Sunday, August 31, 2014

Examining Morality

Professor Lee a.k.a Ryuu Lee begins:

THE MORAL ISSUE: I have had many skeptics ask me about the morally objectionable stance the God of the Bible took to have his "chosen people" wipe out the entire Canaanite civilization. While this seems a very difficult road to tread, with the premise that all life is sacred, and if God is a loving God, he would not order the wanton destruction of life, as it defies his very nature. I would like to invite fellow apologists and rational skeptics to come have a discussion on this weighty matter. 

I was invited by a friend to a special discussion that he initiated on Face Book. It was a discussion based on the thorny issue of the Canaanite slaughter and how that difficult biblical passage should be understood. Understandably, the discussion veered off to other equally interesting areas. In fact, before long, it became an in-depth discussion on  Morality.

As anyone knows, the comment box (combox) on Face Book is small. It isn't ideal for making comments that may be longer than a few short sentences. When people see the length of some comment, they may be psychologically driven to skip the comment. Besides, it is not always terribly easy to format comments, or to respond to individual points raised within a comment on Face Book. For this reason, I sought permission from my friend (the discussion originator) to reproduce the thread on this blog. Furthermore, doing this will make it more readily accessible to the wider public i.e. anyone not my friend's Face Book friend (and thus may not be able to see the thread).

Check out the lively discussion in the comments and feel free to contribute!


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  1. You have to realize the historical scene at play here. This was the stone ages where man thought that disease was punishment from god. You also have to recognize the personal nature of the relationship between nations and their gods. Yahweh was Israel’s personal and national god. He was also their war god, and rallying cry. Like all the other nations, they went to battle with their gods. When they won, they praised their gods, when they lost; they blamed it on their sins. It was always a win win for the gods and a way not to offend them (as questioning why they lost and demanding answers from the gods will be gross disrespect). So, i argue that, in the context of gods being the image of men, as opposed to men being the image of god, the bloodthirsty will of man mirrors the will of his creation, god. We could argue that these are issues of the past and that new generation christianity has nothing to do with the god of the past (but he is the same yesterday, today, yada yada yada). This historical context is still at play today amongst all abrahamic religions. Christians to the left hate homosexuals and will lynch them given the chance (orders from a god of love?) while Muslims on the left will not hesitate to kill all kaffirs (unbelievers) as it is the will of allah/yahweh. Both reflect poorly on the concept of "god of love". I will not be so brazen as to suggest that all gods are bad (as I am THOR!) but will like to point out that the Abrahamic god is uncharacteristically cruel and unloving, and still is today, if we are to believe his followers! The advent of and teachings of Jesus has had zero mellowing effect on extremism in the name of or at the command of god. we can thank secular law for that.

  2. Samuel Nkrumah8/31/2014 1:06 PM

    Good question Prof Lee, and even more a good and interesting submission by my dear brother Mike Osei Assibey. To begin with I must say such topics seem hard and difficult to discuss amongtst believers, myself inclusive. However believing in the Holy and Just Charater of Jehovah God, I do believe there is a purpose and a morally justifiable one for that matter. (even though it might not sit very well with everyone) On the other hand though it might be easy to say "Gods ways are not our ways neither are His thoughts our thoughts, as high as the heavens are are above the earth so high are his ways above our ways ..." I think I does both a disservice to both the revealed word of God and the skeptic seeking answers because a careful study of the Word reveals very telling reasons for such acts.

  3. Samuel Nkrumah8/31/2014 1:08 PM

    Alrite now let me simply cut to chase here. To begin with I read a statement which said " Imagine only listening to the bass instruments in Beethoven's fifth symphony. Of course the music would sound strong and powerful, but such a hearing would still be deficient. Listening to part of the score, or only some of the instruments, inevitably distorts the overall force and beauty of the full symphony". In the same way we need to read such episodes of bloodshed with the backdrop of God's overarching purpose or redemption of mankind.

