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Author Topic:   Morality without God is impossible
RAZD
Member (Idle past 427 days)
Posts: 20714
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004


(1)
Message 26 of 306 (872656)
03-01-2020 1:42 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Tangle
02-28-2020 4:20 AM


Morality is a social construct
... maybe we can confine this to why it's impossible for our sense of morality to emerge from the evolutionary process ...

Morality is a social construct, it evolves with each society. This is why you can have variations between quite similar societies with quite similar backgrounds, but more significant differences with more different societies.

You change the society (ie go to war) and the morality changes (it's ok to kill them now)

It is learned from your parents and peers as you grow up (memes).

Humans are tribal (herd/pack/flock/etc) animals and so the morals develop/evolve for the benefit of the tribe, weeding out behaviors that are detrimental (such as killing others for no cause).

If our social structure were different our morals would be different. Compare behavior of lion pack, wolf pack, Buffalo herd, etc.

It's quite simple.

Enjoy


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RAZD
Member (Idle past 427 days)
Posts: 20714
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004


(1)
Message 137 of 306 (872963)
03-07-2020 12:35 PM
Reply to: Message 27 by Phat
03-01-2020 2:32 PM


Are the morals of a lion the same as an antelope?
... You bring up an interesting line of thought, though.
People always hear of the violent cultures of the early Jews and how God commanded them to kill everyone--men, women, and children alike. To me, it was always more about the morality of that culture at that time and in (and at) that point of development rather than it was about blaming the booming voice of God.

Culture evolves to become more inclusive, because not being at war with your neighbors means more survival of your tribe/group/etc...

Let me propose a question to open the discussion a bit to give a perspective

Are the morals of a lion the same as the morals of an antelope?

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RAZD
Member (Idle past 427 days)
Posts: 20714
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004


Message 148 of 306 (873045)
03-09-2020 9:32 AM
Reply to: Message 138 by AZPaul3
03-07-2020 12:57 PM


Re: Are the morals of a lion the same as an antelope?
Are the morals of a lion the same as the morals of an antelope?

Since neither has been shown to have any moral decision-making sense the answer is, "We don't know."

Their behavior is predicated on the type of animal they are. The lion male taking over a pride kills all the current young to make the mothers go into estrus earlier so they can mate and start having offspring with their DNA.

This doesn't happen with antelope (or many other species).

The conclusion I draw is that this is moral behavior for the lions, but not for the antelope (or other species that don't indulge in infanticide).

You also see parents and other adults protecting young from predators in many species.

IFF there is an "absolute morality" then it would apply to all life, but we see here moral relativity would differ between species, so it would have to have many subchapters, amendments, exclusions, etc.

Tangle writes:

It seems obvious the basis of morality are emotions such as empathy and compassion and are evolved traits. ...

Empathy and compassion have been observed in many animals, from dogs to horses to camels to whales, as well as in chimps, especially where deaths of offspring are mourned.

We've also seen experiments with Capuchin monkeys have a sense of morality

We also see whales and dolphins protecting/helping swimmers

So it should be rather obvious that "morality" is relative to the specific species and society and that it is an evolved behavior/trait.

Enjoy


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RAZD
Member (Idle past 427 days)
Posts: 20714
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004


Message 150 of 306 (873048)
03-09-2020 10:15 AM
Reply to: Message 139 by Dogmafood
03-08-2020 9:19 AM


Re: Are the morals of a lion the same as an antelope?
If morality is born from the act of making choices then the moral obligation of any agent is modified by their ability to make choices. The lion can not be found guilty of eating meat on a Friday nor the antelope praised for being a vegetarian. So even though they are not expected to behave in the same way they can be assessed by the same measure.

Or in other words, what is moral for the lion differs from what is moral for the antelope, and morality is relative to the species/society they live in.

... Any universal standard would need to apply equally to any moral agent. ...

And any universal standard would need many chapters, with many subchapters, amendments and exclusions added over time in order to encompass all life.

... so how do we judge them by the same standard? We do that by finding the common denominators that are possessed by each and every agent.

Each species would have their specific relative agent/s. Somehow I doubt there would be one common agent shared by all species.

Enjoy


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RAZD
Member (Idle past 427 days)
Posts: 20714
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004


Message 154 of 306 (873064)
03-09-2020 11:20 AM
Reply to: Message 140 by Tangle
03-08-2020 10:05 AM


Re: Are the morals of a lion the same as an antelope?
With the possible exception of the higher apes, you can't talk about moral behaviour in animals, just behaviour.

Yet you say

msg 141 writes:

It seems obvious the basis of morality are emotions such as empathy and compassion and are evolved traits. ...

and empathy and compassion can be observed in the behavior of many animals. Thus they have at least the basis for morality.

We also have evidence of monkeys exhibiting behaviors we see a moral. Of course this perception is based on our own evolved morality which would be heavily biased towards apes/monkeys -- cousins.

