilated a relatively sophisticated theological interpretation of his day-to-day experience. Hardy’s theology provided him with a context of meaning for what he believed was the most important dimension of his practical life - the direct, unmediated experience of the numinous, or what he wanted to call the empirical aspect of religion.

Towards the end of his life, Alister wrote a brief series of autobiographical chapters, now held in his archive in the Bodleian Library in Oxford. They include an account of how he first came to a personal consciousness of the numinous when he was in his teens. He happened to be born with a strabismus or squint in one of his eyes, which was never corrected. The consequent loss of stereoscopic vision meant that he did not possess the necessary coordination to take part competently in ball games. Alister’s mother, wishing to shield her son from embarrassment, persuaded her family doctor to write a letter to the headmaster of Oundle, requesting that Alister be excused from games because of his (supposed) physical delicacy. The request was granted. So, while the other boys were engaged in regular strenuous games of rugby or cricket, Alister was sent on solitary walks in the surrounding Northamptonshire countryside.

It was during these walks that he discovered that he was a mystic, somewhat in the mode of the poet, William Wordsworth.4 Alister was always reticent about revealing his personal experience, and it was not until near the end of his life that he wrote the following description:

There was a little lane leading off the Northampton Road to Park Wood, as it was called and it was a haven for different kinds of Brown butterflies. I had never seen so many all together. … … I was attracted by several streams lying in different directions from Oundle. I wandered along all their banks, at times almost with a feeling of ecstasy. There is no doubt that as a boy I was becoming what might be described as a nature mystic. Somehow, I felt the presence of something which was beyond and yet in a way part of all the things that thrilled me - the wildflowers, and indeed the insects too. I will now record something … [that] I have never told anyone before, but now that I am in my 88th year I think I can admit it. Just occasionally when I was sure that no one could see me, I became so overcome with the glory of the natural scene, that for a moment or two I fell on my knees in prayer - not prayer asking for anything, but thanking God, who felt very real to me, for the glories of his Kingdom and for allowing me to feel them. It was always by the running waterside that I did this, perhaps in front of a great foam of meadowsweet or purple loosestrife.5

For Hardy, this was empirical; as empirical as any of the other experiences of life; if anything, more ‘real’. His sense of an abiding presence never left him, but when he went up to Oxford in 1914, initially to study forestry, he found himself almost at once confused and excited by the criticisms religion that he found in profusion around him. In particular he was disturbed by the conflict apparent between religious and scientific ways of thinking. As a result, when he suspended his university course at the end of 1914 to serve in the First World War,

[He] … made a most solemn vow; it wasn’t actually in the form of a prayer, but I vowed to what I called God that if I should survive the war I would devote my life to attempting to bring about such a reconciliation that would satisfy the intellectual world.6

Alister’s strong motivation, derived from his personal experience, meant that he did not forget his vow. On his safe return from military service, he negotiated a change of department from Forestry to Zoology so that he could get the firmest possible grasp of the Darwinian ideas that he found so challenging. He was pleased to discover that the tutor allocated to him was Julian Huxley, grandson of T.H.Huxley, Darwin’s contemporary and his most celebrated supporter. Alister was quickly won over by Julian’s presentation of the elegance and simplicity of the Darwinian hypothesis. At the same time he became increasingly troubled by the atheism that seemed to be implied by the mechanistic account of natural selection. Taking the advice of his tutor, Alister began a sustained course of reading recommended by the Rationalist Press Association,7 and found that although he agreed strongly with many rationalist opinions, his own numinous experience caused him to reject their critique of religion as unconvincing.

On the other hand, he found the popular religious apologetic in his day equally unconvincing. The main defence of religious belief in Hardy’s undergraduate years was the argument from design, as it had been when Darwin was a student at Cambridge.8 That is, the appearance of design in nature implies that there must be a designer. Hardy felt that as proof of the existence of God, the design argument was deeply flawed. It seemed that God had become the abstract conclusion to a line of metaphysical reasoning.9 Someone who accepts this argument may have no personal intuition whatever of transcendence, yet be driven to deduce that the universality of design in nature irrefutably implies that there must be a supernatural designer. And of course once Darwin showed that natural selection could account for the patterns in nature, the designer argument ceased to be coercive.

