Morality & Religion

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    Jun 29, 2013 7:37 PM GMT
    According to religion, the fact that we have morals, means that there is a God...I completely disagree. I have watched Richard Dawkins discussing this topic and I feel some things are just not mentioned so I had to let it out.


    MORALITY & RELIGION

    "Where do we get our morals from?". Many have stressed this question along the centuries and it seems to be part of one of the most enigmatic elements of the human psyche. Unlike physical attributes across species which can be explained as an on going and constant process of adaptation to their surroundings, morality falls into a rather more complex set within behavioural biology. Behavioural biology has been quite successful at explaining why animals act and do things a certain way. As a matter of fact most animal behaviour can almost deducvively be attributed to the habitat they live in and the constant struggle to survive through natural adversities present within that habitat. Morality however, seems to be rather hard to deduct even when it comes so naturally to most of us. At a very basic level, our morals follow the rules of : Do not do to others what you do not want others do to you. Would this qualify as a form of survival instinct? I believe it does. It is not that hard to imagine that social creatures like ourselves would almost always try to protect their social group as a way of protecting themselves. If you think of morality at such a basic level it seems somewhat easy to understand:lets protect each other for the sake of survival.

    Most of the cloudy elements around morality and how it actually manifests in humans comes from the fact that we have always defined our colonies as a subset of the entire human race. Those humans that do not belong to a certain group, lets call it group A for instance; are excluded from the moral protections of such group and as a result they can, depending on the circumstances, be treated in a way that group A would not like to be treated themselves. We have defined our social boundries so specifically based on insignificant elements such as race, gender, sexual orientation and geographical location that in the course of history we have caused other groups to be the target of slavery, gender oppression, homophobia and war. The complexity of our morals derives from the natural complexity of our own specie, and how we segregate ourselves into an always evolving number of groups and sub-groups within groups. Due to disagreements generated within this collage of groups it is why in most cases we find it so difficult to define "what is the right thing to do". To solve this problem, in theory, if we could think of each other as the same(get rid of discrimination based on segregation), we would not do to others what we don't want others do to us.

    One of the biggest points that religion always makes is that it has helped along the years to shape the morals that we currently share today. We should be aware, that as the human race evolves, we keep leaning towards generalizing the groups we want to protect regardless our differences. That is why it is plausible to say that religion is no root to our morals, it is, it has been and it will always be just a tool used to define the morals under which a certain group of people want to live by. Just like when you read a story to your kids before bed, a story about being good and protecting others with the hopes that they will get their morals from that particular story; religion is not any different than that. In other words wether the story is true or not is completely irrelevant to the moral message carried across.

    That being said, the fact that we have morals does not make religious stories true, quite the opposite, religion itself is the result and clear projection of our morals towards a place where no one can challenge them because of their "holy" property. The problem with religion perpetuating morals in such a way is that morals came first to protect very limited groups and colonies. Our morals need to evolve not to perpetuate because we haven't gotten rid of our constant need to segregate ourselves and while some of those perpetuated morals do have good intent and value behind them many others are based on pure discrimination and intolerance(precisely as a result of "grouping") while dragging the "holy" label for all to respect and accept. With that perspective in mind: how morals came about, how they are defined and how we constantly expand the groups under which we morally belong to; it is not hard to imagine that if there was less religion protecting the wrong(treating others the way we don't want to be treated) we would potentially treat each other better.
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    Jun 29, 2013 7:39 PM GMT
    Giant Like. icon_wink.gif
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    Jun 29, 2013 7:48 PM GMT
    meninlove said Giant Like. icon_wink.gif



    icon_redface.gif thanks!
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    Jun 29, 2013 7:54 PM GMT
    charlitos said
    meninlove said Giant Like. icon_wink.gif



    icon_redface.gif thanks!


    lol, you're welcome, You write well and made some wonderful points (although you might change that last 'holly' to holy.)


