Wednesday, August 30, 2023

The Benedict Option

 Link to The Benedict Option, "A strategy for Christians in a post-christian nation".

About 1/3 of the way through the book I realized that I had read another book by Rod Dreher, "How Dante Saved My Life". I enjoyed that book, and my wife actually enjoyed and made it through it as well, which is RARE for "Moose Books". I hope to blog on that book in the future as well, however this one is ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL for anyone who believes that they are a Christian to read.

Rod agrees with me, and I think millions of Christians in the US that we are officially and totally in a post-Christian nation, as well as post Western civilization. This is a new "Dark Age", and as St Benedict, born in 480 decided sometime around 500 as he journeyed to the shadow of once great Rome, now ruled by barbarians, it was time to found a "remnant" to keep the core of the faith, which he did at Norica, and in his "Rule of St Benedict".

As Dreher says; "Professing orthodox biblical Christianity on sexual matters is now thought to be evidence of intolerable bogotry, Conservative Christians have been routed. We are living in a new country" ... one which I label as "BOistan", but the label makes no difference, it is a barbarian nation.

On page 154, Rod quotes from Phillip Reiff: "Barbarians are people without historical memory. Barbarism is the real meaning of contemporaneity. Released from all authoritative pasts, we progress towards barbarism, not away from it.".  I've covered this fact a number of times ... "Closing of the American Mind", "Ideas Have Consequences", and others. Technology is not "advancement", it is just giving monkeys nuclear weapons without theology, philosophy and history. The beginning of wisdom is humility ... and barbarians have none of that!

One of the topics that is explained very well in this book is nominalism, as opposd  to metaphysical realism (see pages 26-29). Metaphysical realism tells us that EVERYTHING that is created has MEANING -- as Charles Taylor would say "It is Enchanted" ... or in philosphical terms "teleological".

This ought not be so hard for us to understand today ... one by one, from phones, to watches, to locks on doors, to thermostats, to labels on products (RFID), more and more of our "objects" have built in "smarts", and are often even "connected". Does it REALLY seem so "magical" that an all powerful God can and does imbdue his creation with sacred meaning ?

Well, everyone thought that was reality up until William of Occam in the 1300s. Strangely, Occam thought he was "letting God off the hook" because being linked with his meaningful universe of laws "limited him" ... so Bill (William) decided that the Christian God was to be like the Muslim "god" ... able to call evil good and good evil at his whim -- an issue covered really well (and a bit ironically) in a great book based on a speech by Pope Benedict, "The Regensburg Lecture".

Occam convinced the west that "matter is just matter" -- it has no meaning except that imposed from outside it, so "parts is parts" ... matter (including life) only means whatever we decide -- and as we became atomized individuals, each supposedly "the measure of all things", we arrived at; "my view is just as good as yours" and of course I think BETTER, so I'll call it whatever I want -- cells, tissue, a baby, etc ... it's ALL UP TO ME!

This book is WAY too rich for me to cover the MANY great points that are well made, so a couple key points ...

  • We are in a post-Christian, post-virtue post-civilization age. A "dark age", likely to be FAR worse than the previous one. The World Wars and the Holocaust are likely just "warm ups" -- the ONLY thing our "culture" worships is gratification of the self!, and that has never ended well.
  • "To live "after virtue", then is to dwell in a society that not only can no longer agree on what constitutes virtuous belief and conduct, but also doubts that virtue exists. In a post-virtue society, individuals hold maximal freedom of thought and action, and society itself becomes a collection of strangers each pursuing his own interests under minimal constraints". (p16)
  • People feel they MUST "do things" ... have an affair, have a same sex relationship, etc because they would not be "true to themselves" if they did not. "It is in carnal desire that the modern individual believes that he affirms his individuality. The body must be the true 'subject' of desire because the individual must be the author of his own desire". (p43) 
In the end, this book also gives us at least the start on a "blueprint" to save Western civilization. We don't need to worry about saving Christianity ... God will do that. It just may well not be in "the west' -- as I increasingly believe from books like "The Divine Conspiracy". 

