A Discussion of “The Bonobo and the Atheist”

Werner Haag, Ph.D.

11 a.m., May 24, 2020

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This online Forum will a discussion of the book “The Bonobo and the Atheist”, as described below:

Werner Haag will give a review of Frans De Waal’s book “The Bonobo and the Atheist”, which discusses the biological evolution of morality extending on an evolutionary time scale as opposed to the beginning of the historical record. It gives numerous examples showing that many “lower” mammals have well-developed social codes and exhibit empathy, sympathy and fairness, which are prerequisites for moral behavior and altruism. Apes and other mammals exhibit both pro-social behavior (a proactive desire to help each other and live in harmony) and fear of group punishment for violating behavioral rules, very similar to human methods of maintaining social order. Thus, basic moral behavior predates existing religions probably by millions of years.

Werner Haag has been a member of the Atheist Community of San Jose (ACSJ) since May 2013 and is the current President. He has a Ph.D. in Environmental Chemistry, with 10 years experience in fundamental research, and 30 years in applied chemistry. He now works part time, so he has time for coaching high school wrestling, orienteering, ballroom dancing and reading about the history of science and religion. He is also a Vice President of Humanis Global Charity and visited Ugandan projects with Hank Pellisier a few years ago. He was previously on the board of directors of Science is Elementary, a volunteer organization that teaches critical thinking skills to elementary school kids using simple science experiments.

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