    The Canaanites were a civilization that had grown in great wickedness. The worship of their god Molech included various forms of sexual perversions and child sacrifice. Historians say as the children were being burned, drums would be beaten so hard so their parents will not hear the cry of their children. This barbaric act was to secure future prosperity for themselves and their family. Now they had almost over 400 yrs to turn back from practices, however they did not, hence the manifestation of Gods holy wrath against their sin. Now God did not merely approve the wiping out of the canaanites as a form of ethnic cleansing to prove that the Israelites were superior to them. No. Even the Israelites the supposed people of God were warned sternly of coming under such wrath if they followed the ways and practices of pagan nations which were abominable in his sight. So Proffesor Lee, though it may first appear as a "morally objectionable stance". In my humble opinion it is not.

  4. Samuel Nkrumah-Agyeefi, that is a weird position to take, an argument which could be taken by any believer of any sect to commit any atrocity (which in fact is happening as we speak). So, the death of a 1000 philistines at the hand of david to win a woman is ok and may serve a purpose of redemption to mankind how? People do stupid things when they believe they have divine authority, and that is the underlying fallacy.

  5. Samuel Nkrumah8/31/2014 1:09 PM

    lso just a quick fact check, David did not kill 1000 philistine men for the hand of a woman. It was a 100 men. Now that does not mean the act was right. Looking at the text careful it was King Saul who demanded this of David for his daughter Michal's hand in marriage. Nowhere is it recorded that such act was under the approval of God. Now understand that the philistines were King Saul's enemies and King Saul and the Israelites were the enemies of the philistines too. Lets be careful to get our facts right.

  6. I agree, lets get our facts straight. I might have typed a zero more but the question still remains; if killing a 100 for sport is ok in the eyes of the lord as long as they are not of your people (As no prophet was sent to warn or punish David for that act) but adultery is a crime before Yahweh and the punishment is the death of not the perpetrators but the child born out of it, explain the morality in that. I mentioned the philistine case because it was unjustified, unnecessary and yet God was silent. In fact, we might conclude that it was part of God's grand plan for David. You might not have also read my submission well enough. I downplayed the role of god in all this atrocities in order to blame man who acts in his own capacity but under the guise of god to provide divine authority.

    if you take out god from the equation, men will still have committed these atrocities in the name of one ideology or the other. the isrealites will, like the greeks, have fought the canaanites in the name of civilization, anti barbarism, or as the fact actually was, national pride and land.

  7. If God is the owner of every human life, and if he has foreknowledge of what will eventually come to pass, I think he can take whatever life he wants if he has sufficient reasons for doing so. In other words, God owes no one a duty to keep him or her alive a second or a day longer--he can do with every life whatever he has planned to do. As a human being, I cannot even begin to pretend to fully understand why God might choose any course of action such as the extermination of the Canaanites because I do not have his providential oversight nor his preponderant supervision over future events. Nevertheless, its his game and thus his rules.

    On this issue, the best I can offer anyone is simply my opinion. I am not seeking to change minds or even to pacify.

    1) As has been mentioned, these Canaanites were a thoroughly debauched culture that were worthy of or were due for God's judgment. They practiced bestiality and child sacrifice and all manner of horrific unspeakable immorality. That it took God 400 years before he decided to punish tells me that in his providential oversight of human affairs and history, and having factored in things which mere mortals can neither fathom nor decipher, that was the best possible outcome. Enough time was given for these people to change their evil ways and He alone knew why they had to be removed at that specific point in history; in the end, their punishment fits neatly into his grand purpose or plan.

    2) But I realize that my first submission isn't likely to satisfy the moral indignation that some might be experiencing over a God that could providentially order the destruction of every Canaanite including infants irrespective of their wanton debauchery. There is something about the story that tugs at our 21st century moral mindset and makes us very uncomfortable. I mean, who does not know about human rights or the humane and decent manner to treat women and children in war-torn areas or even POWs? I empathize with that sentiment. As you can see, I'm wrestling with the subject just like you are.

  8. 3) So, here are two possibilities for you to ruminate upon. A) It is either that the Israelites, in their hyper-patriotic military fervor fighting for land, brutalized and massacred the doubtlessly depraved Canaanites and somehow thought that their actions were blessed by, nay, commanded by God--and recorded it so in their annals of war OR .............B) that the account was incomplete and that God did not so much as order a wholesale genocide of every man, woman and child but merely asked them to drive away the Canaanites from the land.

