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Matthieu Miossec

Doctoral Student - Genetic Medecine (Congenital Heart Disease),

TEDCRED 100+

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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 18 2011: Religion has it's own moral bias which in the Christian Bible is often spectacularly contradictory. Science is amoral in that knowledge alone cannot dictate it's own use. I would prefer a third option.

    Morality is a uniquely human issue, and as such, only humans are capable of determining what those moral values should be. I am referring to something in the nature of a social contract. We have the technology now to conduct a reasonably accurate poll of society. With this data, we could determine a set of societal morals. Recurrent polls could be conducted at agreed upon intervals to determine the effectiveness of the current morality and suggest any necessary restructuring.

    Morality, as with any other aspect of human societies is not and should not be forced to be static. Our morality must be allowed to evolve with us. That failure of moral evolution lies at the heart of our current moral drift. In our western, Judeo/Christian society, we have tried to freeze our moral evolution at a point two thousand years in the past. Denying moral evolution while embracing social evolution has led us in strange directions.

    The Bible says "Thou shalt not kill." and yet the United States, a country of loudly "Christian" values invades other countries and kills thousands, and they were not alone. Clearly, our society has evolved beyond the morality we profess to embrace. This leads to a deep seated rift between those clinging ever more tightly to "traditional" (read outmoded) morality, and those attempting to establish their own morality in the absence of any reasonable alternative.

    We need to establish a human moral compass based on human truths and values. Forget about flawed and self-promoting religions. Science, no matter how hard it tries, cannot pretend to human understanding. Only we can understand ourselves. Only we humans know what is right and wrong for us.

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