God REALLY means that we have free will! He is NOT going to be giving this or any other generation any huge "signs" to save us -- he gave us Christ and the Bible, as well as his divine and teleological creation pregnant with meaning. If we seek him, we WILL find him -- because as long as we are not actively turning our back on him as our current civilization is, it is absolutely not his will that ANY should perish -- UNLESS THEY ABSOLUTELY WANT TO! ... and it seems abundantly clear that the bulk of the people in the west DEARLY want to perish on their own terms, and in many cases, as rapidly as possible! 

I'll reluctantly close with this from page 234 ... 

"The mind of technological man cannot resist his heart's desires, because he has been trained by his culture not to question them. .... The Christian must rebel against this. The only impregnable fortress is metaphysical, the conviction that meaning transcends ourselves and is grounded in God. There are boundaries beyond which we cannot go if we want to live." 

We Christians need to build a lot of small communities following something like the Rule of St Benedict. Please read this book, contact me, and let's try to be the leaven ... Dreher gives us many ideas on on existing heroes of God already doing this work. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Where Election Integrity Dies

The US Has The Worst Election Integrity Of Long Established Democracies

That was according to the WaPo in 2016.

What do Argentina, Costa Rica and Brazil have in common?

They all outranked the United States in a comparison of election standards and procedures conducted by the Electoral Integrity Project. The United States ranked 47th worldwide, out of 139 countries.

That was an important fact to establish before the 2016 elections, because if a Democrat loses, the narrative will be that there is a high probability that there was "interference" in the election, possibly by a foreign power like Russia. 

During the first two years of Trump's term, the integrity of the 2016 election was constantly impugned. Trump and members of  his administration were investigated and even charged for conspiring with Russians.  There were accusations he was a "Russian Agent".  Members of Congress, the media, Hillary Clinton, and countless Democrats declared Trump "illegitimate" because the 2016 election was "rigged, interfered with, etc". 

Fast forward to 2020 and beyond. Suddenly, even though election integrity measures had been extensively damaged by mail-in ballots, ballot drop boxes, increased lack of voter ID, election observers being removed from ballot counting areas due to "broken water pipes", etc. Anyone questioning the integrity of our elections as the WaPo had in 2016, and Democrats at all levels including Hillary would for the entire Trump term,  is now at least a "conspiracy theorist", if not a downright criminal, as is supposedly the case with Trump. "Justice" depends on politics. 

Multiple indictments of the likely Republican nominee in the runup to 2024 are of course NOT "election interference" in any way. The suppression if the Hunter Biden laptop information immediately prior to the 2020 election was also NOT "election interference". The list of actions taken to interfere with 2020 is long, and the list of interference for 2024 gets longer by the day. 

If someone wanted election integrity, the measures to obtaining it are simple. Mandatory voter ID, no mail in ballots, no drop boxes, same day voting at voting places with bipartisan observers, and strictly limited absentee ballots only filled out onsite at a county / precinct office with video monitoring of ID / registration being verified. We could consult Argentin, Brazil, Costa Rica or even the "top 10" nations with the best election integrity. 

Anyone not wanting to cheat would be in total agreement with these measures. If you are not, you are actually a threat to democracy, since the integrity of your vote is the foundation of democracy. 

If we want to maintain our Democratic Republic, we need a system at least as trustworthy as our banking system, and ideally moreso, as the measures listed above are easier to understand than the measures taken to insure the integrity of our financial systems. 

If you want election integrity, these measures will seems obvious to you. If you have qualms about ensuring the integrity of our elections, please consider your reasons, and what that means relative to your support of democracy. 

We are NOT a "Banana Republic", we are a "Democrat Banana Republic"! 

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Making Martyrs

A "martyr" used to be a person killed for their religious beliefs.

That is still true to a significant degree, it is just that the "religion" is secular. George Floyd, Gabby Giffords (she didn't die, but it still works), JFK, MLK, RFK ... etc. Today's religions are appropriately secular ... progressivism, state prosecution of people deemed dangerous to the Narrative,  Science", Climate Change, etc. 

