why morality came before religion

April 17, 2009

Virtually every debate between an atheist and a theist features the question of where humans got their morality; their ideas of right and wrong. Theists say that without a religion to enforce a moral code, we’d all be amoral hedonists. Atheists point out the fact that there are still laws and societal discipline keeps our behaviors in check even if we choose to opt out of having a religion. Could morality exist without a religion and is there something that could point us to an answer? Like tracing our evolutionary lineage perhaps?

angel and devil

When it comes to matters of how we perceive something as right or wrong, we usually turn to a basic concept we call fairness. The idea that things can be fair or unfair and that unfairness is a punishable offense isn’t uniquely human. In fact, it’s something social mammals like primates understand very well and deal with on a daily basis. Theft is unfair. Lying is unfair. Favoritism is unfair. Murder? Probably the most unfair thing to do to someone who’s innocent but justifiable in some cases. We’ll say that murder is wrong but leave ourselves legal and ethical room to kill enemy soldiers in a war or execute criminals who did very unfair and heinous things. The very same ideas can be found in groups of primates who make business deals of sorts, build social hierarchies, have a sense of what’s fair and what’s unfair, refusing to cooperate when they feel mistreated or slighted, wage territorial wars, and seek revenge on those who anger them.

Did you notice something missing though? No known primates except us have religions. They usually keep themselves in check through a social order that evolved because even the smallest society can’t function with a complete lack of subordination and ground rules. If primates didn’t know the difference between fair and unfair to their fellow primates, they would be loners who faced harsh conditions and steep survival odds. If apes and hominids didn’t have compassion or try to look out for one another, more of them would be left to die after injuries and their numbers would be greatly reduced. Simply put, when animals work together, they increase their odds of survival and bolster their genetic variety through growing numbers. Millions of years after the first mutations for more complex brains made it possible, the latest branch on the family tree of primates, the humans, have taken one more step in codifying them through language. The rules are the same. We just try to institutionalize them and carry out the punishments we think are appropriate for the offense in an organized manner, one of which was religion.

One of the biggest misunderstandings theists have when thinking about our ability to separate what’s right and wrong, is believing that humans were zapped with this capacity out of the blue and anything they did with from then on must be attributed to their religious views. In reality, a human sense of fairness had to come from somewhere. Everything in our brain had to develop over a long period of time, slowly, gradually and with a way to trace it back to our evolutionary predecessors, something we’ve been able to do by watching our genetic relatives. Even if we were to take the first form of human religion, prehistoric animism dating back to the Neolithic era if not even earlier, the seeds to develop it and codify basic ground rules for our behavior already had to be there well before the first religious scroll was committed to a tangible medium. As far as we know, religion and faith in higher powers is a uniquely human trait but it couldn’t just come into being from thin air. Maybe this could be a new area of evolutionary study; the evolution of religion and belief in the supernatural.

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  • anti-supernaturalist

    ** Ignorance of the genealogy of morals is no excuse **

    The truth of a wide separation of the origins of morality and religion receives a masterful summary by E. R. Dodds (The greeks and the irrational. Berkeley. 1951. pp. 31-32).

    What the incurious theist assumes impossible, Dodds finds commonplace:

    “I need hardly say [sic!] that religion and morals were not initially interdependent, in Greece or elsewhere; they had their separate roots. I suppose that broadly speaking, religion grows out of man’s relationship to his total environment, morals out of his relation to his fellowmen.”

    After considering the close intertwining of once separate domains in Sophocles and Eurpides — Dodds gives a generous explanation of a new ‘guilt culture’ and its demand for divine justice.

    “But sooner or later in most cultures there comes a time of suffering when most people refuse to be content with [the separation]. Man projects into the cosmos his nascent demand for social justice; and when from the outer spaces the magnified echo of his own voice returns to him, promising punishment for the guilty, he draws from it courage and reassurance.”

    Xianity, however, absorbed its moralized universe directly from judaism which had taken over zoroastrian myth of a war between good and evil on a cosmic scale.

    Xian mythology, like other big-4 monotheisms zoroastrianism, post-exilic judaism, and islam, posits a moral world order which never existed. No more can be found in that collective dreamwork than *the ancestors* put into it starting 5,500 years ago.

