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Morals And Religion: Which Came First?


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"The Bible calls all those who do not believe its religion a fool." Thus says the definition under the title "General Theological Issues." I think my topic shows that people who don't believe the Bible are at least as smart as those who do. Perhaps it is also a theological issue; I'm not totally sure under which title it belongs. It was originally written as a comment on The Secular Outpost, and also appears on Foundation for Fighting Fundamentalist Religion.

 

I think morals came before religion. No matter what species of living entities you look at--whether animal, insect, other creeping, swimming, hopping, or flying things, or human--every last one of them has means by which to ensure the survival of the species. Exceptions occur in the case where unprecedented powers of the predator are exerted as when humans hunt a certain animal practically to extinction for its fur or ivory.

 

I find it quite easy to see a relationship between the ensurance of survival of the species and morals and religion. Human moral codes have for their basis nothing other than ensuring the survival of the species. Since there is no higher aim for humanity than to retain its species alive for one more generation, it logically follows that the principles by which survival is retained are sacred.

 

When something is sacred, you have to pass it on to posterity. To ensure that it is remembered and passed on, rhyme and ritual and ceremony are very helpful. Is any of this reminiscent of religion???

 

Of course, it helps if stories are attached to the rhymes and rituals and ceremonies--stories that drive home the absolute need to live in a certain way, stories that show what happens when humans fail to "keep the commands." I think it's far more complicated than this but it makes sense in my mind that morals pre-exist religion. And they don't die with religion, either, because--well--wouldn't we hate seeing our species head into extinction? If this is rather hard to conceptualize, just imagine that you were the youngest human being alive on planet earth and that chances for you or your generation to have kids are zero.

 

So that might prove the connection between morals and religion, but how do we prove that morals have as their basis the survival of the species? I'm trying to think of an example that would not lead to strife in short order and I can't think of a single one.

 

Whether it is to say hi when you meet a friend on the street or to drive on a specific strip of roadway, blatant and intentional violation has a pretty high potential of leading to strife on some level or another. It is probably not necessary to explain the relationship between strife and the potential annihilation of our species. Thus, religious or not, we're going to be moral.

 

Perhaps the nonreligious have more reason to be moral than the religious. The religious can always trust God to somehow or other prevent annihilation. Those of us who are nonreligious know what a major role we play as individuals to make this world the kind of place that is species-friendly.

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Morals became religion.

 

Discussions of morality are always concerned with rules and regulations, scriptures, and commandments. Even some Buddhists these days view the precepts as rules to be strictly followed. But rules and regulations are only handy when we don't see. If you see you don't need rules and regulations. Rules and regulations are actually a hindrance. They bind our freedom of mind. Religion evolved in order to pass on moral rules and regulations.

 

Those of us who are nonreligious know what a major role we play as individuals to make this world the kind of place that is species-friendly.

 

Yes.

 

We should each of us examine our lives, our behaviour, our speech, and the means by which we earn our keep - and how all these activities connect with everything else. Either we see, or we do not.

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Morals became religion.

 

So very true. As Ruby noted, all beings have some sort of manner by which they conduct themselves; humans are unique in that we concoct these things, by and large, whilst other animals only go on instinct.

 

Hence, those codes of conduct, or rather the fact that we humans also have them, is necessarily older than any religion. Later, when humanity began to develop religions, we took many of those ideas (or ignored them and/or preferred their polar opposites, etc) and turned them into ethical codes and morality.

 

But, to be sure, morality, or rather the concept of it, came first.

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Morals came before religion? I'd disagree on that ... but before I continue, let me make sure we're talking about the same thing; we may not be.

 

RubySera .. and before anyone jumps in, let me remind you, it's your thread, so you get the final say on this; after all, we're talking about your ideas ... could you give an idea of what you mean by "religion" and "morals"? I'm not being facetious or sarcastic; it's just the both words, like "obscenity" and "justice" are in the "I know 'em when I see 'em" category, but get somewhat slippery when one tries to pin them down with precise definitions.

