“We must discard the assertion that a godless humanity is an immoral humanity.”
 -Daniel Dennett

Morality can be defined in many different ways including “principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior.” Well, what’s good to one person may be considered bad to another person, correct? In that case, let’s focus in on the description of morality as a means for a blessed life. Do enough “bad” things, and you might find your health at stake, your relationships at stake, and your future generations at stake. Do enough “good” things and you’ll go from surviving to thriving.

I will describe morality using a metaphor. A city will not survive very long if it withholds necessities from its citizens. People will begin to move to other cities where their standard of living may be elevated. If the city is to thrive, that city must nurture its citizens. Morality is a biological adaptation for our evolving way of life.

As socially evolved mammals, we have the ability to feel what another person feels through mirror neurons in the brain. We need air and water to survive, so we find it immoral to deprive a person of air or water. If a city consistently deprived people of their basic needs, that city would not survive.

(We find it immoral to do unto another human being that which we would not want done to ourselves. We find it immoral to control and manipulate other human beings to preclude them from reaching their potential. The mode of operation used by cults, similar to “mind flayers”, is to withhold a certain standard of living unless you say or do what their dogma demands. Even worse, many cults promise eternal damnation if you fail to say or do what their god demands. We cannot look to religion as a source for what is moral or ethical. Letting go of cult religions allows us to abandon the mentality of “insiders” vs. “outsiders”. No more heaven-bound vs. hell-bound. Morality allows us to see one another as cut from the same cloth. To harm another person would be to harm yourself.)

When many suffer at the hands of the few, the downfall of that city is encroaching. When the citizens are not valued, the city is on the verge of collapse. We can learn from history that those on top do not last long insofar as they devalue the backs on which they sit. A city cannot thrive without inclusion. Excluding one another hinders our quality of life as it promotes competition and pride. To believe that the survival of your city is more important than the survival of the city across the lake, is to begin a war of survival. We have evolved from the mentality that teaches, “beat or get beat!” into the age that teaches, “My survival is interlocked with your survival.”
As more cities give freely we will see the benefits. This higher consciousness ushers in a more enjoyable existence for our children and our children’s children.

“We must discard the assertion that a godless humanity is an immoral humanity.” Morality is not given from a book or a scroll or an angel or a God. Morality is developed gradually as a biological adaptation improving as we evolve. As with all impulses, we can choose which ones we hold.

Gentleness, kindness, generosity, and humility are qualities of the human race. As we evolve, we let go of competition, jealousy, and envy, gradually to the measure we see good fruit due to nurturing moral qualities.

As we evolve, we place more value on compassion, collaboration, sharing ideas, sharing wealth, etc. We are able to see cities thriving the more we put down our swords and pick up our building tools.

We find our standard of living elevated and our quality of fulfillment increased. The more we learn, the more we grow. The more we grow, the healthier we become and the happier we spend our days. This becomes cyclical morality as our existence improves the existence of our neighbor. Interdependence is a necessity for a satisfied city. Evolution rewards and promotes what works. It’s ok to

Natural selection has “designed” us for survival, and with that comes biases and perceptual distortions regarding reality and objective truth. For example, the impulse to expect a threat or hazard 10 times out of 10 has been built in over time for our self-preservation. The same biases that once served to protect us and supply us with a viable chance of getting our genes into the next generation, now tend to complicate our lives causing unnecessary harm if not irrevocable damage to our species and the planet.

Natural selection “notices” this problem and generates agents to correct itself. We now tend to remind ourselves to look for the good in others, give them the benefit of the doubt, neglect the impulse to jump to conclusions, all because we know these balanced responses usually work out in our best interest at the end of the day.

(When our enemy displays ethical behavior, we tend to attribute their actions to external circumstances or hidden motives. When our ally behaves in a way contrary to our ethics, we attribute that to external circumstances, not their intentions or their character. We are able to transcend ingroups and outgroups, psychologically dissolving the mirage separating them.)

Morality comes from a biological adaptation. Given ample time, direct pleasure-rewards for doing kind deeds emerge. Compassion, empathy, and kindness are vital to our survival, and evolution will give us the psychological enlightenment we need as well as the reinforcement of a reward system towards a more empathetic and moral society.

As humans much of the suffering in our world has stemmed from our collective failure to overcome delusions about ourselves and our collective lack of cognitive empathy.

William James, an American psychologist, said, “The animating essence of religion is the belief that there is an unseen order and that our supreme good lies in harmoniously adjusting ourselves to that order.”

What happens, however, when you have higher moral and ethical standards than the god you worship?

“We must discard the assertion that a godless humanity is an immoral humanity.” Morality is not given from a book or a scroll or an angel or a God. Morality is developed gradually as a biological adaptation improving as we evolve.

Throughout history religion has promised humanity the morality needed to sustain peaceful order. Christianity, as well as other religious cults, has not only been unsuccessful in its crusade to encode us with virtue, but has considerably hindered our progress as a species. For how many wars have been fought in the name of God? How many wars have been fought over what we now deem as immoral passages of scripture within the cannon? How much territory has been conquered in the name of God? How many innocent lives have been slaughtered in the name of God’s law? How many genocides have taken place in the name of God’s will since the first one mentioned in Genesis chapter 6? The way you interpret the Bible says more about you than about God or the book. How many people have suffered because of immoral interpretations from our “holy” books?

Buddhism as a philosophy or as a naturalistic worldview accomplishes what religion tried to achieve and significantly enhances the welfare of our species without the added deficiencies of religion itself. As history unfolds we will find remarkable progress regarding the trajectory of morality and its vitality for our survival and overall fulfillment. Through Buddhism and evolutionary psychology we can see the essence of reality more clearly and can dramatically alleviate human suffering. The moral Zeitgeist will persist in the process of upgrading with each generation.

“We must discard the assertion that a godless humanity is an immoral humanity.”
 -Daniel Dennett