    4) Judging by the way God dealt with other sinful nations (including Israel by the way), I am inclined to believe that God merely commanded the Israelis to dispossess the Canaanites of the land and NOT to exterminate everyone. What that logically entails is that those Canaanites who fled at the sight of the advancing Israeli army truly escaped with their dear lives and were thus not rounded up and killed. This would of course include many women, children, the elderly and the sick. However, those Canaanites that remained to fight--those that put up a resistance were visited with swift and merciless destruction and death. Their dispossession of the land coupled to the devastation wreaked on the Canaanite army was simply God's means of executing his righteous judgment. This is the interpretation or exegesis that makes the best sense to my 21st century mind even though I must add that I am not too shocked or surprised by the idea that God can and does take life whenever he sees fit to do so and no one can understand much less question him.

  9. Suffice to say that human morality has evolved with retrospection and yet we still invoke the gods as the source of our morality: the gods who claim omnipotence and omniscience as well as never changing moral clauses. History tells a different story which is that man only wears the cloak of god to, as said earlier, provide divine authority for his actions. Absent of that, there is no need for god.

  10. Interesting points raised there Mike, but could you explain how morality evolved within the human society, as we seem to be the only creatures that have an affinity for it. And if it did evolve, how exactly was this mechanism achieved.

  11. Proffesor Lee, you start on the wrong premise that morality is unique to the human species. Still, there are a lot of resources out there that have fair explanations of how morality evolved with the evolution of the species. My personal favourite is the theorem that combines evolution and game theory. If the ultimate aim of the gene is survival, then game theory proves that morality evolved naturally as a consequence of maximizing our chances of survival. This explains such clauses as not killing our own. Game theory also proves that people who play well in a group have a higher likelyhood of success in the group. coupling this with gene survival, we see the gradual fine tuning of our morality over generations to maximize our chances of survival, and success in a group. This was something i read in SSS so will have to dig deep for the resource, but i will find it for you.

  12. By your wrong premise, i meant to imply that we are just apes with iphones... in my case, an HTC (this is a subtle way of asking for an iphone!)

  13. 1) If morality is not unique to human beings, what other creatures have this innate moral sense? Remember, one cannot wiggle around the question by asking us to leave open the possibility that some yet-to-be-discovered species existing on some planet we do not know might also possess this. At any rate, if we stick to this planet we know, in what practical sense can it be said that any other non-human creatures possess a moral core?

    I think the very suggestion is absurd. Animals may show altruistic behaviors every now and then, but altruism (or reciprocal altruism) is NOT morality. This is a point that needs to be properly digested because I am tired of evolutionists always trotting this out in discussions like this. Besides, one needs not be reminded that if one bites the bullet and asserts that non-human creatures have a moral center, they cannot turn around and excuse other creatural actions like cannibalism, infanticide, necrophilia, incest, pedophila and other acts of wanton bestial savagery.

    2) "If the ultimate aim of the gene is survival, then game theory proves that morality evolved naturally as a consequence of maximizing our chances of survival. This explains such clauses as not killing our own."---Mike

    It is rather amusing the way you personify genes or DNA. These amazing little "sentient" pieces of chromosomes, according to you, have purposes and show goals-directed behavior which no doubt includes aiming to or striving as it were to survive. Well, permit me to say this is little more than poetic imagery and not science. But assuming we grant that indeed all a gene does is aim to survive, precisely WHERE and HOW does a gene ACQUIRE morality--much less evolve said morality? You have to be careful not to conflate the meanings of ACQUIRE and EVOLVE here. For morality to evolve progressively, it needs to be present first. That is to say, the evolution of morality (or indeed of anything) cannot occur in absentia. There is no naturalistic account for the origin of morality to start with. The idea that game theory proves the reverse claim is patently absurd, or it basically misunderstands what morality means.

    3) Utilitarianism--it seems like Mike is suggesting that morality, once it got there miraculously or magically (choose your poison), somehow gradually evolved [by natural processes no less] into a form where creatures take "actions that maximize their chances of survival". In order words, actions which redound to the happiness and benefit of the performer/receiver were deemed moral and actions which redound to the discomfort or even personal detriment of the performer/receiver were deemed immoral. I'd like to suggest that this utilitarianism is a piss-poor theory of Ethics or Morality. It has a lot of faults which any clear thinking person can readily identify.