 

I'm not asking for a precisely worded operational definition, like one might find in a scientific experiment or as a proposition for a formal debate, although you can certainly do that if you like (and if you're braver than I am ;) ). But I'll be happy with just a few examples of what you believe religion is, and what it is not; and the same for morality.

 

To give you an idea of some of the distinctions I'm thinking of, let me run a few thoughts by you, all of which you're completely free to address, ignore, modify, or substitute your own ideas; the distinctions you see as important are what I'm interested in, and may be quite different than the ones I do ...

 

1) Do you, like some people, draw a distinction between "religious" and "spiritual"? If so, what's the difference?

 

2) If your concept of religion is something like, "the idea that there are supernatural entities; that they intervene and are concerned with human affairs; that they at least desire -- and perhaps require -- humans to do certain things; that their wishes can be at least partially understood by humans through methods which are generally agreed upon by the religion's adherents" -- then would you consider such a system which had a "moral component" that was minimal or absent to be religious (setting aside the idea that most religions consider fulfilling their gods' wishes to be, in itself, a good thing).

 

For example, consider a group of people who live by a lake, and who perform a organized ritual each evening to thank the gods for the day's catch, then another ritual to discern, "where on the lake shore do the gods say there will be good fishing tomorrow?" -- and who believe the god doesn't need or desire to be "worshipped," but doesn't mind sharing its special insights upon request, provided it's acknowledged, asked politely, and duly thanked afterwards -- would you consider such a group's beliefs to be religion?

 

3) Is your concept of religion similar to #2, except that it lacks the idea that "the gods" require or even care what humans do in return? For example, what about theistic forms of astrology, which makes predictions about events, but leaves humans free to consider or ignore those predictions? -- basically, the idea that "the gods' actions have an impact on our lives, and we can watch these things and get some insight into what they're doing." Is that religion?

 

4) Does religion require the belief in an afterlife?

 

5) Do you, like some people, draw a distinction between "religious" and "superstitious"? If so, what's the difference?

 

6) If your concept of morality is something like "the idea that there are real principles of right and wrong which exist independently of any context of culture or immediate situation, and which do not have a strictly rational basis," then would you consider it morality if it existed entirely apart from any perceived supernatural source? For example, one could cite examples across a variety of cultures and make a reasonable case that "polygamy is wrong" is a principle that many cultures have arrived at quite apart from any religious basis, but because "it just isn't right" (their beliefs, not necessarily mine).

 

7) Do you, like some people, draw a distinction between "moral" and "ethical"? If so, what's the difference?

 

8) Do you, like some people, draw a distinction between "moral" and "decent"? If so, what's the difference?

 

9) If your concept of morality is something similar to "shared and generally accepted beliefs of what behaviors are acceptable and what ones are unacceptable," then would you say that "file your federal tax return on or before April 15 (for those of us in the US)" is a "moral statement"?

 

10) Consider a hypothetical man or woman, shipwrecked on a deserted island, with no hope of rescue. In other words, s/he will never interact with other humans again, and his or her actions and beliefs will have no impact on anyone else. Could such a person's actions be "moral" or "immoral"?

 

11) Same shipwrecked person. Suppose he or she carried out daily rituals, similar to and for the same purpose as the group in #2, and that the person's rituals and beliefs were consistent over tiem. The difference is obviously that there's no organized social element here. Is that person "religious"?

 

Finally,

 

> Human moral codes have for their basis nothing other than ensuring the survival of the species. Since there is no higher aim for humanity than to retain its species alive for one more generation, it logically follows that the principles by which survival is retained are sacred.