The linked article exposes the fact that the far-right is nefariously attempting to get decent women into their evil fold so they can be martyrs. We can be gratified that we are assured there isn't such a thing as a "far-left", only people that correctly stay in complete sync with the always correct always malleable narrative of the day (NOD). So what do these poor "softly attracted" women do? 

They often work behind the scenes to advance conspiracy theories through social media and softly attract new women into the fold. But at the same time, in recent years “alt-right” women have also shifted to influential public-facing roles in right wing media production and far-right national politics.

Things that disagree with the Narrative are conspiracy theories, The 2 year headline story that Donald Trump was a Russian agent and the 2016 election was invalid because of that interference was NOT a conspiracy theory, because the FBI, CIA, Justice Department, media, etc all agreed it was gospel. The fact that it turned out to be baseless is thankfully forgotten. If radicals ever bring it up, it was at worst an "honest mistake",  NOT a conspiracy theory. Blessed be the Holy Narrative. 

The fact that 51 former security officials declared the Hunter Biden laptop to be "Russian Disinformation" right before the 2020 election is also NOT a conspiracy theory",  however the people that claimed it was real, and very damaging to Biden, WERE taking part in a far-right conspiracy theory. 

Today, the NY Times notes that the laptop is real, damaging to Biden, and has nothing to do with Russians. Again, at worst, apparently there was just another "honest mistake",  that somehow caused 51 former security officials to swear the whole laptop story was a conspiracy theory, and that 51 of them made the same honest mistake and decided to make a statement in no way had any intent of influencing the election.  That would be "bad", by definition, something only the "far" or "alt" right engage in. Anything that causes you any discomfort with the Holy Narrative is a lie perpetrated by the far-right.

The Narrative Creed needs to be imprinted on your heart!

I believe in the one true and ever changing Holy Narrative, 

Created by the Holy Trinity of the Holy Democratic Party,

The Holy Administrative State, 

and the Holy Media, 

for the eternal benefit of all who adhere to the doctrine of the Holy Narrative 

When Ashli Babbit was killed by Capitol Hill police during the January 6 attack, she was promoted as a martyr, with even the former US president Donald Trump calling her parents. “Women make better martyrs in the ‘alt-right’,” Jeppesen said about Babbit’s lingering effect."

How could anyone believe that Ashli, an unarmed female veteran taking part in a mostly peaceful demonstration, shot at point blank by an officer under no threat of death, great harm, or bodily injury be considered a martyr? It is not like she had a lethal dose of Fentanyl in her body, was passing counterfeit bills, and resisting arrest, whereby she could be a legitimate martyr. 

Anyone thinking such thoughts is obviously a heretic against the teachings of the Holy Deep State Narrative, and should gladly receive re-education. 

Tragically, the peril is even deeper! 

Another growing power on the far right is Moms for Liberty, a group that began as a small parents’ rights group but which has spread across the US and is a leading force in promoting book bans.

Some heretics claim that these books are not actually "banned", but only restricted to children of appropriate age, something like putting ratings on movies. Obviously this is dangerous misinformation, and it is absolutely clear that is this a ban. Even more tragically, there are primary school children being denied access to important education by loving Drag Queens, and important instruction in all aspects of health affirming gay, lesbian, and trans sexual practices! 

I tearfully confess I suffered the abuse of not even having Playboy on the library shelves in High School, and was forced to search for bare breasts in National Geographic, the horror of which is why I am demanding reparations. Hopefully the damage caused can be reduced by medication and counselling, but there is no substitute for reparative cash!

Apparently, our society had not progressed enough to realized that denying my access to Playboy was in fact a ban on Playboy in those ancient times. 

 Far-right mothers start building rapport with other parents, using the vulnerability of their children to open the door to QAnon conspiracy theories and anti-government sentiment.

This far-right conspiracy to interact and possibly influence other parents to become so confused that they become vulnerable to conspiracy theories,  possibly even anti-government sentiment, is so frightening I really suggest you avoid the horror of reading the article! We need to constantly repeat the government prayer ... "The government is great, the government is good, we thank it for our daily bread"! 