    For example, some of that *meaning* derives ultimately from Sargon Is imperial propaganda created to legitimate the violent yoking together of disparate city-state cultures in what is now Iraq.

    Sargon I appears in a low relief sculpture as a god receiving a legal and moral code directly from a greater god enthroned above him. The theists wishful assumption of a divine origin of morality turns out to be ancient political spin. (Still works today, doesnt it?)

    Todays distant heirs of long dead imperial Akkado-Sumerian political spin still espouse a hierarchical, moralized, androcentric universe. One widely perceived for 150 years as empty of divine presence and so it is claimed meaningless.

    What nonsense! The universe is neither meaningful (natural theology) nor meaningless (existentialism). Neither just nor unjust. Neither moral nor immoral. Both are rooted in the same mistaken presupposition that supernatural *meaning* can be found by searching the heavens for gods or quarrying human inwardness for moral laws.

    Adjust your understanding, adjust your expectations, and you will be right with the only total reality there is, nature.

    the anti-supernaturalist

  • Doodi

    Dude, Anti-supernaturalist, that was fucking loooong. Yeah, I’m drunk.

    Not to be a fucking philistine hipster douche, but your definition of existentialism is wrong (that’s practically the only thing I read. I mean ‘read’ in past tense not present). Existentialism is the ultimately individualist philosophy that states that reality (or the universe, whatever you want to call it) has exactly as much meaning as you (the individual) choose to put into it. Nihilism is the one without meaning. Unless I’m totally off, existentialism’s dealio has to do with the fact that nothing’s provable or disprovable, logic is pretty much useless, and fuck it, man, you might as well believe whatever you want.

    Which, quite frankly, I consider kind of a copout – it seems wierdly rational for something that assumes logic (a cornerstone of rationality) is somewhat pointless. Of course, this is assuming I’m not butchering these ideas like Abraham (almost) did his son.

    On another note (and I think I’m taking some random comment by some random internet dude way too seriously), why the hell do you call yourself ‘anti-supernaturalist?’ You’re defining yourself by what you are not. Which gives legitimacy to your opponents – i.e. he has no position of his own, his only position is in opposition to us. Actually a problem I have with the term ‘atheist.’

    Finally (and this is not focused at anti-supernaturalist specifically) am I the only one tired of the patronizing ‘xian’ petname? What the fuck. There are other religions too, man. Why is it that athiests always attack Christianity? I kind of feel like it’s some wierd western imperialist subconscious bullshit that thinks that Christianity is the only religion that matters. I mean, seriously.

    Anyway, you write something long, I’ll write something long.

    Peace.

  • http://ancientindians.wordpress.com satyask

    @Why morality came before religion: Thanks for an important and useful post.

    I need to follow all the links you provided, but I have been reading elsewhere too that our sense of morality is wired…. (as is our sense of spirituality for that matter.)

    I read that both morality and spirituality are (independently) evolutionary traits.

  • http://godkillzyou.wordpress.com GodKillzYou

    I wrote a similar post about a week ago. Here, I argue that there’s really no such thing as objective, transcendent morality. It’s merely a property of human behavior; as logic is a property of premises and conclusions.

  • http://anotherbloggingblog.com Abber

    Your arguments are most convincing and seem perfectly plausible, but I can also understand why a theist would have a problem with your scientific explanation, particularly one who believed that the Earth was only 6000 years old and was spontaneously created by god. The conflicting arguments for the origin of morals exposes the different methodologies of science and religion: the former works with the evidence to conclude an explanation; religion, on the other hand, defines the conclusion and attempts to build an argument to support it.

    The origin of mankind’s belief in god(s) and the supernatural is an interesting field of study. Here are just a couple of recent articles on the subject from New Scientist:

    ‘Theory of mind’ could help explain belief in God

    Humans may be primed to believe in creation

  • Greg Fish

    Abber,

    Actually, I’ve written about the New Scientist stories previously and think the magazine does an injustice to the topic by focusing on very superficial surveys and opinion polls. They pretty much neglect the human evolution timeline to find a point where religion may have been sparked.

