Steven Pinker has a new book out called The Better Angels of our Nature. He says human nature is a constant pull of good and evil. He identifies 5 inner demons: sadism, revenge, dominance, violence in pursuit of ideology and violence in pursuit of practical benefit. The 4 "better angels" are self-control, empathy, morality and reason. He says civilization has given good the upper hand and we are kinder and gentler beings. He says we reframe conflict as a problem to be solved with brains and not brawn and that is a good thing. He says our world looks bad because of the news and such but when compared to the past we are much more moral and kind to others.
The following link will bring you to a video where Pinker gives a lecture at TED (about 20 minutes) where he gives evidence that as we advance in our societies, we are actually becoming more peaceful people. The violence and 'evil' of human beings are actually an illusory result of better reporting and more media exposure.
So, what do you think? Are our better angels winning? Are we actually getting better? Is there a connection between the decline of religion and the advancement of peaceful societies?
Join us this Wednesday for a conversation about our inner demons and our better angels. We'll meet at Short's, 7pm!