 

12) I could make the argument that this principle implies that the actions of a hive of bees are also "moral" or "sacred." But this is clearly reduction to absurdity -- a cheap shot, since these are not precisely definable matters, and the ideas will break down at some point. The actions of a hive of bees can be explained by common instincts which operate within each individual organism, which give the appearance of a common goal or purpose, but which in fact require no actual cooperation between individuals. (As a very rough analogy, consider a crowd of people exiting an arena after a sporting event of concert. Each is motivated by his or her individual goal -- to go home, or to the pub, etc. This in no way implies that they're acting for a shared, communal goal of emptying the arena.)

 

But -- what about other non-human species? Chimpanzees, for example, live in social groups. They pair bond. They raise and instruct their young. In doing so, the community can acquire new skills and pass them on -- to that extent, they have a "culture." They can make and use their own tools, primitive though their abilities are. They act in groups, directed through postures, actions, grunts, etc., of a group leader. They can recognize themselves in a mirror, implying some concept of "self." They can communicate in a very rudimentary way with humans, if taught an elementary sign language. They even engage in hostility between groups -- warfare between tribes, if you will. Could their actions be in any way described as "moral" or "sacred"?

Again, feel free to ignore any or all of these. I've necessarily given some insight into what I think might be important distinctions, but I'm really trying to tantalize you into exploring your ideas and providing some of your distinctions, not suggest what those distinctions should or shouldn't be.

 

Looking forward to your response,

 

- Roy

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Roy If I may jump in, only to offer the standard meanings of morality and religion that I think we were referring to -

 

The meaning of morality as given by Wiki -

 

Morality (from Latin moralitas "manner, character, proper behaviour") refers to the concept of human action which pertains to matters of right and wrong — also referred to as "good and evil" — used within three contexts: individual conscience; systems of principles and judgments — sometimes called moral values — shared within a cultural, religious, secular or philosophical community; and codes of behavior or conduct morality. Personal morals define and distinguish among right and wrong intentions, motivations or actions, as these have been learned, engendered, or otherwise developed within individuals. By contrast, ethics are more correctly applied as the study of broader social systems within whose context morality exists. Morals define whether I should kill my neighbour Joe when he steals my tractor; ethics define whether it's right or wrong for one person to kill another in a dispute over property

 

And the meaning of religion also given by Wiki -

 

 

A religion is a set of beliefs and practices generally held by a community, involving adherence to codified beliefs and rituals and study of ancestral or cultural traditions, writings, history, and mythology, as well as personal faith and mystic experience. The term "religion" refers to both the personal practices related to communal faith and to group rituals and communication stemming from shared conviction.

 

The etymology of the word "religion" has been debated for centuries. The English word clearly derives from the Latin religio, "reverence (for the gods)" or "conscientiousness".

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We are social animals, that's where our moral constucts come from. I believe that morals existed before we were even human.

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We are social animals, that's where our moral constucts come from. I believe that morals existed before we were even human.

 

Morals became religion.

 

That is the bare bones as I see it. Roy, I think you are looking at actions and I am looking at the principles or motivations behind those actions. Also, I am looking at how instincts developed into morals, which then developed into religion. You are taking examples from various species, which does not apply. It is true that I begin with nonhuman species, but only to introduce a basis by which to prove that survival of the species is an inherited characteristic across species, which includes humans.

 

I suspect you are thrown off-course because I use the word principles. Your reference to principles and statements of right and wrong and religious dictates suggest to me that you are talking about a different stage in the development of morals. I am talking about the very origins, which I believe occurred earlier in the process of our evolution than religion.

 

As Taph says, we were moral before we were human. What you describe comes very late in the process and seems to struggle with concepts floating around today regarding ethics and morals in our present evolved state in the larger context of a highly evolved and sophisticated civilization. (Let's not debate whether present day society is actually civilized or not; that would take us too far afield into semantics with all their implication.) Much has been written on ethics and morals and religion in recent times. I don't think I need to cover that here.

 

BTW, the quotes Jun posts from wikipedia sum up my understanding of present day morals, ethics, and religion. I don't know if that answers your questions.

