Morals or More Rails To Guide Us: Science Vs. Religion

The virtues of right and wrong have been around since the first creature felt what would be later called pain and responded to it. When something hurts, you try not to do it again. It is a relatively simple concept that has evolved unobstructed for one life time (one life time being from the start of all life, until now). There are many different sources of morality. Each of these sources share one major thing in common: They all believe that they are the most right. I’m not here to call your god a shape-shifting molester of women (unless you pray to Zues) or tell you how to live your life but rather, I would like to examine a few schools of moral thought. I’ll leave the conclusion making to you, our Wondergressive readers.

Science

Before I begin I would like to address a euphemism. You see, There are No Morals in Science but what science lacks in morals, it makes up in “ethical concerns” which if you ask me, is a science’d up way of saying that even scientists have morals.

Science believes, whole-mindedly, that the answers to everything are measurable. Using analysis, a scientist decodes the world. There is nothing that cannot be measured. The things that are not yet measured are only not yet measured because we haven’t found a way to measure them yet. Science will find a way to answer every question through precision measurements. From What is Science:

Science is continually refining and expanding our knowledge of the universe, and as it does, it leads to new questions for future investigation. Science will never be “finished.”

Logic is the pride of science. Every decision must be logical. Since I’m in the habit of asking google what things are, I decided to ask “What is Logic?”

Briefly speaking, we might define logic as the study of the principles of correct reasoning. This is a rough definition, because how logic should be properly defined is actually quite a controversial matter.

Basically logic is the refinement of thinking in order to achieve perfectly scientific results.

 

Fables, Fiction, and Fantasy:

Guided by both the imagination and the wisdom of everyday life, invented stories are another means of instilling morality. This time, when I searched the rules of fiction, there is nothing concrete. There are limitless ways of expressing good/evil dichotomies when you use your imagination. There are a few guiding points in writing a good piece of fiction. Each work must have elements of plot, setting, character, conflict, symbol, point of view, and some sort of a theme to tie it all together.

That is just from the standpoint of the author. The great thing about these three ‘F’s is that the infinite imagination of the reader is coupled with the infinite imagination of the author to create unparalleled sharing of ideas. Reading fiction challenges the morals, or-if you prefer-ethical concerns, through vivid imagery. A good author is capable of projecting feelings through the work that has been created in order to engage the reader in a decision making process. Did things turn out the right way? But what happens when you pair both science and these three ‘F’s?

Religion

Unlike any of the aforementioned morality boosters, religion deals primarily with what happens after you die. Some philosophies approach the matter more scientifically and some choose to use time-tested stories in order to explain the whatnots and whyfors of morality. Religion asks its followers to fully believe that there is no other way than the path that they are on. Relying on a sense of community to herd the masses into doing what is right, religion gives security to the faithful.

 

Secular ethics and the World Around You

Speaking as somebody who has a terrible time deciding what class to choose in RPGs (I often choose the druid or shape shifting class), I think that we all have a responsibility to find our own moral code. Religion, Science, and Fables/Fiction/Fantasy all give us ways to learn something new, or really.. really old. It is up to us to decide to be kind and charitable to each other whether or not we share the same values. At the core, we all want to be happy and that is all that matters.

In closing, as Kurt Vonnegut puts it best:

God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.

Source List:
What is Science?
What is Logic?
There are No Morals in Science
There are a few guiding points in writing a good piece of fiction
This is a great part of Monty Python’s Life of Brian

Donated DNA: Kids May Have 3 Parents in the Near Future

 

British scientists are requesting that the public formulate an opinion regarding the creation of IVF babies with three genetic parents as it  is currently illegal to tamper with inherited genetic material in clinics.  Having three genetic parents  would prevent a wide array of diseases by using donated, healthy DNA.

This would be accomplished through the donation of healthy mitochondrial DNA, where the “baby would have a full compliment of nuclear DNA from its mother and father, plus a tiny amount of donated mitochondrial DNA.”  Mitochondria have their own set of DNA separate from the rest of our body that is only passed on by women. When mitochondrial DNA is defective, it leads to diseases such as “muscular dystrophy and conditions leading to the loss of hearing and vision, heart problems and intestinal disorders.”

In order for this form of DNA donation therapy to occur, society must accept the ethical, and overly hindering, religious implications.

Personally, if I was given the option of being viewed in a potentially negative way, or not having muscular dystrohpy, I would choose societal judgement every time.

Morality In Animals

Morality in Animals is a TED talk that documents some very interesting findings regarding how animals exhibit what we think of as morality.

It is so interesting seeing animals behave in ways that philosophers have always imagined to be strictly ‘human.’ This information may help end the sordid ways we treat other species, and our own.

Why do we have zoos again?

*Update*
Here is another article continuing the discussion of morality in animals.  It also remarks that “chimpanzees, who cannot swim, have drowned in zoo moats trying to save others. Given the chance to get food by pulling a chain that would also deliver an electric shock to a companion, rhesus monkeys will starve themselves for several days.”

These animals sound even more moral than many humans I know.

Morality In Animals: Chimpanzees That Risk Their Own Lives

morality

opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com

Morality in Animals is a TED talk by Frans de Waal that documents some very interesting findings regarding how animals exhibit what we think of as morality.

It is so interesting seeing animals behave in ways that philosophers have always imagined to be strictly ‘human.’ This information may help end the sordid ways we treat other species, and our own.

An article from The New York TImes continues the discussion of morality in animals with their article on primate behavior.  It also remarks that

chimpanzees, who cannot swim, have drowned in zoo moats trying to save others. Given the chance to get food by pulling a chain that would also deliver an electric shock to a companion, rhesus monkeys  will starve themselves for several days.

These animals sound even more moral than most humans I know.

 

Why do we have zoos again?

 

Sources and Resources for Morality in Animals:

TED talk: Moral Behavior in Animals

Living Links Center for the Advanced Study of Ape and Human Evolution

The New York Times: Scientists Find the Beginning of Morality in Primate Behavior

Biology and Philosophy: Wild Justice and Fair Play: Cooperation, Forgiveness, and Morality in Animals