Are human beings good by our very nature, or, left to our own devices, would there be chaos and disorder? What is our human capacity for morality? Where would we be without religion? Do you believe that religious authority is also moral authority? If there were no religion would there be no morality?
I felt compelled to write this blog, surfers, after listening to one of my favorite radio show podcasts. The topic is one that I have been thinking about for 27 years. What? I know what you’re thinking; Neo de Caussade has been thinking about the state of human nature since infancy? You are too kind, and very perceptive. Somehow I always knew this about you.
The state of nature discussion is like the tide. The popularity of the topic ebbs and flows over time; coming into our consciousness and falling back again. For our little discussion I would like to introduce you to Ockham’s Razor, that favorite radio show I mentioned. Specifically, I would like you to read the transcript or listen to the podcast for a talk presented by Tim Dean.
In my first philosophy college course I debated with classmates the state of nature as outlined by Thomas Hobbes and John Locke. Just to briefly review “Locke believed that human nature is characterized by reason and tolerance.” In another opinion “Hobbes postulates what life would be like without government, a condition which he calls the state of nature. In that state, each person would have a right, or license, to everything in the world. This inevitably leads to conflict, a ‘war of all against all’, and thus lives that are ‘solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.'”
Clearly, there are no absolutes and along the morality scale some people, and I include religious leaders in this group, rate more moral and others less. Human nature just that way, some folks more moral than others. The big question is is humanity more inclined to be moral or less? I will not pull any punches, and I will hit you straight in the mouth with this; I believe human beings are good at their core. Where do you fall on the topic?
…”it was long thought that we learn language, the vocabulary and the grammar, from scratch. Yet in the 1960s Noam Chomsky turned this view on its head. He suggested that much of our language faculty was innate. Essentially, we were born with the tools required for language, and all we needed was exposure to the raw material of the language around us, and the rest wrote itself.” “And the same appears to hold true for our moral faculty. A string of recent research in psychology has shown that we are able to negotiate complex moral issues with little or no internal reflection on the rules leading to the judgment.”Tim Dean.
Surfers, you will run into people who will tell you that without religion there will be no morality. They will say that religion teaches us morality. Science is showing us that morality is innate to our basic state of nature. It is becoming clear that religion is not needed to keep a moral compass for our humanity. What good is religion? You decide.