One can only applaud the Guardian for their staunch support of the Holy Narrative, and even though painful, having the courage to warn us against the creeping disinformation of the far-right! 

Praise be to Biden! 


Monday, August 21, 2023

Anantomy Of An Explosion (SEMINEX)

 In an attempt to understand more about the split between the ELCA and the LCMS, I was directed to the subject book. To some degree, even though I made it through the book, there was a bit of the "asking the time and being told how to build a watch" effect. I'm not saying I "understood" the book, which would require multiple readings and reading other referenced works. It was an "exercise" which I would not recommend to anyone but a Lutheran theological scholar. 

SEMINEX -- "Concordia Seminary in Exile". It existed from 1974 to 1987 because of issues on inerrancy of scripture, represented by the begun to utilize the Historical Critical method to understand the Bible vs the traditional Historical Grammatical method hat considered scripture to be the "inerrant Word of God". (assuming the translations, attention to what the authors were able to write at the time they wrote it, etc) 

There seems to me to be a bit of correlation between an "originalist" interpretation of the US Constitution, vs a "living" interpretation, however there is difficulty with that analogy. Biblical texts are FAR older, writing in ancient languages, and derived from oral traditions. As a Christian, I believe that the KJV translation is "good", however, "good" is still problematic. An example that I beat to death because I am far from a Biblical scholar is "thou shalt not kill". The following from Google's AI;

The Hebrew phrase for "Thou shalt not kill" is "lo tirṣaḥ" (לֹא תִּרְצָח). The phrase translates to "You shall not murder". In biblical Hebrew, "harag" means "killing" and "ratzah" means "murder". The two words have different moral connotations.
In the US, some religions demand their members be conscientious objectors from military service, or even pacifists because of this apparently "clear" text in the KJV, which is less clear than it seems. 

To quote from Wikipedia on SEMINEX: 

After attempts at compromise failed, the LCMS president, Jacob Preus, moved to suspend the seminary president John Tietjen, leading to a walkout of most faculty and students, and the formation of Seminex. Seminex existed as an institution until its last graduating class of 1983 and was formally dissolved and merged with Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago in 1987. Concordia Seminary quickly rebuilt and by the late 1970s had regained its place as one of the largest Lutheran seminaries in the United States.

 My title for the book would be "Anatomy of a Slippery Slope".  I find humans to be Manichean by nature (black and white). Even though a computer scientist sees the utility of a binary world. (there are 10 types of people in the world, those who understand binary and those who don't), binary like decimal is just a numbering system ... a way to represent numbers. 

The more I read the Bible, the more convinced I am that God is not a Manichean. He converses with Satan and allows him to test one of his favorite servants, Job. Moses talks him out of destroying the Israelites three times. Abraham bargains with him over Sodom ... the list goes on. I like to believe that my prayers, and the prayers of 3 or more gathered together can have an effect on God. Perhaps not the effect we want, but sometimes, maybe even frequently, yes. I can't find historical evidence for this, yet I believe it. 

Witing is a way to represent language, which is a way to communicate. Meaning is another kettle of fish (maybe 153 of them?).  This is ALL a misleading simplification, only partially because there is a whole branch of philosophy, " Epistemology" about what can we know and how can we know it.

Our "reality" is perceived through a brain that we have nearly no understanding of. It may well be more like a TV than a computer

Secularly, Socrates was the wisest man because he knew that he knew nothing. Solomon is declared so in the Bible. "All is vanity, chasing after the wind" seems to give that assertion support. 

Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

The view of "fundamentalists", "pure text" is that once you "question" any verse in the Bible, you are never going to consider it definitive on anything. Once you take a step on a "slippery slope", it's over ... you are going to the bottom. Probably atheism. 

Speech is a tool. Language is a tool. Writing is a tool. Theology, methods of textual analysis, science, etc are all tools. 

Just because you have a gun does not mean you are going to kill someone. Just because you go into a skid on ice doesn't, mean you can't recover. (although watching drivers in Texas, there seem to be cases where that is not true), Respect for "slippery slopes" is warranted, however there is such a thing as an inordinate fear. I like to go out a do a few practice skids in a parking lot when the snow comes. 

