AN ADAPTATION CALLED MORALITY
The following is a commentary I entered into the debates that go on all the time on the Columbian website in Vancouver, Washington:
Ray M.... Since it's now tomorrow, I don't know if you'll read this.
You mention a couple of excellent rules for behavior within a culture and, then, credit them to the Bible. Actually, those ideas are inherent within the human animal as we evolved through time. You will find those rules within all cultures and religions, past and present, with slight modifications. I'm an atheist, and I don't need a hypothetical superbeing to tell me that I ought to feel bad if someone steals something of value from me. My feelings inform me pretty well as to how nasty stealing feels, so of course I want laws to protect me from thieves. Bible people just wrote down what people were feeling at the time about the thieves among them and the adulterers, et cetera. Now, of course, we've learned that adulterers are always among us and that, often, those most vociferous about the evils of adultery are the ones practicing it on the sly.
Some will now say, "But what about people whose feelings don't agree with yours?" There are such people as that. They're called sociopaths, and they threaten cultural norms, but most people have evolved the same feeling structure as their neighbors and, thus, agree as to common rules for good social harmony. Less threatening and more helpful are those people who aren't comfortable within whatever culture they're born into. They are always demanding that we reevaluate our cultural priorities. If we didn't change and adapt, of course we'd die out as a species, so those people are healthy in a society. People like the latter brought us democracy. Though I'm an atheist, I recognize that Martin Luther brought needed reform to the Catholic Church, and Protestantism soon followed. Hopefully, Richard Dawkins will help end Protestantism and usher in Humanism as an ethical basis for cultural cohesion.
People interested in the subject of how morality is an adapted trait might like to read The Moral Animal by Robert Wright.