morality within evolution

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by juantoo3, Jul 22, 2004.

  1. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Kindest Regards!

    I have had a question forming for some time now, and I'm not quite sure if I can yet ask it properly. Forgive me if this doesn't come out right...

    What place does morality hold within the context of evolutionary theory?

    Perhaps I would do well to explain somewhat. I recently completed Stephen J. Gould's book "Rocks of Ages" in which he describes what he calls "Non Overlapping Magisteria." This he describes as the respectful separation of science and religion, implying that the two attempt to answer completely different aspects of a given puzzle. In effect, science cannot address matters of faith, and religion cannot address matters of fact.

    Given some posts I have seen from others elsewhere here, sometimes in association with nature oriented religions, I am puzzled. Can morality be the result of natural evolution? Or, as Gould implies, is this a matter of human psycho-social development that cannot be adequately addressed by scientific scholarship? Can nature based religions rightfully claim scientific basis for their moralities? Or should the whole subject of moral development be held aside, restricted to the "magisteria" of religion?

    Just some fuel for discussion...:D
     
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  2. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    As morality is essetnailly seen as a human aspect, I don;t think it is ever inferred in the theory of evolution.

    In terms of Sociobiology there may perhaps be an argument to be made that human morality itself is a direct development from the rules of interaction that govern social apes.
     
  3. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Kindest Regards, Brian!

    Thank you very much for your response.

    Yes, I understand. Yet morality is covered in social/cultural development, which seems often couched in "evolutionary," or at least "developmental," language.

    OK, this is heading where I intended. Is it then "right" or "justifiable" to look to nature for moral guidance? :)
     
  4. alexa

    alexa somewhere in time

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    [QUOTE :Is it then "right" or "justifiable" to look to nature for moral guidance? :)[/QUOTE]
    Hello juantoo3,

    Maybe we should look at morality associated with moral. As Brian, said before, this applies only for humans.

    Regarding the nature, as a moral guide, I have an example in my head : an animal doesn't kill another one just for fun. It kills to survive.

    In my opinion, as long as you can learn something, no matter the source, it's a good thing. :)

    Regards,

    alexa
     
  5. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Kindest Regards, alexa!

    Thank you for your post.

    Yes. Of course, this leads to ambiguity and vagueness.

    True. Of course, some animals eat their young. Some animals make babies and the father either leaves the mother, or both leave their babies to fend for themselves. Some male animals mate with as many females as they can get away with. The list continues...can these things be acceptable to humans as examples of morality?

    I accept this premise, but I question nature as a source. Perhaps humans are better left to define morality from other human examples? Or perhaps morality, at least as defined by and for humans, is something that distinguishes us from animals? :)
     
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  6. alexa

    alexa somewhere in time

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    I think this is the source of all the world's religions. Each religion has basically good principles of morality.



    Now, what do we do with those poor people who don't care about morality and their behaviour is more like of an animal ?



    We cannot condamn an animal only because it behaves like an animal. But we can learn from their behaviour. There are parents who abuses their children or leave them, just like some animals do. Same thing with the males. How many men are happy only with one woman ? Not many, unfortunately. And what about a religion which allows for a man as many wives and concubines as he can afford to keep ?



    I have read recently an article about the evolution of life in the Universe. (I know there are a lot about his subject ). This article points the fact that the human being is on stagnation from thousands years now. Of course the science and the technology have evoluated. But what about us ? The history should be a good teacher. Then, why the same mistake is done again and again ? Ignorance or proud of the human being who thinks he will succeed there where others have failed ?



    An earthqauake or a volcano can take our lives in a minute. What can we learn from these natural events ? We are mortals and the life is short. We cannot ignore nature as its all around us. :)
     
  7. alexa

    alexa somewhere in time

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    ups, sorry about the distance between paragraphs. I have lost the internet conection and it was difficult to save my post elsewhere. :eek:

    alexa
     
  8. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    I've edited the text, so it is now legible. :)
     
  9. alexa

    alexa somewhere in time

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    Thanks a lot, Brian ! :)

    Do you think it's possible to have a personal draft folder where we can save the messages before sending them ?

    alexa
     
  10. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    I don;t believe that one exists - my personal policy is to quickly use the followig:

    CTRL+A - highlights all the message
    CTRL+C - copies the highlighted message.