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GOD came first, and He gave us our morals after He created us approximately 6000 years ago by writing them on our hearts by His Spirit and by giving us His Word to guide our behaviors. Praise Him! Glory!

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GOD came first, and He gave us our morals after He created us approximately 6000 years ago by writing them on our hearts by His Spirit and by giving us His Word to guide our behaviors. Praise Him! Glory!

 

:jesus: :jesus: :jesus: :jesus: :jesus: :jesus: :jesus: :jesus: :jesus: :jesus:

 

Morality gives us our the distinction between right and wrong or good and evil in relation to actions, volitions and character. It relates to the nature and application of what is ethical. The power to understand the difference between right and wrong is what we call our moral sense. Some questions come to my mind in finding the original source for morality.

 

Is morality a gift from a supernatural power?

 

Is morality understood in the same way among all religions and cultures?

 

Is morality a quality to be acquired, developed, cultivated and practised by the individual?

 

Why does it seem that criminals aren't endowed with/been trained to develop a moral sense?

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Your reference to principles and statements of right and wrong and religious dictates suggest to me that you are talking about a different stage in the development of morals. I am talking about the very origins, which I believe occurred earlier in the process of our evolution than religion.

 

Ok, that answers the larger question -- you are talking about something quite different than what I'm thinking of. That's the reason I posed all those hypotheticals, to sort of let that issue play out, because I suspected that we might not be. I was preparing a longer commentary to Jun's earlier response, but given that we're not "on the same wavelength," I'll just leap ahead, throw out the point I was moving toward, and see if anyone wants to pursue it.

 

Anyway, let me just toss out what I had in mind ...

 

First, I'm pretty comfortable with the wiki definition of religion. I'd only add to it that religion seems to me to incorporate some element of the "sacred," whether that be a deity or simply a very revered "wise old man," and that the adherents give the religion a special status because of that sacredness. Anyway, that's my personal concept.

 

On morality ... I've been tying my brain in knots, pondering this thread, trying to decide what morality is and what it isn't. I don't have a problem with the wiki definition, but I'd personally add a few things. It seems to me that "morality" has to have these characteristics:

 

It can only apply to matters over which the person has the capacity to make a choice. "Thou shalt breathe" isn't a moral statement, because the person has no real choice in the matter.

 

Morals must be independent of punishment or other circumstances. In other words, morality isn't "it's wrong only if I'm caught" or something similar. The act must be held to be wrong (or right) mostly independently of context; for example, the belief that regardless of what limited circumstances there are in which killing is justified (e.g., self-defense), for the most part, murder is murder, and it's wrong.

 

Morals must, to some extent, go against human nature and desires. I'll paraphrase one of my college professors here -- the reason you never see a taboo against eating dirt, for example, is that there's no need to prohibit things that nobody wants to do anyway.

 

Morals must be understandable, independent of the source, whether the source is a deity or a "wise old man." To say that "the good is simply whatever God says it is" isn't morality. An adherent must be able to understand and make judgments using the moral code, even on matters which the code does not specifically address. Another way of looking at it is that they must be able to ask "what would X do" in a novel situation, whether X is Jesus, Confucius, John Lennon, etc., and they must have at least a fair amount of agreement on the answer. Which means that ...

 

A code of morality must be at least partially composed of abstractions (explicit or implied) from specific actions and situations. A list of disjointed instructions like "don't put condiments on hot dogs," "never light three cigarettes on a single match," etc. doesn't work because it doesn't support any abstractions, while a code containing instructions like "don't steal," "don't lie," "clean up after your dog if he dumps on someone else's lawn," etc. might lead to the "golden rule" as a general abstraction.

 

Now, here's the thing. I think that given what I'm thinking of as "religion" and "morality," a strong case can be made, from several types of evidence, that religion -- shared cultural beliefs in gods, organized rituals to communicate with them, worship and appease them, etc. -- came before morality, at least as I've stated what I was thinking of as morality (basically, some sort of guiding set of principles, no matter how well or poorly developed those principles are). To be sure, humans incorporated the moral principles they developed into their religions. But the religion, complete with all the ritual, belief in the divine and in the afterlife, etc., came first.

