At the April Manchester meeting (after the AGM) Elio Pennisi delivered an interesting brief on culture and how this interfaces with belief.
Elio touched upon the anthropological concept of culture which argues that simple societies without knowledge and reason had a large proportion of believers. This, Elio argued, explained why religion was so prevalent during the Middle Ages and how the number of religious followers has reduced since the Enlightenment.
Thereafter followed some interesting discussions in smaller groups on elements of culture. The following observations were made; that language serves as a cultural determinant; that we can belong to a number of sub-cultures at the same time (music, work, hobbies); that the term “race” is questionable given the level of interbreeding over millennia; that culture is a phenomenon amongst primates and this develops because primates see themselves as superior, and in order to feel this way need to distinguish themselves from other groups. Elio concluded by asking those present to complete a questionnaire.
Elio has subsequently collated and analysed this data and reports that those partaking in the questionnaire considered the following to be the determinants of culture :
1. Education in Humanities and Social Science,
2. Ethnicity, language and kinship,
3. Education in scientific disciplines,
4. Moral belief systems, and
5. Arts (music, theatre, cinema, painting, sculpture…).