Saturday, 19 February 2011

The Science of Ethics

Ethics is not some divine tendency, it is an evolved trait selected because populations that develop ethical interactions do better off as a whole, just like any other evolutionary trait. We could say that Ethics is a result of religion, but suppose that ethics is an evolution of religion, a species if you like. If so, what did religion evolve from?

If you can accept all of this it is not hard to see then how religion evolved. Remember that natural selection doesn't ween out traits that aren't an advantage, only those that are a disadvantage in some way. So certain "junk" traits can be picked up along the way. For example, some form of hominid, before culture had developed decides to place a feather  in its hair. This trait is copied and despite the fact that it has no practical advantage, simply because it has no practical disadvantage, it is not evolved out.

Now, replication of an otherwise useless meme, combined with variance results in the evolution of this idea to a more advanced form. As this meme gets better at replicating itself it will recursively develop even better properties to encourage spread and to prevent the demise of the idea. I propose that this is how religion evolved. it got better at copying because it helps us to follow morals in our society, resulting in a more successful species. This gives us a tendency to help it replicate, analogous to a tree that wraps its seeds in fruit, the fruit is the reward, as is moral society.

Religion also has developed an immune system of sorts by evolving the concept of judgment, punishment for defying the ideas that encourage the propagation of religion. Religions are informational organisms in a symbiotic, some may say parasitic relationships with humans and our tendency to copy one another.

23 comments:

  1. I think ethics has come so far that religion is already outdated. cause everyone knows ethics already.

    Also, use paragraphs!

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  2. I tend to agree with you, but religion is just the older lobby on the earth, and the only goal of it is to control people.

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  3. I love the efficacy of your statement, but would like to hear more. Post something else man.

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  4. Completely agree with this. Evolutionary psychology is one of the most interesting topics around i find.

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  5. Great post, looking forward to another.

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  6. Ethics always has been overrated. Sad, but true.

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  7. I think ethics is rooted in religion. Even when you link it to a conscience, it's there from somewhere. New follower!

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  8. I agree completely with everything you mentioned, great statement. Hope to read more similar posts in the future!

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  10. Meant to say, interesting comments. Looking forward to reading your blog.

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  11. I'll take a little Kantian ethics over the Bible any day...

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  12. relligion as become some kind of business nowadays

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  13. Haven't heard this take on ethics and religion before.

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  14. Religion is a cult by definition

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  15. good read, keep it coming...

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  16. Unfortunately, the only way it could replicate itself was through hierarchies and imposition. Yay.

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  17. I like this. A bit of a different approach to an often discussed issue. Looking forward to more.

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  18. YEah religions are cults for controlling masses.

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  19. Cool blog, I'm going to follow it :)

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  20. I don't think that morality comes from the appeal to authority. even if we choose to do only what God says, we're still making that choice, we're still choosing to consult 'the rulebook', etc. It's still morality which we determine of our own free will.

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