    In the event that the post is lost, I then simply use

    CTRL+V - paste all copied back in

    :)
     
  11. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Kindest Regards, alexa!

    Thank you very much for your post!

    By the way, I love the icon you chose, very nice.

    It is really difficult to say with any certainty just exactly where religion did come from. You may have seen some of the discussions elsewhere. Even in considering the cave paintings at Lascaux and other places, the "religious" aspects are educated guesses by the researchers, they simply have no real way of knowing. It is a fair guess to say that religion and morality came out of nature, but we have no way to show that as fact. Or at least, I haven't seen anything.

    I very much agree with the last part of your statement, each religion does have basically good principles of morality. I just wonder where this morality comes from...



    We lock them away, in a prison or mental institution. :)



    Yet, so often, we do. If a bear acts like a bear and destroys a campsite, the bear is sometimes dealt with harshly. If a wolf acts like a wolf and kills a rancher's sheep, the wolf is killed for being a wolf. If an alligator attacks a human, or threatens to, it is all too often killed around here. So very often we do condemn animals for behaving just as they were meant to.


    I am pleased to see you picked up on what I was trying to say with my examples. And this to a great degree illustrates my point. Because nature allows this kind of behavior, is it "right" for humans to hold such behavior as morality? I think in most enlightened societies, deadbeat dads and runaway moms are frowned upon. This is not socially ideal behavior, and it reflects in the laws and in the culture. Generally speaking harems are not permissable either, and looked down upon as well. This is natural behavior, but it is not moral behavior.

    I mean, let's face it, nature can be a very cruel mistress. Morality is not her strong suit, regardless of some of the rosey pictures I have seen painted.



    I think Solomon had a stroke of psychoanalytic genius when he wrote "there's nothing new under the sun." I think we have animal drives and desires, but morality so often seems to be at odds with those drives, keeping those drives in check in civil societies. The best for society at the expense of the best for the individual. Yet I see some promote a surrender of sorts to animal drives, and I cannot help but wonder the end result of such a moral code and way of life. I think it would be a return to the cave, so to speak. I do not see how it could in any way promote humanity, or provide for common good. Which returns me to the comment I made earlier about morality separating humans from animals.


    I agree. I just don't see how this can be a driving factor in establishing a moral code to live by. An individual philosophy of "live life to the fullest" perhaps, but I don't see how it can reflect in the way to treat others around you, especially strangers. It doesn't reflect directly in the "social graces."

    I understand that I do not know. That is why I asked my question. All of this is guess work, and wide open to discussion.

    Thanks again! :)
     
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  12. alexa

    alexa somewhere in time

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    Hello Juantoo3,

    It's my pleasure to have with you this conversation.

    I have no intention to say I have an answer for you. More I learn about life, more I know I know nothing. :)

    So, let's try to approach this topic from different positions and maybe we are lucky enough to be closer tothe truth at the end of it.

    [QUOTE : It is really difficult to say with any certainty just exactly where religion did come from.
    I just wonder where this morality comes from...[/QUOTE]
    Each religion has its leaders or founders (Moise, Jesus, Muhammad, Lao Zi, Confucius, Zoroaster, etc). They were all very wise people. They were also philosophers and reformers. Maybe they didn't like the behaviour of people around them, so giving moral rules was the best solution to teach them to behave otherwise.



    I think there is no enough space to put all of them inside.





    This is human arrogance to punish animals and prove superiority.




    The nature has its means to perform selection. If a child is left in the jungle, there is no way to have a scientist at the end of his life. We need a society to become social beings. With each of us, the nature and the society give a shot to have a better person.