 

What you describe comes very late in the process and seems to struggle with concepts floating around today regarding ethics and morals in our present evolved state in the larger context of a highly evolved and sophisticated civilization.

 

No, not really. Some of my hypotheticals weren't related at all to the idea I'm coming to; I put out a pretty big list because I wanted to give you an "open field" to work with, and because I didn't want to try to lead the discussion in any particular direction, intentionally or not. ... Well, actually, it might very well be "very late in the process," since you're thinking of evolutionary time scales. I'm thinking of social development, specifically the past few thousand years.

 

Let's not debate whether present day society is actually civilized or not; that would take us too far afield into semantics with all their implication

 

LOL -- Agreed! These things are fuzzy concepts with slippery definitions, and I've gotta tip my hat to the wiki authors for even daring to try to define them. I certainly don't want to get into some Mobius-style discussion a la, "what's 'good' is what's 'right,' and what's 'right' is what's 'good.'" :HaHa:

 

- Roy

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A morality in any age is the sum of socially-accepted desires and values in that age. These values are a part of language; they can be articulated and so can be made the object of rational analysis. - Ian Heath

 

Now, here's the thing. I think that given what I'm thinking of as "religion" and "morality," a strong case can be made, from several types of evidence, that religion -- shared cultural beliefs in gods, organized rituals to communicate with them, worship and appease them, etc. -- came before morality, at least as I've stated what I was thinking of as morality (basically, some sort of guiding set of principles, no matter how well or poorly developed those principles are). To be sure, humans incorporated the moral principles they developed into their religions. But the religion, complete with all the ritual, belief in the divine and in the afterlife, etc., came first.

 

Roy, lets' have a look at the evidence you can provide for your point. This is becoming interesting. :grin:

 

 

 

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BCRoyWatson][/b]

Morals must be independent of punishment or other circumstances. In other words, morality isn't "it's wrong only if I'm caught" or something similar. The act must be held to be wrong (or right) mostly independently of context; for example, the belief that regardless of what limited circumstances there are in which killing is justified (e.g., self-defense), for the most part, murder is murder, and it's wrong.

 

Roy, I see a very close relationship between the bolded part here (the idea that murder is wrong) and my original thesis that the foundation for morals is survival of the species.

 

It can only apply to matters over which the person has the capacity to make a choice. "Thou shalt breathe" isn't a moral statement, because the person has no real choice in the matter.

 

Sure he/she has a choice. But you know the rule against suicide. Again, that rule fits right in with survival of the species. However, there have been times and places in human history when suicide was the only honourable thing to do. Remember the OT story about Saul? When he lost the war with the Philistines, it was his moral duty (according to the custom of his land and times) to kill himself.

 

Morals must, to some extent, go against human nature and desires. I'll paraphrase one of my college professors here -- the reason you never see a taboo against eating dirt, for example, is that there's no need to prohibit things that nobody wants to do anyway.

 

Your prof must be speaking about Western society in the present day as it pertains to humans whose basic needs of life are fully met. There are many and many a taboo on food. I am speaking about food in the context of what is allowed to enter the digestive system via the mouth. Again, remember the OT taboos against unclean food. Unclean=dirt.

 

I am looking at some more of your criteria for morals. It seems you are speaking about what constitutes moral standards in the present day. I am looking at where those moral standards came from originally--how did we ever get the ideas that these things are wrong?

 

I am very much aware of the role of religion regarding the setting of moral standards. I come from a faith community where having a driver's license or computer is considered to be morally wrong. Here is the reasoning: Obedience and submission to authority is valued above practically everything else in life. Disobedience is as the sin of witchcraft (remember, that is what Samuel in the OT said to Saul when Saul disobeyed and didn't kill all the Amelekites and their animals). The reason that rule against driver's licence and computer (and very many other things) are in place in this community is that it values separation from the world. Why is separation from the world valued so highly? Because the Bible says not to be of the world. That is perceived as God's will. If you disobey God, as shown with the example of Saul, you get condemned and sent to hell. That takes survival to a metaphysical level and can be said to border on superstitious.