    ...and I'm also feeling guilty for forgetting something...Mr Birthday Boy (yes I'm very late).
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    Jun 29, 2013 7:55 PM GMT
    meninlove said
    charlitos said
    meninlove said Giant Like. icon_wink.gif



    icon_redface.gif thanks!


    lol, you're welcome, You write well and made some wonderful points (although you might change that last 'holly' to holy.)


    ...and I'm also feeling guilty for forgetting something...Mr Birthday Boy (yes I'm very late).



    lol! Ya my English aint the best but I hope it made sense at least. Who's birthday? I stopped having birthdays at 25! icon_lol.gif


    the edit is behaving weird. I corrected the misspelling but it wont update it.
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    Jun 29, 2013 8:19 PM GMT
    Is your assumption that morality arises out of interaction or does morality exist individually, outside of society?
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    Jun 29, 2013 8:35 PM GMT
    theantijock saidIs your assumption that morality arises out of interaction or does morality exist individually, outside of society?

    I would ask something similar. I think morality has to be transcendent at some level - saying "society" defines morality is insufficient, at least to me.
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    Jun 29, 2013 8:43 PM GMT
    juvenescences said
    theantijock saidIs your assumption that morality arises out of interaction or does morality exist individually, outside of society?

    I would ask something similar. I think morality has to be transcendent at some level - saying "society" defines morality is insufficient, at least to me.


    I used the word interaction specifically as it includes both the OP's proposed notions of deriving religiously or evolutionarily, either way as being a function of interaction. Is there morality in solitude? If it is always relational, than don't we each also have a relationship with our own individual selves

    I posted this recently elsewhere but seems to apply here:

    "When goodness is lost, it is replaced by morality." ~~ Laozi
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    Jun 29, 2013 8:46 PM GMT
    You might read concerning the biological nature of morality and religion. Articles on the Theory of the Mind are good starting points. Spinoza's good for a philosophical view.

    The more I research, the more I realize that everything concerning humans and other organisms is biologically (id est, genetically) based.
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    Jun 30, 2013 2:35 AM GMT
    theantijock saidIs your assumption that morality arises out of interaction or does morality exist individually, outside of society?


    Depends on how you want to look at it. We will always have an issue defining morality because the complexity of our brains also transfered to the basis of our morals. For instance a hen is extremely over protective of its chicks. We could say that the hen has a pseudo-moral ability to understand that it is ok to protect the offsprings even when its own life is in danger. Similar behaviour occurs across the entire animal kingdom, which can be translated into some sort of basic morals developed into certain species. To them the sacrifice just feels right. I know you may be going hold on that is not necessarily a "morality". I think it totally is a primitive form of it. The issue is that our powerful brains have surrounded these basic instincts with logical analysis hence making it more confusing than it actually is. Morality cannot exist outside of society, morality needs to exist within each one of us for it to develop. The reason why it used to be morally ok to enslave the black, for instance, was due to pure ignorance. Basically whites faced the unknown, and classified it as a sub-class of the human race and totally deserving of inferior treatment. As whites understood that black were just as human as any of them, their morals evolved to include blacks into their own moral protection. Currently we humans do not offer the same protections to many other living creatures . We still think it is morally ok, to kill, torture, and inflict suffering to them as long as they are not human. What am I saying, some people still think it is ok to kill gays. Hope you see where im coming from. The unknown, ignorance, that is the problem with morality and religion.
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    Jun 30, 2013 2:46 AM GMT
    tailgater_3 saidYou might read concerning the biological nature of morality and religion. Articles on the Theory of the Mind are good starting points. Spinoza's good for a philosophical view.

    The more I research, the more I realize that everything concerning humans and other organisms is biologically (id est, genetically) based.



    Ive read a bit about theory of the mind. I just find it a bit too pretentious so I preffer to analyze things from a basic point of view that can apply to anything and not just humans and their enigmatic minds.
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    Jun 30, 2013 5:54 AM GMT
    charlitos said
    tailgater_3 saidYou might read concerning the biological nature of morality and religion. Articles on the Theory of the Mind are good starting points. Spinoza's good for a philosophical view.