The book goes into great detail on historical schisms, power struggles. politics, etc 

Page 51 seemed to approach a little theological humility. Even Luther did not consider all books in the Bible to have the same authority ... specifically Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation. 

I often say "there are always two ditches", with the highway as a metaphor. Because humans tend toward the Manichean, we tend to be ditch drivers. The road analogy fails for a lot of reasons, one of which is because almost always there are MANY ditches. It could be that the ELCA, the LCMS, the Evangelicals, and the Catholics are all either in a ditch, or riding a shoulder. 

The ELCA seems to have gone deep into the way of Nietzsche - "all things are permissible" ditch. We may all be ditch drivers, but that looks like a fatal crash to me. If you lose the divinity of Christ, Virgin Birth, Body and Blood, etc, it seems you are lost. God will be the judge. 

I believe in the Creeds, so I definitely believe God created everything, including man. The Bible says very little about "how" in a scientific sense, it doesn't claim to be a scientific work, nor should it. All humans ever "understand" is a "story", we live by narrative embedded in a worldview. God the Creator, God the Redeemer, God the Paraclete ... all being one. I believe this. How is this possible? I don't know, I only believe. 

We may want to have some sort of 2+2=4 kind of airtight "proof" of all in the Bible, but even Thomas desired and needed to physically put his hand in the wound, after walking around with Jesus for a couple years. JESUS is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Mark 16:16 "All who believe and are baptized will be saved". We often love to be "right" more than we love. Yes, theology is important, faith in Christ is essential. 

The history of big theological controversy, sometimes including a lot of blood like the Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades, the 30 years war, etc are not helpful for leading souls to Christ. Like the Fall, they don't seem like Gods will, OTOH, he did allow them ...  

Our understanding of reality is murky at best. Our understanding of God's ways are only through a really dark lense at great distance. 

Isaiah 55:8-9
8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.

9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
We have much to be humble about! 

Hubble Deep Field. 10,000 galaxies in portion of sky 1/100th of the moon


Tuesday, August 8, 2023

The Toxic War On Masculinity (How Christianity Reconciles The Sexes)

I learned about this book on an Issues Etc podcast. If you are not a reader, that is a good option.

The review leaves out what I consider to be a key insight of the book. Page 15:  "Compared to secular men, devout Christian family men who attend church regularly are more loving husbands and more engaged fathers. They have the lowest rate of domestic violence of any major group in America."

On the same page, "Surprisingly, research has found that nominal Christian men have the highest rates of divorce and domestic violence -- even higher than secular men". 

I don't find this "surprising" and believe that "nominal Christians" who are CINOs (Christians In Name Only) are a greater threat to the church than the secular culture because they their bad behaviour allows the secular culture to (correctly) based on statistics, say that Christian homes are "on average" the same as non-Christian homes.  The CINO men pick and choose what parts of doctrine they like (man as ruler of home and wife, whatever he does wrong ... drinking, womanizing, staying out late, etc is "the wife's fault" because she is not "meeting his needs". He ignores the need to be willing to sacrifice his life for his wife and family if required, and to treat her gently as the "weaker vessel". 

Page 19 gives us the modern world model of a "real man". "To be a real man, means to be tough, strong, never show weakness, win at all costs, suck it up, play through pain, be competitive, get rich, get laid". 

Significant contrast. 

While she does discuss some of the contributing reasons for this ... women's rights, women in the workforce, feminism, the secular message to woman after the pill and abortion that women have a right to all the sexual freedom that men had, etc, she lays most of the responsibility on men. Since God calls men to be leaders, there is certainly truth there. 

She leaves out what I see as another major contributing factor, the many supposedly "Christian" denominations (ELCA) that are CINOs ... even if they are "regular attenders", they likely have the same numbers as secular, since they really are. 

Not emphasized much however, is that when modern "liberated" women set themselves up as the "stronger vessel", and take on traditional male characteristics as not communicating, taking charge of how children are raised, etc, the story is not quite so simple, and may put the "not so real men" -- more sensitive, more emotional, less willing to fight, needy of strong communication, etc in positions similar to the traditional woman dealing with a CINO man. 

