This is in response to

. . . and a comment by nathan in that blog.

I think the ought-is problem is worse in religion and moral systems than in science. Science generally has a feeling that there are things it can’t solve. so science does not try to figure out if “Love is Good” it’s just not for science to say. But science can ask questions like “Which areas of the brain are activated by love” or “Are people happier when they live a life full of love, or are they happier if they live a life full of good acts.” But science can’t say that “A life of good works” is good.

Science is neutral in regards to morality.

It’s quite clear to me that humans have built in morality. We want to help others, we want to help our family our tribe and sometimes even the world. The ten commandments? They do not come from god but from the spirit from within everyone.

All religions make the “is” into “ought”. I think my favorite example of this is the George Bush proclamations about war and democracy and good muslims vs bad muslims.

So you have Bush explaining that good people want to be free they want to be able to vote, and you have him explaining that good muslims do not want to become suicide bombers, but bad muslims want to blow up innocent people, and they hate freedom.

Now, Bush also says that the place he obtains his morality is from God. It is the spirit of god that allows him to make these moral choices.

But let us take a step back and remember that there are all kinds of religions on earth. Human nature is infinitely flexible and there are religions that frankly dont make a lot of sense to me, they dont seem evolutionary or socially advantageous, yet they exist. So there is religion A which says you should suicide bomb other people, that democracy is evil, and women are slaves to man. Then there is religion B which says you should preserve human life, in fact all life on earth is precious, animal and human, that suicide bombing is evil, democracy is good and that women are the equals to men.

Now suppose you are George Bush, and you see these two religions, religion A and religion B. Which do you choose to follow? Both of them have God. Both of them have followers which are spiritually and divinely inspired by God. So God is absolutely no help deciding which is better to choose. But the choice is not hard, it is easy, because you don’t have to rely on god.

As a normal human being brought up in a society which allows for emotional growth and maturity, your instincts, your built in instincts, everything about you predisposes you to a simple choice, you are no different from that of a honey bee out looking for honey. It will easily lead you to choose one of these religions as your own. And then once you have made the choice of religion you have your own sense of morality.

But you see . . . morality did not come from the religion that George chose. Morality came from the choice itself. He chose religion B, which happened to be a particular brand of christianity. And now he says he has morality and ethics from that religion. Some people by the way spend years choosing their religion, but it is not god which tells them which is the “right” religion it is your own built-in human morality, a morality we are born with, all of us (except for psychopaths), something which continues to develop well into adulthood.

I am perfectly fine with leaving moral questions to religion by the way, even if it is silly. Science has no morality. Neither evil nor good, it merely is, like a hammer, it can be picked up and used for evil for good or left alone. Religion though, it can be used to explain moral choices, even if they have the cart before the horse. Let them have it. Though there is something better than religion to base your ethics on.

If morality is merely a matter of figuring out what we all as humans like the best, then surely there must be some sort of systematic way of doing this, all this religion stuff seems so hit or miss.

And there is. This morality is called “The Law.” For the law is what in a democracy we the people have decided is good and evil, what can be done, what can’t be done, and the law itself varies from society to society and even better, the law is easily mutable, allowing for changes year by year.

I think if you want to look at the deepest, most sensible moral codes on earth, it is the legal system where you will find it. It is in the law, not science, not philosophy, not religion, not the ten commandments, not the teachings of spinoza, not hume, not kant, nor jesus nor mohammad, where a jury of your peers will sit and ponder . . . “is what he did right or wrong,” and it is there that you find the most harmonious and satisfying ethical decisions.