Tag Archives: morals

Let’s Talk About Sex

"Lujuria / Lust: Pecado Original" by Gabriel S. Delgado C. is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

“Lujuria / Lust: Pecado Original” by Gabriel S. Delgado

There’s a lot of really great food in the world.

I love tasty food. I like to taste food. I regularly feel like I shouldn’t go quite as long between meals as I do, because I’m sure to miss out on something. My belt, however, is telling me that I haven’t been balancing my meals out with enough exercise lately. Apparently, I’m in the majority in the United States.

Sure, I snack, but it’s because I can’t concentrate well if I don’t. I drink a good amount of coffee, because it’s important to my productivity as well. I’m not addicted to these things, however, so they aren’t really necessary, I just like them. I indulge in an occasional alcoholic beverage, but I avoid milk like the plague. That stuff’s bad for my stomach, seriously. I’ve been a happier person since I stopped drinking it. Well, mostly stopped, I do like the taste of cereal every once in a while. I was told a while back that you could never put as much sugar on your corn flakes as they have in the sugary varieties, so I do that, rather than buy the really color rich kid cereals. I’m an adult, after all. Don’t get me started on office snacks, it’s not my fault we have those cheesballs in such large quantity in there… or that I don’t bring my own lunch very often.

Point is, I know what my mouth’s for. It’s for tasting stuff. Well, that and chewing on stuff, like my pens, and maybe my nail beds (nervous habits die hard.) Straws are a relentless target, for sure, and who can resist crunching ice every now and again time I get a fountain drink? These things are fine, surely they don’t do as much damage as my dentist tells me.
The most important reason to eat is for the taste.

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Missing the point on Judgement

Reflecting on today’s Gospel message about the plank and the speck. (USCCB Daily Reading)

Many times it is used to stop people from admonishing their brothers and sisters in Christ. This is not the intended meaning, as most true *judgment* occurs within ourselves, and never makes it to action. When we judge others, we put them in a box and ignore the things they do outside of that box. We invalidate their broader humanity based on a single facet of their character.

How much more dangerous is this when we are guilty of the same thing we are judging them for?

It allows us to say, like the Pharisee in Luke 18, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.” When we should be saying, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

Then, when we’ve come to terms with the sin ourselves, that is when we will have the most strength to admonish our brothers and sisters. We’ll be able to say, “See, I struggled with this too, but I found healing with God.” We will see them as we see ourselves, and we can show them mercy (the very mercy we received), rather than judgment.

Moral Monday: Are morals biological phenomenon? (Evolution)

There is an increasing propensity to attribute morals (and the current lack of violence in society) to physical traits that are subject to development by evolution. This tidy definition of morals as scientific responses to stimuli which is passed on genetically has a few major flaws which I’m aiming to point out here. Obviously I can not cover the entire gamut of this issue in a single post, but I’m hoping to lay out a beginning here and continue in other posts.
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Morals can not be the product of evolutionary history. The evidence for this is very simple, morals vary dramatically over short time periods. Evolutionary theory can not (currently) account for social norms, only for physical traits acquired or lost through many generations of progress. Though some studies on the RTPJ (cf. Rebecca Saxe and her work at MIT’s Saxelab) have concluded that there is a developed region of the brain regarding interpersonal communication, and consequently morals, there is no way to account for changing morals among a populace over small time periods (like the move from slavery being encouraged to being completely unacceptable over a matter of a couple of centuries.) This has to be explained by some other means as that is not time for many multiple generations to genetically weed out the change. So it is with many other morals (punishments for theft, freedom of speech, civil rights, etc.) There is simply not enough time for morals to be altered due to genetics in the swiftness with which they can change. The timeline for a change like the slavery change mentioned above, would require an enormous death toll of people who supported slavery, and despite the death toll of even the American Civil war (in which one must remember that both pro- and anti- slavery people were killed in roughly equal number) the toll is not nearly high enough to have converted this issue from one of passive acceptance, to one of active rejection due to biology alone.

Evolutionary history also encounters trouble in the variance of morals from one culture to another. A simple look at the difference in regional morals in treatment of women, acceptance of different world views, punishment for crime, and even the list of crimes, shows that morals are not the same in different cultures. To take an extreme example of this, the recent story of a rape victim being subjected to 90 lashes for “Illegal mingling” (that is relations with someone outside of her marriage) would illustrate the difference of morals between Western cultures and those of the Middle East. The obvious question here (in light of the evolutionary theory of morals) would be, are people in the Middle East less evolved than those in the West?

The question of levels of evolution in morals is, probably, the biggest sticking point of this whole argument. It is nice to say that morals have evolved with us, but then how do we account for someone being able to change their morals due to religious or cultural conversion? Are morals simply a biological self-preservation among a society? If so, how do some people stand up for what is right in the midst of injustice? If not, how can a person’s morals change readily when moving between groups? This is the largest area in which a great deal of evidence of the scientific effect of regions of the brain, like the RTPJ, are needed to shore up this argument. It is possible there is a combination of self-preservation as well as societal good, but the two are often incompatible.

The biological theory also fails on the sense of personal preservation versus societal preservation. There is no benefit gained from some things being immoral, though they are. Murder, for example, is highly beneficial to other species ([warning: graphic links] lions come to mind, or chimpanzees) but is considered immoral to humans, and is treated as a necessary evil at best (which is another, interestingly human concept that does not fit tidily into evolutionary theory.)

All in all, the onus of evidence is on the person trying to argue that morals are developed from the evolution of humans rather than from some absolute which is above change. Though a simple counter to this argument is that morals have not been absolute in the history (or the variety) of religion, this counter is not a proof that morals are necessarily biological, it is a redirect. The argument that morals are absolute is a necessary component to religion, but it is not based in religion, rather in a proper view of the workings of nature.