Is there any credence to the idea that acting morally works in evolutionary terms, i.e., that it helps preserve the unity and survival of a co-dependent group? If this is the case, surely talk of absolute morality derived from religious scriptures is worthless, and our morality is just a refined survival technique. Thanks for a great site!

It may well be that there's an evolutionary story to be told about how we come to adopt moral codes and so on. But your question, as I'm reading it, is whether this undermines the objectivity of morality -- leads to the conclusion that our moral views are neither correct nor incorrect, or something like that. In fact, the two issues seem quite distinct. Compare: No doubt our ability to sort things by shape evolved and helps us survive. But that doesn't mean things don't really have shapes, nor that our beliefs about shapes are somehow flawed or empty or merely a "refined survival technique."

There's a third strand to be separated out here. If there is such a thing as objective morality, what makes it objective isn't the fact that it's to be found in some scripture or other. On the one hand, none of us needs scripture to be convinced that wanton cruelty is wrong. And on the other hand, some things called for in some scriptures don't seem right on reflection at all.

To sum up, what evolution brought about, whether there's such a thing as objective morality and whether moral claims found in scripture have any special status are three separate issues. The first philosophical step is to see that we can tease them apart.

Hope that helps!

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