On Fri, Aug 31, 2012 at 4:54 AM, Roger Clough <rclo...@verizon.net> wrote:

> Is Evolution Moral?

I think Evolution is a hideously cruel process and if I were God I would
have done things very differently, I would have made intense physical pain
a physical impossibility, but unfortunately that Yahweh punk got the job
and not me.

The minimum requirement for calling oneself religious is a belief in God,
and if there is anybody who calls himself religious who doesn't think that
God is benevolent I have yet to meet him. And yet I maintain that a
benevolent God is totally inconsistent with Evolution, which can produce
grand and beautiful things but only after eons of monstrous cruelty.

  > the moral is that which enhances life

I think that's true, and if so then morality is subject to Evolution just
like anything else that enhances life. And if its made by something as
messy as Evolution then you wouldn't expect a moral system to be entirely
free of self contradictions. Consider the moral thought experiments devised
by Judith Jarvis Thomson:

1) A trolley is running out of control down a track. In its path are five
people who have been tied to the track by a mad philosopher. Fortunately
you could flip a switch, which will lead the trolley down a different track
saving the lives of the five. Unfortunately there is a single person tied
to that track. Should you flip the switch and kill one man or do nothing
and just watch five people die?

2) As before, a trolley is hurtling down a track towards five people. You
are on a bridge under which it will pass, and you can stop it by dropping a
heavy weight in front of it. As it happens, there is a very fat man next to
you, your only way to stop the trolley is to push him over the bridge and
onto the track killing him to save five people. Should you push the fat man
over the edge or do nothing?

Almost everybody feels in their gut that the second scenario is much more
questionable morally than the first, I do too, and yet really it's the same
thing and the outcome is identical. The feeling that the second scenario is
more evil than the first seems to hold true across all cultures; they even
made slight variations of it involving canoes and crocodiles for south
American Indians in Amazonia and they felt that #2 was more evil too. So
there must be some code of behavior built into our DNA and it really
shouldn't be a surprise that it's not 100% consistent; Evolution would have
gained little survival value perfecting it to that extent, it works good
enough at producing group cohesion as it is.

  John K Clark

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