 

Outside the religious setting, owning a computer or driver's licence gets you sent to hell no more than being a homosexual gets you sent to hell. Some religions forbid the consumption of alcohol but perhaps allow multiple spouses. Others allow alcohol but forbid multiple spouses. Both these religions believe the other will end up in hell. I suspect this is the type of thing you are struggling with. I personally have given major amounts of thought, time, and energy to the sorting of morals on this level.

 

Here are two classics on what religion is that you might find helpful:

 

Paden, William. Religious Worlds: The Comparative Study of Religion. Beacon Press, 1988.

 

Smith, Wilfred Cantwell. The Meaning and End of Religion. Fortress Press, 1991.

 

Here's an anthology:

 

Stewart, David, ed. Exploring the Philosophy of Religion. Prentice Hall, 1980. There are a number of later editions. This book contains a collection of pieces written by a large spectrum of authors from conservative Christianity to atheist. May also contain nonChristian religion but it's been quite a while since I read it and I don't remember for sure.

 

Now, here's the thing. I think that given what I'm thinking of as "religion" and "morality," a strong case can be made, from several types of evidence, that religion -- shared cultural beliefs in gods, organized rituals to communicate with them, worship and appease them, etc. -- came before morality, at least as I've stated what I was thinking of as morality (basically, some sort of guiding set of principles, no matter how well or poorly developed those principles are). To be sure, humans incorporated the moral principles they developed into their religions. But the religion, complete with all the ritual, belief in the divine and in the afterlife, etc., came first.

 

What is your basis for that idea?

 

No, not really. Some of my hypotheticals weren't related at all to the idea I'm coming to; I put out a pretty big list because I wanted to give you an "open field" to work with, and because I didn't want to try to lead the discussion in any particular direction, intentionally or not. ... Well, actually, it might very well be "very late in the process," since you're thinking of evolutionary time scales. I'm thinking of social development, specifically the past few thousand years.

 

RE bolded parts: I know and I didn't want to go there because I've been there done that. It was an integral part of my up-bringing and working my way out of that community. And somehow, I just can't go there right now. But it seems like Jun is willing to discuss issues on this level. Perhaps you will excuse me if I turn things over to him to help you further work through the issues. I might look in once in a while.....no promises.

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But it seems like Jun is willing to discuss issues on this level.

 

I'm interested in hearing the evidence that can make a case for religion coming before morality.

a strong case can be made, from several types of evidence, that religion -- shared cultural beliefs in gods, organized rituals to communicate with them, worship and appease them, etc. -- came before morality
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Today I witnessed something that fits this thread too well not to post it.

 

There is a duck pond not too far from where I live. It's a wild corner with houses on all sides. For this transplanted country girl it's an oasis in a dry and thirsty land and I go down there sometimes.

 

In addition to several duck families that live there, there is also at least one family of red-winged blackbirds. Earlier this spring I noticed Mr. Blackbird taking on a crow many times its own size. He would send the crow flying for refuge. This morning when I went down to the pond Mr. Blackbird seemed really upset with me.

 

I was standing on the bank watching the ducks. He squawked from one tree, so I went to another one and then he squawked from that one. Once he flew across the pond and perched on a rooftop. From there he sang his oka-leee mating song so I figured he's okay now. But no, he returned to hassle me some more. Finally I left. Didn't want to be attacked with beak and claws.

 

Later in the day I went down again. A brownish bird, probably Mrs. Red-winged Blackbird, swooshed into the top of the sumacs lining the shore. A bird half her size swooshed into the sumac at the same instant.