    The fact is that moral actions are far more than "striving to maximize the chances of one's survival". There are actions that are deemed reprehensible and immoral even though such actions redound to our personal benefit or survival; and equally, there are actions that are deemed perfectly moral even though there may not be any immediate benefit to ourselves--in fact, in some cases, some of these moral actions might imperil us. I suspect that this innate sense of right and wrong which forcefully imposes itself on us - and in many cases color our volitional actions - are simply IRREDUCIBLE to chance or random tinkerings within our genome (game theory or not). All it really does is redefine what moral actions truly are, or worse, it tries to make the issue of morality even less objective than what most rational, morally responsible people know it to be.

  14. Before we go ay further, i will like Godfatherr JP's definition of morality and of which context (cultural, regional,ethical) or framework he deduced that definition. My understanding of the evolution of morality is in no way complete as i only subscribed to a particular school of thought whose arguments i deemed logical. Morality is a complex subject, but invoking god or the supernatural is worse in this discourse than proven methods of statistical aggregation and modelling. To claim that a theorem is absurd because you do not understand it does not in anyway invalidate it. There are a lot of absurd theories out there trying to explain things a priori. Unless you have one of your own to present, i believe it will be best to read more on available ones. Afterall, evolution of morality is an anthropological and philosophical debate which pretty much means, all theorems are a matter of opinion, not fact. Also, altruism is a characteristic of morality. Unless you have not been watching the discovery channel, animals that live in colonies have rules which almost mirror what man will term morality.

  15. " Unless you have not been watching the discovery channel, animals that live in colonies have rules which almost mirror what man will term morality."

    First of all, animals ie non-human living organisms, are NOT moral agents. That is to say, they are not capable of, or do not have the ability to make MORAL JUDGMENTS. They do not possess a moral core--that is, they are not capable of acting with REFERENCE to RIGHT and WRONG/EVIL.

    When a lion pursues and brings down deer for its dinner, it has not committed MURDER. The act of conscientiously killing that weaker animal does not create avenues for that lion to be accused of being an IMMORAL lion or one worthy of punishment. The greater point of course is that there never was a MORAL calculation on the part of the lion regarding the RIGHTNESS or WRONGNESS or EVILNESS of its actions. Likewise, when a lion kills off all the young cubs sired by another female that he wants, in other to begin his family, the lion is not called "a morally reprehensible infanticidal feline". When a lion spares a cub it would have ordinarily eaten for lunch, no one is under the impression that the lion was acting on a MORAL impulse which required commendation.

    The same goes for any number of actions that might be found in the animal world whether cannibalism, incest, pedophilia, necrophilia, forced copulations (rape) etc. This is simply because non-human animals exhibit behaviors that are at best INSTINCTUAL or HABITUAL (either of its own will or by the expectations of being part of a larger group) and never MORAL. It is very important to grasp this point or this conversation is simply not going to go anywhere.

    Of course, animals may operate within a set of rules; they may have a CODE of conduct. Also, I agree that in colonies or in fact any aggregation of living things, they may exhibit altruistic behavior, or do things which would generally help the whole or further their chances of survival. That is not what Morality is.

    Now, before we pretend the word "moral" or "morality" has become too complex a word needing any number of private definitions, I'll be happy to use a simple dictionary definition for the word "moral".

    Moral: of, pertaining to, or concerned with the principles or rules of right conduct or the distinction between RIGHT and WRONG; between GOOD and EVIL.....(emphasis mine)

    It is instructive to note immediately that this is NOT talking about norms or conventions or customary practice or etiquette. Yes, the subject can be complex but it really need not be. Morality is about the ability to step back and judge others' freely-willed (volitional) actions as either INTRINSICALLY GOOD/RIGHT or WRONG/EVIL; or to be aware of the rightness or wrongness of our own very actions. Any other pretension is mere casuistry.

    Proffesor Lee asked you a question wanting to know more about your evolutionary basis or origin for morality. Your response to that question is basically what I responded to in my penultimate piece. The summary of that response was " Human morality evolved by some natural processes? Sorry, not remotely close and definitely no cigar!" If after reading my objection, you are inclined to believe that I rejected it merely because I did not understand it, then by all means, feel free to explain some more. I am willing to listen.

