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Matthieu Miossec

Doctoral Student - Genetic Medecine (Congenital Heart Disease),

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Morality is better informed by science than it is by religion

Religion has a long history of claiming absolute knowledge over questions of morals. Often today, we hear preachers on the street tell us that, for all our scientific and technological achievements, we are losing touch with our morals. Is that true? Is religion than the only or at least the best answer to our moral shortcomings?

The other view is that morality has progressively changed and increased with time and we shudder to think about what stood as morals in our past. In great part, it can be argued that science has fed many moral values by revealing natural truths about ourselves and other animals such that we can no longer see the world in a way that make certain immoral behaviors justifiable.

So which one is better equipped to inform morality? Is there a third institution better equipped perhaps?

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    Oct 16 2011: Hi Matthieu, Whatever we do is not important. It is our motive that makes it different to us.
    Just a quote from Heaven and Hell:

    "It is recognized that non-Christians live lives that are just as moral as the lives of Christians—many of them, in fact, live more moral lives. A moral life may be lived either to satisfy the Divine or to satisfy people in this world. A moral life that is lived to satisfy the Divine is a spiritual life. The two look alike in outward form, but inwardly they are totally different. One saves us, the other does not. This is because if we live a moral life to satisfy the Divine we are being led by the Divine; while if we live a moral life to satisfy people in this world, we are being led by ourselves.
    [2] This may be illustrated by an example. If we do not do harm to our neighbor be cause that is against our religion and therefore against the Divine, our refraining from evil stems from a spiritual source. But if we refrain from doing harm to others simply because we are afraid of the law or of losing our reputation or respect or profit — for the sake of self and the world, that is — then this stems from a natural source and we are being led by ourselves. This latter life is natural, while the former is spiritual."

    It is all about what we decide will restrain us. We know what happens in a class when the teacher leaves. The same happens when there is a demonstration and too few policemen. We behave differently if we know there is a camera, etc.,
    If we restrain ourselves because we believe God is watching us, it should make no difference if there is no teacher or too few policemen or no cameras.
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      Oct 16 2011: I would argue that a truly moral person does not need policemen, teachers, cameras or God to watch over them. It's good that we've moved passed the idea that a non-believer can't be moral without God. I'm happy to see that religion no longer ignores that fact. But let's go ahead and take a step further in admitting that some people don't need a guardian to be moral. That is real morality!
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        Oct 17 2011: Yep, real morality is determined by the motive.

        The reason for the giving of the 10 commandments was not because in those days people stole and killed and raped without any means of controlling their action. Now those evil actions became a sin against God, affecting the human spirit..
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      Oct 16 2011: Adriaan,
      I agree with you that "It is recognized that non-Christians live lives that are just as moral as the lives of Christians—many of them, in fact, live more moral lives".

      Based on that statement, it surprises me that you would state..."A moral life that is lived to satisfy the Divine is a spiritual life. The two look alike in outward form, but inwardly they are totally different. One saves us, the other does not. This is because if we live a moral life to satisfy the Divine we are being led by the Divine; while if we live a moral life to satisfy people in this world, we are being led by ourselves".

      Doesn't it say somewhere in the bible that we are made in the image and likeness of god...the divine? Yes, it does. Doesn't it say that we are all one? Yes it does. With this in mind, your statement contradicts the information from the bible.

      Maybe YOU "behave differently" if you "know there is a camera", but I and many others do not. Many of us take responsibility for our actions and behave in a certain way because that is our choice...not because someone is watching over us.
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        Oct 17 2011: "Doesn't it say somewhere in the bible that we are made in the image and likeness of god...the divine? Yes, it does. Doesn't it say that we are all one? Yes it does."

        So you're saying we don't need a Bible, we are perfect. The Lord knocks on our door, just to say hi? Ever watch the news and see what people do?? They are all images and likenesses of God? We are all indeed one, but one what?? One brain? One body? We are all in one spiritual world, we are all invited to heaven.

