Another scientific study indicating our moral codes evolved with us

Sometimes one needs to account for a negative in order to reinforce a positive. The positive, in this case, regards where we get our moral values and "civilised society" ideals from.

The article shows that in certain species of apes, severe violence within certain ape communities can be found to be largely political and ingrained within the culture of a group. This to me, provides yet another good argument for the question that so many creationists love to ask non-believers; That question being: "If there is no god, where do we get our morals from?"

I know I'm "preaching" to the converted here, but just thought it an interesting article to reflect on when it comes to how our moral values have evolved over time as a part of natural selection.

Here it is:

What do you think? Does this provide any valid point from an atheist point of view to counter creationist argument?

Views: 30

Comment by Walter Maki on June 6, 2011 at 12:29pm
I don't know if it will sway the creationist but I do see it gives them something to think about. How else do they think other animals who live in large groups survive. There has to be some sort of code and/or moral for them to flourish and continue generating their species.
Comment by Bryan B on June 6, 2011 at 1:13pm

I'm currently reading a book called Age of Empathy in which the author makes a strong case for an  evolved, innate tendency towards compassion in our species ( and other mammals too). research shows that our brains actually show similar reactions when observing what others do or feel. It's why laughing and yawning is contagious. Look up Mirror neurons, its fascinating stuff.


A mirror neuron is a neuron that fires both when an animal acts and when the animal observes the same action performed by another.

Comment by Artor on June 6, 2011 at 1:15pm
I've thought for quite some time that morality is an emergent quality of society. If you don't have some basic moral guidelines, no society can work for long. Therefore, the societies that developed morality are the ones that continued. I'm more interested in understanding how counterproductive behaviors, like close-mindedness & refusal to accept reality, has survived natural selection. I'm certain that the hard-core fundies will blithely ignore anything that contradicts their narrow world view.
Comment by Bryan B on June 6, 2011 at 2:22pm
@nelson this is true but more and more research is showing that a supernatural source is not needed, it's innate and to stretch it a bit further one could argue that morality would have came about without religion and the neurosciences are proving this now
Comment by Bryan B on June 6, 2011 at 2:39pm
@nelson, ok great thanks for clearing that up. I agree with you. Now to get the religious to stop saying they are the source...oh what a battle that will be lol
Comment by Jon van Rooyen on June 6, 2011 at 2:45pm

I agree, Nelson, thanks for the tip.

I admit this is a topic I should explore more if I am to bring it up in a debate with a creationist or otherwise. My interests are usually more centered around cosmology and astronomy, so I'm pretty much treading on unknown territory here. I understand the basic principals of evolution but admit I wouldn't be ready to argue the fundamental principles of it with a creationist or otherwise.

Call this post an attempt to get that research process going :)

This article intrigued me because it mirrored in some ways, humanity's predisposition to violence over a dispute. It seems almost organised, the way the case studies mentioned in the article played out. Most of them seemed to be the group attacking an individual for some reason or another.


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