Is religion source of our morality?

There is a story of Satyajit Ray, the name of the story is ‘Asmanj Babu’s dog’. He worked in the registry department of Lajpat Roy Post Office. He bought a dog from a Bhutanese gentleman at 7:30 one day. A special feature of that dog was that he could smile.

Seeing this, Asmanj Babu got into a terrible conflict. How can a dog laugh? Unable to decide what to do, he went to a professor and told him about this strange incident. The name of this professor is Rajini Chaturjee. Rajini Chatterjee did not believe him at all. Once he thought that Asmanj Babu broke his intoxication.

Then when he did not see any such signs, Asmanj Babu said to him, “You probably do not know a single piece of information; Know that! Of all the creatures created by God in the world, no one but man laughs, knows how to laugh, cannot laugh. This is the main difference between humans and other animals. ”

The story is very beautiful. You can read what happened in the end. But there is a mistake here. Why only humans, other animals can also laugh. I will come to that later. And we need to say a few words first.

There are many people like Professor Rajini Babu who think that the best creatures created by God are human beings. And they also think that what these people have learned is that God has taught them through religion.

People love to think that they are the only creatures on earth who have feelings, morality, culture and civilization. But as time goes on, as we experiment with other animals, with animals, we begin to dispel this misconception. Many scientists now believe that traits that were once thought to exist only in humans also exist in other animals.

And isn’t that very normal? People have not fallen from the sky! From the theory of evolution, it is clear that all the living things on this earth are related to each other, and that human are not extraterrestrial beings.

The conflict of religion with the theory of evolution

Man once boasted that God created him specially. God has given him morality, the ability to distinguish between good and evil, judgment and intellect; Which he did not give to any other creature on this earth. But Darwin, in his theory of evolution, showed that man is not such a special animal.

There is another human species like the other five animals on this earth. And if human beings are to be taken as a special species, then by definition, all the animals, birds, plants and other living beings on this earth have some or other unique characteristics. And accordingly, they also claim to be considered as ‘special’. The theory of evolution showed people that reality with a finger in the eye. It became clear that they were never the best creatures in creation; They were not made specifically.

Evidence from various sources suggests that humans originated from some of these apes. And that ancient notion of religion was shattered and shattered.

A common feature of all religions is that an excellent description can be found by looking at the scriptures of any religion. And that description is a detailed description of how man was created. There is a lot of bragging about how God created man in a special way, how God created man in a special way after making everything; He gave him knowledge, intellect, etc., etc., etc.

That’s a huge story. But evolution has shattered that notion. The idea that man is God’s favorite is no longer in the wash.

And there is a conflict with religion. Religion, in order to maintain its importance, has always preached that the morality and values that God has imparted to man through religion. Because God created man specifically, man is the best creature of creation. But Darwin first spoke out against the idea. In his book, The Descent of Man, he wrote:

There is no fundamental difference between man and the higher mammals in their mental faculties.

He added that the apparent difference between humans and other higher animals was “certainly one of degree and not of kind.” The flag bearers of religion counted mistakes. What does this gentleman say? He rose and fell to prove the theory of evolution wrong.

Any religion promotes the creation of man by God. The theory of evolution has watered down that idea. The saying, ‘Man is another species just like any other species on this earth’, meant that man is bound by natural laws just like any other animal. People thought that this evolution might lead to the degradation of human society, morality, judgment.Because religion has taught us for so long that it is through this religion that the great God has filled us with morality and justice. Without religion, human society is useless. But the theory of evolution proved one of the basic tenets of religion wrong. And by doing so, it is as if he has proved religion as a kind of mistake.

But man never once thought that if man is really the best creature of creation, then why should he be taught ethics through religion separately? This quality should be innate in him.

Now the question is, what is the morality of human beings, the judgment of good and evil? Is this instinct human? I will go to that answer, but before that let us see what similarities there are between humans and other animals, especially our close ‘Great Apes’.

The resemblance of humans to other animals

Rene Descartes wrote in the early sixteenth century,animals are mere machines but man stands alone. His idea that this is not true has come to our notice through many experiments.

