Morality Research: More Studies I Would Agree With If They Weren’t Fundamentally Flawed

So there’s an interesting article over at PhysOrg about researchers trying to unravel the evolution of religion as it relates to morality from a physiological perspective. From the article:

“Dr. Pyysiainen and co-author Dr. Marc Hauser, from the Departments of Psychology and Human  at Harvard University, used a fresh perspective based in experimental moral psychology to review these two competing theories. “We were interested in making use of this perspective because religion is linked to morality in different ways,” says Dr. Hauser. “For some, there is no morality without religion, while others see religion as merely one way of expressing one’s moral intuitions.”

Citing several studies in moral psychology, the authors highlight the finding that despite differences in, or even an absence of, religious backgrounds, individuals show no difference in moral judgments for unfamiliar moral dilemmas. The research suggests that intuitive judgments of right and wrong seem to operate independently of explicit religious commitments.

“This supports the theory that religion did not originally emerge as a biological adaptation for cooperation, but evolved as a separate by-product of pre-existing cognitive functions that evolved from non-religious functions,” says Dr. Pyysiainen. “However, although it appears as if cooperation is made possible by mental mechanisms that are not specific to religion, religion can play a role in facilitating and stabilizing cooperation between groups.”

Even as a hardcore atheist my problem with this article is that it precludes the existence of god, or a legitimate spiritual existence from the research of religion and morality. I understand that my belief that there is no god is just as much of a structure of belief as people who do think there is a god, and a higher construct for morality. No study can be taken seriously if it doesn’t include for all possible explanations of your theory, including a higher power.


~ by N/A on February 15, 2010.

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