On balance, a worthy book.

Friday, August 4, 2023

Illegal Biolabs In US

The power elite used to have the common courtesy to do their dangerous bioengineering offshore -- say Wuhan China or Ukraine. I'm guessing pretty much everyone outside of the Brain/Biden damaged US, has better security than a supposed  "nation" without a southern border, so why not just do it here? 

Surprise! Looks like we have some not so professional biolabs right here in what used to be a country with borders, non-political law enforcement and even local people that kept their eyes open and reported odd things.

An illegal lab in California containing nearly 1,000 bioengineered mice has officials concerned after improperly stored tissue samples were tested and discovered to contain infectious diseases including HIV and Hepatitis.

"This is an unusual situation. I've been in government for 25 years. I've never seen anything like this," Reedley City Manager Nicole Zieba said, per local news outlet KRON4.

The makeshift lab contained roughly 30 refrigerators and freezers — some of which were non-operational — as well as incubators, medical testing supplies, and hundreds of mice. Several disease samples tested from the lab included infectious agents like herpes, coronavirus, E. Coli, and malaria, SFist reported.

What could possibly go wrong?   

The Most Important Decision In Life

The linked commencement address by Robert Baron is fantastic, concise, and deserves being read in its entirety. 

A bit of confession to begin.  Robert Barron is Bishop of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester -- an area that I have some familiarity with, influenced my interest. 

When I was a theology professor, I taught a course on the Reformation for many years, taking seriously the works of Luther and Calvin and other reformers. I believe the questions the reformers raise, questions that still divide the churches, are important. But right now, all of us who believe in God and are disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ have a common enemy in the agnosticism, atheism, and nihilism that are deeply affecting our culture and especially the minds of young people. I believe it is important for us to join together in common cause against this common enemy. And it is in that spirit that I come before you today.

I continue to harp on this unity issue, and since I am a "harpie" of limited ability, and possibly somewhat with the excuse that we are all trapped to varying degrees in the flood of "narrative, selfishness, distraction, tribalism, etc". To paraphrase General Jack Ripper from Dr Strangelove, "Very few in our leadership or population have either the time, the training, or the inclination" to consider eternally important matters.  

What I should like to do briefly in this commencement address is examine just one of these truths, which is articulated over and again in the great Western intellectual tradition. It is typically accessed by means of a question—not the question of what we are to do, as important as that is, but rather what kind of person we ought to be. Do we hunger and thirst for righteousness? Or do we seek our own advantage? In a way, there is no question in the moral and spiritual order more fundamental than that.

Everyone reading this, and of course myself as well, has been thoroughly indoctrinated in the dogma of Progressivism ... man is good by nature, human progress is evident,  "on the right side of history", and anyone questioning this narrative is reationary, lacking in intellect, lacking in education, and most likely racist, homophobic, fascist, or whatever other insult can be thrown at such a person or institution. If we could only finally submit to the approved experts, both our lives and the rest of the world would approach utopia.

So there’s the question, young graduates. What kind of soul will you have? What kind of person will you be? Will you do whatever it takes to get what you want? Or will you accept even great suffering in order to do what is right? Everything else in your life will flow from your answer to that question.

He describes one of my favorite Biblical texts, Elijah "alone"(save for God). facing the 450 prophets of Baal.

He closes with: 

St. John Paul II, in his writings on the moral life, observed that in every particular ethical choice a person makes, he is doing two things simultaneously. He is performing a moral act with definite consequences, and he is making his character—crafting, little by little, the person he is becoming. I have the confident hope that your years at Hillsdale College have prepared you, above all, to shape your characters, to become the kind of men and women who would endure injustice rather than commit injustice, who would never dream of worshiping at the altar of an idol, and who wouldn’t surrender the integrity of your souls for the whole world.

And if you become the persons God intends you to be, you will succeed in lighting a fire upon the earth.

I confess to have failed miserably in crafting and worshiping the idols of pleasure, careerism, money, recognition, and countless others. 