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  • http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/wonderskyjakarta cesb

    Atheist…

  • Russ

    This whole argument is based on a straw-man, intellectually weak version of theism. Modern theistic philosophy doesn’t point to God or religion as the sole origin of moral THINKING; rather it points to God as the origin of goodness itself. In that sense, goodness is, for lack of a better analogy, something like gravity; we apprehend it, we see it’s effects on our lives and talk about it as something real, and we codify it’s properties. But you don’t have to understand what gravity is in itself (indeed, we still don’t) to experience it as something real.

    So, just as we can apprehend gravity without a full understanding of what it is, so we can also apprehend the objective moral reality of the Universe without understanding God. But, philosophically, the concept of God provides an absolute, eternal, and unchanging ontological basis for a belief in morals. If there is no God, then we either have to abandon moral value altogether as just a relative construct of the mind (in which case, we should stop allowing it to trouble us and just do whatever we want, like we do with any other strand of erroneous thinking) or, if we want to cling to our morals, go on with our lives pretending to believe in something we know is false (which is irrational).

    Furthermore, pointing out that moral behavior provides a survival advantage is no challenge to the theist. He will readily agree with you! At issue is not whether morality is useful, but whether it is REAL. As with gravity, we do not perceive it directly, but we do perceive its effects on the world, and its effects on our behavior. I believe, as theistic philosophers believe, that the best (really, the only) explanation for the existence of this objective morality is the existence of a morally-perfect God.

  • http://beltoftruth.wordpress.com/ beltoftruth

    The mental gymnastics that you atheists, unbelievers, agnostics (or whatever you call yourselves) go through never ceases to amaze me. No matter how smart you think you are, you will never be able to explain the God of the Bible, who created everything. I love to pursue knowledge and wisdom and do so daily, but I am also realistic enough (and humble enough) to admit that I do not now, nor will I ever, know everything.

    The idea that we evolved from apes – who still exist by the way in essentially the same condition that they were when you believe we branched off – is ludicrous.

    It takes much more faith to believe that ALL life evolved from single-cell creatures in the so-called primordial ooze, than to believe that there was an Intelligent Designer, God, who has the ability to create something from nothing. All your cosmological geniuses still cannot explain how something, no matter how small or insignificant, can come from NOTHING!

    When those of you who insist there is no God can produce life – from NOTHING – then we can talk. Human beings are the only creatures that are capable of reason and thought. Our moral code is not based on instinct like animals, it comes from the Creator of the Universe who gave us the operating manual, the Bible, and its basic moral code, the Ten Commandments.

    Our morals and logic do not come from chemical reactions in the brain, although that may contribute to how these things operate. They come from an innate sense that we have been given by our Creator, who created us after His own likeness, to worship and glorify Him in a personal relationship, NOT a religious one.

    Religion never saved anyone and never will. The plain unvarnished truth is that most of you do not want to answer to some higher power, you want to control everything yourselves. That is the worst sin, PRIDE, which is what caused Lucifer to become satan, thinking that he could be like God, who created him!

    We all have the free-will choice to accept God’s gift to mankind of eternal salvation and life with Him forever. He did not create robots, He created human beings capable of love. But love requires a choice to love or not to love.

    You have the free will to reject His free gift of redemption that resulted from His sending His Son, Jesus, to be born as a human, live a perfect, sinless life and die on a cruel cross, rejected by His own created beings. He paid the penalty for our sins and we are simply too arrogant and prideful to admit that we need a Savior.

    “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus…” Romans 3:23-24

    Every one of us has a choice to make. Either bow down and admit your inability to save yourselves, or persist in your pride and arrogance and reject the Good News.

    You want to use logic, well consider this:

    If you accept Gods love and His gift of salvation and you have chosen correctly, then you have eternal life in Heaven with Him. If you are wrong, you simply cease to exist at your physical death. However, if you choose to doubt and refuse the free gift of salvation if you are right you just cease to exist upon death, but if you are wrong, you will have eternity to regret it.

    There simply is no upside if you win! If you win you lose, if you lose you REALLY lose (and dont get a second chance).

    How ’bout them apples?

    Grace and Peace to all of you and may God enlighten your minds and hearts.