The Originality of Hardy’s thought

Hardy broke away from this philosophical dead end and turned to the world of direct experience. His archive in the Bodleian Library shows that he maintained a vigorous interest in religion for the whole of his life. This facet of his concerns first came to the notice of some of his academic colleagues when he was appointed to the Regius Chair in Natural History at Aberdeen University in Scotland, the post he held immediately prior to his professorship in Oxford. He found the academic atmosphere in Aberdeen rather more congenial to his ideas on religion than he had experienced as an undergraduate in Oxford. For this reason he was more open than usual about his views.10

It was nevertheless a considerable surprise when Hardy, a marine biologist, was invited to come back to Aberdeen to give the Gifford Lectures11 on Natural Theology during the academic sessions of 1963-64 and 1964-65, shortly after he retired from his Oxford Chair. The request gave Hardy the opportunity to draw together a lifetime’s reflection on the nature of religious experience and create a unique hypothesis about its biological basis. I will concentrate on the first session of lectures, which presents his sociobiological argument and was published in 1965 as the Living Stream.12

Alister made it clear that he had no dispute with the conventional model of natural selection. He emphasized his complete acceptance of the mechanistic aspects of the selective process, and the fundamental importance of the chemical properties of DNA. However, he claimed that impersonal mechanisms by no means tell the whole story of evolution.

Hardy had been trained in camouflage methods during his military service. Thus he began his core argument with a discussion of concealment in animals, giving many remarkable examples that far outstrip human efforts at camouflage. One of the most extraordinary instances he gave concerns the Heliconid species of South American butterflies, studied by the 19th century German naturalist Johann Friedrich “Fritz” Müller. Müller had collected a large number of Heliconius butterflies with identical and very distinctive patterns of veining and orange, yellow and black colours on their wings. When he examined these specimens in detail, to his utter astonishment, whilst their wing patterns were identical, other anatomical structures revealed that they belonged not merely to two different species, but were not even of the same biological family. Hardy continued the story:

The former Heliconidae he now found to be made up of two quite distinct families… the Heliconiinae and the Ithomiinae. He went on to show that in different parts of South America there were members of these two families having almost identical colour patterns and, further, that associated with them were often found many other butterflies and even day-flying moths having the same type of colouration. Now the Heliconiinae and the Ithomiinae are both characterized by noxious qualities and so avoided by vertebrate predators, birds, monkeys and lizards. Muller spoke of what he called a mimicry ring in which a number of species, speaking again in metaphor, clubbed together to adopt the same warning pattern, such a ring made up of noxious kinds, but also a smaller number of harmless ones.

Hardy’s purpose in discussing mimicry in such detail was to point out that the selecting agent, in all cases, was not the impersonal environment, but was a living and aware animal (e.g. a monkey, lizard or bird) hunting for food and therefore making choices. In these cases, natural selection is the result of a conscious act of choice that is extraordinarily refined, with the predator deciding which butterflies to eat and which to avoid, on the basis of minute differences in the wing pattern. Because they look exactly like the nauseous species, harmless ones are left alone and thus survive. With these and numerous other examples, Hardy countered the concentration on the passive environment as the main agent of selection. To do so, he claimed, was to ignore this much more significant, subjective evolutionary dynamic; especially in the higher mammals, including Homo sapiens.