    The more I research, the more I realize that everything concerning humans and other organisms is biologically (id est, genetically) based.



    Ive read a bit about theory of the mind. I just find it a bit too pretentious so I preffer to analyze things from a basic point of view that can apply to anything and not just humans and their enigmatic minds.


    Pretentiousness may describe all of the human sciences whether biology, psychology, sociology, or anthropology.

    It is unclear what you mean by "apply to anything." Is morality found in all organisms? Is it moral that birds dip and weave in waves while being pursued by predators in order that most of the flock survives? Or is this a genetic survival technique? Conversely, is morality in higher primates a genetic survival technique, or...something else?

    Is the latter not at the crux of your argument? That morality is inherent regardless of the presence of god or gods? That morality, and by extension religiosity, is genetically fixed in humans b/c it helped us survive as a species?

    addendum est: How does your slavery argument hold in view of Romans owning Greek slaves? Many patrician Romans preferred Greeks slaves, and many Greek slaves tutored Roman children.
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    Jun 30, 2013 6:00 AM GMT
    charlitos said
    theantijock saidIs your assumption that morality arises out of interaction or does morality exist individually, outside of society?


    Depends on how you want to look at it. We will always have an issue defining morality because the complexity of our brains also transfered to the basis of our morals. For instance a hen is extremely over protective of its chicks. We could say that the hen has a pseudo-moral ability to understand that it is ok to protect the offsprings even when its own life its in danger. Similar behaviour occurs across the entire animal kingdom, which can be translated into some sort of basic morals developed into certain species. To them the sacrifice just feels right. I know you may be going hold on that is not necessarily a "morality". I think it totally is a primitive form of it. The issue is that our powerful brains have surrounded these basic instincts with logical analysis hence making it more confusing than it actually is. Morality cannot exist outside of society, morality needs to exist within each one of us for it to develop. The reason why it used to be morally ok to enslave the black, for instance, was due to pure ignorance. Basically whites faced the unknown, and classified it as a sub-class of the human race and totally deserving of inferior treatment. As whites understood that black were just as human as any of them, their morals evolved to include blacks into their own moral protection. Currently we humans do not offer the same protections to many other living creatures . We still think it is morally ok, to kill, torture, and inflict suffering to them as long as they are not human. What am I saying, some people still think it is ok to kill gays. Hope you see where im coming from. The unknown, ignorance, that is the problem with morality and religion.


    In practice, I've maintained for a long time personally and I have expressed here many times that this world does not consider us to be 100% human being and that when they finally realize that we are as human as they are, they will no longer be able to deny us our rights. I don't recall a time when I didn't view the world that way. I know when someone's treating me like crap and my life would have gone a lot smoother had only I an ignore click in real time. I tried walking around with the TV remote but it only seems to have its powers in my living room.

    In your theoretical hen house, if a loved one were in danger, I'd jeopardize my life to protect them without thinking about it. If a stranger was in danger, maybe I would consider first what my other responsibilities might be before jeopardizing my life. If someone I don't like was in danger, maybe I would help begrudgingly, not out of any obligation to them but to what I find good in myself, so I can almost understand your moral poultry, if only it wasn't for those damned hamsters eating their young. Is that a moral decision too? But I get your point of an evolutionary basis for morality in the sense of behaviors derived from survival needs which might translate into thoughts and philosophies and bad television.

    Where I might veer from that is in what I view as the determinism of it. Just because science can detect that our brains have an answer before we might be conscious of it doesn't to me deny free will because through my dream work I know damned well that we do not simply function at what most live as their conscious level. For that matter as far as I can tell most people are sleep walking. There's more to us than meets the eye.