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  • vish

    Now we all know that gfish can play around with words until he has an angle to prove SCIENCE, once again!!!!. Great job! I’ll bet all of us christians wish we were as smart as you, sir! No matter how smart you believe yourself to be, you will never understand everything. Sorry. I think you’re scared of God because, deep down, you know you’re not Him.

  • Greg Fish

    “All your cosmological geniuses still cannot explain how something, no matter how small or insignificant, can come from NOTHING!”

    Which is why science doesn’t. Your entire argument is based on a lack of any and all scientific knowledge which gets built into an argument against your personal ideas of what scientists are doing.

    And how exactly would a god come from nothing? He’s always been there? Really? How? Because quite honestly that’s not an answer. You substitute that what you don’t know with a name you revere and insist you have the answer while you’re actually just creating more and more questions.

    “The plain unvarnished truth is that most of you do not want to answer to some higher power, you want to control everything yourselves.”

    Oh we answer to a higher authority. The people around us. And if we want to try and control everything ourselves, why should God mind? We’ll just be doing his job for him while he lays back on the beach and works on another draft of the Bible or something… It’s hardly pride. It’s just testing our skills and abilities.

    “There simply is no upside if you win! If you win you lose, if you lose you REALLY lose (and dont get a second chance).”

    You called this logic, but it’s anything but logical. You’re making assumptions based on an ancient book of religious punditry and mythology stitched together by a big committee and present a false dichotomy by giving two possible outcomes, neither of which has any real backing to it.

    We have no idea what really happens to us after death which is exactly what makes death so scary. For you to start authoritatively giving us afterlife scenarios isn’t a feat of logic. It’s fighting with your imaginary world once again.

    You’re amazed by my mental gymnastics while building a vast argument based on your personal opinions and imaginary beliefs? Kettle, this is pot, come in kettle…

  • Greg Fish

    “Now we all know that gfish can play around with words until he has an angle to prove SCIENCE, once again!!!!”

    Why thank you. I try my best to apply science and empiricism to every question and debate.

    “No matter how smart you believe yourself to be, you will never understand everything.”

    I never claimed or thought I would. And one of the things I will never understand is how someone thinks his personal opinion is superior to tangible evidence.

    “I think youre scared of God because, deep down, you know youre not Him.”

    I think you don’t like me or people like me because you can’t stand the fact that we don’t believe the same thing you do and have been disproving notions given to you as true with empirical evidence.

  • http://godkillzyou.wordpress.com GodKillzYou

    Essentially, Creationism is no different from Last-Thursdayism. God created everything last Thursday, and there’s no way you can disprove that. He created us all with memories, and He made the Earth look old so we wouldn’t go through shock, etc.

    We have no choice but to observe the evidence… which points toward an old Earth and descent with modification (Evolution).

  • shaikai

    I find this really interesting and suggesting. I agree that morality is not necessarily tied to religion, and indeed there must be other ways to show the point. But I don’t think that is something a theist should lament, or an atheist celebrate. Religion might be engaged in morality, maybe it’s unavoidable (maybe, but who knows), but morality is not its main worry. It seems that it has to do more with other different worries.

    For the same reason, I don’t think it’s correct to see religion as a form to codify morality. In the case of religions that empashize more in knowledge than faith, morality is definitely an important part of the spiritual life, but it’s far from being its core. That can be said of Indian and Chinese religions, and some forms of Islam and Christianity.

  • Russ

    GodKillzYou,

    Neither an old Earth nor evolutionary biology are incompatible in any way with the idea that the world was created by an omnipotent, omniscient, morally good Being…

  • http://anotherbloggingblog.com Abber

    This post has sparked some great comments and debate, and it reveals the wide gulf between the traditional camps of believer and non-believer. I have greatly appreciated the input from both sides, but what I don’t ever see from the believers are any consistent arguments for the existence of god, like what part he or she played in our creation, or in what way he or she intervenes in our universe on a day to day basis. With so many religions and a plethora of differing views within each of them, how does one choose and why, indeed, should one bother?