In the cases mentioned, the selecting agent is the predator. But Hardy’s argument goes still further. He proposed that most animals themselves play a major part in their own evolution via their ability to change their habits. Hardy illustrated this idea by giving a practical example of the selective power of choice that happened to be in the news shortly before he gave his Gifford Lectures. During the 1950s a new habit began appearing amongst Blue Tits - the opening of milk bottles, first the cardboard tops, then the metal tops - spreading apparently by copying, right through the tit populations of Europe. Given the permanence of this change of habit, he suggested, in due course any members of the tit population with a gene complex giving a beak slightly better adapted to ‘milk bottle top pecking’ would have a better chance of reproducing than those less well equipped.13 Active choice (and in the case of the human species, conscious choice) is, he claimed, in a majority of cases the directing agent and precursor of natural selection. Here we can see the influence of Julian Huxley who was an early proponent of the importance of social factors in evolution. Since those days, to pick one influential example, William Durham has dramatically developed our understanding of the interaction of behaviour and biological evolution.14

The interaction between (changed) behaviour and natural selection is what Hardy called ‘behavioural selection’. The idea is not original to him; it is a variant of the Baldwin Effect.15 The Princeton psychologist James Baldwin originally invoked this effect to explain rapid evolutionary change. It looks perilously close to Lamarckism, so it is important to be clear about the difference. Take the case of a group of animals that change their behaviour. Any random genetic variations enhancing the survival of animals that have chosen the new behaviour will be selected for in the normal process of evolution. In other words, behavioural change usually precedes genetic change.

Hardy’s belief that conscious choice was the most important factor in the evolution of the higher animals, including Homo sapiens, has consequences for the interpretation of spiritual awareness. Alister was convinced, on the basis of his own experience, and later from the results of large-scale national surveys,16 that all members of the human species have the potential to become aware of the presence of a transcendent reality. Turning towards transcendence is highly rewarding to the group because along with the awareness there is a strengthening of a sense of relationship with the rest of reality. It becomes self-evident that the ‘psychological distance’ between one’s self and other people is much shorter than one hitherto assumed.

This primordial or instinctive awareness expresses itself socially in different ways, determined by the local culture. For example, in atheistic religious belief systems such as the Hinayana in Buddhism, Enlightenment brings with it the realization that separation into this or that, you or me, is an illusion, for all is one. In contrast, for the Monotheist, direct experience of the presence of God, usually but not always as the result of contemplative prayer, brings about a similar realization of unity, i.e. all things are the creation of the one God and therefore demand our equal respect.

Why Hardy’s hypothesis is of current importance

The notion of ‘behavioral selection’ opens up and gives plausibility to the assumption that spiritual awareness is rooted in our biology. It has stimulated further research on the cultural effects of giving serious attention to this dimension of experience. If we temporarily accept for heuristic purposes that Hardy is right, the question of the link between biological and social evolution becomes important. Here, the work of Rebecca Nye has relevance. Drawing upon her training in psychology, she hypothesized that whilst many different kinds of socially constructed descriptions might be applied to this sphere of experience, the biological common ground shared by them all should be detectable. She undertook a computer assisted analysis of the units of meaning in a large number of transcribed conversations she had on spirituality, with six-year-old and ten-year-old children in two inner city schools in the English Midlands. Very few of the children had any connection with the religious institutions. Rebecca wanted to ascertain whether it was possible to detect an overarching meaning shared by all the conversations. Following painstaking analysis of the thousand pages of transcripts, the term she arrived at was ‘relational consciousness.’17

By that she meant that spiritual experience in all cases seems to involve a primordial, biologically based awareness of a relationship with manifold reality: with the self, with other people, with the environment and, for believers, with God. The thesis can be summarized in a diagram;

 

[For source see note 18]

In summary, the diagram highlights what I called the ‘shortening of the psychological distance’ between the self and the rest of reality, which appears to be a major outcome of the unitary experience in deep meditation or prayer. The primordial identification of the self as continuous with manifold reality, or what Nye calls relational consciousness, uncovers the imperatives of ethical responsibility and numinous awe. Hence the community is likely to benefit to the extent that its members stay in touch with that dimension of human experience by persevering with what amounts to contemplative prayer or meditation.

