24th March 2011

“If morality comes from religion, why is it normal for chimpanzees, all tribal peoples and non-believers to feel empathy for others, to practice fairness, and to remain loyal to relatives and friends?”

Anthony Layng

7 Responses to “24th March 2011”

  1. CaptainZero Says:

    Is an action bad because of something intrinsic to that action or because it is against God’s will? Take murder. Is murder evil? God has committed countless murders so is God evil or is murder not evil. Doesn’t this kind of special pleading complicate something that really is pretty simple? Empathy is an example of social evolution and is a result of selection acting on a beneficial trait. In the end, we’re nice to members of our group because it is to our advantage to be so. I see nothing demeaning or cynical about that nor does it diminish that quality that made it possible for us to succeed in groups. Weak and slow creatures like us wouldn’t have survived without this cooperation. And we’re not the only social creatures that rely on cooperation for our survival.

  2. R J Says:

    to capt. zero

    very well stated. of course morality does not “come from”
    but religious people like to IMPLY that it does…and implication
    is a huge part of religions.

  3. Doubting Thomas Says:

    Without reaching into history to confirm the imorality of religion the ongoing abuse of children – which is STILL happening is proof enough. How do you god botherers become so good at making like an ostritch.

  4. Atheist MC Says:

    Actually, according to a new scientist article I have just read the Chimp bit isn’t really true as they are not that altrusitic in practice. Other primates are however and many other species too.

  5. Jeff Says:

    Robert Wright’s “The Moral Animal” is about the evolutionary roots of altruism and how morality is intrinsic to the genetic makeup of human beings. The primary reason that the emerging science of evolutionary psychology is rejected by religious teaching is that to accept man as an intrinsically moral being would be to reject the need for a higher authority. Evil could therefore be seen as nothing more than a form of genetic defect – possibly caused by the imposition of consciousness onto an earlier brain organization as postulated by Julian Jaynes.

  6. greateighthsin Says:

    What is “good” and “evil” in the first place? Is “evil the absence of good”? Absolutely not. Both of these concepts are nothing more than abstract and subjective ideas. Take the idea of donating money to a cause. Many could call it “good”, but toss in the idea that there is “no selfless act” and you find that the person gets an ego boost from being “good”. Take something as “evil” as Hitler exterminating the Jews. One could still easily find “good” within something like that. Decreased population, less economic burden, less chance for a pandemic virus, and even a less chance of an even more unruly dictator.

    So, ultimately, morality is just a label on a broad subjective concept, and not part of any solid existence.

  7. Simon Says:

    Consider also that religion can cloth an obviously immoral act in morality.

    Circumcision of a baby for no good reason reason and without anaesthetic would, outside of a religious context, be considered by most immoral and by many perverse. There are many other examples.