    It seems perfectly reasonable to test some of the individual claims by theists in order to get at the truth, but those who believe they already know the truth will inevitably pour scorn on the scientific methods if they don’t come to the same conclusion. One example: the power of prayer. The scientific conclusion is that, given the available evidence, praying for someone who is ill will not make them any better. Dogma prevails with the hard-line theist, however, and they simply dismiss the studies, criticise them and probably point to some other study which might be highly flawed but that does support their claims. We therefore have two camps because one only cares about the evidence when it supports what they believe to be the truth. The other camp looks at the evidence, squints a little harder, and says “no, I still don’t see it”.

  • Russ

    There are plenty of excellent arguments for the existence of God; the cosmological argument being my favorite. A very rough version of it could go something like:

    1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.

    2. The Universe began to exist.

    3. Therefore, the Universe has a cause.

    The first premise is more-or-less self-evident; there’s nothing that begins to exist all by itself – something causes its existence. The second premise is backed up by Big Bang cosmology; we now know that the universe is not infinitely old, but rather began to exist a finite time ago. The conclusion follows necessarily.

    The Big Bang was the beginning of space, time, and matter, so it follows that whatever caused it must be timeless, spaceless, and immaterial. It must have great power verging on omnipotence to bring something like our universe into existence, and further, it must also have some kind of power of volition, to choose to produce an effect in the world (the effect being the universe). So, what we have now is a timeless, immaterial being of great power that is capable of thought and volition. This is starting to sound very much like God.

    A counter-argument could be that if everything has a cause, then why doesn’t God have a cause? This is a straw man, because this version of the argument never asserts that EVERYTHING has a cause, only that which begins to exist. Since God never began to exist (nor will ever cease to exist, since He is timeless) then He doesn’t need a cause. He exists eternally.

    This isn’t a conclusion based on fear, or paranoia, or desperation. To me, it’s really logical to think that if the universe began to exist, then something must have caused it. It didn’t just appear by itself. It didn’t just pop into existence of its own accord. It is here because something caused it, which means, I think, that it’s here for a reason. Which means we are here for a reason. Just because this truth is awesome, and very personally fulfilling, doesn’t make it too good to be true.

  • Greg Fish

    “Whatever begins to exist has a cause.”

    Generally yes. However, there’s such a thing as quantum mechanics which shows that there are things that can arise seemingly out of nowhere and disappear as quickly as they came, putting the entire argument in question.

    “The Universe began to exist.”

    In a conventional sense. But until we know what was actually there before the Big Bang on a quantum level, we can’t authoritatively state that in an existential debate.

    “Therefore, the Universe has a cause.”

    See above. Also, just because something has a cause, doesn’t mean that it points to the supernatural. “Powers of volition” or intelligence aren’t needed to set off a blast. After all, volcanoes erupt on their own when the pressures inside are too much to contain. No will power involved there and yet something happens. If the quantum mesh supporting a pre-Big Bang state gave way, we’d have an explosion without any “volition.”

    “Since God never began to exist (nor will ever cease to exist, since He is timeless) then He doesnt need a cause. He exists eternally.”

    That’s what’s known as a cop out. Calling a something a straw man argument doesn’t make it so. It’s a perfectly valid question to ask where God came from and saying that he’s timeless and has no beginning while everything around him does doesn’t answer anything. In fact it raises even more questions which can’t be answered with tangible or empirical evidence. Hence, it’s a cop out.

  • Russ

    There is absolutely nothing in quantum mechanics to call the principle of causality into question. Nothing. Because we don’t know where virtual particles “come from” doesn’t mean they come from nowhere, and it’s a HUGE logical leap to turn a mystery in an emerging field of thought into a refutation of the law of cause and effect.

    Knowing what was there “before” the Big Bang implies a total misunderstanding of what the Big Bang was: the beginning of space-time ITSELF. There is no “before the Big Bang” because the Big Bang is the beginning of time. For your argument to make sense, there would have to be a “time before time” which is self-contradictory.

