A few weeks ago I wrote a post on morality entitled, How I live as a moral relativist. The term “moral relativist” sounds scary and gets a bad reputation sometimes, but those concepts are an accurate description of the world as far as I can tell.
I intend on writing more on that in the future, but for now, here is a new Edge.org interview with moral philosopher and scientist, Joshua Greene. Greene is the guy who pioneered the neuroscience of morality – investigating how people’s brains work when they make decisions about moral problems. There’s some good stuff here on how morality probably evolved, and how our moral intuitions are incredibly quirky and inconsistent (try your hand at answering the questions he poses). This latter fact is a problem for moral realism, which asserts that there are definite answers to moral problems. Given moral realism, inconsistencies such as the ones Greene mentions in his interview shouldn’t exist.
My friend Carsie pointed me to a blog post in which a mother gives teenage girls some advice. Kimberly Hall asks young women not to post scantily-clad pictures of themselves on social media, because that would encourage her sons to only think about girls in a sexual way! Oh no!
Carsie tweeted an appropriate response, as well as coined the hashtag #solidarityselfie. So I’m uploading my own solidarity selfie here (because I don’t use Twitter).
Man, I look so slutty in this picture.
I encourage you to blog/tweet your own #solidarityselfie! Hall’s sons, as well as all people, need to learn to control their responses to other people’s choices, rather than control other people’s choices.
And the funny thing about Hall’s post is that she says she’s trying to raise her sons with a strong moral compass. The thing about compasses, though, is that they always point north. It doesn’t matter what else lay to the south, east, or west – the compass always points north. That’s what it means to have a strong moral compass – you follow your conscience no matter what others are doing. Why doesn’t Hall try that?
My friend Tiarnán visited the Creation Museum today. It is a museum in Kentucky which supports a literalist interpretation of Genesis, with exhibits on Noah’s ark, humans and dinosaurs living together, and the like. Tiarnán didn’t enjoy his time there.
I’m finding it hard to even explain how bad I felt. The only time I’ve ever felt this bad because of somewhere I visited was a concentration camp. I’m not comparing the crime, only how it affected me. The juxtaposition of lies, smiling children and a gift shop freaked me out.
Emptiness, sadness, a cruel parody of museums. Children running around, enthusiastic to learn, parents proudly reading lies to them. Children gathered around the animatronic Noah explaining how there was room on the ark for all the dinosaurs.
I felt I was at a funeral for someone I loved and everyone else wanted dead.
Relentless, creepy disembodied voices “The lord said…”, “Eve was created as man’s helper”, “dragons are dinosaurs”. It was soul destroying.
Museums scream of progress to me. They have problems (Anyone seen the receipt for the Elgin marbles?), but they are cathedrals to learning. They show how far we’ve come. They promote and value education. To sit in one with such a corrupt purpose is obscene.
Nobody got a t-shirt. I couldn’t do it. I needed to leave.
What is the solution to this problem? I don’t know. But I imagine it starts with more education, more rationality, and more questioning our beliefs.