Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Scientific evidence of what I've always thought was obvious.

One of the shittiest things about religion is the idea that religion is necessary for morality. If God doesn't tell us right from wrong, the argument goes, how are we to set our moral compass? This is, of course, totally asinine. Different gods from different religions largely agree on what is right and wrong. It would make sense that whoever invented the different religions were guided by something in their brains. It was very refreshing to read this article:

An Evolutionary Theory of Right and Wrong

Marc D. Hauser, a Harvard biologist, has built on this idea to propose that people are born with a moral grammar wired into their neural circuits by evolution. In a new book, “Moral Minds” (HarperCollins 2006), he argues that the grammar generates instant moral judgments which, in part because of the quick decisions that must be made in life-or-death situations, are inaccessible to the conscious mind.

People are generally unaware of this process because the mind is adept at coming up with plausible rationalizations for why it arrived at a decision generated subconsciously.

Dr. Hauser presents his argument as a hypothesis to be proved, not as an established fact. But it is an idea that he roots in solid ground, including his own and others’ work with primates and in empirical results derived by moral philosophers.