    So, what you have is a clear moment when space-time began to exist. So the question remains; either it just happened, or it had a cause. If space-time had a cause, that cause cannot OF NECESSITY be bound by space, nor time. Therefore, it never began to exist, and therefore it CANNOT have a cause for it’s existence. It’s not a cop out, then, to say that God is uncaused while the universe is not – indeed, it cannot be otherwise. Now, at this point, we cannot say that God is the God of Christianity or Judaism or even theism; all we can say is that something which is uncaused, timeless, spaceless, and eternally existing brought time and space into being. I think it’s obvious that this thing would also need to have tremendous power, and something like what we know as volition – your volcano analogy breaks down because it’s just another example of a chain of cause and effect…which can only take place in time.

    Again, the atheist is forced into a really difficult position, intellectually. He has to believe that the universe popped into existence, uncaused, out of nothing, and miraculously settled itself into just the right kind of universe with the potential for life, that life itself did actually arise, and not only arise, but flourish, against odds that are so small as to be nearly incalculable. It takes tremendous faith to be an atheist.

    Or you can believe that there IS some purpose to it all. I think the existence of some kind of God is obvious; maybe not the God of this or that religion, or God as fundamentalists or Jews or Muslims would describe Him, but something which brought the universe into being and fine-tuned it to produce life in a long process that eventually culminated in us, right now, having this conversation.

  • http://anotherbloggingblog.com Abber

    If there is a cause to the creation of the universe does not necessarily mean that there is a purpose and that it was intelligently “fine tuned”. And by giving that cause a name, God, ladens your argument with a lot of baggage which risks confusing him with the god of the Jew, the Muslim and the Christian.

    It may be that the universe had a cause and that it was crafted by intelligent actions, but without any real evidence to support that hypothesis and no conceivable methods (who created the creator?), we have to settle with the fact that we don’t yet know the answer. Jumping to conclusions and invoking imaginary beings is indeed a cop out.

  • Greg Fish

    “There is absolutely nothing in quantum mechanics to call the principle of causality into question. Nothing.”

    Wow… the greatest minds in physics are still debating that but you seem to know the answer with absolute certainty. I assume I’ll be reading your publication on the subject in arXiv.org listing in the very near future so I can write a post which settles the dilemma Heisenberg brought up when he founded the discipline. It would be my privilege to report these news first. Just so you know this blog gets enough traffic to cover a breaking news story in science.

    “its a HUGE logical leap to turn a mystery in an emerging field of thought into a refutation of the law of cause and effect.”

    We know these particles come from the quantum mesh. We don’t know how they do it though and knowing how they can do it can tell us quite a bit about the universe, or even upset everything we know about its structure and formation.

    And it’s interesting that you’re deriding me for looking at mystery particles that come from seemingly nowhere as a potential answer to the Big Bang and yet you’re being perfectly logical and conservative when assuming an eternal, omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent intelligence permeating the fabric of space and time. What takes a bigger leap? Bizarre particles from somewhere deep in space and time or a supernatural spirit endowed with limitless powers and intelligence?

    “Knowing what was there before the Big Bang implies a total misunderstanding of what the Big Bang was: the beginning of space-time ITSELF.”

    You’re also setting Superstring and Brane Theorists straight as well? Will your above mentioned publication include the ultimate proof for this or will this be a separate paper?

    So to sum this up, you’re using a very cursory knowledge of quantum mechanics and personal assertions about hotly debated topics in physics to create a double standard by which looking into the quantum mesh for potential data on the Big Bang is a huge leap of faith while believing that there’s an everlasting, all-powerful intelligence that builds the universe is a safe, and easily provable assumption to make. Oh and you just so happen to be excused from explaining how exactly there could be an intelligent, timeless something that decided to create the universe.

    I would highly recommend doing a little more reading and considering that Occam’s Razor is a very good rule to follow when dealing with scientific subjects…

  • http://godkillzyou.wordpress.com GodKillzYou

    Russ,

    Neither an old Earth nor evolutionary biology are incompatible in any way with the idea that the world was created by an omnipotent, omniscient, morally good Being

    It may not be incompatible, but it certainly takes some creative stretching of scripture to go from God “creating” all the animals, to God “created all the animals by letting them evolve.” It’s more like retrofitting the verse to fit current scientific knowledge.

    Why posit God when you don’t need to? When the need for God shows up in a mathematical formula (String Theory?), I suppose then you wouldn’t be able to deny Him.