Please take some time to give it a read, and ponder it's application to you and yours. 

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Darwin's Cathedral

After seeing the subject book by David Sloan Wilson referenced in a number of other books I've read, I finally got around to reading it. Certainly not a "page turner" -- lots of evolutionary terminology. "Group Selection" is the biggie -- the idea that when groups have characteristics that are more "adaptive", they will be "selected" -- meaning more babies, more babies that live, conversion of other groups, etc.
"Since Darwin's theory relies entirely on differences in survival and reproduction, it seems unable to explain groups as adaptive units. This can be called the fundamental problem of social life. Groups function best when their members provide benefits for each other, but it is difficult to convert this type of social organization into the currency of biological fitness". 
The author is attempting to resurrect "group selection" by putting it on a continuum called "multi-level selection theory" ... genes, cells, organisms, groups -- selection happens across any and all, but what is most interesting to the author is clearly groups, and how religion is a core mechanism of that selection.
 "Moral communities in larger than a few hundred individuals are "unnatural" as far as genetic evolution is concerned, because to the best of our knowledge they never existed prior to the advent of agriculture. This means that culturally evolved mechanisms are absolutely required for human society to hang together above the level of face to face groups. 
At least if you reject any potential for "divine revelation" -- just where DID Newton or Einstein come up with their initial hypothesis? ... just kidding, mostly. The point is, for a pure atheist scientist, there had BETTER be SOME explanation why "unnatural things" are happening with human groups!

The other big evolutionary discussion is the "argument from design" and "functionalism". Naturally, an atheist scientist assumes that the "design" is "random", relative to some function that is adaptive (as opposed to there being a "designer")  He uses the example of a can opener relative to functional design. "The design features that identify an object as a can opener provide such a strong argument that we don't even call it an argument, we call it self evident".  He then points out that a specific religion "Calvinism" is DESIGNED to provide the function of allowing a group larger than "natural" to function -- interestingly, "designed" by Calvin.

On page 228 he really gets down to brass tacks.
" It is true that many religious beliefs are false as literal descriptions of the real world, but this merely forces us to recognize two forms of realism; a factual realism based on literal correspondence, and a practical realism based on behavioral adaptiveness."  
"Rationality is not the gold standard on which all other forms of thought are to be judged. Adaptation is the gold standard against which rationality must be judged, along with all other forms of thought."  
and then ... "... factual realists detached from practical reality were not among our ancestors. It is the person who elevates factual truth above practical truth who must be accused of mental weakness from an evolutionary perspective". 
I could do a MUCH longer review, but I think this is the core. For those that assume there is no God, the fact that humans are able to function in groups larger than a couple hundred people at most is a HUGE problem. It clearly happened, but HOW did it happen?

The answer is just what I harp on -- religion. In the West, Judaism and Christianity -- which CLEARLY were the  "most adaptive", or "divinely inspired" if you are a believer. If you are an evolutionist, they realize that they had damned well better figure out that "practical realism" is FAR superior to "factual realism" (or at least what the consciousness that we have no clue as to what it is THINKS is "factual") from an ADAPTIVE POV!

 Having the "facts" right, but turning up dead (as in "our culture")  -- meaning that you are NOT "among the ancestors" of the future doesn't fit well with having a "superior" brain -- even if you DO feel really great about gay "marriage"! "Superior" means staying in the gene pool in the evolutionary world!No matter how "good" something may be for your own identarian reasoning, if you drop out of the gene pool, your reasoning fails the test of survival.

Is it even POSSIBLE to have civilization as we know it without a huge majority of the people in that civilization fervently believing that the basis for their civilization is divine and sacred, or at the very least "exceptional"?  From what we have seen to date, not without massive coercive force as in National Socialist Germany, USSR, China, North Korea, etc. It remains to be seen in a couple cases if brutal force can be a substitute for belief. Even if it CAN, is that REALLY what our "factual realist" scientists find to be a "good idea"?

All in all, a good book -- most could read the first 20 pages and the last 20 and get 80% of the value out of it. It is worth at least that effort.