Friday, June 14, 2013

Advanced Communal Intelligence: A Look at Jewish Religious Communities

What is intelligence?  At its most basic level, intelligence involves problem-solving (planning, adapting, etc).  And what is the basic problem of existence?  Survival.

Of course there's more to it than that.  But ability to survive is a handy indicator for group intelligence because it is observable.  So conclusions may we make from this observation?

As the oldest surviving (though constantly evolving) traditional community, religious Jewish communities seem to have a profoundly advanced group intelligence.  Dawkins talks about memes as the fundamental units of culture and memeplexes as a meme-collective (e.g. a religious community), a synergy of culture units, a perfect recipe for cultural transmission.  So it's kind of like how the human brain, a conglomeration of functionally-differentiated neural systems, is able to produce the remarkable by-product known as consciousness.  Jewish communities have found a functional grouping uniquely adapted to life on this planet and particularly within human society.

Of course there are other, non-Jewish, religious communities that have demonstrated survivability (though none have had the longevity of the religious Jewish communities) and so communal intelligence doesn't really tell us a whole lot about whether a religion is True.  It's just...interesting.


  1. I like how you took God out of the equation completely...Are you a Reconstructionist?

    Jews survived because of their God. Jews are the proof that our God is the true God. No other society, throughout history could survive even 500 with a land. Jews survived 2000 years WITHOUT a land.

    Do you still think Dawkins is so smart?

    1. Agreed, God will maintain Israel no matter the threats that arise and no matter Israel's failures, God will not allow Israel to parish, it is a promise.

    2. That's a good point Dan!

    3. Dan,

      Why do you think I took G-d out of the equation? I said Jewish communities are intelligent. I never said G-d doesn't preserve His People.

      What am I guilty by association for mentioning Dawkins? Just because I like what Dawkins has to say about memetics doesn't mean I agree with his position on Theology. For the record, I believe in the G-d of Avraham, Yitzhak, and Ya'akov. I believe He preserves His People Israel.

      I also believe that Jewish religious communities are intelligent. So what?

  2. Came a little late, but I will accept it, Peter....