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Atheist Experience
Morality - If it's evolution programmed or economically explainable, then ...

A thing about morality. If our morality is evolution programmed (or if it driven by economic reasons of the game theory variety), then what prevents us from changing that programming / ignoring it. A crazy theist may do bad things but have the fear of god torment him. What torments a crazy, wrong-doing atheist - a fear of going against evolution? A socio-economic fear of getting caught and facing time? Some theists would argue that the fear of god though not immediate is a much more powerful fear than the socio-economic fear - though I think most psychologists would disagree.

I puzzle sometimes over the evolution of morality. I'm playing devil's advocate here now. Here's a thought I've often had - The way we are right now is because of the threats we faced in our evolutionary history. As we keep evolving our morality will be in a few hundred thousand years based on what we face today. Now, do we not need less help from each other nowadays compared to olden times where simply because of a lack of technology we had to cooperate and work together? Then will our morals in the future not be less altruistic than they are programmed to be now? If they had instead been derived from religion would they not have remained constant and unwavering?

There are obvious weaknesses in the above line of reasoning but I'd love to hear from you guys.

We evolved to be cooperative social creatures with large intellects. I don't see those traits changing in the near future. What is changing is what we put in those brains. Our culture is changing. We are using technology to make our lives easier and longer. We understand the implications of our actions in longer and more global terms.

Another important aspect of our morality is our compassion for others. It's perhaps an unintended side-effect of our big brains. We can put ourselves in the shoes of others and make ourselves feel (some of) their pain. With mass media, we can have empathy for others halfway around the world and actually do something meaningful to help them.

Yes, there are people that lack empathy, but we consider them "broken" and we do our best to remove them from harming others.

We could change our programming, I suppose, but that raises the question of whether we would still be human. I think not.

On the topic of religious influence, I don't know that we've had organized religion long enough for it to have been a big influence on our genetics. It certainly has had an impact on our culture.

Thanks for that response Don.

On the topic of religious influence, what I meant was this: If you had a set of commandments for behavior which were more rational and humanistic and holistic that such commandments tend to be in any normal religion and if these commandments were adhered to, say, for a few hundred thousand years by mankind by some sort of institutionalizing (similar to religion) wouldn't what mankind evolves into at-least have a constant moral compass?

If our current environment is changing to an extent where we are interconnected yes, but where we do not palpably feel the interconnection and feel the need for cooperation less than we used to (thanks to our inventions) ; And if in that environment we also do not have a steady moral compass except the one passed on to us through evolution or the one we develop through economic reasoning, then who's to say what our morality would be like in a hundred thousand or more years.

Now, one could argue that viewed from the perspective of what we would be after those few hundred thousand years, the morality we would have would be just right and acceptable. But my point is that viewed from our current state that morality could seem strange, bizzare, maybe non-human (in the sense of what is perceived to be "human" now).

The morality that develops may or may not be supportive of further progress in the (non) human race. It will have a survival value if it develops through evolution, but will it be progressive? And if we are unsure of it being progressive (in all probability it will be progressive - but who knows), then does not institutionalizing certain behaviors help make sure that our morality does not become perverse with evolution ? And this is where I sometimes see the benefit of institutions like religion - while accepting that in their current form they are so crude that a floating, evolution / economics based, evolving moral compass is much better.

Sorry but no matter how you turn it, i don't need a bunch of delusional people to tell me what is right or wrong, more the exact opposite, they should take the example of people who stick to reality and try to co-exist with nature and their own species using logic and experience, rather than some old books written by slave driving, murdering pedophiles.

Rohit, you are talking about morality in your evolutionary worldview? Where does morality COME FROM in the atheist/evolutionary worldview?