    Of course, i'll not hesitate to point out that you may yet advance a better theory of Morality--one that has greater explanatory power and scope and I'd happily agree with you when you do. Otherwise, all talk about the evolutionary origins of morality are philosophically dead upon arrival. Your utilitarianism is noted, but like I have pointed out, it has severe demerits.

  16. You keep making my point for me. At this moment we can only conjecture. The evolution of morality is like the evolution of language or food. These are questions you can not FACTUALLY answer. I still do not have your opinion on the matter. Many evolutionary anthropologist are trying to come up with newer theories, but as i said, the best argument i have heard so far is game theory (bias noted). Bones you can date, but the actions of flesh is left to conjecture alone. Quick question, what is good, and what is bad? are these not relative terminologies for different worldviews? Does it not also mean these are terms animals might use to differentiate between what is acceptable and not? I remember that ape taught sign language could speak to what is wrong and good simply by the level of harm it caused it or the people around it. Is that not the basis for morality? Is this not a direct relation to the selfish nature of the gene for self preservation and to our affinity for things that make us happy? Like Joey from Friends once said (and yes, i can quote pop culture), there are no selfless deeds. Thus, morality is a selfish reflection of our basic instincts. We are basically great apes with a better command of language trying to make something natural,complicated.

  17. Yeah, you have a lot of interesting questions which I really should be the one asking you given your evolutionary paradigm. I don't know if you realize this, but given your evolutionary origin for morality and your game theory, i am not seeing how that answers satisfactorily the questions you are posing. In what way does it make sense to call morality a reflection of basic instincts? I suppose anyone can cavalierly call human beings "great apes with a command of language" but how does that explain a moral core which most rational and morally-responsible people possess? I mean we can take the material reductionism further. Why not just say that we are merely walking, talking clusters of nucleic acids?I am simply trying to see things through the lens you are using. How does your paradigm account for morality? We are on your turf.

  18. Is it wrong to kill our friends? what about our enemies? If there was competition for scarce resource, will we redefine who our loved ones are? Answers to these questions show that morality is not as clear cut as we might want it. So is evolution. Reducing the theory any further than already proposed serves no purpose to the discourse. The point is that, an existing successful model for analyzing growth of complex systems from less complex forms is being employed to explain the evolution of simple primal urges/instincts to complicated structures. Presently, all that is required is to prove correlation as there is no way of proving causation. This is what has been done which strongly suggests that the theory is sound. Does it explain everything? No.But it does explain enough to provide a framework to produce a better theory. The game theory model showed that it was in the best interest of the animal to be cooperative.Factor in that we are a learning organism and you have optimisation of morality over a long time. 2000 years ago, men fighting in arenas to the death was seen as sport. imagine what was considered normal 50,000 years ago. Consider that people still consider the death penalty as moral. The predictive nature of evolution means that sometime to come, we might evolve to find an alternative to capital punishment.

  19. "Is it wrong to kill our friends? what about our enemies? If there was competition for scarce resource, will we redefine who our loved ones are?"

    What does your evolutionary paradigm have to say about these questions? Or is your answer that these questions are of little or no moral significance? If they are not morally neutral issues, what would the naturalistic or evolutionary theory of morality have to say about the rightness or wrongness of these actions? I think I can hazard a guess but perhaps you can help by telling me.

    "Answers to these questions show that morality is not as clear cut as we might want it. So is evolution. Reducing the theory any further than already proposed serves no purpose to the discourse."

    1) I am not sure why you wouldn't want to continue your strict or material reductionistic model even further. Why for instance must we not seek to reduce the issue of morality down to our genes? They are supposedly the architects or pilots of your moral framework, aren't they? If we are nothing but organized stacks of deoxyribonucleic acids- of which said nucleic acids inexplicably managed to secure a moral teleological imperative--why can't we ask the question? Indeed why not ask what our "moral genes" have to say on these moral matters? Here, you would note that even though I do not grant that the attribute of selfishness or greed or empathy can be ascribed to genes [you have Dawkins to thank for his clever use of metaphor which sadly some have swallowed rather uncritically], I'll let that stand for the purposes of the discussion because I am open to being convinced. But then, you suggest that the topic of evolution is in itself quite ambiguous. Inasmuch as I admire that frank honesty, I am surprised by the fact that you still cling to it.

