I think morality is possible without religion since morality is not based on religion and religious beliefs are just rules and morals that contribute to each individual’s overall moral values. For example, a Christian would believe not to steal, not to kill, and a must to respect their parents as a moral value as they are part of the Ten Commandments, and it is accepted to be the right thing to do; however, an atheist would also have the same morals. These morals may be taught to them by their parents, teachers or any authoritative figure or moulded by the media or even the atmosphere and peers they grow up in and with.
Without the backing of religion, moral values might be established by self-defence, positive self-interest, love for others, and basically anything that would be physically or spiritually beneficial to the individual. For example, atheists would treat others kindly and helpfully for self-defence as this treatment towards others would usually have a positive reciprocate behaviour, thereby increasing their happiness. On the contrary, if an individual treats others selfishly and abusively, it would be likely that they would be treated in the same way by others, leading them to have negative feelings. In addition, being a witness of other’s misdeeds and, therefore, consequences would allow them to learn from that offence and therefore associate it as a threat or danger establish it is morally wrong for doing it.
The love for others is a basis of having great satisfaction, and hate produces the opposite feeling. As the love for others includes the desire to see their loved ones being happy, fulfilling their desire would often involve unselfishness and self-sacrifice and the denial to see their loved one being sad therefore avoiding hurting them. Thus, caring behaviour and, therefore, certain things that allow their loved one to be happy would be recognised as morally right and vice versa. Culture is also a large contribution towards the idea of people’s morality as they are brought up to believe what is right and what is wrong by their cultural backgrounds. For example, Koreans have to be polite to any other Koreans older than them despite it being only one year. So the way younger Koreans talk to older Koreans is significantly different as it is in a much politer way. For example, younger Koreans would not say “hi” to an older Korean and would have to say “hello” unless they know that the older Korean would not mind.
This is established as morally correct to be respectful to any older Korean as it is known as respect and a belief that must follow. This cultural, moral belief is not seen in the Chinese culture as the Chinese only have to be polite to people who have a higher status in either society, school or at home. Therefore, the Chinese would not have to address older peers politely. Society also puts up moral values in the form of laws and social standards. For example, it is established as a social standard that murdering, raping, robbing are morally wrong since there are laws and punishments for the doing of those acts. Should Scientists be held morally responsible for the applications of their discoveries?
Should the person who invented the knife be held responsible for the fact that Julius Caesar got turned into a human pincushion? No, the knife was invented as a tool for non-murdering means. If the inventor of the knife actually killed someone with that knife, then yes, they should be held responsible. But so long as the discovery was meant to be used in a safe, non-harmful way, then the scientists should not be held responsible for another person’s actions. Most of the time, scientists invent something because they feel that it will help society. For example, stem cell research has many applications to science and treating people with diseases, but other people have to go the extra step and use it for the wrong use. I am sure the inventor might feel guilt for what he made, but it is not his fault for other people’s misuse.
However, the atomic bomb project might be a different example. Along with many other scientists, Albert Einstein discovered and invited the atomic bomb during World War II. They have intended to use it as a tool for improper moral use, in other words, to hurt and kill others substantially. This is the common viewpoint of mankind; however, it can be argued that the invention of the atomic bomb by scientists puts an end to World War II and all the potential damages caused by the attacking parties, for example, the German Nazis. So can this be considered morally correct or incorrect? This would depend on the moral values that every individual holds since a common moral value cannot be put forward and agreed on. Is there any area of scientific knowledge the pursuit of which is morally unacceptable or morally required?
I do not think there are any specific areas of scientific knowledge which are morally unacceptable or required; however, I do consider certain methods of obtaining knowledge, and some intended usage of gained knowledge is morally unacceptable. For example, to investigate and discover stem cells, embryonic cells are required as they are abundant in the early stages of human embryos. With this, few ethical issues are raised since many believe in embryonic stem cell research, many donated embryos are consumed, and it is then destroyed. On a larger scale, they believe that destroying embryos is equal to destroying human life and immoral in doing so. Others believe that people only believe it is immoral because it is written in ancient religious texts. Unfortunately, those ancient religious texts provide little information and guidance since they did not understand embryology; they did not imagine what scientists and researchers can do now.
However, they also believe that “destroying” donated human life that would be aborted anyway can lead to many other valuable lives being saved. In this case, it can be classified as morally unacceptable or morally required depending on which point of view is taken. However, the use of adult stem cells, the other uncommitted stem cells that stay as stem cells throughout a person’s whole life acting like a repair system to replenish specialised cells as seen in the liver, is often accepted as morally acceptable since it is at will for a person to give and offer their stem cells for cell research. Obviously, the misuse of certain discoveries such as party drugs or knives is morally unacceptable as they harm people in general.
Some discoveries are also morally required for the advancement and development of mankind; for example, if radioactive isotopes are not discovered, and a method to create them is not invented, then chemotherapy would not be provided to cancer patients to help them cure and fight cancer. Religion rejects scientific evidence to justify and support Bronze Age myths. I think religion does not reject scientific evidence; it just chooses to believe Bronze Age myths and shut its eyes towards the scientific evidence laid out. Religion relies on belief, and if you believe it to be true, then it is a moral truth; however, if you do not believe it to be true, and you believe in scientific evidence or do not believe in either, then you would not establish it as a moral truth. Do the natural sciences make assumptions that are improvable by science?
This is because natural science uses induction reasoning and the process of elimination. Therefore, one hypothesis cannot be proven correct just because of the large sum of an experiment carried out, and therefore the conclusions and analysis drew out by the experiment. This is because science only considers the limited outcomes out of the infinite outcomes, and this is a major flaw within natural science since it is so controlled. A theory or law can only be proven correct when everything else is controlled. Therefore, scientific evidence and research could be unreliable for being a type of evidence.