Chimpanzees can laugh

In The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, Darwin wrote,

If a young chimpanzee be tickled—and the armpits are particularly sensitive to tickling, as in the case of our children,—a more decided chuckling or laughing sound is uttered; though the laughter is sometimes noiseless. The corners of the mouth are then drawn backwards; and this sometimes causes the lower eyelids to be slightly wrinkled. But this wrinkling, which is so characteristic of our own laughter, is more plainly seen in some other monkeys. The teeth in the upper jaw in the chimpanzee are not exposed when they utter their laughing noise, in which respect they differ from us.

Just in the chimpanzee? No. He further observed,

Young Orangs, when tickled, likewise grin and make a chuckling sound; and Mr. Martin says that their eyes grow brighter. As soon as their laughter ceases, an expression may be detected passing over their faces, which, as Mr. Wallace remarked to me, may be called a smile.

A study published in the journal PLoS One in 2015 found that chimpanzees use the same muscles that humans use when they smile. [2]

There is also an account of time among animals

How do we keep track of time? The answer is very simple. With the help of the clock. But animals? Can they also keep track of time? If the answer is not known, then everyone remembers Pavlov’s famous test.

Seth Roberts (University of California, Berkeley) in his book entitled Animal Cognition and Behavior [3] says in an article entitled “Properties and Function of an Internal Clock”,

A figure in Skinner (1956) showed three cumulative records with fixed-interval scallops, one record from a rat, one from a pigeon, and one from a monkey. The three records were similar, and Skinner stated, “Pigeon, rat, monkey, which is which? It doesn’t matter” (Skinner, 1956, p. 40). He was right–the ability to discriminate time is possessed by a wide range of vertebrates, and the accuracy of discrimination does not vary substantially. Not only dogs, pigeons, rats, and monkeys, but also mice (Sprott and Symons, 1974) , opossums (Cone and Cone, 1970), rabbits (Rubin and Brown, 1969), racoons (King, Schaeffer and Pierson, 1974) , bats (Schumake and Caudill, 1974), crows (Powell, 1973), and goldfish (Rozin, 1965) have discriminated time, usually with a fixed-interval schedule.

Here he is talking about circadian rhythms in animals. The Circadian Rhythm Hole is an innate natural timing system that helps animals keep track of time with sunrise and sunset. And in this article it is mentioned that there is no difference in the effectiveness of this system between pigeons, monkeys or rats. This circadian rhythm is present in animals, [4], [5], [6]

Even the microscopic bacteria in the gut are driven by this circadian rhythm. [7]

This clearly means that the circadian rhythm observed in humans did not come from another planet, but was inherited from their predecessors in the course of evolution. [8]

Non-human species also have emotions

Needless to say, there is a feeling in non-human beings as well. Those who have domestic dogs, cats or any other animal can testify to this. Although it was once thought that human beings do not have the same emotions as other animals.

Jane Goodall began researching wild chimpanzees in the 1960s. The purpose was to shed some light on the behavior of the ancient men. In his book, The Chimpanzees of Gombe: PATTERNS OF BEHAVIOR, he mentions his experimental results and observations. Notice the striking similarities between the behavior and use of these wild chimpanzees with humans.

He was so surprised to see this resemblance that he started calling them by name. He noticed that these wild chimpanzees could use different tools to facilitate their daily work.

More new information emerges from subsequent studies. It is understood that chimpanzees have human-like emotions. Like humans, they can express their emotions and feelings through facial expressions. Maybe this expression is not very familiar to humans, but it is not difficult to identify this expression if you observe these chimpanzees very closely for some time. Like humans, chimpanzees can easily understand each other’s expressions and are very good at it. [9]

The chimpanzee’s sense of morality

If we mean neutrality, fairness, selfish inferiority and empathy, then these qualities are seen not only in humans, but also in chimpanzees. For centuries, people have come to think that ethics, empathy, reason, and intelligence are the only characteristics of human beings and that they are the only characteristics that distinguish human beings from animals. And this concept became an important pillar of what we mean by ‘humanity’.