    So here we are faced with a dilemma--is the difficulty in answering the moral question as a result of the failure to reduce the matter down to our genes, or is it because, as you confess, the evolutionary model of morality is in itself ambiguous? If it is incapable of offering a satisfactory explanation, then it should be shelved and your attention is better served examining other better moral theories. Its not enough to just assert that some correlation has been made on the matter. You will need to spell this out in some greater detail.

  20. 2) I can sit here (and I imagine pretty much anyone else can) and throw up difficult ethical or moral dilemmas after another, and wonder what the moral or ethical course of action would have been in each case. That is easy to do. However, such an exercise will be BESIDE the point. Here, we are wanting to get your account for the existence of morality in the first place. You have posited an evolutionary origin and that's where the ball is. Now, I submit to you that the issue before you is more fundamental. I will suggest to you that far above the issue of moral EPISTEMOLOGY (how we know what's moral) is the gnawing and uncomfortable specter of moral ONTOLOGY (the metaphysical nature of the existence of morality) to begin with.

    Yes, your game theory ideas are interesting to read but to me they are of much lesser significance to the discourse. Rather than quibble about some supposedly changing moral zeitgeists, or of the practical utility of game theory in shaping animal behavior no less, perhaps you'd be more interested in examining your evolutionary model of morality to see how it really bears out. That is, if the question cannot be pushed to an even more abstract level dealing with the very nature of morality.

    Such a pursuit, were you to undertake it, may become tedious and derail from the general thrust and spirit of the discussions. But just to echo your previous cheekiness, what are these moral constraints placed upon us-- we who are basically "great apes with a better command of language" to behave in some specified manner? Why, for instance, can we who are, by a naturalistic account, mere aggregations of amino acids, be judged wrong or immoral if we kill our friends? What in the DNA would rule against this or similar actions? What, in our genes, specify that capital punishment is good or bad?

    Before long, a strict naturalist has to start borrowing from other viewpoints to prop up his own framework. You can spare everyone the run around and jump straight to other theories which the strict materialist or naturalist MUST need to embrace to further the discussion, or provide some credible account for the evolutionary origins of morality. Like I said, the ball is still in your court on this issue. I'd prefer to sort that out before tying in other threads and potentially complicating what could have been an easy discussion--of course you have suggested that's what great apes are adept at.

  21. You are of the view of what I am and therefore of what I think, and could posit how my train of thought and arguments will conclude. You are refusing to see that all my posts admit to inadequacies in the theory and that that is the best we or I have right now. Absent of a metaphysical explanation this is what is available. Does that make you uncomfortable? Humans know no better than animals what is right of wrong. That is the point I have been trying to get across. Morality is a social construct whose evolution is complex, similar to another complex process- evolution by natural selection. correlating the two does not make one the causal agent necessarily. This conversation is interesting but tiring as I still do not know what your point is. Do you have a problem with evolution by natural selection? Because that is the best tool available now, so unless you have another tool, which is repeatable and can be modelled, why not use the existing arsenal?

  22. I have read and mused over the submissions, however I have a few questions Mike . I noticed that you proposed the game theory as the best possible explanation for how morality evolved wihtin human society, however, it is done in a purely naturalistic sense. I posed a question earlier as to how evolution became part of human society, from a fundamental sense, as it being a result of "hard-encoded genetic information that regulates behavior." How does a self-replicating molecule under blind influence decide to acquire informaiton to better preserve its onw life? I daresay that if morality is a result of our own genetic predispositions, then human behavior becomes purely deterministic, but we know that this is not so. Even proponents of the game theory admit that human behavior esp on morality is highly complex, and the reductionist approach does little to truly account for our own perceptions of objective moral values. If we are to explain the origin of human morality as going in tandem with evolution ie (biological change over time) then we would expect that we are either moral, or immoral depending on which side our genetic code drives us, and whichever the case may be, we wouldn't have a choice in the matter. My quesion is, how does a blind, chance and sudden appearance of a self-replicating molecule infuse information in its sequence to direct moral behavior in order to propagte itself and ensure the survival of a species?