    You are right. Morality separates humans from animals. The only problem is how a person understands the morality. His education, his culture, the life experience and his age are important factors to consider.

    In the 18th century, there was said to be a man who had read every book written. Nowadays, it's suicide even to try to read all of them. The amount of information is so high, we have only the possibility to specialize in a field and try to do the best for it.

    Regards,


    alexa

    By the way, I have chosen my icon as people who know me well say this kind of regard characterize me :)
     
  13. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Kindest Regards, Alexa!

    Thank you for your thoughtful reply!

    Yes, please. I think that would make a very good thought exercise.

    Yes, I agree. Philosophy (religious or otherwise) I would think to be distinct from socio-biology. Yet not inseparable. Perhaps some religious philosophers (here I am thinking of the foundation of Hinduism) looked to nature as a source, but realized many things in nature were not suitable to human society. At some point somebody must have realized that "animal morality" was not beneficial for the advancement of human society, and began teaching morality apart from nature. Just a thought...




    I agree that humans do have a habit of proving superiority over nature in many nasty ways. The examples I presented though, were to show that sometimes that demonstration of superiority is necessary, for protection of human life or limb, or property. Humans do get carried away with this though.

    Yes, but so much of human society and morality is to circumvent natural selection. In the wild, a handicapped child would likely die. In modern society, even children born very pre-mature are saved alive, and society frowns on allowing handicapped individuals to wither and die. It still happens, but it is not encouraged as a social norm, even though it would be very much in accord with nature.

    Another chicken and egg puzzle; which came first, society or social animals? I can see nature creating a better person if one allows for our present biological make-up. Society I would think definitely makes for a better person in that with strength in numbers, there is greater opportunity for each individual to thrive.



    Certainly. Because a moral code exists, does not mean that each and every individual follows that code strictly. Especially since so many moral codes seem to be constructed in such a way as to guarantee failure, or at least sabotage absolute compliance. But there is social pressure on each individual to comply, and non-compliance carries social penalties.

    Yes, there is so much information, too much for any one person to grasp and use. For all of our collective learning, I think we are finding we create more questions with each new answer.

    Thank you again, Wes :)
     
  14. alexa

    alexa somewhere in time

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    Hello again, juantoo3

    I think you have found something. There are indeed to many moral codes and religions and each of them seemed to work perfectely only for his founder. Does this mean the followers of a religion cannot understand the moral code as it was expected to ? Why we cannot get the same result as Jesus or Budda or the other founders ?

    It's like we have the potential, but we have not enough strenght to use it.

    I would like to propose you something. What do you say if we try to find the moral code of each religion (the base only) and see what they have in common and what makes them appart. As I'm a Christian, I would need some time to find the suitable information, or maybe other members will be interested to help us a little.

    Let's take the world religions, as Brian gave us to the left.

    I know it's a long shot, but once we have a global picture of what is moral and what is imoral, I hope we should be able to see the evolution of human being and the role of nature in a moral code.

    What do you think ?

    Regards,

    alexa
     
  15. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste all,


    alexa, as an aside to this discussion.. that is the entire point of Buddhist praxis... to get the same result as the historical Buddha Shakyamuni :)

    realize that for the Buddhist, this can take a multiple of lifetimes... just as it was with the historical Buddha.

    back to the regularly scheduled discussion :)
     
  16. alexa

    alexa somewhere in time

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    Namaste Vaj,

    I don't know many things about buddhism, except reincarnation which is notorious. Can you tell me which are the main principles of its moral ?

    You know, in the Christian religion we have the 10 commandements :

    1. You shall have no other God before me;
    2. You shall not make for yourself an idol;
    3. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God;
    4. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy;
    5. Honor your father and your mother;
    6. You shall not murder;
    7. You shall not commit adultery;
    8. You shall not steal;
    9. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor;
    10. You shall not covent anything that belongs to your neighbour

    Are similar principles in buddism ?

    Juantoo3 gave us for discussion the morality within evolution. He is inquiring the nature as source of morality. As it seems we ask more questions than finding answers, I would like to know where are the differences between the world religions.