        We are all born with the potential of becoming an image and likeness of God. That does not happen automatically as you may have noticed around you.

        The Lord said He is the light.. what do you suppose He meant? Can't be electric because all they had was oil.. He also said He was a door.. Taking things literally is not always the answer. Now you have a choice to go spiritual.
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          Oct 17 2011: With or without the Bible there are bad people doing bad things. Your argument would be convincing if evil was almost inexistent or at least not ever carried out by Christians/Religious people. That couldn't be further from the truth. Have we already forgotten all the child rape that goes on within the supposed houses of god?
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          Oct 17 2011: Adriaan,
          Please don't put words in my mouth. I didn't say anything about anyone being "perfect". Yes, I do watch the news, I am very mindful of what is happening in our world, and I consider myself a well informed person. Let's stay on track with the discussion.

          In his introduction, Mattieu writes..." it can be argued that science has fed many moral values by revealing natural truths about ourselves and other animals such that we can no longer see the world in a way that make certain immoral behaviors justifiable".

          This is an excellent point, and one way we can connect the relevance of science and religion/spirituality. There are people who use religion/spirituality/holy books as valuable life guides. There are also people in our world who use the information from those sources as an excuse to abuse and violate the rights of others, as well as selectively excluding many people from the doors of heaven if s/he does not follow the dogma of a certain religion. These extreme beliefs, demands and threats cause seperation of people, rather than supporting people coming together for a common cause.

          You write Adriaan... "This may be illustrated by an example. If we do not do harm to our neighbor be cause that is against our religion and therefore against the Divine, our refraining from evil stems from a spiritual source. But if we refrain from doing harm to others simply because we are afraid of the law or of losing our reputation or respect or profit — for the sake of self and the world, that is — then this stems from a natural source and we are being led by ourselves."

          WHATEVER causes us to refrain from doing harm to another person Adriaan, is a good thing. You seem to focus on the idea of someone watching over you as a better way to live. I believe that to make well informed, kind, considerate choices is a better way to live.
          To behave a certain way because someone is watching feels hypocritical.
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          Oct 17 2011: Matthieu and Adriaan,
          The catholic church is selling most of the property they own in this area, to pay off their legal committments and financial compensation to those who were sexually assaulted by representatives of god, in the house of god. As there have been many trials in this area in the past few years, I am constantly reminded daily about the unfortunate, innocent children who were raped within the "house of god". Apparently, it didn't matter to the offender if god was watching or not, and we have people whose lives were drastically changed because of the decisions priests made as to how they used/misused their position. The bishop in this area, still maintains that it is not the church's fault. This is how religion contributes to our morality?
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          Oct 18 2011: Hi Adriaan.

          Just a quick note on this passage, "Ever watch the news and see what people do?? They are all images and likenesses of God?"

          Yes I watch the news and see what people do. Then again, I've also read the Old Testament with a God who has no problem killing people for disobeying him, who is okay with spreading pestilence and famine and murdering the firstborn children of Egypt to get his own way. A God who destroyed every living thing on earth except for one boatload because he didn't like what they were doing.

          Yes Adriaan, those people on the evening news are as much in the image of that God as the ones doing "good works".

          I'm not questioning your beliefs, only the morality of the Godly actions in question. The excesses in the Bible make man's most horrible crimes look amateurish by comparison.
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        Oct 17 2011: Hi Colleen, you said,
        "There are also people in our world who use the information from those sources as an excuse to abuse and violate the rights of others, as well as selectively excluding many people from the doors of heaven if s/he does not follow the dogma of a certain religion."
        That is absolutely true! Belonging to any church gives no guaranty whatsoever. Luckily they have no power over the doors of heaven, they are just opening the doors of hell for themselves even wider.
        It is a horrible thing what happened to those kids and very sad for humanity it did indeed happen. Do you think it was the church's fault because they had not installed enough cameras? or should have organized these horrendous events differently? Those priests are crooks, for sure, and should be stoned, but they were not following the church's instructions. The church officials should have thrown out those crooks, but I seem to remember they did not and I do not know why.