 

That was the secret! Junior was out of the nest and that made for nervous parents. I am sure it was because of the nest and the setting mom that Mr. Blackbird had been hassling the crow earlier. QUESTION: Do crows eat eggs or baby birds?

 

Those two adult birds threatened me so bad that I didn't stay long. I was glad for the protection of a straw hat but didn't think it would be terribly effective against angry parents. The Mrs. circled directly above my head at one point so there was no mistake that *I* was the focus of all their displeasure. I've never before been threated by a bird before except by domesticated fowl.

 

Anyway, as I walked away I was thinking about this. WHY were those parent birds so protective of their little one? I assumed it was because of love. However, there are so many arguments that only humans can feel emotion, and love is an emotion. The only other answer I can think of is survival of the species.

 

Any thoughts on this?

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What is an emotion? And why can't animals feel the same thing?

 

Why is it that we should assume that the complex response of chemical and nerve signals in our body for a threat or a desire is uniquely attached to "human emotions", while animals (which I've seen many times with my dogs) seems to be able to be scared, happy, angry, upset, sad etc. At least they behave that way, without training, and mostly at first without a reason, but after some insight one can see why this animal reacted the way he/she did, and becomes clear that they reacted the same way a human would, with the only difference that we call it emotion for us, but instict for animals.

 

My personal opinion (if it isn't clear yet) is that animals have emotions just like us, but sometimes maybe they don't have as much, or as refined or well developed as us. But to some extent they must have, if we are animals as well.

 

Birds are quite clever. I've seen birds trick my dogs. I've seen two birds meeting in the sky and give each other a little tweet and then passing, just like saying "Hello, how are you"...

 

If one consider how function in a living being would be to make sure the being is protective of its offspring, emotions (a response system making the individual feel good or bad) would be the best way.

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Anyway, as I walked away I was thinking about this. WHY were those parent birds so protective of their little one? I assumed it was because of love. However, there are so many arguments that only humans can feel emotion, and love is an emotion. The only other answer I can think of is survival of the species.

 

Any thoughts on this?

 

I don't believe that only humans can feel emotion. I think animals feel emotion as well. The dog analogy that Han used is the very reason I feel that way. I've seen it in my own dogs and cat, I've seen it in the dogs that I work with at a local animal shelter.

 

If it was only because of "survival of the species" wouldn't the other birds have been swarming all over you as well and not just the mama and papa?

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My dog smiles when she's happy. She bares all of her teeth just like a human. I've read where dogs do smile, but everything I've read said they are mimicing human responces they observe. However, my dog has been blind all her life. There is no way she could observe a human's smile to mimic it.

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I'm glad there are others who feel confident that other living beings, esp. ones with large brains like dogs, cats, and songbirds (large compared to lots of tiny crawly thingies), have the capacity for emotion. I think morals are based on feelings, and eventually they harden into superstition or religion. Don't ask me to differentiate because respectable religion usually is what I have and superstition is usually what those crazies over there have.

 

If it was only because of "survival of the species" wouldn't the other birds have been swarming all over you as well and not just the mama and papa?

 

I love that. Okay, no, if all the other adult birds in the area had swarmed over me I would have been very seriously frightened. But you make a point. The mamas and papas of the duck families just swim away with their little ones when I arrive; they never bother swarming over me. I guess they know that I won't enter the water so they feel safe. And the crow, well I've never seen more than one crow in that area so maybe there is no nest and little ones there.

 

My dog smiles when she's happy. She bares all of her teeth just like a human. I've read where dogs do smile, but everything I've read said they are mimicing human responces they observe. However, my dog has been blind all her life. There is no way she could observe a human's smile to mimic it.

 

That is convincing evidence!

 

I'm trying to remember why I thought that post about the bird families fits in this thread...Now I remember. In humans we call it moral when parents are protective of their young--protecting them from the dangers of traffic, the elements, hunger, and all that can harm or kill them. Well, we tend to take it for granted. However, when human parents fail to be protective of their young we call it immoral and we are obligated to report them to the authorities of the land. So I guess the positive is moral. If human parents demonstrate morality in taking care of their young, then so do animals.

