Morality Comes From Religion? What About…

 
ibanezerscrooge
 
Avatar
 
 
ibanezerscrooge
Total Posts:  83
Joined  23-01-2012
 
 
 
08 September 2012 13:40
 

I woke up this morning with a question in my mind about the origin of morality. Religious folks argue that morality is objective and comes from God and that if you don’t believe in God then you have no morality which implies that everything is relative and we atheists don’t or can’t know right from wrong and and all the other absurd conclusions that come from their assertion.


What about Chimps? Lions? All other social animals?

These animals, who do not “believe” in God and have never been given, nor have the capacity to understand a moral law live in social groups and cooperate and show what could arguably be described as a sense of morality towards each other. They don’t just kill each other and constantly fight and kill each others babies willy nilly. Certainly there is a social order, there are dominate and subordinate individuals and the “punishment”, if you will, for offenses against the group or challenging that social order can be violent and include death, but more often is ostricization. No more violent and arguably more “fair” than the moral law one finds in holy texts, which is more often death for the most minute offenses.

And, if these punishments were considered moral, given by God, and are “objective” then why has the punishment for these moral offenses changed over the centuries? Why is it that slavery was once considered just fine and there were even moral laws given by God to deal with property rights of slave owners and today this is morally reprehensible?

It makes no sense. Unless…

 
Jezuz_Alrighty
 
Avatar
 
 
Jezuz_Alrighty
Total Posts:  322
Joined  30-11-2011
 
 
 
09 September 2012 04:21
 

Most animals exhibit what most people would consider A moral behavior.  Killing the young, rape and murder are all found in nature. Males kill each other to perpetuate their own genes all the time.  No matter what species they belong to.  Gods morality will ebb and flow right next to the human morality, just like it has for the past 5000 years. Nazi morality was to sterilize the feeble minded so they could not cause a greater burden on society by reproducing. A “morality” that was quickly adopted by many States in America. God usually only comes in handy if society needs a bit of help following along a new way of thinking. You can prove “an eye for an eye” with the bible or “turn the other cheek”. It just depends on your needs and what morality you wish to promote at any given time. Its only dependent on how many people think the good book is actually a good book.

 
 
Brick Bungalow
 
Avatar
 
 
Brick Bungalow
Total Posts:  4519
Joined  28-05-2009
 
 
 
09 September 2012 05:15
 

Truthfully, I don’t think animals have morality. They might possess variations of empathy and social obligation but I’m not aware of any evidence for second-order desires or anything resembling moral reason.

This isn’t to give religion any special credit either. Religions interface with morality is tangential. Scriptures have codified and distilled contemporary norms but they also tend to pervert and sabotage moral progress. The best thing I can say for them is that they probably gave certain groups a selective advantage because they unified and directed peoples fears.

 
robbrownsyd
 
Avatar
 
 
robbrownsyd
Total Posts:  6576
Joined  23-05-2008
 
 
 
09 September 2012 06:49
 

Animals have what might be called protomorality. (See Goodall, De Waal et al) It is this protomorality which was the precurser of the sort of morality we developed one we got ourselves big brains. A very full treatment of this is developed by Christopher Boehm in Moral Origins, The Evolution of Virtue, Altruism and Shame, 2012, Basic Books. Originally, morality had nothing to do with religion.  Small late-Pleistocene bands of hunter gathers had no religion. That came later in the Holocene and operated as a tool used for power and control once hierachical societies developed and culture began to influence our development much faster than genes.

 
hannahtoo
 
Avatar
 
 
hannahtoo
Total Posts:  6105
Joined  15-05-2009
 
 
 
09 September 2012 13:59
 

Basically, most of morality comes down to “what rules work to keep the society going.”  Just like in the societies of other animals. 

Because humans are so behaviorally adaptable, there are many variations on morality.  There’s more than one way to make a society work.  There are many ways to balance the benefits of the individual and the group. 

