Re: virus: Morality

Andy Cheyne Service-LL (
Wed, 28 Feb 96 10:30:16 -0000

I realise that I'm being simplistic here, but I think it is far more
likely that morals generate the need for religions rather than religions
create morals. Society depends on some moral consensus: what simpler way
to enforce this moral consensus than the reward-and-punishment mechanism
practised by religion? It's difficult to convince individuals to behave
in ways that are ostensibly contrary to their individual interest - the
concept of "altruism" or "for the good of society" can seem pretty
nebulous. So what do you do? Invent a system of rewards and punishments
that transcend the immediate, material benefits of the action in
question, that's what.

So morals don't result from religion - quite the reverse, in fact.

Of course, this raises the question of whether it's realistic to expect
human beings, at this stage in their intellectual evolution, to be able
to sustain a moral framework without the artificial incentives offered by
religions. I'd like to be able to think that my fellow humans are
capable of being rational enough to behave according to a
societally-beneficial moral code or codes just for its own sake, but I'm
afraid I doubt it.

Andy Cheyne