Given this choice on the part of the individual, genetic mutations or reassortments that strengthen this dimension of awareness are selected for. Invoking the Baldwin effect, Hardy suggested that what was originally a socially constructed choice evolves into a biologically determined reality, with the resulting accumulation of what is nowadays often referred to as ‘social capital’ or ‘spiritual capital’.19

The evidence that what is being examined is a real biological process, and not a delusion as asserted by Ludwig Feuerbach20 lies in two types of contemporary research, unavailable in Hardy’s time:

(a) Neurophysiological studies of living brain function using scanning devices, were initiated during the last decade of the 20th century. An early example is the well-known work of Andrew Newberg and his late colleague, Eugene d’Aquili.21 His finding of consistent patterns of change in cerebral blood flow during meditation/prayer appear to apply equally to experienced practitioners of Tibetan Buddhist meditation and Roman Catholic Franciscan nuns practising the prayer of quiet. Newberg made a most interesting observation that in such altered states there is reduced blood flow in the part of the parietal lobes concerned with orientation, combined with increased flow to the parts of the frontal lobes causing raised awareness is interesting. It is compatible with what one might expect to be physiologically associated with the subjective experience of mystics in many religions; namely the disappearance of the distinction between the self and the rest of reality (‘all is One’) and a higher than normal sense of awareness (‘this is more real than everyday reality’).

(b) Twin studies have been used for many years in helping to make a distinction between human characteristics that are mainly inherited from those that are primarily acquired from the environment. The methodology has only in the final years of the Twentieth Century been applied to the study of spirituality. Presumably this was because of the dominance of Feuerbach’s assumption that such experience was a delusion due to stupidity or lack of education. Therefore applying the method in this case made it seem a redundant exercise.

The pioneering work of Lindon Eaves at the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics is a particularly interesting example, especially the report published in 1999 on research done in cooperation with Katherine Kirk and Nicholas Martin at the University of Queensland.22 The team examined more than 2,200 pairs of identical and non-identical twins. In assessing spiritual awareness, they were able to use a measure of self-transcendence devised by Robert Cloninger as one of the temperament dimensions in his Temperament and Character Inventory.23 The twins also answered questions about church attendance and the data showed that whilst churchgoing had much more to do with upbringing than heredity, spiritual awareness was significantly linked to genetic inheritance, thus supporting Alister Hardy’s contention that it is biologically inbuilt. In a subsequent twin study in Japan, Juko Ando and his colleagues24 made a similar finding in relation to spiritual awareness, suggesting that biology transcends East/West cultural differences.

Then Significance Of Hardy’s Hypothesis For Human Wellbeing

William Durham has pointed out that in certain circumstances, co-evolution ceases to be a cooperative interaction, and what was a process leading to survival becomes pathological.27 Durham proposes that conflicts between biological evolution and social evolution can be triggered when some powerful political or economic pressure distorts social evolution from its natural state of complimentarily with biological evolution.

I suggest that the economic and political history of Europe provides a potent example. In Western culture over at least the last four centuries there has been the development of an extreme form of Individualism, driven by the needs of the currently dominant economic system. This requirement was a commonplace amongst 18th century political philosophers and was eventually most fully articulated by the Scottish economist Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations.26 In that book he gives an extended account of ‘self-interest’ as the necessary pivot of a stable market.

Smith’s view continues to be axiomatic amongst the majority of contemporary economists. Since, as Hirschman points out, self-interest is a sanitised version of selfishness or avarice, it is totally at odds with relational consciousness. With this in mind, it becomes easier to understand why religious and spiritual experience is not taken seriously and even repressed in our market dominated and commoditized culture. It also sheds light on modern altruism theory, stuck in the implausible position of explaining unselfishness as a refined form of self-interest.27 If Alister Hardy is right, this is a severe distortion of the evolutionary process, destructive of human wellbeing.

References

Ando, J. et al. (2004) ‘Genetic and Environmental Structure of Cloninger's Temperament and Character Dimensions’, Journal of Personality Disorders, 18 (4), 379-393.

Beauregard, M. & Paquette, V. (2006). ‘Neural correlates of a mystical experience in Carmelite nuns’, Neuroscience Letters, 405 (3): 186-190

Buckley, M. (1987). At the Origins of Modern Atheism, New Haven and London: Yale University Press.