    As it stands now, the only reason people posit God is because they don’t know what else could be “the cause.” The argument from ignorance is the basis for a belief in God.

  • truth seeker

    we get our morality from evolution – primative humans lived in a more basic sociaty than the ones we live in to day .. emotion was based on instinct .. like many otehr animals .. even tho alot of animals have personality traits … like for instance a dog .. would bite you in the wild for threatening it’s teratory .. alltho a dog would still bite you if you hurt it as they are now (domesticated) they have learnt to adapt to there surounding and loose some of the importance of that instinct .. alltho it’s still there .. just not as strong simply because it doesn’t need to be as protective anymore … human sociaty as it advanced demanded more and more intracate ways of interacting .. one person can’t do everything once a wealth of knowlage buildds up to a certain amout .. so people have to interact and in order to do this .. we need to have some way of not only getting what we need .. but ensuring that it will allways be avalible for as long as you need it … for example .. (and this is the first thing that popped into my head) one guy makes the arrows for the bow makes the bow and hunts kills and eats all by him self … in comparison to a hunter hunting a butcher cutting the mean a chef cooking it … as our knolage progressed we learnt that things could be easyer if we all chipped in to get the job done .. and i think mby that is where our sence of right and wrong came from … if someone isn’t helping the team .. it would go against what every one was trying to achive .. there for being noticable to the others as counterproductive … now … just as an example .. the guy who wasn’t pulling his weight .. say he would do nothing and just eat the food collected … and the others didn’t like it .. and kicked him out the group so to speak … he then has to fend on his own … and to do this may have to step on “good” peoples toes and is now branded a thief or scavanger . a bad person .. so would scavange off the group …. now as things get even more complicated with in human sociaty.. people for instance start to realise that there are resorces in an area so all go to utalise it to help the group survive… mby the thief was still amongst the group .. just not a very welcomed guest .. trying to live off of what the others didn’t use .. and the group make a settle ment and use the resorces … and the lone guy now who is probably bitter and mby even hurt by the outcasting .. will try and get the resorces for him self .. now this is need (alltho in a self inflicted situation) making someone act against the group and the group dismiss him from the group as a bad person … this is cercumstantial diferance in morals … made by nasesaty being equaly shared amoungs those who put in equal effort …. not there’s another type of morals … for instance you have this group of humans living off theese resorces they found … and another simila group of humans comes and discovers theese resorses … they try to share .. but there’s only enough to just about suport both groups … one group decided they want all the resorces so take them out of not 100% nasesaty .. but greed … so now you have one group in the wrong in one sides eyes .. and in the right in there own … now if the people who took the resorses think .. her that’s a good idea .. lets take more … then to them it’s right as it benifits them … but the ones with out the resorces will be the ones that understand the others did a bad thing … and became greedy … as they will feel the lack of progression (and probably hunger) in there own group and relate it to the other group … this is where awarness of right and wrong stems from i recon … intamingling of larger groups of people over the years trying to survive and having to do certain things to survive … some will figure out ways to get more … others will not like it … the others will think .. it’s not fair .. but the one doing it .. will not nesasaraly realise as they are in abundance … it’s only when you see someone take something for them selves that puts you out .. that you realise they are bad .. it’s slightly subjective due to the fact that some “bad” things are driven by nasesity … we all need to survive .. but when some one takes more than there fair share throguh mby getting caught up in the moment .. others see and have negative feelings and then use that within them selves to mold the way they think and behave .. and making an indent into there code of conduct or morals it’s basicaly loads of people all trying to get along with minimum fuss and maximum returns for everyone but with loads of people that want wats best for them due to greed and people dislikeing this and saing .. because you took what you wanted .. and not what was your fair share .. you are in the wrong .. we are in the right … nowdays it’s all influenced by media and polotics and becomes alot more blured than jusr green and need … but .. the same prinsibles aply .. say for instance .. rape .. that’s wrong …. the guy/girl wants sex/power .. but doesn’t have it … he doesn’t want to get it the hard way like every one else (the guy just eating the food) he wan’t it now for minimum effort and steps on peoples toes to get it .. forces him self onto some one to get what he wants … even if the person on the reciving end never heard of rape .. sex or w/e … they would still know that the person did wrong against them … and would then make the moral he did bad .. that’s imoral … self awareness and the need to resorse things from other people makes us view the things done against us out of greed as bad things … thus making personal morals and a sence of right and wrong due to being exposed to bad (it can work in reverse as well .. quick example … a murderer gets shown the family of a victim of murderer .. now he has experianced the consiquensis of his action he changes his morals .. he realises there is an otehr side to what he has been doing .. he realises and becomes self aware that his actions effect other people .. and in turn .. effect him back – his locked up in jail) ..