 

Someone mentioned fear in animals. There is no question about it--animals feel fear. Their reaction to perceived danger very closely mimics human reaction to perceived danger. Like the bird families--the ducks swim away and the blackbirds threaten. When the danger was not perceived as immediate, Mr. Blackbird just tried getting me to leave the area. But when it appeared that I might decide to endanger their little one, they confronted me in very definite terms.

 

I have also seen dogs grieving. A half-grown pup that used to romp and play with its neighbour pup lay inactive and sad for two or three days after the neighbour was taken away. So it would seem that morals have a lot to do with feelings or emotions. Given that similar emotions are experienced across species it makes a lot of sense that we have strong inter-species relationships, i.e. humans live with birds and animals of all descriptions, cats and dogs love each other's company.

 

A cat or bird will sleep on a horse's broad warm back. And the horse allows it, presumably because it likes the company of and contact with another warm body. My first dog on the farm used to snuggle in with the calves to sleep. The calves were black and white and so was the dog; it was kinda funny when we had to look twice to see if it was calf or dog we were looking at. The difference in size wasn't big.

 

Thus, I would definitely conclude that morals came before religion. I hope Roy will have time to explain why he disagrees.

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If it was only because of "survival of the species" wouldn't the other birds have been swarming all over you as well and not just the mama and papa?

Different species has evolved different. I'm sure that there could be some species that work as a team to protect the group, but that doesn't mean every species evolved the same way. There are a billions ways of surviving, hence billions possibilities of behavior in a specie.

 

 

My dog smiles when she's happy. She bares all of her teeth just like a human. I've read where dogs do smile, but everything I've read said they are mimicing human responces they observe. However, my dog has been blind all her life. There is no way she could observe a human's smile to mimic it.

When people say dogs mimic, they do so because they're afraid that animals have feelings and a "soul" just like humans. It is arrogance that drives that thought and explanation.

 

I've seen behaviors in my dogs that were not instilled or directed or copied from humans, but was "invented" by each dog individually and those behaviors show emotions. So the whole "dogs only mimic" is just BS IMO.

 

Thus, I would definitely conclude that morals came before religion. I hope Roy will have time to explain why he disagrees.

Agree. Moral has evolved, and started before "imagination" came into existence. And imagination is a very important part of religion.

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> somehow, I just can't go there right now. But it seems like Jun is willing to discuss issues on this level. Perhaps you will excuse me if I turn things over to him to help you further work through the issues.

 

Fair enough; I can already see that we're ... "using two different paradigms," shall I say? I'll post my further comments in a different thread.

 

I'm interested in hearing the evidence that can make a case for religion coming before morality.
a strong case can be made, from several types of evidence, that religion -- shared cultural beliefs in gods, organized rituals to communicate with them, worship and appease them, etc. -- came before morality

 

Hi Jun,

 

Sorry I'm a little tardy on this; real life got in the way. I'll try to put up something tomorrow (or at the latest, Tuesday) to at least start the ball rolling on this.

 

- Roy

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> somehow, I just can't go there right now. But it seems like Jun is willing to discuss issues on this level. Perhaps you will excuse me if I turn things over to him to help you further work through the issues.

 

Fair enough; I can already see that we're ... "using two different paradigms," shall I say? I'll post my further comments in a different thread.

 

I'm interested in hearing the evidence that can make a case for religion coming before morality.
a strong case can be made, from several types of evidence, that religion -- shared cultural beliefs in gods, organized rituals to communicate with them, worship and appease them, etc. -- came before morality

 

Hi Jun,

 

Sorry I'm a little tardy on this; real life got in the way. I'll try to put up something tomorrow (or at the latest, Tuesday) to at least start the ball rolling on this.

 

- Roy

 

:3:

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