    Similarly, just because evolution might have had a hand in producing a faculty of morals, I don't know if that necessitates the requirement for societal interactions for morality to be realized, developed and expressed in an individual. I wasn't born in a vacuum and I don't know anyone who was so I don't really know that. But, I do know that people treat themselves differently. Some abuse themselves. Some are respectful of themselves. And if you look at morals as being controlled by the consequences of interactions, then how is it that in playing a video game, one player might crash a car into a virtual pedestrian while another would not?

    This happens in dreaming in our own heads too, especially among conscious dreamers. Some people treat their dream characters terribly, without regard to morals. Other dreamers are as respectful of their dream characters as they would be in real life. So that leads me to wonder if morality is just a function of interaction or is it something endemic to individuals whether or not it got there by evolution. So did the ability to walk upright, so what. And perhaps it is only called morality at the level of interactions, whether by dreams or by machines.
  • Beeftastic

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    Jun 30, 2013 6:46 AM GMT
    Society exists outside of us because it exists inside of us. It's like a caterpillar spinning it's cocoon, or bees making a hive. It's not some random thing. So the basic rules of society including basic moral codes come from within ourselves, and we are the most successful animals if following the codes make us happy and guide our decisions.
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    Jun 30, 2013 7:11 AM GMT
    I'm not sure if I understand tailgater_3 correctly but the way I see it is that our brains have a lot of pre-wired stuff in them. My favorite example of pre-wired knowledge is with farm animals; cows, sheep, and horses (and the non-farm animals, antelopes, giraffes, etc.). With the farm animals, the farmer expects it to do something within a very short time (minutes) after it's born. This same thing takes dogs and cats about 4 weeks to "learn" and I think humans about a year. Haven't figured out what it is? Walking. I had an acquaintance who was an infant development researcher, researching walking in babies. She was studying the differences in when North American babies started walking versus Chinese babies, in China. In the Chinese rural areas they don't let them crawl and they're either holding them in that cloth wrapped around them, or they're in a crib. Here, the babies are crawling, and later, in those walker things with 4 wheels and their feet pushing them around. Their research showed that babies from both groups started walking at around the same age. I asked her how it was that horses are born knowing how to walk and she said it's pre-wired. If it's pre-wired then clearly it's there because of their genes.

    I believe that xenophobia, a fear of "others," is pre-wired into our brains. It was a useful thing to have when we were cave men (and well before we were homo sapiens); if other tribes encroached on our hunting and gathering areas it was to our advantage to chase them away. Our tribe was good, "others" were bad. Today xenophobia isn't helpful, but unfortunately, it's pre-wired in our brains.
  • selim

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    Jun 30, 2013 7:37 AM GMT
    i like your essay!!

    the basic principle of morals is, as you mentioned, "do not do to other what we don´t want others to do to us", in brief, that just explains the fundamental essence: "respect"
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    Jun 30, 2013 8:57 AM GMT
    An excellent essay, Charlitos. I have been investigating Humanism lately and your essay seems to merge with that stream of thought, at least to me.

    "It seems to me that the idea of a personal God is an anthropological concept which I cannot take seriously. I also cannot imagine some will or goal outside the human sphere.... Science has been charged with undermining morality, but the charge is unjust. A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death."

    • ALBERT EINSTEIN - scientist, Nobel Prizewinner in physics, originator of the theory of relativity.

    If you haven't read it, here's a link to the Humanist Manifesto III.

    http://www.americanhumanist.org/humanism/humanist_manifesto_iii

    Peace.

    Mike
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    Jun 30, 2013 9:13 AM GMT
    For the record, getting "rid" of segregation is at the heart and essence of Christianity. Jesus came to RECONCILE all things. This truth is often overshadowed by all the misquotes, misunderstandings, misdirections of the faith—people arguing about all the nonessential points, masquerading the essence...

    Galatians 3:28, about "oneness" [race, status, gender]There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.