Cloninger, C.R. et al. (1994). The Temperament and Character Inventory: A guide to its development and use. St Louis, Missouri, Washington University Center for Psychology of Personality,

Cloninger, C.R. (2004). Feeling Good: The Science of Wellbeing, Oxford University Press.

Durham, W. (1991). Co-Evolution: Genes, Culture and Human Diversity, Stanford University Press.

Greeley, A. M. (1975). The Sociology of the Paranormal: a reconnaissance, Sage Research Papers in the Social Sciences

Hardy, A. C. (1942). Natural History: Old and New. Inaugural lecture delivered in Marischal College, Aberdeen University on 28 April.

Hardy, A. C. (1965). The Living Stream, London: Collins.

Hardy, A. C. (1966). The Divine Flame, London: Collins

Hardy, A.C. (n.d). Autobiographical Notes, Archives, Modern Manuscripts, Bodleian Library, Oxford.

Hay, D. (1979). ‘Religious experience amongst a group of postgraduate students: a qualitative study’, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 1164-182.

Hay, D. (2006). Something There: The Biology of the Human Spirit, London: Darton, Longman & Todd.

Hay, D. (2011). God’s Biologist: A Life Of Alister Hardy, London: Darton, Longman & Todd.

Hay, D. (2011) ‘Altruism and Spirituality as forms of Relational Consciousness and how culture inhibits them’, in, R. W. Sussman and C.R. Cloninger (eds), The Origins and Nature of Cooperation and Altruism in Non-Human and Human Primates, New York: Springer.

Hay, D. & Hunt, K. (2000). The Spirituality of People who don’t go to Church. Final Report, Adult Spirituality Project: Nottingham University.

Hay, D. & Morisy, A. (1985) ‘Secular society/Religious meanings: a contemporary paradox’, Review of Religious Research, 26, 213-227

Hay, D. with Nye, R. (Rev. Edn.) (2006) The Spirit of the Child, London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Hirschman, A. (1997). The Passions and the Interests: Political Arguments for Capitalism before its Triumph, (foreword by Amartya Sen) Princeton University Press

Huxley, J. (1942) Evolution: The Modern Synthesis, London: George Allen & Unwin

Huxley, J., Hardy A.C. & Ford, E.B. (Eds.) (1954) Evolution As A Process, London: George Allen & Unwin.

Kirk, K., Martin, N. & Eaves, L. (1999) ‘Self-transcendence as a measure of spirituality in a sample of older Australia twins’, Twin Research 2 (2): 81–87.

Macpherson, C.B. (1962). The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism, Oxford University Press

McGilchrist, Iain (2009). The Master and His Emissary: the divided brain and the making of the Western World, New Haven and London: Yale University Press.

Monroe, K.R. (1996). The Heart of Altruism: Perceptions of a Common Humanity Princeton University Press.

Morgan Poll, (1983) “Unpublished poll of reports of religious experience in Australia.”

Newberg, A., d’Aquili, E., & Rause, W. (2001) Why God Won’t Go Away: Brain Science and the Biology of Belief, New York: Ballantine Books.

Paley, W. (2006) Evidence of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity, Collected from the Appearances of Nature, Oxford University Press.

Putnam, R. (2000). Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, New York: Simon & Schuster.

Smith, A. (1999). The Wealth of Nations, (2 vols.) (Intro. By Andrew Skinner), London: Penguin Books.

Bruce H. Weber and David J. Depew (eds.) (2003). Evolution and Learning: the Baldwin Effect Reconsidered, Cambridge: MIT Press.

Zohar, D. and Marshall, I. (2004). Spiritual Capital: Wealth We Can Live By London: Bloomsbury Publishing.


Notes

[1] For a biography of Hardy, see, David Hay (2011) God’s Biologist: A Life Of Alister Hardy, London: Darton, Longman & Todd.

[2] Alister Hardy also gave considerable help in the preparation of the third edition of Huxley’s magnum opus, published in London by Allen & Unwin.

[3] See, Julian Huxley, A.C. Hardy & E. B. Ford (Eds.) Evolution As A Process, London: George Allen & Unwin, 1954.

