The toxic mix of religion and tribalism has become so dangerous as to justify taking seriously the alternative view, that humanism based on science is the effective antidote, the light and the way at last placed before us."
- E. O. Wilson in "Can biology do better than faith?" (in New Scientist 2005)
Some of my own thoughts on the issue:
Human mind seems to be built in a way where "us" are quite automatically seen as the good guys. You must just get people to believe that they belong to same "us" and they will believe "Them" are the bad guys. However, humans have reigned in many other features that are products of evolution.
Even the disease of tribalism can be cured to a point. People just need to understand how in a modern extremely interconnected world all humans need to protect the interests of whole human species to be able to be happy in the long run.
Humans have successfully made children sit in schools for years, even if we prefer to run free on fields and roam the forests. It is simply silly to claim that we cannot get rid of tribalism if we just want to do it. A sad fact is that so many people benefit from fostering these dangerous ideas that people who speak against tribalism are seen as dangerous. They are commonly frowned upon and even silenced in many cultures.
I admit that it is a extremely common fallacy to see in-group-thinking as a feature of humans that cannot ever be overcome. The very same people often also claim the same thing about war and all forms of inequality too. These ideas are just often extremely forcefully marketed to people. They do often not even realize that these things are just human ideas that can be changed when there just is the will.
It does not matter how strongly we followed some ideas in the forgotten past of the human species. We have made people forget many of their sexual desires. They are one of the strongest desires that a human can have. We have successfully made people sit in offices for eight hours a day for decades in the end, which is as unnatural, and against "human nature" as anything can be.
Tribalism was beneficial in the early days of human history to small groups and beneficial even in the process of state-formation. However, in the extremely interconnected modern world it has become a direct liability. Tribalism has always been a major source of unnecessary human suffering. However, its role is becoming even greater when other sources of human suffering like diseases and hunger have been eradicated from whole continents.
However, tribalism kills countless people every year. Every single day your newspaper is filled with the ugly results of tribalism. A person who is embedded in the ideology of tribalism will think that the critique of an ideology is a critique of the people, which is of course a completely false assumption.
A person can change his ideology at will and his or her basic personality will not change at this process. However, the way he or she treats other people can change even considerably, when he stops treating people who think differently as a threat.
Religions are just now a major source of tribal way of thinking. I well know that many religious people think that religion is like blue eyes, and it is an inherited and inseparable part of a person. However, this is only because their religious leaders make them think so. It is part of the mechanism that makes people continue believing in these bronze-age things, that have very little to give in a modern world.
However, saying this is not the same thing at all as dismissing the people who for many kinds of historical and cultural reasons are made to believe these things. They are so often just taught as little children to never, ever doubt these ideas in any way. This does not mean that they could not change, however, if they see the need for it.
"Civilization is the process in which one gradually increases the number of people included in the term 'we' or 'us' and at the same time decreases those labeled 'you' or 'them' until that category has no one left in it."
- Howard Winters
"We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom" or the very best bits from E.O. Wilson in Being Human-blog:
“Edward Osborne Wilson (born June 10, 1929) is an American biologist, researcher (sociobiology, biodiversity), theorist (consilience, biophilia), naturalist (conservationist) and author. His biological specialty is myrmecology, the study of ants, on which he is considered to be the world's leading authority. Wilson is known for his scientific career, his role as "the father of sociobiology", his environmental advocacy, and his secular-humanist and deist ideas pertaining to religious and ethical matters. As of 2007, he is Pellegrino University Research Professor in Entomology for the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University and a Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. He is a Humanist Laureate of the International Academy of Humanism. He is a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction."