Unity of Sci-Religion

A global system of ethics is a goal that has long been anticipated on the world scene today. Although organized religion has long been celebrated as the standard bearer for the promotion of a virtuous life style, the various conflicts afflicting many of the major world religions clearly expose the inherent weakness to such a simplistic interpretation. Ideally, a scientific foundation for such a global moral perspective should prove exceedingly beneficial. A formal behavioral-science tie-in with ethical principles proves particularly effective for removing such a cultural range of stumbling blocks. This primary foundation within behavioral psychology further invokes instinctual principles shared in common as a human species (as well as the rest of animal kingdom) compatible with the precepts of Natural Law. When expanded to include the more abstract human-cultural levels of interaction; namely, group and universal authority, the affiliated traditional groupings of virtues/values rightfully enters the picture.
This radically new approach targeting motivation melds modern behavioral psychology with the long-standing traditions underlying value ethics. This trend encompasses an ascending motivational hierarchy of personal, group, universal, humanitarian, and transcendental domains of ethical inquiry. Indeed, it is chiefly through this elaborate synthesis linking behavioral psychology to the long-standing traditions underlying value ethics that a master overview of motivated behavior finally becomes conceptually complete.

Approach • Rewards … Avoidance • Leniency
Solicitude • Approval … Submission • Blame
Glory • Prudence … Honor • Justice
Providence • Faith … Liberty • Hope
Grace • Beauty … Free-Will • Truth
Tranquility • Ecstasy … Equality • Bliss

Reinforce • Appetite … – Reinforce • Aversion
Desire • Aspiration … Worry • Compliance
Dignity • Temperance … Integrity • Fortitude
Civility • Charity … Austerity • Decency
Magnanim. • Goodness … Equanimity • Wisdom
Love • Joy … Peace • Harmony

As such it brings a grand-unified understanding of the virtues and values in foundational correlation with the behavioral principles underlying instrumental conditioning.
In summary, the innate instinctual foundation for the motivational hierarchy in terms of conditioning theory imparts a universal appeal towards acceptance upon the world scene today. This systematic scientific foundation invoking behavioral principles is particularly unique in that it directly avoids any favoritism towards any particular cultural identity, treating each with equal dignity and validity. The traditional listings of virtues and values are similarly viewed in terms of such a secular perspective, one that is formally independent of any cultural bias or the restrictions of any supernaturally-revealed scriptural foundation. Consequently, this grand-scale synthesis potentially amounts to the best of all possible worlds: enabling an ethical revival within the secular world (which has typically been downplayed), as well as the potential for an even greater degree of cooperation and tolerance amongst all of the religious traditions of the world in a true appeal to world peace.

I agree that a scientific foundation for human motivation of ethical behavior is critical in providing a global moral perspective. Invoking innate behavioral principles in human nature would provide that strong foundation. I propose that the behavioral aspects of a need for fairness and a need for compassion in times of stress be part of that foundation; more specifically, each person needs and expects to be treated with respect (or fairness) and compassion in every interaction with another person. Studies of human behavior show that each individual insists on being treated fairly. And also, that when experiencing stressful events, compassion from a significant caregiver reduces stress and increases the ability to cope with and succeed in a difficult situation.
Because all persons experience this need for respect and compassion, it is incumbent on every person to treat others with respect (fairness) and to provide compassionate support in times of difficulty. This expectation is sometimes met, but not always. But to the extent that the expectations for respect and compassion are met, the individual is able to flourish in life and the surrounding society also flourishes.