To be able to act morally an organism needs both agency and capacity, that is it must be able to act independently by rational choice and be mentally capable of understanding the difference between good behaviour and bad.

... so unless an individual is capable of "understanding the difference between good behaviour and bad" they cannot have morals?

Certainly many animals are capable of making decisions, and who are we to decide that they are or are not good/bad decisions? ... is this grass good to eat? or should we just smoke it?

Enjoy


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RAZD
Member (Idle past 427 days)
Posts: 20714
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004


(1)
Message 155 of 306 (873067)
03-09-2020 11:27 AM
Reply to: Message 149 by Faith
03-09-2020 9:46 AM


Re: Are the morals of a lion the same as an antelope?
Here's the thing: They have an intelligence that can make decisions. It's not all instinctual behavior. Certainly this has to be true of the mammals, but I think it may also be true of birds, not sure how I have that iidea.

If they can make decisions, then they have the capacity to judge that one is better than the other, and that is a moral decision for them imho.

Enjoy


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RAZD
Member (Idle past 427 days)
Posts: 20714
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004


Message 156 of 306 (873068)
03-09-2020 11:35 AM
Reply to: Message 152 by Tangle
03-09-2020 11:10 AM


Re: Are the morals of a lion the same as an antelope?
Sure. Or at lest we see behaviours that look to us like empathetic behaviour. That's ok by me, but it's not moral behaviour. Moral behaviour requires both the instincts to act empathetically in certain situations and the capacity to choice whether to obey them or not. ...

and they make a choice when that behavior is observed, a choice that it is better to behave one way vs not behaving that way.

That to me is a moral decision on their part, according to their morals.

I think that what we call morality is human specific and it is both an evolved instinct and a socially learnt trait. ...

And I think the same can be applied to all species, without the anthropocentric biases.

Enjoy


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RAZD
Member (Idle past 427 days)
Posts: 20714
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004


Message 167 of 306 (873123)
03-10-2020 11:44 AM
Reply to: Message 166 by Dogmafood
03-10-2020 9:30 AM


Re: Are the morals of a lion the same as an antelope?
Moral agency lies on a spectrum and is not a simple yes or no question. ...

btw I kind of dislike the term "agency" as it implies something different in cognition development, while it seems to me that morality is an emergent ability/facet of cognitive development, just as cognitive development is an emergent ability/facet of processing information from sensory inputs.

... The fact that we can see it developing in other species should give us some insight into what it is and where it comes from.

It's evolving.

Enjoy


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RAZD
Member (Idle past 427 days)
Posts: 20714
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004


Message 168 of 306 (873124)
03-10-2020 11:50 AM
Reply to: Message 163 by Dogmafood
03-10-2020 12:23 AM


Re: Are the morals of a lion the same as an antelope?
That is not how you distill a universal standard. You look for common elements and reduce them to their most fundamental qualities.

1. Live
2. Reproduce

Any others?

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RAZD
Member (Idle past 427 days)
Posts: 20714
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004


Message 169 of 306 (873127)
03-10-2020 12:08 PM
Reply to: Message 159 by Tangle
03-09-2020 12:32 PM


Re: Are the morals of a lion the same as an antelope?
... concept of agency ...

What is that?

I doubt you'll find many people agreeing with you that choosing between good and bad things to eat is a moral decision.

Don't expect a fully formed highly developed and nuanced moral concept to leap into existence.

It's a choice between what is good to eat and what is bad to eat, consider it the first stage in determining what is good for the individual and what is bad for the individual.

I don't think anyone will be able to point to one behavior/"agent"/etc and say that is where moral behavior starts ... and be able to justify it as anything other than opinion.

Enjoy


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RAZD
Member (Idle past 427 days)
Posts: 20714
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004


(1)
Message 185 of 306 (873211)
03-11-2020 1:31 PM
Reply to: Message 183 by Stile
03-11-2020 8:37 AM


Morality and apes and whales and dogs and ...
If what's required for morality is a sense of compassion and empathy, and dogs show examples that they can have these senses (to a lesser degree than us... but still there all the same.) What's to say "dog's can't have morality!" rather than "dog's can have morality, just at a lesser degree than humans?"

To go back to the topic title (Morality without God is impossible) I would say that demonstrating rudimentary moral behavior in animals, with a progression of observed behavior consistent with human moral behavior, is sufficient to show that it is an emergent evolved capacity. As such either (1) the god/s in question have an overall plan applicable for all life or (2) they are not needed.

If the first, then morality is just innate behavior according to the plan.

We observe several behaviors occurring to different degrees in animals. Self awareness (eg recognizing yourself in a mirror), for instance: dogs have it, cats do not. Rescuing humans in danger for another: whales, dogs, apes all have been observed doing it.

Making choices: as noted previously many many many animals make conscious choices.

