Tag Archives: Dacher Keltner

Human Morality I: Religious confusion

This is the first in a series of posts on morality. They are aimed at countering the usual religious claims for a god-given morality with current scientific understanding of how the morality of our species arose. Also, they attempt to justify a non-theist objective basis for much of the moral decisions we make. This first post outlines what I think are the basic problems with the attempt by religion and theology to understand human morality.

My recent article With God, anything can be permitted? provoked some predictable reaction. In this series I’ll use Matt’s responses on the New Zealand blog MandM (With God Anything can be Permitted: Another Bad Argument against Theistic Morality and Divine Commands and Intuitions: A Response to Ken Perrott). In my mind the basic problem is that Matt’s response are theological rather than scientific. And the problem with theology is that it bases itself on circular argument rather than empirical evidence. This argument can become quite convoluted and confusing. (Have a look at Matt’s posts on Divine Command Theory here and here). I sometimes wonder if this is purposeful. It reminds me of the philosopher who, when told by a reader that she couldn’t understand anything in his new book, responded with a grateful thanks and a proud smile!

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