Certainly not from the genocide&infanticide machinery called God. It is a social construct based on survival, logic, experience and co-existence. To put it in few words. The so called objective morality is actually contra productive, you try to apply standards from ignorant murdering slave driving pedophiles and misogynists to our modern world.. which obviously goes wrong most of the time. Also "Do not kill" is the only really good thing from your "objective morality" and still you can't stick to even that with the stonings and genocides, burning people etc. Love thy neighbor is impaired by slavery and "stone the homosexuals" etc. "Do not lie" is ridiculous. We have languages to communicate, if everybody lies we don't need to talk at all. However believers lie even to themselves by claiming to know something they only believe and by refusing to think rationally and logically and question their own belief. Being dishonest to oneself automatically results in being dishonest to other people. In short, your objective morality is full of crap. Religious people having the most "reservations" in prisons is a proof that you are obviously doing it wrong.

Jay, you said objective morality is a "social construct based on survival, logic, experience, and co-existence."

My question for you is if morals are "social constructs," meaning that groups of people provide the "criteria" for what is objectively right and wrong, was it objectively wrong for Hitlers Nazi Germany to murder 6.1 million men, women, and children in concentration camps? I mean the nazi society constructed this moral stance and the people accepted it. So was it wrong?

Also another question:

How many people does there have to be to make up a society? 40K? 1 million? Once the society is formed how do they determine what will be objectively right and wrong? What is the criteria that societies USE to determine whats objectively right and wrong? is it intuition? what they want?

if it is survival? how does the desire to "survive" make things objectively true if I disagree with wanting to survive?

If it is experience, how much experience does it take to make the "right" choices in determining what is objectively right and wrong?

I don't get your point. Do you want to tell me that whatever the Bible says is right? If that is the case then yes, what Hitler did was morally correct according to your God, or Hitler's God. The genocides back in time were good. Stoning people for moronic reasons was correct. Inquisition and holy wars were a great thing. Infanticides slavery and rape were a good thing if we ask your God. Not eating pork is one of the rules, do you stick to it? Do you wear 2 clothes made of 2 different materials? You better not do it.. Oh and if you own a hotel and somebody comes to rape your guests, you better give them your virgin daughter instead, that is morally correct. And if somebody asks you to bring him 100 foreskins, do kill 200 guys and bring him 200, just in case, since that is what your God presented us as correct behavior.

To shorten it, of course i am being sarcastic. Your "God" has nothing to do with the morality of the modern world. We adapt our behavior and rules with the given circumstances. It is socially backwards to turn to your ancient book to learn about the world and people today.. Very contraproductive.

Jayhennem, are you a teenager with daddy issues or what? I do not agree with the actions of Hitler or the Nazis but what makes you think what they did was immoral? What, you think appealing to emotions makes for a logical argument? You state that stoning people is "moronic", but on what ground is it moronic, because you say so? Who are you and who made you the arbiter of moral judgement. Next time you have any facts to bestow why not try backing them up with some sources. What makes it "contraproductive" to turn to a book that is believed to be the inspired word on their creator. I would think that would be very productive and wise if I believed. Jayhennem, you are a very poor example of the atheist community, because you are obviously emotionally invested in your position and that makes me think you would have no problem forcing your views on others. It is a very big world out there with a long history and your life is insignificant when all is said and done.

Jayhennem, I have read numerous post by you and you seem to be a very angry person. You seem to have forgotten the number of religious, especially nonreligious theists that have greatly to the body of knowledge that we have today. So, I do not know where you get off criticizing any ones intellect on the matter. Should I be familiar with your advancements? I am sure I will get a few fallacious statements in return from you ladened with the sarcastic wit you seem to which you are so proud. You simply do not understand that in logic you do not attack the person, for example their psychology, but you attack the argument. This is usually the first thing covered in a critical thinking class or deductive logic class on fallacies. I do not wish to insult your intelligence but I just want to remind you that you should think before you speak.

@Sally "Jayhennem, are you a teenager with daddy issues or what?" I saw some of your comments.. you seem to have that problem but you don't need to think that it's the case with everybody else, i have no daddy issues and i am not a teenager, i however have a problem with the hypocritical and socially destructive behavior from many religious people, especially if they, after screwing up my country and raping our women and killing unarmed people most brutally, including children, tell me in all seriousness that i am immoral for putting a condom over or not believing in their magical Sky Daddy.

