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Brainy Morality

By slave2six ~

In this recent posting, the idea of Morality without god came into question. In my experience, the question posed to agnostics and atheists is always the same: "Upon what do you base morality without god?"

I think there are two possible meanings behind the question "How can you be moral without god?":

1) You are unable to distinguish what is and what is not moral without god informing you.

It's possible to take the view that god is responsible for our innate, instinctive morality in that he created us with brains that include a moral component. Paul seems to support this view when he says:

For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law...

Morality is an instinct or a biological process.

If morality is innate, instinctual, and a common aspect of human biology, I fail to see where god comes into it at all.

2) You are incapable of making the right moral choice without god empowering you.

This is so absurd that it doesn't even warrant an explanation.

The concise answer to the question is: "Morality is included in a healthy, functioning human brain."

In the same way that you are able to walk and feed yourself because your brain is fully functioning, all people are able to make moral choices. It's all part of the same package.

Here is some data that I would like to ask you to consider.

In this article we learn that moral judgment can be affected by an electrical current to the brain:

In the new study, the researchers disrupted activity in the right temporo-parietal junction (TPJ) by inducing a current in the brain using a magnetic field applied to the scalp. They found that the subjects’ ability to make moral judgments that require an understanding of other people’s intentions - for example, a failed murder attempt - was impaired.

Other studies have shown that when the part of the brain that rules such emotions as empathy and shame is damaged, moral judgment is also compromised.

It seems to me that if an omnipotent being indwells a person and that morality is derived from this being, then no amount of interference with normal brain processes should have any impact on that person's moral compass.

The word "moral" is often applied to matters that are simply cultural agreements. In some places "honor killing" is perfectly moral while it clearly is not so in other places. But there are some constants that appear to be part of our default programming as being immoral (e.g. theft, rape, lying, etc).

The foundation of "what makes us moral" is a matter of study for neuroscientists. It is decidedly not a matter for those interested in some supernatural cause.

So, my question is simply this:

How is it possible that morality and god are even in the same equation, let alone inseparably linked to one another?

To put it in a bit of a cleaner container, things work and to some degree we know how they work. As time progresses, we understand such processes more and more.

Why is this not enough?

If one can find a cure for cancer through studying how the body operates, why waste time on sacrificing an animal to appease a god in the hopes that deity will cure the cancer? Similarly, if morality is a biological component, why drag god into the conversation at all?


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