Where did morals originate?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by amazingdm, Jul 20, 2011.

  1. amazingdm macrumors 6502

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    #1
    I don't think it's much of a discussion to be honest,

    it's pretty much fact that morals started with and had to have started with our early ape-like ancestor civilizations. Without morals, without the idea of working together and not hurt each other for unjust reasons, we wouldn't be here today.

    Yet for some reason religions think they started morals? Makes no sense to me.
     
  2. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

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    #2
    Thousands of years ago, when Man reached the point of enlightened self-interest. Better than poking each other in the eye with a sharp stick.

    Religion codified "morals", and tossed in a ton of excrement of their own, the better to control Man.
     
  3. Huntn macrumors G5

    Huntn

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    #3
    I'm not sure if there is a hidden angle in topic, but there are many who believe God gave us morals. I believe we developed them over the millennia from when we started as organisms living in the goo. ;)
     
  4. .Andy macrumors 68030

    .Andy

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    #4
    I am with iJH on this one. They developed out of self-interest.
     
  5. appleguy123 macrumors 603

    appleguy123

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    #5
    What about other species who treat each other well? Do they show an enlightened self interest? It might be easy to say yes for an animal like an elephant, but what about an ant?

    I personally think that morals are a play on the mechanism that makes species nice to their kin. It was advantageous for these ethics to be extended on some level to non-kin to allow for a functioning society which is better for most individuals.
     
  6. Apple OC macrumors 68040

    Apple OC

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    #6
    seeing as I do not believe in religions ... morals are just part of one's personality ... generally speaking for most people it feels better to do good unto others than to **** people over.

    there are more people with good morals than bad
     
  7. OutThere macrumors 603

    OutThere

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    #7
    I'd imagine that the cooperative, community oriented early humans had more babies, and in turn future generations borne to these communities were inclined to be more cooperative and community oriented. Morals at their most basic are guidance for living successfully as a group. As our brains and intellect grew, empowering us to better find food, I imagine we crossed a threshold at which point these early humans' metal faculties were enough that they could perceive the value of 'morals'. Somewhere around then religion began, to provide answers to the many questions posed by our increased brain power, but also to provide a stronger reason to obey what became an increasingly arbitrary ruleset.

    At least that's how I imagine it, kind of hard to know anything for sure haha.
     
  8. codymac macrumors 6502

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    #8
    Pssst... don't tell Kant that.
     
  9. eawmp1 macrumors 601

    eawmp1

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    #9
    Granted to our ape-like ancestors by the monolith.
     
  10. Merkava_4 macrumors 6502a

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    #10
    Let's first make a list of what's considered immoral by various religions:

    Viewing pornography
    Working in the pornography industry
    Touching yourself inappropriately
    Having sex for recreation instead of procreation
    Having sex with anyone who shares your same DNA
    Having sex without being married first
    Having sex with someone who's already married
    Having sex with your student
    Having sex with your teacher
    Having sex with someone or something that's not human
    Having sex with the same sex
    Having sex using your tongue, throat, or mouth
    Gambling
    Stealing
    Vandalism
    Cussing
    Having tattoos
    Swimming in a pool naked
    Killing humans or other living creatures for pleasure


    Did I leave anything out?
     
  11. appleguy123 macrumors 603

    appleguy123

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    #11
    Add 'Thinking about' to all of your lists of having sex.
     
  12. .Andy macrumors 68030

    .Andy

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    #12
    To clarify you'll notice I left out the enlightened part. I guess it's one of semantics but morals are not necessarily synonymous with cooperation and altruism.
     
  13. appleguy123, Jul 20, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2011

    appleguy123 macrumors 603

    appleguy123

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    #13
    Are there any non-altruistic species with what we call a good morality?

    In fact, I would say that morality would be heavily penalized in any non-altruistic society. Sharing your food with a comrade when he won't do the same could result in starvation. Caring for others' children unreciprocated could result in the non-survival of your genes.
     
  14. iStudentUK macrumors 65816

    iStudentUK

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    #14
    It's an interesting one. However, we must not simply state humans have morality and animals don't- it's not that black and white.

    Some animal species display what we may describe as a primitive sense of morality, mostly in our fellow primates. Many gorilla tribes don't tolerate "adulterers" and will punish those who cheat on their partners. Chimpanzees will remember who has treated them fairly and those that cheated them, and treat them accordingly. Many monkeys understand what is a fair deal when exchanging items. Many primates will punish those that kill others within the tribe, but not those outside it.