[4] Most famously exemplified in the lines below, drawn from Wordsworth’s poem Lines composed above Tintern Abbey in 1798:

I have felt

A presence that disturbs me with the joy 


Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime


Of something far more deeply interfused,


Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,


And the round ocean and the living air,
 And the blue sky, and in the mind of man; 


A motion and a spirit, that impels 


All thinking things, all objects of all thought,

And rolls through all things.

[5] Autobiographical notes p 41

[6] Ibid., p. 52

[7] Known since 2002 as the Rationalist Association

[8] When Darwin was a theology student at Christ’s College, Cambridge, William Paley’s book, Natural Theology, (which is an exposition of the Argument from Design), was compulsory reading for all undergraduates. Its reissue by Oxford University Press in 2006 suggests that it still has a following.

[9] The design argument is only impressive to those who for other reasons are aware of God’s existence. For a scholarly investigation of this question from a believer’s point of view, see Michael Buckley SJ, At The Origins Of Modern Atheism, New Haven: Yale, 1990.

[10] Hardy’s Inaugural Lecture in Aberdeen University contained the following passage:

I believe that the only true science of politics is that of human ecology - a quantitative science which will take in not only the economic and nutritional needs of man, but one which will include his emotional side as well, including the recognition of his spiritual as well as his physical behaviour …… that the dogmatic assertions of the mechanistic biologists put forward with such confidence as if they were the voice of true science, where they are in reality the blind acceptance of an unproven hypothesis, are as damaging to the peace of mind of humanity as was the belief in everyday miracles in the middle ages.

[11] The Gifford lectures were initiated in 1885 by the will of Adam, Lord Gifford, a wealthy Edinburgh lawyer. He provided a legacy to each of the ancient Scottish Universities (Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and St. Andrews) to finance a lectureship ‘for promoting, advancing and diffusing the study of Natural Theology’. The Lectures are remarkable because of the extremely liberal terms governing the appointment of the lecturers. Lord Gifford made a number of provisos in his will, the fourth one of which states that,

The lecturers appointed shall be subjected to no test of any kind, and shall not be required to take any oath, or to emit or subscribe any declaration of belief, or to make any promise of any kind; they may be of any denomination whatever, or of no denomination at all (and many earnest and high-minded men prefer to belong to no ecclesiastical denomination); they may be of any religion or way of thinking, or as is sometimes said, they may be of no religion, or they may be so-called sceptics or agnostics or freethinkers, provided only that the ‘patrons’ will use diligence to secure that they be able, reverent men, true thinkers, sincere lovers of and earnest inquirers after truth.

One consequence of this freedom is that from 1888, when the first Gifford lectures were delivered, the list of scholarly presenters has included many of the greatest and most original thinkers on these matters, not merely in Scotland, but in the worldwide academic community. The educator and historian Jacques Barzun accurately described the Gifford Lectures as ‘virtuoso performances and the highest honor in a philosopher's career’.

[12] The Living Stream, op. cit. pp. 144-145. The second series was published by Collins in London in 1966 and had the title The Divine Flame.

[13] When he presented this idea at a meeting of the Linnaean Society in London, some wit reflected on what might happen if the metal tops were made thicker, in order to combat the birds. Would they develop beaks shaped like tin openers? Exactly right, said Hardy.

[14] Published in 1991 by Stanford University Press.

[15] George Gaylord Simpson was the originator of the term ‘Baldwin Effect’. Two other scientists put the same idea forward at approximately the same time: Conwy Lloyd Morgan and H.F. Osborne. Lloyd Morgan was Professor of Geology and Zoology at University College, Bristol (later to become Bristol University). See his book, Habit and Instinct, published by Arnold in 1896. Osborne was an American paleontologist who published a paper on the same issue in 1896, entitled ‘A mode of evolution requiring neither natural selection nor the inheritance of acquired characteristics’, in Transactions of the New York Academy of Science, 15: 1411-148. For a discussion and evaluation of the Baldwin Effect, see, Bruce H. Weber and David J. Depew (eds.) Evolution and Learning: the Baldwin Effect Reconsidered, MIT Press, 2003.

