Jose Carillo's Forum


This section features discussions on education, learning and teaching, and language with particular focus on English. The primary subjects to be taken up here are notable advocacies and contrary viewpoints in these disciplines and their allied fields. Our primary aim is to clarify matters and issues of importance to language and learning, provide intelligent and useful instruction, promote rational and critical thinking, and enhance the individual’s overall capacity for discernment.

Does religion confer a distinct survival advantage to humankind?

Critics of religion, particularly evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins and experimental psychologist and cognitive scientist Steven Pinker, contend in their best-selling books that religion is a useless human enterprise that’s simply a by-product of other human attributes, but there are those who think that humankind’s propensity for religion has some adaptive function. Among those who have strongly taken up this contrarian view is Nicolas Wade, a former science reporter and editor for The New York Times, Nature magazine, and the journal Science

The Faith Instinct

In a new book, The Faith Instinct: How Religion Evolved and Why it Endures, Wade vigorously draws on the findings of archeology, social science, and natural science to show that the religious instinct is an evolved part of human nature. He argues that like other human social traits that have evolved over many thousands of years, the practice of religion conferred a decided survival advantage to those who practiced it. Indeed, he points out, groups that practiced religion effectively and enjoyed its benefits were likely to prevail over those that lacked these advantages.

According to Wade, many of the social aspects of religious behavior offer advantages that lead to a society’s members having more surviving children. He then asks this provocative question: Would it be possible for religions to be reworked so that as many people as possible can exercise their innate religious instincts to their own and society’s benefits?

Read a review of Nicolas Wade’s The Faith Instinct in The Economist now! 


Nicholas Wade is a British-born scientific reporter, editor, and author who currently writes for the Science Times section of The New York Times. His book Before the Dawn received a 2007 Science-in-Society Journalism Award.

Wade worked for Nature, a weekly scientific magazine based in London, from 1967 to 1971, becoming deputy editor and Washington correspondent. In 1971 he joined the news staff of Science, a weekly scientific journal published in Washington, and in 1982 became a member of the editorial board of The New York Times, writing editorials on science, health, the environment, and military technology.

He was science editor of The New York Times from 1990 to 1996, and has been a science reporter at the Times since 1997.

Wade is the author of several books, including The Ultimate Experiment, The Nobel Duel, Betrayers of the Truth (written with William J. Broad), A World Beyond Healing, Lifescript, and Before the Dawn.

He was born in 1942 in Aylesbury, England, and educated at Eton and King’s College, Cambridge. Wade received a BA degree in natural sciences in 1964.

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