Whereas other animals are motivated solely by their genetic component, humans’ minds have elaborate imaginations, which can conjure up hypotheticals of moral behavior, some adaptive, some not.  We can imagine scenarios in which humans act differently, with different rules, and we can communicate the ideas and try to convince each other that different would be better.

 
robbrownsyd
 
Avatar
 
 
robbrownsyd
Total Posts:  6576
Joined  23-05-2008
 
 
 
09 September 2012 14:11
 

However religion may have increased group fitness in the past it is long past its use by date. As Hitch said, “...it belongs to the infancy of our species” and the goodbyes are taking far too long.

[ Edited: 09 September 2012 14:14 by robbrownsyd]
 
hannahtoo
 
Avatar
 
 
hannahtoo
Total Posts:  6105
Joined  15-05-2009
 
 
 
09 September 2012 16:18
 
Die fröhliche Wissenschaft (Rob) - 09 September 2012 12:11 PM

However religion may have increased group fitness in the past it is long past its use by date. As Hitch said, “...it belongs to the infancy of our species” and the goodbyes are taking far too long.

I’m not sure humans can get away from establishing institutions to represent our morals.  It just keeps happening.  Maybe this is why atheism is so slow to catch on.  I keep hoping that environmentalism (in the sense of living in a sustainable manner) will become a sort of guiding worldview.  It seems to be catching fire.  Yesterday I was at a music festival at an off-the-grid venue, with between-set music delivered by bicycle-powered amps, recycling for our trash, and food available from the local organic farming organization.  Actually, old hippies have some economic clout at the moment.

 
robbrownsyd
 
Avatar
 
 
robbrownsyd
Total Posts:  6576
Joined  23-05-2008
 
 
 
09 September 2012 16:25
 

Hannah, it will happen. It’s inevitable. We cannot keep living as we have. If this generation’s nutters refuse to see it we must be thankful that, on average, new generations come into thinking adulthood every 20 years or so. We’ve made some gains recently thanks to the four horsemen. Over the next couple of generations the evil hold of religion will weaken further. Imagine!

If Bertrand Russel could see us now he’d be cumming in his pants.

[ Edited: 09 September 2012 16:51 by robbrownsyd]
 
hannahtoo
 
Avatar
 
 
hannahtoo
Total Posts:  6105
Joined  15-05-2009
 
 
 
09 September 2012 16:42
 

Ron, didn’t quite get that last allusion…maybe you could explain to this gal who never took a philosophy class that covered B Russell?

Anyway, my point is that perhaps we might need to supplant the Church of Christ with the Earth Stewards or something like that.  It could be lovely if botanic gardens were our new churches, where Sunday songs would be followed by potlucks of home-grown bounty, and tithes were taken for forest restoration. 

However, an interesting, satirical look at the “Nature Church” kind of idea is a main thread in the best-selling book Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood.  It is in the post-apocalyptic sci-fi category.

 
robbrownsyd
 
Avatar
 
 
robbrownsyd
Total Posts:  6576
Joined  23-05-2008
 
 
 
09 September 2012 16:58
 

Yes, I’m with you, Hannah. Up until now, it has been some ‘love mother earth’ thing; a ‘reverence for life’. That’s great. It’s been something that people have been able to plug a deistic thing into if they want to. But that, too, shall pass. All that really matters is that we care for each other. I hear lots of crap about nuministic love on other theads, but when you boil it all down, all that matters is how we treat ourselves and, for the moment,  how we treat the only home we have. All the rest is pie in the sky.

BTW, Bertrand Russel was a great mathematician and philosopher who was also an atheist long before it was fashionable (or safe) to be so.

[ Edited: 09 September 2012 17:03 by robbrownsyd]
 
hannahtoo
 
Avatar
 
 
hannahtoo
Total Posts:  6105
Joined  15-05-2009
 
 
 
09 September 2012 19:29
 

Appropos:

The phrase “pie in the sky” most likely originated with Joe Hill, a songwriter and labor organizer for the Industrial Workers of the World at the beginning of the 20th century, according to several sources.  In his song The Preacher and the Slave, Hill included the line “Work and pray, live on hay, you’ll get pie in the sky when you die.”

 
eudemonia
 
Avatar
 
 
eudemonia
Total Posts:  9031
Joined  05-04-2008
 
 
 
10 September 2012 20:08
 

Other animal species commit altruistic acts and they cooperate but they do not posses ethics or morality as we humans observe it.