In the case of human children, they have a sense of neutrality, honesty and justice from a very young age. They are sympathetic, altruistic and kind from a very young age. Many times they help each other, without expecting anything in return. They do not have to give any religious education for this. [10]

This nature of neutrality, honesty and sense of fairness is also seen in non-human beings. A study of how many monkeys found that when they received equal rewards for the same work, all the monkeys were happy. But if one is given something good or more, then others do not want to accept that reward as before. [11]

This means that chimpanzees understand their own well-being. But just so? Are they just selfish? Another study published in 2013 found that they extended a helping hand to each other. If a chimpanzee sees a member of their group lacking food, they share their food. Their behavior is just like human behavior. [12]

Another study, published in 2006, found that chimpanzees help each other, just like a human baby, and that this is their instinct. [13] In doing so, they do not care about any profit or loss. [14] Some studies have shown that not only chimpanzees but also rats show similar empathy and sympathy for other members of the group. [15]

The culture of the civilization of non-human animals

We do not observe that way, but various studies suggest that chimpanzees also have civilizations, and many examples of this have come to light through various studies. [16]

Among the chimpanzees of different regions, differences in customs and manners can be noticed. Different types of chimpanzees are used in different groups, they use different types of tools, their love is different in the manner of dedication, their customs are different. Although there are examples of civilization and culture among other animals, the difference in culture between chimpanzees by group is only noticeable in human society. [17]

One study found that chimpanzees differed in their interpretation of the word apple, just as there are differences in the language of people from different parts of the world. [18]

Conclusion

Then it was seen that not only human beings, but also different non-human beings live in a complex social structure, where they depend on each other for help. Man once thought that the knowledge of judgment, morality, judgment, and intellect which he possesses is a distinctive feature, and that is what distinguishes man from the beast. But now it is seen that features like judgment-intellect-consideration-principle-morality have not fallen from the sky.

These are human instincts. Empathy, compassion, the tendency to help each other, these traits are seen in the animal kingdom. [15] This implies that traits such as cooperation, empathy, and justice are very useful traits in the animal kingdom and these traits have helped animals to survive in nature. And man has inherited those instincts through evolution.

In the course of evolution, those animals have survived in nature, who have extended a helping hand to other members of their species, and who have found a way to coexist with this nature.

In his book The Bonobo and the Atheist, Fran Fois de Waal (primatologist) says that ethics is innate in us. This is an instinct. Morality did not reach man from God through religion from heaven. Rather this morality is born out of our feelings, the urge to survive in our society. And it has evolved from the social structure of non-human animals. He adds,

“It wasn’t God who introduced us to morality; rather, it was the other way around. God was put into place to help us live the way we felt we ought to. ” (The idea that God has introduced human society to morality through religion is wrong. The opposite is true. Man has put God in the place by introducing the idea that he should live according to his instincts.)

That is to say, this power of judging good and evil, this empathy for one another, this empathy, all these qualities were not taught by religion. ‘Always speak the truth’, ‘always walk in the right path’ or ‘Love thy neighbor’ – such moral teachings are present in all religions. And all of these words fit our common sense. So we think religion is not a good thing.

But if it were otherwise, if religion says to harm each other or to steal the next thing at every opportunity, we would understand from our common sense that these words are wrong. And so whenever we find a statement against this in any religion, we try our best to somehow adapt it to our instinctive judgment, to “defend” some argument, or to say “not in religion”. To give.

The answer to the question we often face, “Who will teach morality without religion?”, Is very simple. Religion does not teach us morality or ethics. We have carried on in the name of religion all the rules and regulations that we think are right with our judgment. So if there is no religion, man himself can get the idea of what is right and what is wrong based on reason, intellect, consideration, information and evidence. There is no need for religion for this, what is needed is education.

