I recently had a discussion with someone regarding freewill, consciousness and determinism. This in turn led to morality and the social orders that influence said morality. Consciousness and determinism I’ll save for another time, as that is a long discussion in and of itself.
After the discussion, I had gone back to catch up on some reading on the study of morality and its evolution. This inevitably leads to more discussions with my theist friends and their concepts of their gods.
Several points to make here…
1. Throughout the history of man there have been more than two hundred and fifty recorded gods. Each and every one of them has some variation on a set of standard moral objectives.
2. Moral edicts provided by these gods seem to tie in very closely to the current moral maturity of the person / people collecting the information.
3. Religious text or tenants are usually non-evolutionary and may never be updated or changed, as the particular god is seen as all knowing or omnipotent.
Concerning moral evolution
Per Lawrence Kohlberg, there are six commonly accepted stages of moral evolution. Kohlberg’s work is an adaptation of a psychological theory originally conceived of by the Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget and is as follows:
Stage 1 – Blind Egoism
Stage 2 – Instrumental Egoism
Stage 3 – Social Relationship Perspective
Stage 4 – Social System Perspective
Stage 5 – Contractual Perspective
Stage 6 – Mutual Respect as a Universal Principle
Now it should be pointed out that some sociologists argue that individuals define their “personal” moral judgments while disregarding the interest of others. This is achieved by ignoring social laws, the human rights of others or any ethical value outlined by a standard social order or those of their gods.
For the purpose of this discussion, I will focus on the social order and perspectives. We all know, based on personal experience, we can manipulate any personal moral or ethic to justify any action we have either engaged in or wish to engage in. See “cognitive dissonance.”
Setting the stage
Now that we have the established base, we can draw conclusions on the moral maturity of our society and the moral maturity of religious doctrine.
My current position is that the religious doctrines I am familiar with, and study, all originate sometime prior to or during the Bronze Age.
My argument is – having your moral values dictated to you from information that is known to be derived from a social order that is, at best a stage 3 maturity level, is not only counterproductive, it is illogical.
1. Religious doctrine was constructed during a time when the moral maturity was less than the social maturity of our current social order. This is assuming that the goal of a socially conscious group is to advance to the highest moral stage.
Religious doctrine = less than desirable moral maturity goal.
2. Religious doctrine, according to theists, is not allowed to be modified or changed.
Religious doctrine = infallible and reliable
3. Current social order, while not perfect, is at a higher level of maturity than religious doctrine. Assuming that this is a true statement, it provides evidence that the previous variable (No. 2) is no longer valid.
Current social order = higher moral maturity than religious doctrine
4. To achieve a goal of a higher moral maturity level, a society must modify or discard lesser level moral directives.
Religious morals being less than desirable = should be discarded or modified
Current social moral maturity is more advanced than any religious doctrine currently known to man. Therefore, any moral construct based on religious doctrine should be discarded in favor of a higher level of moral maturity.
Based on a simple matrix, it can be demonstrated that the moral maturity of each religion currently in practice may be compared to all other religions and the current social order / maturity level of our society. This leads one to identify “the best” moral guidelines.
I, then, conclude that the current social maturity of our social order is at a higher level to that of any current religious doctrine and, thus, religious morals outlined by said doctrine should be discarded.
Please feel free to poke holes in the argument. I am always interested in creating fallacy-free arguments and positions. I look forward to your feedback.