They do not have the self-conscious attributes to be able to speculate on what another animal thinks or wants. Abstract thought seems to be a genuine human trait, as far as we can tell at this point, at least at a much higher level.

 
 
Charwiz
 
Avatar
 
 
Charwiz
Total Posts:  142
Joined  11-04-2013
 
 
 
26 May 2013 00:36
 
ibanezerscrooge - 08 September 2012 11:40 AM

I woke up this morning with a question in my mind about the origin of morality. Religious folks argue that morality is objective and comes from God and that if you don’t believe in God then you have no morality which implies that everything is relative and we atheists don’t or can’t know right from wrong and and all the other absurd conclusions that come from their assertion.


What about Chimps? Lions? All other social animals?

These animals, who do not “believe” in God and have never been given, nor have the capacity to understand a moral law live in social groups and cooperate and show what could arguably be described as a sense of morality towards each other. They don’t just kill each other and constantly fight and kill each others babies willy nilly. Certainly there is a social order, there are dominate and subordinate individuals and the “punishment”, if you will, for offenses against the group or challenging that social order can be violent and include death, but more often is ostricization. No more violent and arguably more “fair” than the moral law one finds in holy texts, which is more often death for the most minute offenses.

And, if these punishments were considered moral, given by God, and are “objective” then why has the punishment for these moral offenses changed over the centuries? Why is it that slavery was once considered just fine and there were even moral laws given by God to deal with property rights of slave owners and today this is morally reprehensible?

I agree, morality comes from within and It not only evolved over time, but is still evolving. The evidence is over whelming. Another example is that no matter where you find homo sapiens on earth, they all evolved with the same basic moral principles. I find that odd.  I believe religion, only capitalizes on the moral ideas deep within. Psychologist have done studies of infants that show basic moral traits too young to have been taught by their parents.  Sort of a moral instinct. If you take bird eggs from a bird that lays a long nest away from its environment and hatch them out they still build a long nest- Instinct.  Why would human morality be any different?

 
 
Charwiz
 
Avatar
 
 
Charwiz
Total Posts:  142
Joined  11-04-2013
 
 
 
26 May 2013 01:08
 
Die fröhliche Wissenschaft (Rob) - 09 September 2012 02:25 PM

Hannah, it will happen. It’s inevitable. We cannot keep living as we have. If this generation’s nutters refuse to see it we must be thankful that, on average, new generations come into thinking adulthood every 20 years or so. We’ve made some gains recently thanks to the four horsemen. Over the next couple of generations the evil hold of religion will weaken further. Imagine!

If Bertrand Russel could see us now he’d be cumming in his pants.

    I knew I saw that photo before, its Alan Turing, he came up with the Turing Test for computers and he was responsible for helping the British in cracking the Nazi war codes, and helped in my opinion shorten the war.  And instead of giving him an award we arrested him for being gay, he ended up committing suicide by taking a bite out of a poison laced apple.  The symbol of an apple with a bite out of it, on an apple computer. I don’t care what they say, I want that urban legend to continue.  IT’s the ghost of Turing.

[ Edited: 26 May 2013 02:06 by Charwiz]
 
 
naturalist.atheist
 
Avatar
 
 
naturalist.atheist
Total Posts:  87
Joined  14-03-2013
 
 
 
23 June 2013 23:50
 
ibanezerscrooge - 08 September 2012 11:40 AM

I woke up this morning with a question in my mind about the origin of morality. Religious folks argue that morality is objective and comes from God and that if you don’t believe in God then you have no morality which implies that everything is relative and we atheists don’t or can’t know right from wrong and and all the other absurd conclusions that come from their assertion.

I don’t understand that argument. Are you sure you haven’t paraphrased it incorrectly? What could be more subjective than a belief?