I in no way force my views on others, i do defend myself if somebody tries to do that with me or others though because of an old book or something they experienced after they dropped on their knees and started talking to the ceiling.

What makes it contraproductive to turn to the book? The content! I am a poor example of an atheist community? Nobody tells us how we have to behave and what to believe, i speak for myself and act without invoking the will of the heavenly imaginary friend to justify my actions, that gives me the right to wash my hands clean of anything any atheist does, and same any other atheist can do when it comes to me, since the only thing we have in common (per definition) is that we don't believe in fairy tales. We have no ready-made friend groups and a world view with ancient laws drummed into our heads as soon as we start talking.

How do i judge stoning of people moronic? Go to the extreme, what if we write on a paper that stoning people with brown hair is god's law, it would result in a mass murder of random people with brown hair? Do the same with people who don't speak your language, then the ones who are taller or shorter than you... homosexuals "witches" etc. Isolating, stigmatizing, tormenting or even murdering people who are different is socially backwards. I can't justify such behavior no matter how hard i try, which is why i call it moronic (for the lack of a better word) Maybe you should learn a bit about morality and why it has a lot to do with logic and critical thinking and that "religious morality" often is incompatible with others and very flawed in logic.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7xt5LtgsxQ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSS-88ShJfo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sN-yLH4bXAI

@Linda i do not indend to defend myself by insulting you or mouthing off, i respect your opinion but not all you said is true, i do not behave in that manner, or at least i try not to. By no means did i accuse or try to demonise all believers or ignore their contribution in many fields. My beef is with the ignorant and offensive ones who try to make me think what they said is justified merely because it's written in some book or believed by a certain set of people. We can see what that brought when we look back at history and the world as it is today. I do admit that i get angry at times, but that is the result of many years of religious bullying and even terror (very bloody war.. latest genocide in history and a reason why my country won't recover for the next 20-30 years) that i went through due to religious teachings and idiocy, and the world as it is due to religious dominance.

I try to talk to people in a calm and respectful manner but if they shut off and just keep preaching or showing ridiculous ammounts of ignorance then what's the point in trying to talk sense? I do often simply hold my piece and ignore it but the other times i make fun of what they say or react in a "bad way" by throwing a small tantrum. Also to make that clear, i overgeneralize once in a while or exeggerate, but all in all i don't accuse people blindly or suck my arguments out of thin air.

"You seem to have forgotten the number of religious, especially nonreligious theists that have greatly to the body of knowledge that we have today. So, I do not know where you get off criticizing any ones intellect on the matter."

Religious dogma tends to make people ignorant, makes them cling on to pre-set beliefs and use their imagination and ignorance to defend them no matter what you or "reality" throw at them. Even people like Newton stopped contributing to science after they came to the conclusion that the universe as we see it is "made by an advanced being" because of ignorance and religious indoctrination. Many religious people reject science if it even remotely is in disconcordance with their teachings, religion fights education and medical advancement even today, it is the a big reason for famine and illiteracy and poor education, among many other problems, so how could i not think that i am right to criticise it? For instance, there are studies showing that the importance of religion in a country seems to be linked with education and economic stability of the country. The more important religion is for them, the worse they seem to do compared to others and the more violent and criminal it seems to become.

I do not hate, or demonise the religious as a whole, i do however see many wrong in their doing and argumentation, based on their religion only, if it stands out and irritates me i will likely speak up and get disrespectful, but that doesn't mean that i disrespect the believers in general or that i am generally intolerant or disrespectful, or illogical, merely that my emotions got the better of me. You say i should attack the argument instead of the person, but it proved to be ineffective, most religious people shut off if what you say is inconsistent with their belief. What i can do is attack the protective bubble around the belief, the person itself, if that doesn't work either, i give up and retreat to silence.

Whether or not i will attack someone verbally, while i admit it isn't the best way to react, has nothing to do with whether i am right about what i am saying or not. If you have some facts to correct what i said or show me where i was wrong i would be even grateful, but please don't tell me that i don't think before i speak or that what i say is illogical, only because you don't like my tone.

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