    Colossians 3:9–11, about the "new ONE humanity in Christ"Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. There is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.
  • amirhassan

    Posts: 16

    Jun 30, 2013 9:18 AM GMT
    morality derives from our humanity... not religion. religions are tools that help us [begin to] understand our morality... but they are not necessary, in my opinion...
  • Joeyphx444

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    Jun 30, 2013 10:43 AM GMT
    Do you have to be high to really get into this discussion?
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    Jun 30, 2013 11:04 AM GMT
    I think it might be helpful also to make distinctions between ethics and morality in this discussion.
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    Jun 30, 2013 12:48 PM GMT
    The answer to this is so simple:

    If you don't know right from wrong, it's not religion you're lacking, but empathy.

    A more expanded analysis:

    Morality is a half genetic, half learned, set of behaviours that allow society and the species to flourish through collaboration and protection from external threats (i.e. rival packs). Of course, each pack will have it own practices, and any that differ from another pack will be treated as a threat by outsiders. If your pack choses to live life by differing standards to your neighouring pack, they might see this as a direct attack on their set of values, and therefore will initiate "war".

    People fear what they don't understand; people fight what they fear.
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    Jun 30, 2013 3:49 PM GMT
    tailgater_3 said
    charlitos said
    tailgater_3 saidYou might read concerning the biological nature of morality and religion. Articles on the Theory of the Mind are good starting points. Spinoza's good for a philosophical view.

    The more I research, the more I realize that everything concerning humans and other organisms is biologically (id est, genetically) based.



    Ive read a bit about theory of the mind. I just find it a bit too pretentious so I preffer to analyze things from a basic point of view that can apply to anything and not just humans and their enigmatic minds.


    Pretentiousness may describe all of the human sciences whether biology, psychology, sociology, or anthropology.

    It is unclear what you mean by "apply to anything." Is morality found in all organisms? Is it moral that birds dip and weave in waves while being pursued by predators in order that most of the flock survives? Or is this a genetic survival technique? Conversely, is morality in higher primates a genetic survival technique, or...something else?

    Is the latter not at the crux of your argument? That morality is inherent regardless of the presence of god or gods? That morality, and by extension religiosity, is genetically fixed in humans b/c it helped us survive as a species?

    addendum est: How does your slavery argument hold in view of Romans owning Greek slaves? Many patrician Romans preferred Greeks slaves, and many Greek slaves tutored Roman children.


    And it is ok to be pretentious, that is how we protect our own race over anything else. I just find it somewhat useless for this particular analysis to put humans on a pedestal. When I said 'apply to anything' I was simply implying that if we get too caught up trying to understand how morality works in humans without actually paying close attention to how certain forms of morality manifest in the animal kingdom, we will probably not get very close to its actual biological root. We will just end up in a mind questioning loop that leads nowhere.

    I do believe that very basis of morality are inherited, they need to be, and I will explain this to "theantijock" so I dont repeat the same analysis twice. More complex forms of morality however are developed by knowledge applied to these basic principles.

    As for the slavery argument: Our level of segregation is extremely complex and when you have factors like unchallenged authority, it is not hard to see how the fucked up morals of a "few" can heavily influence the morals of the majority.
  • Import

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    Jun 30, 2013 3:51 PM GMT
    I didnt read it--- it looked boring and uninteresting.

    However, I just like shopping and doing as little work as possible, but I enjoy being entertained, eating, tanning, and having nice things.

    fuck morality, fuck stupid boring religion-- no one really knows shit about god...or if a god even exists. It's all a crock of shit. Just have sex and be hot,,,and look cute and you'll hve a great life.
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    Jun 30, 2013 4:02 PM GMT
    Import saidI didnt read it--- it looked boring and uninteresting.

    However, I just like shopping and doing as little work as possible, but I enjoy being entertained, eating, tanning, and having nice things.

    fuck morality, fuck stupid boring religion-- no one really knows shit about god...or if a god even exists. It's all a crock of shit. Just have sex and be hot,,,and look cute and you'll hve a great life.


    I hope less and less people should think like you ! the whole question revolves around only simple fact ! To be or not to be !