        "WHATEVER causes us to refrain from doing harm to another person Adriaan, is a good thing."

        For the other person? YES, but for us, NO. It is our motives that make us who we are, what we do or don't do is less important than WHY we do or don't do something.
        Sorry for going off topic, but when our body dies our spirit can and will and is meant to do everything it loves to do, to eternity.

        @Matthieu
        "With or without the Bible there are bad people doing bad things."
        Yes, whether they do or don't belong to a church, whether they run a coffee shop or a country. We are 100% free to do what we love. To sometimes even force ourselves to do good and learn to love it. That's what life is all about.
        That is ofcourse if the next life is of interest to you..

        "..it can be argued that science has fed many moral values by revealing natural truths about ourselves and other animals.."
        Would you have any examples? Much appreciated.
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          Oct 18 2011: Adriaan,
          You ask..."Do you think it was the church's fault because they had not installed enough cameras? or should have organized these horrendous events differently"?

          WHAT? "Organized these horrendous events differently". What are you talking about?

          No, it was not the church's fault because "they had not installed enough cameras". It was the church's fault for choosing to ignore this issue for many years, even though they knew it was happening to thousands of children.

          You write..."The church officials should have thrown out those crooks, but I seem to remember they did not and I do not know why".

          I DO know why Adriaan, because it was brought out at all the trials, and it has been in the news constantly. The church officials were covering up for the offenders.

          You see Adriaan, cameras, and cover-ups are not the bases of good morality. People need to be accountable and responsible for the choices s/he makes without being prodded by someone watching over him/her.
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        Oct 18 2011: Hi Winston, Yes from appearance that is what it looks like. The Bible however was written from appearances, just as a parent can appear very angry to a child when that child is dragged back to the sidewalk to save it from being run over.
        The Bible is not about God but about us. Everything that happens is a scene or level in our spiritual development.
        You can use the literal text any way you want to but it is written from appearances, from the human perspective. However, God was in charge of what was written, using it to portray, as I said before, human development. The whole Bible is written by way of correspondences. Through this developing process we have Adam and Eve in us, as also Mozes and Pharaoh, Jacob and Esau etc.

        The Creation story has nothing to do with this physical world, it is all about the stages each person can go through if, from being natural, he/she becomes spiritual.
        There never was a physical flood. The Flood was a 'flood' of evil in the existing world of beliefs in the world then. The Ark signifies our human mind which has three levels and a 'window' to the above. Further in the development there is a next stage of the mind and that is the Tabernacle, the materials, the layout, the items inside, everything! has a spiritual meaning.

        You are absolutely, 100%, free to believe what you want to believe! God is a Love itself and could not even frown at us and He does not mind if you think Him angry and bad. Because that means you recognize evil for what it is, He loves you anyways.
        A child might (for being corrected) yell at a parent "I hate you!!! and the parent can react "but I love you anyway!"
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          Oct 23 2011: Adriaan,
          I realize your post above is addressed to Winston, and I got the notification, so I will respond on just one little point.

          You write..."God is a Love itself and could not even frown at us and He does not mind if you think Him angry and bad. Because that means you recognize evil for what it is, He loves you anyways".

          Your god does not "even frown at us", and yet in your posts, you promote the idea that if we do not accept your god and the dogma that goes with your religion, he will send us to hell. There is a contradiction there. A god who is "Love itself" would not send masses of people to suffer in hell for eternity. A loving god, if he/she/it exists, would love us unconditionally, which is what some people who practice religion in a benificial way believe. Those who try to force a religion on people with threats and fear, are not using their beliefs in a beneficial way for the whole of humankind.

          Good morality is based on love, not fear. Whether the guidence and information is coming from science or spirituality/religion, the important factor, is how people choose to use the information.
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        Oct 23 2011: Hi Colleen, Are you now putting words in my mouth? :) But please let me know where I do say that.
        I doubt you'll find anyone in any prison that will say anything different than "the judge sent me here."
        Though you and I know they brought it on themselves. The only thing I hope you get from every one of my posts is: believe it or don't, it is not between you and me, the ball is in your court, you are who YOU decide to be, you're 100% free, etc.