Distinguishing good from bad: documented in monkeys, apes and dogs. Everyone should be familiar with dogs that know they have been bad. Faith's example of the racoon that chooses not to bite is another example.

Thus we can evidentiaryily conclude that there is a spectrum of evolved behaviors we associate with morality.

Enjoy


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RAZD
Member (Idle past 427 days)
Posts: 20714
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004


Message 205 of 306 (873862)
03-20-2020 3:18 PM
Reply to: Message 204 by Dogmafood
03-20-2020 8:28 AM


De Wall: The Bonobo and the Atheist
To toss another stone into this pond to observe the ripples ...

quote:
The Bonobo and the Atheist

In this lively and illuminating discussion of his landmark research, esteemed primatologist Frans de Waal argues that human morality is not imposed from above but instead comes from within. Moral behavior does not begin and end with religion but is in fact a product of evolution.

For many years, de Waal has observed chimpanzees soothe distressed neighbors and bonobos share their food. Now he delivers fascinating fresh evidence for the seeds of ethical behavior in primate societies that further cements the case for the biological origins of human fairness. Interweaving vivid tales from the animal kingdom with thoughtful philosophical analysis, de Waal seeks a bottom-up explanation of morality that emphasizes our connection with animals. In doing so, de Waal explores for the first time the implications of his work for our understanding of modern religion. Whatever the role of religious moral imperatives, he sees it as a “Johnny-come-lately” role that emerged only as an addition to our natural instincts for cooperation and empathy.

But unlike the dogmatic neo-atheist of his book’s title, de Waal does not scorn religion per se. Instead, he draws on the long tradition of humanism exemplified by the painter Hieronymus Bosch and asks reflective readers to consider these issues from a positive perspective: What role, if any, does religion play for a well-functioning society today? And where can believers and nonbelievers alike find the inspiration to lead a good life?

Rich with cultural references and anecdotes of primate behavior, The Bonobo and the Atheist engagingly builds a unique argument grounded in evolutionary biology and moral philosophy. Ever a pioneering thinker, de Waal delivers a heartening and inclusive new perspective on human nature and our struggle to find purpose in our lives.


Also read the comments for further explications.

Curiously I just got this book out of the blue and started reading it. It wasn't long before I saw how it applied to this thread. I'm currently on pg 23 having just started, and already I'd recommend it.

Morals are evolved. Then religion was plastered on it to create an external authority.

Enjoy


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RAZD
Member (Idle past 427 days)
Posts: 20714
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004


Message 220 of 306 (874008)
03-23-2020 3:13 PM
Reply to: Message 218 by GDR
03-22-2020 8:39 PM


Morality Evolved, Religion evolved to emphasize Morality
Yes, we can't see it. It is a matter of faith that it is there. From an atheistic position of course it doesn't exist. If one is a theist then it makes it possible and I suggest that it even makes it likely.

"it" ... the finger of god? Is this a Christian finger or a generic finger (and which one? )

As a deist/agnostic one essentially believes in non-communication from deities, IDists (a poor cousin to deism imho) think they can see the finger of god but I remain skeptical. I can't see how any communication can readily occur with god/s that are able to create a universe.

Morality derived from the finger of god pointing the way seems a stretch, imho.

Currently I am reading "The Bonobo and the Atheist" (see Message 205) and it is providing strong evidence of evolution of the basics of morality (emotion, empathy, self awareness, love, altruism, etc.) in other animals, hence it cannot be human centric, but an emergent property of evolution.

Enjoy


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RAZD
Member (Idle past 427 days)
Posts: 20714
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004


(1)
Message 223 of 306 (874023)
03-23-2020 4:34 PM
Reply to: Message 221 by GDR
03-23-2020 3:52 PM


Re: Morality Evolved, Religion evolved to emphasize Morality
Just a thought on the ID movement. I see it as being consistent with either deism or theism.

The question is how it is done.

We would agree that we are affected by cultural memes, whether it be family, friends or our specific culture. We also know that all cultures are able to give examples of those who are fundamentally altruistic or fundamentally selfish. In other words we essentially choose which memes that we will have an impact on our lives

Cultures evolve in response to changes in their cultural and natural environment/s.

Our minds are affected by external influences ...

In the world around us. Visible, tangible.

... and I don’t see it as such a stretch to believe that a deity able to bring about life as we know it can’t be one of those influences.

How?

I don’t deny that morality does evolve. It also seems to me that morality in other animals is more prevalent among those that are subject to the loving care of humans. ...

Not necessarily, it's observed in cases devoid of human intervention (other than observation) according to de Waal.

... it would be something that would grow within a culture over generations. I don’t see the evidence that points to it evolving rules out either view.

Why not?

What is good for the group can be selected over behavior not good for the group. The idea of fairness seems prevalent in virtually all primates. That's a rule.

Enjoy


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