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Ch. 1 - The Primordial Faith 
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Primordial Faith
What does h-g mean?


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Sun Sep 19, 2010 10:39 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Primordial Faith
OK, I figured it out. Hunter-gatherer.


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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Primordial Faith
Nice distinction, DW, between morality type 1 and type 2. I agree with the idea that humans can be moral without a god, but I think the problem of morality is more conplicated. I believe the size and transitory nature of the types of groups people live in today interfere with the development of morality and the display of moral behavior. In Wrights discussion of h-g groups he says that they did not need god to be involved with right and wrong becasue the groups were so small there was no anonymity; total accountability existed. It would have been impossible to maintain the cohesiveness of the group if the members didn't act morally toward one another. Wright is postulating that as groups got larger something was needed to reign in the freedom to act that anonymity creates; ergo god steps in to the morality business.

Where ever this book is going and what ever you believe about god and morality, the problem of the effect of anonymity on moral behavior remains.


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Mon Sep 20, 2010 5:34 am
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Primordial Faith
Saffron wrote:
Where ever this book is going and what ever you believe about god and morality, the problem of the effect of anonymity on moral behavior remains.


In the end, it is a matter of providing a framework within which groups, especially large groups of people can live, and providing them with a code of conduct. It is a matter of history and intellectual evolution which determines which of these framework-factors get the upper hand: consider the famous "who is going to crown the emperor? The Mediaeval Church, thus asserting power and their brand of moral behaviour? Or the secular nobles/emperor himself, demonstrating the secular section was to win the power struggle. Secular law systems were the determinate for moral behaviour (physical or monetary punishment) if the emperor won; Church law and restrictions (non-material punishment--excommunication, Hell, etc--and weirdly enough, also monetary) if religion won. As to Aten or Amun (I'm in the wrong chapter here, aren't I?), war made have indeed changed the thinking of Egyptians concerning their moral behaviour and acceptance of "alien" ideas and moral codes, and secular concerns went hand in hand with religioisity in going to war. This is a concept that always pays off and when 2 systems cooperate, it is highly interesting and horrifying seeing which moral codes surface or negate others....secular or religious.
Granted, I have just presented a rather terse and poor summary of one singular example, but the point I am attempting to make is that a system is the determining factor of moral behaviour, be it of "this realm" or not.
Dystopian literature has a good grasp on this concept. Once a society becomes more complex and larger, it is usually impossible for one singular system to provide the moral framework necessary to keep it together and functioning and you see elements of 2 or more systems competing or cooperating.


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Mon Sep 20, 2010 7:30 am
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Primordial Faith
oblivion wrote:
Saffron wrote:
Where ever this book is going and what ever you believe about god and morality, the problem of the effect of anonymity on moral behavior remains.


In the end, it is a matter of providing a framework within which groups, especially large groups of people can live, and providing them with a code of conduct. It is a matter of history and intellectual evolution which determines which of these framework-factors get the upper hand: consider the famous "who is going to crown the emperor? The Mediaeval Church, thus asserting power and their brand of moral behaviour? Or the secular nobles/emperor himself, demonstrating the secular section was to win the power struggle. Secular law systems were the determinate for moral behaviour (physical or monetary punishment) if the emperor won; Church law and restrictions (non-material punishment--excommunication, Hell, etc--and weirdly enough, also monetary) if religion won. As to Aten or Amun (I'm in the wrong chapter here, aren't I?), war made have indeed changed the thinking of Egyptians concerning their moral behaviour and acceptance of "alien" ideas and moral codes, and secular concerns went hand in hand with religioisity in going to war. This is a concept that always pays off and when 2 systems cooperate, it is highly interesting and horrifying seeing which moral codes surface or negate others....secular or religious.

At the risk of sounding chauvintistic, perhaps the U. S. Constitution provides the first example of a secular system fully replacing the religious. Our godless Constitution centers moral authority in the people and God is nowhere to be seen (to the continuing chagrin of many citizens today). I agree that a framework/code of conduct is essential, but it is easy to take for granted the institutional support that provides this and to think that morality, broadly speaking, will be naturally maintained. If the church or religion is out of the picture, we need to act toward our democratic institutions in a manner that almost might be called religious. Failure to do this might have consequences such as the recent scandals that brought on the financial crisis.

I suppose I should relate the thought to Wright somehow. Maybe God evolves to such a point that we no longer need to talk about it. It would be like the situation Wright talks about in Chap. 1, where the h-g folks don't know what you're talking about when you ask what their religion is. So if we have a just and moral society someday, anyone could say if they wanted that "God" was there, but it would make no difference.


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Mon Sep 20, 2010 9:43 am
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Primordial Faith
DWill wrote:
It would be like the situation Wright talks about in Chap. 1, where the h-g folks don't know what you're talking about when you ask what their religion is. So if we have a just and moral society someday, anyone could say if they wanted that "God" was there, but it would make no difference.


Perhaps we should evolve right back to this point...


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Gods and spirits are parasitic--Pascal Boyer

Religion is the only force in the world that lets a person have his prejudice or hatred and feel good about it --S C Hitchcock

Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it. --André Gide

Reading is a majority skill but a minority art. --Julian Barnes


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Mon Sep 20, 2010 12:32 pm
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