We have decommissioned natural selection and must now look deep within ourselves and decide what we wish to become.
— E. O. Wilson
All three of the Abrahamic religions were born and nurtured in arid, disturbed environments.
Secular humanists can sit around and talk about their love of humanity, but it doesn't stack up against a two-millennium-old funeral high mass.
Well, let me tell you, ants are the dominant insects. They make up as much as a quarter of the biomass of all insects in the world. They are the principal predators. They're the cemetery workers.
The world depends on fungi, because they are major players in the cycling of materials and energy around the world.
'The Creation' presents an argument for saving biological diversity on Earth. Most of the book is for as broad an audience as possible.
The biological evolutionary perception of life and of human qualities is radically different from that of traditional religion, whether it's Southern Baptist or Islam or any religion that believes in a supernatural supervalance over humanity.
It's always been a great survival value for people to believe they belong to a superior tribe. That's just in human relationships.
We don't need to clear the 4 to 6 percent of the Earth's surface remaining in tropical rain forests, with most of the animal and plant species living there.
People respect nonfiction but they read novels.
Competing is intense among humans, and within a group, selfish individuals always win. But in contests between groups, groups of altruists always beat groups of selfish individuals.
I had reached a point in my career in which I was ready to try something new in my writing, and the idea of a novel has always been in the back of my mind.
I had in mind a message, although I hope it doesn't intrude too badly, persuading Americans, and especially Southerners, of the critical importance of land and our vanishing natural environment and wildlife.
The ant world is a tumult, a noisy world of pheromones being passed back and forth.
Religious belief itself is an adaptation that has evolved because we're hard-wired to form tribalistic religions.
What we need is an electronic encyclopedia of life, with one page for each species. On each page is given everything known about that species.
I was a senior in high school when I decided I wanted to work on ants as a career. I just fell in love with them, and have never regretted it.
I'm very much a Christian in ideals and ethics, especially in terms of belief in fairness, a deep set obligation to others, and the virtues of charity, tolerance and generosity that we associate with traditional Christian teaching.
In some ways, I had a traditional 'old South' upbringing, meaning that I spent some time in a military school, and acquired an inoculum of the military ethic that is still with me today: honor, duty, loyalty.
But I feel music has a very important role in ritual activity, and that being able to join in musical activity, along with dancing, could have been necessary at a very early stage of human culture.
In many environments, take away the ants and there would be partial collapses in many of the land ecosystems.
When you get into the whole field of exploring, probably 90 percent of the kinds of organisms, plants, animals and especially microorganisms and tiny invertebrate animals are unknown. Then you realize that we live on a relatively unexplored plan.
I thought perhaps it should be recognized that religious people, including fundamentalists, are quite intelligent, many of them are highly educated, and they should be treated with complete respect.
Ants are the dominant insects of the world, and they've had a great impact on habitats almost all over the land surface of the world for more than 50-million years.
Because the living environment is what really sustains us.
Ants have the most complicated social organization on earth next to humans.
In my heart, I'm an Alabaman who went up north to work.
Religious beliefs evolved by group-selection, tribe competing against tribe, and the illogic of religions is not a weakness but their essential strength.
I've found that good dialogue tells you not only what people are saying or how they're communicating but it tells you a great deal - by dialect and tone, content and circumstance - about the quality of the character.
It's the technique, I think, of writing a novel that is difficult for a nonfiction writer.
One thing I did was grow up as an ardent naturalist. I never grew out of my bug period.
Of course, there is no reconciliation between the theory of evolution by natural selection and the traditional religious view of the origin of the human mind.
What's been gratifying is to live long enough to see molecular biology and evolutionary biology growing toward each other and uniting in research efforts.
For me, the peculiar qualities of faith are a logical outcome of this level of biological organization.
Jehovah had nothing to say to Moses and the others about the care of the planet. He had plenty to say about tribal loyalty and conquest.
Our brain is mapping the world. Often that map is distorted, but it's a map with constant immediate sensory input.
Real biologists who actually do the research will tell you that they almost never find a phenomenon, no matter how odd or irrelevant it looks when they first see it, that doesn't prove to serve a function. The outcome itself may be due to small accidents of evolution.
Ants are the leading removers of dead creatures on the land. And the rest of life is substantially dependent upon them.
So in my freshman year at the University of Alabama, learning the literature on evolution, what was known about it biologically, just gradually transformed me by taking me out of literalism and increasingly into a more secular, scientific view of the world.
I tend to believe that religious dogma is a consequence of evolution.
The work on ants has profoundly affected the way I think about humans.
I doubt that most people with short-term thinking love the natural world enough to save it.
Ants make up two-thirds of the biomass of all the insects. There are millions of species of organisms and we know almost nothing about them.
Companies that are willing to share, to withhold in order to further the growth of the company, willing to try to get a better atmosphere through a demonstration of democratic principles, fairness and cooperation, a better product, those will win in the end.
In 2010, my two Harvard mathematician colleagues and I dismantled kin-selection theory, which was the reigning theory of the origin of altruism at the time.
In addition I wanted to write a Southern novel, because I'm a Southerner.
An individual ant, even though it has a brain about a millionth of a size of a human being's, can learn a maze; the kind we use is a simple rat maze in a laboratory. They can learn it about one-half as fast as a rat.
I grew up as a Southern Baptist with strict adherence to the Bible, which I read as a youngster.
But once the ants and termites jumped the high barrier that prevents the vast variety of evolving animal groups from becoming fully social, they dominated the world.
Once I feel I'm right, I have enjoyed provoking.