My 3rd post talked about morality and why it’s important, but I have been doing a lot more thinking on morality and I would like to cover what morality actually is, and how we determine it.
I’ve actually done a good bit more thinking about this, and I’ve been watching debates and discussions about morality. Let me cut right to the chase. Theism vs. Atheism is right at the heart of this matter. You simply can’t talk about morality without talking about God in the current time period.
Full disclaimer here, although I haven’t come out and said it yet, many of you know that I am an atheist. That informs my opinion heavily on the issue of morality so you should understand that before reading on. I will explore my atheism more in future blogposts, but for now, just know that it informs what I am about to write.
I would highly recommend watching this debate about morality between William Lane Craig (a Christian apologist) and Sam Harris (an atheist neuroscientist) fully.
The debate explores a lot of important aspects of morality that we need to consider, and while I applaud the mental gymnastics of WLC, I think Sam Harris has this right.
My position on the matter is that value requires a valuer. Meaning that morality is dependent on conscious minds to determine if things are moral. We create the meaning of morality because it relies on us to exist. We have biological functions that help us to create these values. Pain, pleasure, life, death, health, etc.
We are (mostly) biologically prone to avoid pain, avoid death, avoid sickness, and to be drawn to pleasureful acts, acts that promote life and health. These biological functions are built around survival and well-being.
Part of this process is that in order for us to be more prone to survive, it is important for us to create a society in which these values exist for all. The most efficient way of doing this is to promote these values amongst each other and create boundaries for the way that we behave. We decide collectively that in order to survive and promote the well being of ourselves, we must also promote the survival and well being of others so that they will hopefully reciprocate.
This is not quite objective, in that it relies on us to exist. But it’s also not quite subjective, in that it’s not simply a matter of opinion.
Morality, as I see it, is all about promoting life, and survival. So when we talk about the “objectivity” of morality, isn’t there an objective way to go about promoting life, and surviving?
I will discuss the religious idea of morality in a later blogpost.