6th October 2009

“A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; 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 Einstein1879 – 1955

6 Responses to “6th October 2009”

  1. __HRB__ Says:

    This guy is vastly overrated.

    Anybody who argues that behavior should be based on anything other than reason deserves to live in a society of sympathetic altruistic masochists.

    Reason tells us that there is more to gain in the long term by making friends than by making enemies, and wiping out the individuals/societies who don’t make good friends, or choose friends based on erratic emotions, is part of an ongoing process called ‘evolution’.

  2. Chris Says:

    Einstein seems to be describing social contract. That’s wrong with that? And I agree that if the only thing restaining you is fear of offending the sky-dad then you don’t have much of a moral code. It certainly isn’t a positive motivation. Open self interest is at least honest!

  3. Tony Provenzano Says:

    I agree with Chris.

    Replace sympathy with empathy and I’ll agree with Einstein.

  4. holysmokes Says:

    It seems that part of the question he posits is; Would morality within the human race dramatically decay without the fear of some kind of higher power? It is likely that crime would increase a great deal. Many people would no longer worry about eternal punishment and, with no life after death, what would the incentive be to follow the rules? After-all, humans are animals. We all have the same inherent selfish wants/needs as other animals and plants. Millions of years of evolution have seen to that for all living things. The biomass on this planet feeds on itself. Always has, always will. Even in this day and age, humans need something out there to keep them in line. Perhaps some day we will evolve past that. Is the fear of a higher power illogical? Yes, but it does, (for the most part), help keep us from preying on and killing each other.

  5. Chris Says:

    Holysmokes – maybe your point excludes atheists but it runs counter to the fact that atheists make up .2% of the prison population and as much as 10% of the general. Atheism correlates strongly with education so it seems to me that what we need isn’t god, it’s books and teachers. Yeah, I know that’s naive but only to the same degree that you’re being cynical! 🙂

  6. Chris Says:

    P.S. – fear of incarceration seems like a more immediate threat than a hell you may or may not get sent to. Many christian sects belief that “works” are less important than accepting christ so they get to go to heaven even if they are horrible people – they just have to be born again. Some incentive system.