    i know i could of explained that alot better and with out beating around the bush soo much .. but i’m tired and can’t concentrait properly atm .. i hope you can get the jist of what i am getting at … also excuse the spelling and gramma .. again it’s late and i am tired ;)

  • BRUCE Q

    Would we know the rules of highway code by mere instict ?

  • Wesley

    To All,

    Forget about everyone’s beliefs except your own. Don’t try to push your beliefs on anyone and always follow the golden rule. Do onto others as you would have them do onto you. If we were to all take a “stoner” type approach to all of this, there might actually be world peace or as John Lennon famous song is titled, “Imagine.”

  • Navin Johnson

    So, was Adam and Eve issued a Bible in the garden of eden?

    Facts are that first came mankind, then came morals, then came the Bible.

    We had to have a society that was not in anarchy for people to be able to find time to write the Bible in the first place.

    Human communities and societies existed to allow eveyone to live and prosper in a manner that allowed for learning and development. We learned what was right and what was wrong through empathy and our wanting to being treated fairly. We had already built morals codes BEFORE the Bible was even started on. During the writing of the Bible, they took whatever moral lessons we had ALREADY learned, cherry picked the lessons the writers liked, and incorporprated them into the Bible. So, when you say we learned ou values from the Bible, the Bible learned it from society. So, in the end, if you take out the middle man, we ALL learned our moralities the same way we have been learning it for millions of years. From what the community and from what society has accepted was is right and what is wrong.

  • Chris

    This is to beltoftruth (and yes, i’m reopening a dead thread)

    Actually, recently scientists showed a bunch of single-celled organisms becoming a multi-celled organism in just 60 days, so thinking it can happen in nature over eons doesn’t take much faith at all.

    Welcome to 2012 idiot.

  • Absolute Darkness

    Wow! Great minds here, I was a bit curious about these streams, but I got motivated enough to participate.
    I am Civil Engineer and I am involved in administration of projects. I want to propose a perspective based on my role in society, and present the analogy on parenthesis

    We perform projects based on Codes (Religious or moral Codes) that are based on simplified or generalized theories (Dogmas or beliefs) . These theories are under constant questioning and sustitute approaches are being studied, but the TRUTH is VERY complex, and the world cannot wait until is it figured out.
    Its very possible that great minds got entangled on the same reasoning processes we all do today. But transferring this information and knowledge to all society is not an efficient task. Remember nature will follow the path of least resistance.
    A true fact is that, the carpenter or masonry builder does not need to know how structural analisys equations where devised to do his work, and he will do his work remarkably well just following the norms(10 commandments?), he only needs the certainity that following those norms will allow him to be rewarded or prevent him to be fired. This carpenter will then accept these norms as the TRUTH.

    Ok, following on administration: Human resources.
    In every Code or Norm needs to be rewards for good performance and sanctions for poor performance. Sounds like heaven / hell analogy?
    People will perform well for several reasons: looking for reward, fear of sanction, or both.
    But for any norm to be successfully implemented we need to have this defined.

    At the end IT WORKS! We can have a beautiful building or bridge ( Society ) and we did not need to had only great minds building it. Imagine that waste of resources

    I have several more examples in this direction. But summarizing. Its very likely that our current process of thinking on society morality will become the DOGMAS of the future.
    I could not go through all the experimentation that Einstein went through, to apply E=mc2 and I “believe” it as a TRUTH that works so far. On my opinion, through evolution, our religions have become the building blocks of most societies.
    We should respect them for being a lot more than myths, and understand the great deal of knowledge of the humanity behind those codes. Only then mankind will be able to transition peacefully improving our way of life.

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