  23. Are we moving on to nurture versus Nature? Because you will only be hearing my read opinion on the matter. A lot of anecdotal info favour nurture winning with time. Research suggests learnt behaviour can be encoded at the genetic level in mice to the 4th generation. Since research is in its infancy, it will be unwise to jump to the conclusion that some behaviours are genetic, especially those requiring moral decisions. Basal or beastial nature remains enconded... Like survival instincts and why we find babies cute even tho they are not.

    Ma guy, please dont confuse equivalence with equality here. We have two separate and distinct phenomena which pose SIMILAR complex questions. we have a model that works for one process, so we make assumptions and build a similar model to explain the other. This is not a copy and paste situation but a fit-to-use situation. Invoking genetics in morality or trying to combine evolution by natural selection and evolution of morality will be erroneous. We only employ similar terminology because of the similarity we perceive in their growth over time. This does not however exclude the possibility that they criss-cross somewhere as i explained about learnt behaviour in mice being genetically encoded. Morality being a social construct may not be as hard wired in higher primates or animals with high cognitive abilities as "lower animals" as we tend to resist ideas and question more. I believe language is the primal key that unlocks morality in animals; the ability to communicate specific needs, feelings and ideas.

  24. The question I asked is a legitimate one, morality falls under the spectrum of behavioral science, and this subject attributes basic/primal behaviour of species to genetics, i however agree with u that genetics does not play the only role in determining animal behavior, but this is where you probably misunderstand my point, your mice learned bahavior scenario is not a result of newly acquired genetic information, but through the 'guided' process of epigenetics, whereby already existent genomic sequences are expressed more to foster the consistence of a certain behaviour, but if such a mechanism exists, how did blind forces of nature produce an effect like that (speaking from purely naturalistic framework). The model only works if it preaupposes that we are genetically programmed in a manner to produce the effect of ideation of moral values. Moreover, other organisms are able to communicate effectively in mannera that transcend the language barrier and live in perfect Utilitarian harmony. This is where i will disageee that language is a pre-requisite in unlocking moral values, as there exist more effective modes of communication among species with no language.

    I would also like to add that your last post refutes your eaelier ones.

    1. you mentioned that language is a pre-requisite for unlocking moral beaviour, but you disagreed with JP Godfatherr that humans are not the only species with moral inclinations and cited cooperative beahavioir aming subspecies as an example of moral conduct stemmimg from utilitarianism. However that is not an expreasion of morality.

    2. You also cited that more evolved primates seem to have unlocked the capacity for morality through language, which subsequently produces a growth or as u put it, an evolution of moral values over time. You cited the game theory saying this was a model for explaining why we have morality. This is an extrapolation of traditional evolution theory. The game theory pre-supposes that higher or more evolved species can be moral, hence it can be infered that morality stems from genetic pre-diapositions. THat was why I mentioned that if that was the case, then our behavior would be pre-determined and we would have no choice in the mattee as to beimg moral or immoral. In other words, moral conduct will not be by choice. But you seem to disagree that it is by choice, because we call into judgment whether an action is right or wrong.

  25. Are you suggesting that we have morality genes which record and present morality and pass that info on? Maybe. I don't know. You however seem to forget that I keep referring to morality as a social phenomena. This is different from natural basal instincts. For instance, our affinity for babies and why we find them cute has been traced to evolution and it's thought of as a way to foster nurturing them no matter how annoying they are. But since this is primal instinct, it can be overcome by nurture. So we have paedophiles and baby killers. As for the language thing, it only strengthens my argument. I didn't didn't exist but rather hardwired. More complex language structure like in higher primates means more communication and more expressiveness which leads to more complex social and moral dalliances. I could draw the conclusion that leaving in a community which emphasis the importnce of the individual to the group is another key to having morality. Higher primates case in point.

  26. Kojo Asamoah8/31/2014 1:36 PM

    The things of God can only be interpreted not understood.. That is how come even the acclaimed "chosen people' did not even understand him after they have given them the WORD and every evidence that needed to accompany it for them to believe.

  27. Kojo Asamoah8/31/2014 1:40 PM

    The reason u're sharing ur opinions on the topic clearly indicates that there is a misunderstanding of the topic...Mike

  28. If for every topic, we invoked the supernatural and said it was beyond our understanding, we will be dieing of common diseases and still be riding on horses.... Oh wait, we still have the former!