I was listening to a podcast of Radio Open Source (Christopher Lydon’s new public radio show) today where they were talking about intelligent design and evolution. While listening to this I remembered something that I have thought about on numerous occasions before. One of the arguments I keep hearing from religious “conservatives” about morals is that you can’t have morals without some higher being to tell you how you should live and behave. One of the guests on the show was Kenneth Miller and he discussed how the creationists (let’s forget the euphamisms and call them what they are) believe that something must have created us or why would we even exist.
My belief is that in order for societies to survive and prosper, some basic rules of behavior must be established. Whenever you put a group of people together they eventually have to define some rules or the group breaks down. This does not just apply to humans, every animal species that lives in groups has standards of behavior. There are typically leaders in any group, whether they are dogs, gorillas, bees or any other social animals. All the other members of the group follow certain behavioral standards. This is done for greater benefit of the group and the species. The same thing applies to human societies. They establish rules, based on common sense and experience to preserve the group. Rules like the ten commandments (whichever 10 you happpen to follow, which vary depending on which christian, muslim or jewish sect you follow) can ultimately be filtered down to 2 main ones. Don’t kill and don’t take what doesn’t belong to you. These are pretty easy to figure out for any group that wants to thrive.
Considering how many “god-fearing” people that claim to follow these rules don’t seem to have a problem with capital punishment or killing infidels or heritecs, I don’t put much stock in anyone saying you must have a god to have morals. I believe morals are something that comes from common sense and the need to survive. I am a good moral human and I don’t believe in god.
I will probably follow up on this idea later, but it is late right now and I need to get ready for bed.