Mark,
I agree your contention that the behavioral aspects of a need for fairness and a need for compassion in times of stress be part of that empathic foundation; more specifically, each person needs and expects to be treated with respect (or fairness) and compassion in every interaction with another person. Indeed, a further crucial innovation unique to my current hierarchy of my edition of virtues/values invokes a radical expansion of the notion of the accessory perspectives to the main motivational themes. The inherent versatility of the human mind (by definition) allows for a subjective reflection on the objective perspectives of another, allowing crucial insights into affiliated feelings/motivations, an aspect traditionally known as empathy. This unique ability to attribute mental states to others is a key factor in what truly makes us human, an aspect that developmental psychologists refer to as Theory of Mind. This innate facility towards empathy depends primarily upon our ability to run cognitive simulations, whereby inferring the intentions and motivations of others by employing one’s own mind as a conceptual template for that of others. This necessarily entails placing oneself in the role of another and further observing how one’s mind resonates within such a mutually overlapping context. This reflective style of role reversal, in turn, specifies the existence of an entire parallel complement of ethical terms suitable for designating this dual degree of versatility. Indeed, the English language is richly blessed with a broad number of synonyms conducive to outlining this parallel complement of accessory terms. A complete listing of accessory terms is depicted in more detail on my website http://www.worldpeace2.com and would appreciate your feedback – plz see also Chapter Excerpt

Hello, Mark and J L; and welcome (both of you) to the forum!

I recently enjoyed social psychologist Jonathan Haidt’s development of moral foundations in his book “Righteous Mind” (which did have some discussion in a prior thread - in case you’re interested in seeing that too.)

He proposed six fundamental bases for moral impetus, the first two (and most commonly acknowledged) ones being what you mention. These first two are held most in common by everybody - even from both sides of today’s political spectrum (in the U.S.), though the different sides do choose different things to target as being unfair.

  1. care / or avoidance of harm in how we relate to others
  2. fairness / or avoidance of cheating
  3. loyalty / betrayal
  4. authority / subversion
  5. sanctity / degradation
  6. liberty / oppression

Haidt seems to make a pretty good case for the evolutionary development of intra-tribal cooperation along these axes of concern. And he does so without attempting to use it as some anti-religious weapon even though he himself does not identify as a believer. I appreciated and learned from his insights.

-Merv

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Haidt is nearly perfect.

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The rub is in definition of “harm”. A pro-lifer would say abortion is not care because it kills a baby. A pro-choicer would say it is care because the mother does not have to carry a pregnancy to term that she does not desire, and it is her body so it should be her choice. etc.

So, I think most people agree on most values, but disagree on implementation, which often in turn depends on worldview. I.e. pro-lifers think a fetus is a full human person deserving of the same fubdamental human rights as an adult, whereas a pro-choicer thinks a fetus is less a human person than the mother, and therefore has a lesser claim on human rights.

This means we cannot just agree on values, but we also must understand what each party thinks the values mean in implementation, and what worldview informs that meaning.

There is a whole mess of thickets we could all get into - probably around every one of those 6 points, but regardless of when it applies and to whom and how, the one thing nearly everyone can agree on is that generally: harming others is bad, and caring for others is good.

Haidt noted from polls and surveys that while liberals (along with conservatives) generally register high attention to those first two, numbers 3 - 5 were less concerning for the left, while the right seems more ethically sensitive along all these axes. It is easy to speculate (as I think I recall Haidt doing) on why it may be so. Authority may seem to be a conservative plank, while “question authority” might be considered a bumper sticker from the left. But actually, the left has its own version of authority as well … exemplified right here on this very site: science. Sure, we pride ourselves in saying that ultimately authority should carry no weight in deciding empirically verifiable matters … but then we get all hot under the collar about scientific consensus and how we think people are or are not attending to that enough (which has #4 written all over it.) [Not that science is exclusively dominated by the left, but that may be a perception here … faux pas on my part.]

Or #6 is also a bully pulpit for both sides. Threaten somebody’s access to procure military grade gun arsenals for themselves or urge them to wear a face mask if they don’t feel like it, and suddenly conservatives are all over #6. Speak of attitudes about racial or gender minorities, and the left takes over the #6 pulpit.

So it is a whole mess of things we can’t even delve into without getting too heavily political (though you can see I dangerously scratch that surface here, so if others respond in kind, I have only myself to blame.)

I think even when it comes to abortion, both sides will say in an ideal world no harm should come to the fetus. So, it seems that at a very high level, you are correct. Everyone probably agrees on what the ideal world looks like.

It would be cool if we could discuss abortion more - and it is an important topic to be sure, but one we are directed to avoid here since … well … 'nuff said, right?

But you do have the option of starting up any private chats you want, inviting any other members here in that you wouldn’t mind having the discussion with, and then you can bring up every taboo subject not allowed here! That is always an option in case you want to kick that one around some more.

