April 13, 2007

CliffsNotes: The Morality Comment Thread (Part 2)

CliffsNotes: The Morality Comment Thread (Part 2)

Here is part two of our notes on the morality thread — which had reached a satanic 666 comments at the time of our morning story meeting. We’ve decided that we shouldn’t stop all work not related to the thread, so this will be the second and final segment.

Eschewing detailed narration, here are some more of our favorites from the thread. Sorry, we know we’re missing a whole lot:

My goodness, I can’t believe so many people responded to this — it seems simple to me. Of course morality is GOD-given, where else would it come from? For sure it’s not evolved. I thought we already solved the whole evolution thing. Why do they have to keep bringing that up all the time? I think it’s obvious that morality came from the bible and nowhere else. We could end all this confusion if people would just trust.

serious lee, in a comment to Open Source, March 15, 2006.

I am reminded of the late Christopher Reeve’s response when people asked him about whether he thought his tragic accident had a purpose. He believed, as I do, that it was totally random, and that random things happen all the time to all kinds of people and places. He said that our job, however, as moral, sentient humans (and what separates us from critters) is to construct a meaning around these random events — both good and bad events — so we can learn and grow.

So applied to the evolution debate — to imply that if we are “just” a result of chance then we have no moral purpose is, I think, to deny our most basic humanity and our greatest worth as a species.

randomspaces, in a comment to Open Source, April 1, 2006.

I am only 12 and new to open source, but here goes:

“Do meaning and morality come from the top down or do they percolate from the bottom up?”

I belive morality comes from the bottom up. I belive that a God is not the one who creates morality, but the one who is created by it. A God makes things much easier for poeple to explain things, or deal out punishment. If crops fail one year it is quite a bit easier to think that a god is angered and that they should pray to him than to look back at the way the crops were planted, and how much water they got, or what the soil is like. Also, God makes it easier to warn people. Instead of giving a bad child a lecture about why it is bad to steal because it makes people unhappy, they can just say that if they steal god will not like them and/or they will go to hell.

Fredrick, in a comment to Open Source, April 2, 2006.

OK, what gives? Are we afraid to do this show? Afraid of God? Afraid of finding that God has no part of morality? Afraid of Christian, Jewish or Muslim terroism or military action in the name of God? This is nub, folks, the germ, the essence, the unmoved mover, the nucleus of it all. We should do this show!…

Yeah, it’s tough, but so is every other great topic. Are you up to it, Christopher? If now you, who? If not now, when?

[Marcel, descending the soap box.]

Marcel, in a comment to Open Source, May 9, 2006.

no, no, no, you’re all wrong, oh my me!

God, in a comment to Open Source, July 10, 2006

God is a model we use to access a wider (higher) consciousness field, a perpetual attempt to expand our consciousness, and align ourselves with an even greater organization force than our own minds. A cynic may view this a ‘a figment of our imaginations (whatever that means)’ but the model is pretty effective . . . The sense of transcendental awareness, a timeless sense of being connected to God and all living things, can be detected with MRI scans. The experience makes our brain behave in different ways than normal day-to-day life, and the effects are thought by researchers to be positive. Of course 80% of the human race could have told scientists that, but science is determined to learn these things on their own.

thinian06, in a comment to Open Source, July 19, 2006.

Seeing that the show is nearing and looking back at some of the posts in the year since I made my contribution, I still think not enough attention has been paid to the point that morality is about how we OUGHT to behave. I have no objection to attempts to describe morality from sociological, historical, or even evolutionary perspectives, but all of these are limited in the sense that they are descriptive… In this regard, I do not see how the denial of God can lead to anything except moral relativism.

But this does not mean a believer cannot also be in agreement with the insights of the social sciences in the study of human behavior. And perhaps the problem is with the very title framing the discussion: God-given vs. evolved. The latter is a descriptive approach to morality, trying to say what it is, how it developed, whereas the former is a normative approach, trying to tell us how we ought to act in the world. Perhaps these are two different subjects and discussions entirely and not two approaches in conflict over the same subject?

AlanK, in a comment to Open Source, April 11, 2007.

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  • How about calling it: “CliffsNotes: God Given or Evolved.”

    I recently explained what CliffsNotes were to some college students here in Moscow, because it came up in a reading. They were THRILLED with the idea of reading “War and Peace” in 70 pages. Which brings up a larger point, the moral code for students here is lacking. To cut and paste a paper together off some web pages is rather common. Especially since you’re adverage 60 year old porfessor still doesn’t know which end of a computer to blow into, and probably won’t read your paper anyway. So… I say evolved, because I have found the missing link when it comes to acedemic morality. Once the teachers catch up technically, and they will, it will close the gap and force a new stage in that evolution.

  • Lumière

    Marc McElroy Says: Once the teachers catch up technically,

    Here ya go:

    http://www.plagiarism.com/screening.htm

  • herbert browne

    (from AlanK) ..”The latter (evolved) is a descriptive approach to morality, trying to say what it is, how it developed, whereas the former (god-given) is a normative approach, trying to tell us how we ought to act..”

    Isn’t a “normative” attempt to describe morality self-referential? I mean, Morality is about “what ought to be”; and Normativity is about “what ought to be..” In both cases, I see no more (or less) “relativism” than that which you impute to an evolved morality [(ibid) “In this regard, I do not see how the denial of God can lead to anything except moral relativism..”], since “God” is a culture-specific reference point.

    I agree that we may be examining two different subjects… and also feel that the (alleged) 12yo commentator, Frederick, nailed it. (What was the saying, re “out of the mouths of children..?) I’d also reiterate my own, admittedly hypothetical, proposal that what we call “the Maternal instinct” is a major ‘driver’ of the process that we call “morality”… ^..^

  • herbert browne

    Yo. Lumiere… re “plagiarism”- maybe you should pitch a show on “hilarious software”! (still laughing… hard to type). ^..^

  • Thanks Lumiere… However when I said that most professors don’t know which end of a computer to blow into I meant it litterally, as in ZERO computer literacy among many older teachers, and much less internet access. So the students exersize the age old Soviet tradition of stealing other people’s words. Something like, “they pretend to grade us, and we pretend to write..”

    Anyway the question is are these people born with a moral compass and then society teaches them otherwise?