[16] See, for example: Hay, D. (1979). ‘Religious experience amongst a group of postgraduate students: a qualitative study’, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 1164-182; Greeley, A. M. (1975). The Sociology of the Paranormal: a reconnaissance, Sage Research Papers in the Social Sciences; Morgan Poll, (1983) “Unpublished poll of reports of religious experience in Australia.” ; Hay, D. & Morisy, A. (1985) ‘Secular society/Religious meanings: a contemporary paradox’, Review of Religious Research, 26, 213-227. Following Hardy’s death in 1985, Hay & Hunt’s report The Spirituality Of People Who Don’t Go To Church, which was published by Nottingham University in 2000, found that in a national random sample of British adults, rates of report were as high as 76%.

[17] For a detailed discussion of the methodology and findings of this research, see, David Hay with Rebecca Nye The Spirit of the Child, London and Philadelphia: Darton, Longman & Todd, 2005/2006, especially chapters 6 & 7 which were written by Rebecca.

[18] Figure reproduced from, David Hay ‘Altruism and Spirituality as Forms of Relational Consciousness and How Culture inhibits Them’ in, R. W. Sussman and C.R. Cloninger (eds), The Origins and Nature of Cooperation and Altruism in Non-Human and Human Primates, New York: Springer, 2011

[19] See, Robert Putnam Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000; on spiritual capital, see, Danah Zohar and Ian Marshall, Spiritual Capital: Wealth We Can Live By London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2004

[20] For a discussion of the contradictory European phenomena of steeply declining mainstream church attendance alongside rapidly rising figures for report of religious experience, see my book, Something There: The Biology Of The Human Spirit, published in London by Darton, Longman & Todd, 2006

[21] See Andrew Newberg et al. ‘Why God Won't Go Away: Brain Science and the Biology of Belief‘, New York: Ballantine Books, 2001. For an account of parallel research using an MRI scanner, see, Mario Beauregard and Vincent Paquette, ‘Neural correlates of a mystical experience in Carmelite nuns’, Neuroscience Newsletters Volume 405, Issue, 25 September 2006, pp. 186-190. See also Iain McGilchrist’s scholarly book, The Master and His Emissary, published by Yale University Press in 2009. The first half of the book is an extremely thorough account of the neurophysiology of the brain as it relates to transcendence. McGilchrist’s expert knowledge of neurology makes his writing vital and complementary to the work of Hardy’s Unit.

[22] See Katherine Kirk et al. ‘Self-transcendence as a measure of spirituality in a sample of older Australia twins’, Twin Research 2 (2), 1999, 81–87.

[23] For a review of this measure, see C.R. Cloninger et al. The Temperament and Character Inventory: A guide to its development and use. St Louis, Missouri, Washington University Center for Psychology of Personality, 1994. To understand Cloninger’s perspective, I have also consulted his book Feeling Good: The Science of Wellbeing, published by Oxford University Press in 2004.

[24] Consult Juko Ando et al. ‘Genetic and Environmental Structure of Cloninger's Temperament and Character Dimensions’, Journal of Personality Disorders, 18 (4), 2004, 379-393

[25] Durham, op.cit.

[26] See Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, (2 vols.) (Intro. By Andrew Skinner), London: Penguin Books, 1999, originally published in 1776. The argument put here draws heavily from the work of Albert Hirschman and Brough Macpherson on economic history. See in particular, Hirschman’s The Passions And The Interests (20th anniversary edition, with an introduction by Amartya Sen), Princeton University Press, 1997 and Macpherson’s The political Theory Of Possessive Individualism: Hobbes To Locke, Oxford University Press, 1962. 29

[27] For a remarkable experimentally based critique of ‘reciprocal altruism’ and ‘gene pool protection’ arguments, see Kristen Renwick Monroe’s book, The Heart of Altruism: Perceptions of a Common Humanity Princeton University Press, 1996

Join Metanexus Today

Metanexus fosters a growing international network of individuals and groups exploring the dynamic interface between cosmos, nature and culture. Membership is open to all. Join Now!