03 March 2004

New Guinea Religion and Morality: John Barker Replies to Jared Diamond

John Barker replies to Jared Diamond in The New York Review of Books: LEARNING FROM NEW GUINEA.
In a lively review of David Sloan Wilson's Darwin's Cathedral [NYR, November 7, 2002], Jared Diamond writes: "It will surprise most Jews, Christians, and Muslims to learn that this link between religion and morality is entirely absent in the New Guinean societies of which I have experience." I don't think they will be nearly as surprised by this assertion as people familiar with New Guinea societies and religions.... Traditional religious beliefs and practices varied immensely throughout New Guinea, but nowhere was morality divorced from religion. Instead, the spiritual and the moral were deeply conjoined--even in the case of warfare, I might add--as has been documented in hundreds of articles and books.

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