Thanks, it was just for sake of illustration that agreeing on values is only half the battle.

You proposed [quote=“Mervin_Bitikofer, post:4, topic:43227”] six fundamental bases for moral impetus,[/quote] (from Jonathan Haidt, but I think it would first be helpful to understand what it means for a value to be a basis for moral impetus. I suggest that the six moral bases, or values, indicate innate aspects of human nature, reflected as what a person needs to be able to flourish in their life.
As I proposed earlier, care in relating to others reflects a need within each of us for compassion in times of difficulty. A need to be respected by others is reflected in the values of fairness and sanctity. Sanctity means that human life has ultimate importance and inviolability; fairness means that each human is as important as every other. Loyalty reflects a need to be able to trust someone, to know that you can rely on another person. And the moral value of authority imparts a sense of knowing what is true, what is real. A person of authority then provides guidance to a knowledge of truth. The moral value of liberty allows someone to exercise free will, to be allowed to do what that person believes to be right.
One important implication of this expression of our human nature is that every person should treat others with respect (fairness and sanctity), compassion, should be trustworthy (loyal) and if acting as a leader, present truth, not falsehoods and allow others to act as they think they should.

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Scares the crud out of me for my children Sounds like re-education camp for those of us who actually believe in the supernatural God. Somewhere I have a quote that shows that Soviet Psychologists thought they were helping mentally feeble people who believed supernatural nonsense. But loads of intransigent Christians were killed because it wasn’t efficient to try to convert them. Things like this above, in the hands of a government is highly dangerous to my family. I will be gone at some point but my kids and grandkids won’t be.

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Great point. Why isn’t Ivan Karamazov right when he says, “If God does not exist, everything is permitted”?

Solzhenitsyn said the main problem with the USSR is they forgot God. Today, China eliminates any religion that places God as a higher authority than the state.

You might have just answered your own question! (Or at least provided your own counter-example.)

I have so many friends in China who are Christian. I lived there a couple of years. It is sad to think what is about to happen to them. When I was there, I was free to share the gospel as were they. Christian tracts were a common feature in businesses. No more. I knew when Xi became top dog there was going to be trouble. The Western Chinese are still strongly communist and didn’t benefit from the capitalism of the last 30 years.

Very very foolish. Christianity thrives under persecution. This cannot end well for the Chinese communists.

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Indeed, with God out of the picture then the historical record shows we get tyrranical governments with no moral compuntion eliminating vast swaths of their population. I wonder what makes such governments feel so free to discard God and morality? They seem to pride themselves on being eminently scientific and rational. What makes them believe there is no evidence for God and morality?

I think you mistook my meaning. I was only pointing out that your observation that “everything is permitted” in Godless systems is at odds, strictly speaking, with the observation that in the very systems you mention, obviously not everything is permitted - not by a long shot! In other words they still believe very much in right and wrong - a very different set of rights and wrongs than you or I might make, to be sure, but it is a moral system nonetheless. It may be a terrible moral system, but it … is a moral system. And atheists all over the world (many of them here, for example) also have moral systems - many of them much better than the atrocious historical examples here mentioned. In fact, some atheists here would insist (with compelling reasons in some cases) that their personal moral systems are outshining by far what is passing for a “Christian moral system” here in the U.S. You can say they have no basis for it, but that doesn’t seem to be bothering them … there they are anyway living out their moral systems; and as such - they are counterexamples to any claim that atheism can’t have morality.

So all I’m pointing out is that while Christians are used to appealing to God as a grounding for all morality (and I’m all for that as a Christians myself - don’t get me wrong), atheists have become comfortable finding socio-cultural bases for their morality. Are there problems with that? Sure. It’s got holes … It’s nothing more than “cultural might makes right” … cue the standard cannard: “what about Nazis …”. To which they can fairly respond in kind: “So what were the Christians in Germany doing about it then?” … etc. - yes there are exceptions like Bonhoeffer, but overall, the whole debacle is pretty embarrassing for everybody. And so it goes. Just because we say God should settle stuff for us doesn’t by itself make a convincing argument [especially not for those who don’t believe in God in the first place]. And they are willing to call us on it.