    Now the above aren't what we would call a fully developed moral compass at all. However, we can see the start of some human concepts there, including in the last example a sense of war.

    Why would some of these feelings evolve? Some people say it is because good behaviour is best for the species, but that is missing what evolution is about. It doesn't operate on the species level or even at the individual level, but on the genetic level. Humans, like many of our fellow primates, used to live in small groups where there was a high chance that other humans you meet would be closely related to you. So treating them well was also helping to spread your own genes. The sense of morality that most people show in modern society is this feeling playing itself out on a bigger scale.

    It may sound cold and unpleasant, but we are good to those around us because it's best for us, or more specifically, our genes.
     
  15. Peterkro macrumors 68020

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    #15
    Communist!
     
  16. Rt&Dzine macrumors 6502a

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  17. appleguy123 macrumors 603

    appleguy123

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    #17
    I agree with what you say about the bases of morality, but far simpler creatures than primates demonstrate reciprocal altruism.

    Vampire bats will share blood with each other, on account that there is equal sharing(a bat who doesn't share will not be shared with). Source

    Birds warn each other when a predator approaches(though I realize that its reasons are also selfish in nature).
     
  18. iStudentUK macrumors 65816

    iStudentUK

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    #18
    Indeed, and that is good evidence to show the evolutionary advantage of altruism, which I guess is not the same as morality but closely related. One of my favourite books is The Selfish Gene, which describes in great detail the reasons for altruism.
     
  19. appleguy123 macrumors 603

    appleguy123

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    #19
    I just finished that book about 3 months ago. It was inspiring. I'm now reading 'The Blind Watchmaker'.
     
  20. Mac'nCheese macrumors 68030

    Mac'nCheese

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    #20
    You could also make a list of things of what's considered moral by various religions:

    Slavery and how to beat your slaves
    Beating your kids when they misbehave
    Beating your women when they misbehave
    Beating or killing anyone who does anything "sinful"
    etc
    etc
     
  21. zioxide macrumors 603

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    #21
    Religious people have issues. The whole point of organized religion is just to control people, nothing more. They think their religion is the only thing that is correct, and the only thing that even exists. It's like a sickness almost.

    I took out the things that are obviously wrong. But I don't see any problems with what is still listed here.

    You know what I think is immoral? People using the guise of religion to try to control people and force their ideas and beliefs on others.
     
  22. Gelfin macrumors 68020

    Gelfin

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    #22
    Morality evolved. It is a descriptive distillation of the normalized social behavior of the human species. What we regard as moral would be aberrant to a hypothetical intelligent species with a different social organization. Many people tend to intellectually gravitate towards theories at the extremes, comparing absolutely individualistic behavior with absolutely socially-directed behavior (greed vs. altruism), because a tidy rational case can be made for either extreme, but humans are characterized by the tension between the two, and so is our morality. Our morality encompasses our power dynamics and relationships, our capacity for both empathy and exploitation, our willingness to follow blindly and our drive to question and challenge.

    Our morality is also nebulous, like any evolved trait. The "standard" human morality is that which has maximally promoted human survival, but other behavioral strategies still survive in our species, albeit in numbers that reflect their lower rates of overall survivability. A hypothetical human race comprised entirely of sociopaths, autistics or schizophrenics would converge on a much different mean sense of morality than psychologically typical modern humans would.
     
  23. Peterkro macrumors 68020

    Peterkro

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    #23
    ^^ There are those that believe schizophrenia drives human evolution,I'm sure you're aware of their theories.:)
     
  24. Gelfin macrumors 68020

    Gelfin

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    #24
    I find the "bicameral mind" hypothesis quite intriguing, enough so to grant it that much mention, but I'm not quite 100% sold on it.
     
  25. mscriv macrumors 601

    mscriv

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    #25
    Wow, lots of "religious" negativity in this thread to go along with the sweeping stereotypes, broad brushes, and misinformation being thrown about.

    Many of you know I'm a person of faith and I can tell you that no part of my beliefs involve coercing others to think or do anything. In fact, free will is one of the things I hold most dear.

    And as for Merkava_4's list, that's just silly. First and foremost, I'm guilty of much on the list, and second there are plenty of people in the world who would "disapprove" of things on the list without any "religious" reason at all.

    I really wish people would learn that faith is not about a list of do's and don'ts or specific moral principles.
     

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