Reference :

1.            http://darwin-online.org.uk/converted/published/1871_Descent_F937/1871_Descent_F937.1.html%5B↑%5D

2.            Davila-Ross M, Jesus G, Osborne J, Bard KA. Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) Produce the Same Types of ‘Laugh Faces’ when They Emit Laughter and when They Are Silent. PLoS One. 2015 Jun 10;10(6):e0127337. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0127337. PMID: 26061420; PMCID: PMC4465483.[↑]

3.            Mellgren, Roger L, Animal Cognition and Behavior, North Holland Publishing company, 1983, Page 347[↑]

4.            Bloch, Guy et al. “Animal activity around the clock with no overt circadian rhythms: patterns, mechanisms and adaptive value.” Proceedings. Biological sciences vol. 280,1765 20130019. 3 Jul. 2013, doi:10.1098/rspb.2013.0019[↑]

5.            Patke, A., Young, M.W. & Axelrod, S. Molecular mechanisms and physiological importance of circadian rhythms. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol 21, 67–84 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41580-019-0179-2%5B↑%5D

6.            Jürgen Aschoff, Temporal orientation: circadian clocks in animals and humans, Animal Behaviour, Volume 37, Part 6, 1989, Pages 881-896, ISSN 0003-3472, https://doi.org/10.1016/0003-3472(89)90132-2.%5B↑%5D

7.            Voigt RM, Forsyth CB, Green SJ, Engen PA, Keshavarzian A. Circadian Rhythm and the Gut Microbiome. Int Rev Neurobiol. 2016;131:193-205. doi: 10.1016/bs.irn.2016.07.002. Epub 2016 Sep 6. PMID: 27793218.[↑]

8.            Jindrich Katia, Roper Kathrein E., Lemon Sussan, Degnan Bernard M., Reitzel Adam M., Degnan Sandie M. Origin of the Animal Circadian Clock: Diurnal and Light-Entrained Gene Expression in the Sponge Amphimedon queenslandica, Frontiers in Marine Science, VOLUME 4, 2017, 327, https://www.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fmars.2017.00327, DOI=10.3389/fmars.2017.00327,ISSN=2296-7745[↑]

9.            Lisa A. Parr, Bridget M. Waller, Understanding chimpanzee facial expression: insights into the evolution of communication, Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, Volume 1, Issue 3, December 2006, Pages 221–228, https://doi.org/10.1093/scan/nsl031%5B↑%5D

10.         Moore, Chris. “Fairness in Children’s Resource Allocation Depends on the Recipient.” Psychological Science, vol. 20, no. 8, Aug. 2009, pp. 944–948, doi:10.1111/j.1467-9280.2009.02378.x.[↑]

11.         Brosnan, S., de Waal, F. Monkeys reject unequal pay. Nature 425, 297–299 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature01963%5B↑%5D

12.         Darby Proctor, Rebecca A. Williamson, Frans B. M. de Waal, Sarah F. Brosnan, Chimpanzees play the ultimatum game, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Feb 2013, 110 (6) 2070-2075; DOI:10.1073/pnas.1220806110[↑]

13.         Warneken F, Tomasello M. Altruistic helping in human infants and young chimpanzees. Science. 2006 Mar 3;311(5765):1301-3. doi: 10.1126/science.1121448. PMID: 16513986.[↑]

14.         Warneken F, Hare B, Melis AP, Hanus D, Tomasello M. Spontaneous altruism by chimpanzees and young children. PLoS Biol. 2007 Jul;5(7):e184. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0050184. Epub 2007 Jun 26. PMID: 17594177; PMCID: PMC1896184.[↑]

15.         Sato, N., Tan, L., Tate, K. et al. Rats demonstrate helping behavior toward a soaked conspecific. Anim Cogn 18, 1039–1047 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10071-015-0872-2%5B↑%5D%5B↑%5D

16.         Whiten A. The scope of culture in chimpanzees, humans and ancestral apes. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2011 Apr 12;366(1567):997-1007. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2010.0334. PMID: 21357222; PMCID: PMC3049095.[↑]

17.         Whiten, A., Goodall, J., McGrew, W. et al. Cultures in chimpanzees. Nature 399, 682–685 (1999). https://doi.org/10.1038/21415%5B↑%5D

Watson SK, Townsend SW, Schel AM, Wilke C, Wallace EK, Cheng L, West V, Slocombe KE. Vocal learning in the functionally referential food grunts of chimpanzees. Curr Biol. 2015 Feb 16;25(4):495-9. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.12.032. Epub 2015 Feb 5. PMID: 25660548.

Published by Sultan Tipu

An independent writer.

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