        Maybe I'm going off topic again,, :) but the fact that hell exists is also based on God's love. People that hate God or firmly deny His existence don't have to go to heaven, they are free to go to hell. And hell is NOT a punishment because a punishment exists so someone can change and do better. After death we cannot change what we love and have become spiritually. In fact we do not WANT to go anywhere else because we love it.

        "Those who try to force a religion on people with threats and fear, are not using their beliefs in a beneficial way for the whole of humankind."
        You are absolutely right! "That is taking someone else's freedom away, or trying to. That is the reason why I often mention my motto 'If whatever you believe makes you a better person, believe it!!

        "Good morality is based on love, not fear." You are right again, however, we are not born good and loving. There is a process to go through. As I said elsewhere, we should bring-up kids with the proper discipline. First we have to force a kid to not do bad things and praise it for the good things s/he does. That develops into obedience and the last stage is when the good actions are based on the love of good. That process is what the Creation Story is all about.
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          Oct 23 2011: Adriaan,
          The words were copied directly from your previous post, and at this time, are still there.

          Adriaan, this comment thread is not about prison, or what the judge would say. Yes, you are off topic again.

          Adriaan, I am very clear about my beliefs, and have been consistant in expressing them.
          I'd prefer to teach kids how to behave with respect, and loving kindness based on love and a desire to extend love to others, as an extension of his/her "self". I believe kids ARE born good and loving, and I like to encourage growth of that love because it is pleasurable, rather than forcing "a kid to not do bad things" that "develops into obedience".

          Let us not forget what the topic is.
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        Oct 24 2011: Colleen,
        "The words were copied directly from your previous post, and at this time, are still there."
        Sorry, Colleen, but could you help me find them? They would be so much against my believes that I'm very sure I did not make that mistake.

        "Adriaan, this comment thread is not about prison, or what the judge would say. Yes, you are off topic again."
        Your mean to say your comment of 1 day ago, that I responded to, was off topic as well?

        "Adriaan, I am very clear about my beliefs, and have been consistant in expressing them."
        Well If I were to respond to that I'd be way, way.. off topic, so sorry. (All I know is you are against religion and take every opportunity to attack me on mine).
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          Oct 24 2011: Adriaan,
          The words I quoted are from your previous post, on this page, six days ago, last paragraph.

          I am NOT against religion at all Adriaan, and quite a few of my comments support religion.
          I have also, several times, told you that I respect the fact that you have certain beliefs. Disagreeing with some of your beliefs is not an "attack".
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        Oct 24 2011: Well, I quess you can't quote what isn't there..
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          Oct 24 2011: You are absolutely right Adriaan. The statement you wrote, which I copied, is still in your comment...this page... 6 days ago...last paragraph.
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        Oct 24 2011: Ok dear, I'll copy the last par. of first message 6 days ago:
        "For the other person? YES, but for us, NO. It is our motives that make us who we are, what we do or don't do is less important than WHY we do or don't do something.
        Sorry for going off topic, but when our body dies our spirit can and will and is meant to do everything it loves to do, to eternity.

        last par. of second message 6 days ago:
        "You are absolutely, 100%, free to believe what you want to believe! God is a Love itself and could not even frown at us and He does not mind if you think Him angry and bad. Because that means you recognize evil for what it is, He loves you anyways.
        A child might (for being corrected) yell at a parent "I hate you!!! and the parent can react "but I love you anyway!" "

        Am I missing something here??
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          Oct 26 2011: Yes Adriaan...that's the one. I don't think you are missing a thing:>)
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          Oct 26 2011: If a child is encouraged to challenge parental authority by evil doers, parents don't curse them and their descendants for hundreds of generations. Good parents go "it's ok, just don't listen to that snake again". What a miserable parent the Old Testament God is.
          Eternal life taken away for being naively trapped by the devil...

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