A new study undertaken at The Center for the Study of Bio-social Perspectives on Judaism of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, Jerusalem proposes that mass shootings, world terror, anti-social psychopathic disorders, and other pathological phenomena are connected to globalization and rapid technological developments.
The study, based upon previous research in this sphere, examined the understanding and knowledge of evolutionary theory among 120 Israeli students studying for degrees at Israeli institutes of higher learning. The results show a connection between an understanding of the evolution of human beings and lethal pathological phenomena leading to, for example, world terror.
The study is being made public on the eve of The Third International Conference on Judaism and Evolution. The conference, which will be held at the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, Jerusalem, starts tomorrow and continues for two days with the participation of leading scholars from universities around the world.
Rabbi Dr. Paul Shrell-Fox, who initiated the study and heads The Center for the Study of Bio-social Perspectives on Judaism, explained the results: “since evolution is not taught in Israel, a significant proportion of the students asked could not make a connection between the evolution of animals and that of people. When asked only about the evolution of animals, without connecting it to people, the respondents were able to better project this theory upon human beings.” (this is based upon the results of a study of the understanding of evolution at Newcastle University, England).
According to Shrell-Fox, there is a slight advantage in the understanding of evolution among those who do not pray on a regular basis as opposed to those who do. In other words, secular people understand evolution slightly better than those who are religious.
The results of the study demonstrate that the study of evolution in high schools and universities can help sharpen the thinking of people about themselves and their environment, enhance the understanding of the interaction between genes and environment, and even foster the performance of good acts and decrease bad acts.
Shrell-Fox explains: “People today experience alienation and loneliness due to rapid technological developments, and do not realize that they are part of nature and the life-cycle. They are therefore likely to experience pathological anti-social behavior, which can explain the numerous acts of world terror such as mass shootings.”
Participants examined in the study were also asked about altruism. The overwhelming majority of respondents identified with altruistic acts such as the donation of a kidney, breaking into a burning house in order to save someone confined inside, or jumping upon a grenade in order to save other soldiers (as did Roi Klein during the Second Lebanese War).On the other hand, they did not identify with acts of extreme altruism such as a person who comes to a hospital and asks to donate all of his organs to save others.
Shrell-Fox observes: “Thinking and moral behavior are shifting from the religious realm to that of science, which can teach us how to create an altruistic society. Our study has already found that altruistic societies which work together are more successful. If we examine the world as a group, we need to find a global altruism in order to solve the world’s problems. Meanwhile, the solution is to create small communities with 180-300 members which will reduce loneliness and anti-social behavior.”
Attached is an invitation to the conference.
For interviews and further details, please contact Shelly Paz, 054-8086.