I’m not saying there isn’t more good argument to be had on all the above or that both sides always remain equally compelling. I’m just trotting all this out here to help others anticipate where all this typically goes - so we get there faster.

Sorry if that motive had a whiff of impatience; haste need not be necessary and we can go back and discuss any parts of that as any wish. The last threads chasing all this stuff down might be a year or two old by now.

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This was my original post…

A global system of ethics is a goal that has long been anticipated on the world scene today. Although organized religion has long been celebrated as the standard bearer for the promotion of a virtuous life style, the various conflicts afflicting many of the major world religions clearly expose the inherent weakness to such a simplistic interpretation. Ideally, a scientific foundation for such a global moral perspective should prove exceedingly beneficial. A formal behavioral-science tie-in with ethical principles proves particularly effective for removing such a cultural range of stumbling blocks. This primary foundation within behavioral psychology further invokes instinctual principles shared in common as a human species (as well as the rest of animal kingdom) compatible with the precepts of Natural Law. When expanded to include the more abstract human-cultural levels of interaction; namely, group and universal authority, the affiliated traditional groupings of virtues/values rightfully enters the picture.
This radically new approach targeting motivation melds modern behavioral psychology with the long-standing traditions underlying value ethics. This trend encompasses an ascending motivational hierarchy of personal, group, universal, humanitarian, and transcendental domains of ethical inquiry. Indeed, it is chiefly through this elaborate synthesis linking behavioral psychology to the long-standing traditions underlying value ethics that a master overview of motivated behavior finally becomes conceptually complete.

Approach • Rewards … Avoidance • Leniency
Solicitude • Approval … Submission • Blame
Glory • Prudence … Honor • Justice
Providence • Faith … Liberty • Hope
Grace • Beauty … Free-Will • Truth
Tranquility • Ecstasy … Equality • Bliss

Reinforce • Appetite … – Reinforce • Aversion
Desire • Aspiration … Worry • Compliance
Dignity • Temperance … Integrity • Fortitude
Civility • Charity … Austerity • Decency
Magnanim. • Goodness … Equanimity • Wisdom
Love • Joy … Peace • Harmony

As such it brings a grand-unified understanding of the virtues and values in foundational correlation with the behavioral principles underlying instrumental conditioning.
In summary, the innate instinctual foundation for the motivational hierarchy in terms of conditioning theory imparts a universal appeal towards acceptance upon the world scene today. This systematic scientific foundation invoking behavioral principles is particularly unique in that it directly avoids any favoritism towards any particular cultural identity, treating each with equal dignity and validity. The traditional listings of virtues and values are similarly viewed in terms of such a secular perspective, one that is formally independent of any cultural bias or the restrictions of any supernaturally-revealed scriptural foundation. Consequently, this grand-scale synthesis potentially amounts to the best of all possible worlds: enabling an ethical revival within the secular world (which has typically been downplayed), as well as the potential for an even greater degree of cooperation and tolerance amongst all of the religious traditions of the world in a true appeal to world peace. more at
worldpeace2.com

Since I am one of them I’d be happy to give you one atheist’s answer. First of all I would hasten to add that the evidence for God is no worse than the evidence for no God. Evidentially we are neither one likely to get a leg up on the other, but somehow I don’t think that will satisfy you.

I personally can give you a little more, but here I speak for almost no other atheists I know. I personally wouldn’t say there is no evidence for something that would explain the long and important role god belief has played in the history of human cultures. Furthermore I don’t think what it is lacks importance to the meaning and fulfillment we find in life. However I don’t think it is likely to be exactly what your particular religious tradition suspects it to be anymore than it is likely to be precisely the way any other tradition has conceived of it either. Nonetheless i think there is some basis for belief in something more of a mysterious nature. But since I don’t think it created everything, can control all events or provide a home for dead souls I suspect you would characterize the subject of my belief as god-lite.

Regarding morality though, the only advantage you really have on your side is the hope for vindication against your enemies and recognition for your moral victories. Whether those hopes are justified are a matter for faith. My faith leads elsewhere.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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