    I do not try to prove that a religion is better than the other. There is no point of use. The variety between people is as larger as between animal and vegetal species.

    You said you need multiple of lifetimes to get the same result as Budda. Why ? How many succeed to reach the same level as Budda, even after several lifetimes ? Why is so difficult to find illumination ? What can we do to find it ? What can we do to improve the human being ?

    As you can see, there are a lot of questions and I would like to know your opinion on it.

    Regards,

    alexa
     
  17. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Kindest Regards, Alexa and Vajradhara!

    Thank you both for your posts!

    I like this observation.

    I think it is a wonderful idea, but a challenge. Some people spend lifetimes doing just this. Joseph Campbell comes to mind.

    Of course, I would think we would do well to consider the similarities, not so much the differences. I realize the similarities may be expressed in different ways.

    I am all for the assistance and input from others, especially because I know my understanding is limited and cursory.

    I believe I understand this, in general terms, from previous discussions. But what, in the most simple and general terms, is the basis and foundation of the Buddhist belief? Ah, words fail me here. What is the drive and motivation? Why Buddhism, and not another path? Not trying to convert, trying to understand. :)

    Perhaps this is a good way of asking the question.

    I have long thought Jesus gave us two more commandments, that encompass the 10. "Love your Heavenly Father with all of your heart, mind, soul and strength...Love your neighbor as yourself." In these are fulfilled the law and the prophets...

    I understand Buddhism does not recognize a "Father" figure in terms of "God". Yet it seems I recall mention of a source from which all come. I also recall a quote by a gentleman, (Tillich?), that seemed to correspond to this.

    Does Buddhism teach "love your neighbor as yourself," or something like the "golden rule?"

    Indeed. Likewise, I am questioning the validity of nature as a viable source for human morality. I have concerns about where the discussion may lead, and I wish in no way whatsoever to offend anybody, but I do wonder about the subject. Again, I am not sure the differences between religions would be a productive search, more rather the similarities with (probable) different expressions.

    These are viable and valid questions I had not even considered.

    I am not going to pretend I am knowledgeable about various religions. I have studied a little, and I have learned a great deal here. A common factor I see is "love."
    Love of course is an ambiguous term, it means many different things to different people, and even to animals. Love, by itself, is not morality.

    I was taught long ago the three types of love from the greek: eros (physical love), philio ("brotherly" love), and agape (love of God).

    In the most general terms, Christianity by my understanding is not concerned directly with eros. Unless one counts what I have seen here concerning Gnosis, which would seem to me a form of esoteric Christianity. Some other religious traditions, by my understanding, including nature based pagan and neo-pagan traditions, Tantra, and esoteric Judaism, do have components that derive from eros. I want to believe the other forms of love, philio and agape, are also present in one form or another.

    Even animals seem to love, if interactions I have seen between mothers and babies are not my wishful anthropomorphizing. If even natural enemies, such as cats and dogs, can get along in an unnatural setting as pets, some component of love must seem to be at work.

    But love by itself is not morality. Love is a passion, as hate is a passion. I don't think we need to go very far to see humans are fully capable of hate. Hate is anti-moral, but it is natural passion. So the trouble in my view of using nature as a guide to morality.

    I will pause here for input. Thank you both for participating!
     
  18. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste Alexa,

    thank you for the post.

    actually, this is a Hindu notion which Buddhism rejects. Of course, this is also found in the Jewish tradition.. nevertheless, the Buddhist term is "rebirth" not "reincarnation". essentially, the difference is one of meaning... reincarnation implies that there is an unchanging mover that moves from incarnation to incarnation as essentially the same. Buddhist rebirth isn't this. what is reborn is an aspect of the consciousness.

    this rather varies between the monastic and the laiety. the monastics have between 226-240 some odd rules that they must comply with. the laiety on the other hand, have the 5 Precepts, which are:

    1. I will not kill

    2. I will not steal

    3. I will not engage in sexual misconduct

    4. I will not lie

    5. I will not take intoxicating beverages or drugs

    to a certain extent, yes, they are similar.. however, as you'd expect, there is nothing related to a specific god.

    like any skill, it takes time to become proficient. the skill in this case is meditation... in particular, certain techniques. now.. i should say that there are three views on the length of time it takes to awaken in the same manner as the Buddha and these are, generally, called Hinyana, Mahayana and Vajrayana.

    the Theravedan school, which is the only extant school of the Hinyana view, maintains that it takes 3 Mahakalpas, essentially eons, to awaken like the Buddha. the Mahayana, essentially, shares this view. though they expand on it somewhat with the more prominent teaching of the Bodhisattva. the Bodhisattva is a being that deliberately choses to return to the cyclic existence to be a guide, teacher et al to the rest of us sentient beings that are still trapped. the Vajrayana, by contrast, is called the Diamond Thunderbolt vehicle and it says that one can awaken in the full sense as the historical Buddha in one lifetime.

    i should say, however, that each these views requires a proper understanding of the preceeding school. so.. in a practicle sense that means that since i'm a Vajrayana practioner in this life, i've practiced the Buddhadharma in the past. we can go into more depth about Buddism, if you'd like, however, that should probably be on the Buddhism area of the site :)

    the point, if you will, of Buddhism is for every single sentient being in the multiverse to awaken. so, the facile answer is that all beings will succeed.. hence, the Bodhisattva :) the guide to help us find the other shore.

    it's not difficult, per se, though it does require time and effort to remove the mental defilements which are one of the primary causes of the inability to recognize our fundamental nature. this is an important bit... it's not that you "gain" awakening.. it's not something outside your fundamental nature. it's really a matter of uncovering this fundamental nature and recognizing it for ourselves.

    it's not something outside your fundamental nature, it is already present, complete and full. it's simply unrecognized.. or, i could say, unactualized. an old zen saying may help to illustrate this: "the only zen you find on the mountain is the zen you brought with you."

    do you mean improve the physical form? or improve the spiritual aspect of humanity as a whole?

    i'll presume you mean the latter and answer appropriately. the first step, in my view, is the generate Bodhichitta. Bodhichitta is the heart of compassion towards all sentient beings which desires their wellbeing and happiness more than it's own.
     
  19. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste juan,

    thank you for the post.

    i understand :) this is the CR forum ;)

    what is the basis for our belief? well.. that's a good question. the simple answer is found in the Kalamaa Sutta and it goes something like this:

    "Do not believe in anything because you have heard it.

    Do not believe in tradition because they have been have been handed down.

    Do not believe in anything because it is spoken and rumoured by many.

    Do not believe in anything because it is found written in religious books.

    Do not believe in anything merely on the account of your teachers and elders.
    But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of all, then accept it and live up to it."

    now.. as for why Buddhism and not another path... the best answer that i can give is that it works for me :) why it works for me is a different question, though i suppose that we can take that up, if you'd like.

    the Tillich conception of God is the Ground of Being. this is a concept that most Buddhists wouldn't have much argument with for this is not a "personal" God. it's the underlying, fundamental nature of reality, as is, without conception. we happen to call this Dharmadhatu.

    sure thing :) the point of Buddhism, though, isn't to love them as yourself.. it's to actually realize that you are them.. what happens to another happens to you. in a very real sense, the feeling towards other beings that we try to cultivate can be compared to the motherly aspect of compassion. for example, when the child is ill the mother will often wish to have the illness herself rather than the child. this is called Bodhichitta.
     
  20. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Kindest Regards, Vajradhara!

    Thank you most sincerely for your posts! You have placed a great deal into a context that is beginning to make sense to me now.

    I did see something though that continues to puzzle me, at least in the context of this thread. You mention "fundamental nature," which it would seem implies directly what it is I am attempting to discuss. Does Buddhism look to nature as a source and influence for its moral code? If so, how does Buddhism account for the (to be nice) uglier side of nature?
     

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