Atheists In Kenya (AIK)

Bringing together non-believers

Moral capacity is intrinsic to human nature!


moralityA key belief held by ​humanists is that it is part of human nature that we are moral creatures – not that we are necessarily moral in the sense of good, but that we all – with the exception of a few psychopaths and severely autistic people – have the capacity to think in moral terms and cannot escape from doing so. What we call morality – our having ideas of things being right or wrong – arises simply out of human nature.

It is of course in strong contrast with traditional religious views that having no religion means having no morals – that moral law is God’s law – a logical nonsense, of course, as Plato pointed out with Euthyphro’s dilemma: ​I​s something good because God commands it, whatever we may feel (so that our own sense of what is right or wrong is redundant at best, misleading at worst) or does God command it because it is good, in which case goodness is independent of God and God is redundant.

What we are saying is that biology and culture have created our moral sense. There are all sorts of pro-social behaviors – altruism, cooperation – that are necessary for living together with others of your own species – this applies to humans pre-eminently. These behaviors are an evolved mechanism shared by all human beings.

Humans have lived as social animals since millions of years before we were even human, and all social animals have rules – patterns – of behaviour that enable them to live harmoniously and productively together. If they had not had such rules, they would not have survived. We survived, and with language and our ability for abstract thought, we refined these unwritten rules into extensive moral philosophy.

Our instincts are the basis on which the concept of morality is built – but we are not naturally (exclusively) good: some instincts are aggressive or selfish, and some are group-focussed, which can seem hostile to outsiders. Human nature is indeed almost infinitely plastic – as history has shown – and with the wrong education and experience – formation, if you like – people can adopt very anti-social behaviours and feel them to be not only acceptable but morally necessary.

So, our current moral views are massively redesigned and built on by culture but at root reside in human nature, hard-wired into us.


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This entry was posted on February 7, 2018 by in Uncategorized.
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