Is There Universal Morality Beyond Culture and Religion?
Posted by Catherine Morgan on July 24, 2007
photo by axinia
I was invited by Chatherine Morgan to write a guest post to her Blog “Be the change you want to see in yourself” – thanks for the opportunity, Catherine! I decide on a topic that can be of interest for many, I hope.
Is there universal morality beyond culture and religion?
Today the talks of intercultural/cross-cultural communication are getting more and more popular: East and West, South and North are facing each other closer, trying to check out the differences for better understanding. What comes out of it has mostly the following leitmotive: “We are so much different; culture has impact on everything; always watch out the culture factor; religious background explains everything; religions are so different, no wonder there are misunderstandings…” And so on…
Some time ago I was very keen on such topics and used to find my pleasure in revealing astonishing cultural differences to my friends or clients. However at some point I realized that it all leads only to separation and not to understanding and collaboration!
Further I relised that there must be some universal values, common for every human being. Some universal values going beyond culture or religion.
And I was more than happy to run into a highly interesting book of Harvard Professor Marc D. Hauser “Moral minds” describing one of these values – morality – as a universal human quality, kind of an instinct. That was very supportive!
Let me quotate a bit just to give you an idea:
“Our expressed languages differ, but we generate each one on the basis of a universal set of principles.
Our artistic expressions vary wildly, but the biology that underpins our aesthetics, generates universal preferences for symmetry in the visual arts and consonance in music.
The idea I have developed in this book is that we should think morality in the same way.
Underlying the extensive cross-cultural variation we observe in our expressed social norms is a universal moral grammar that enables each child to grow a narrow range of moral expressions.
When we judge an action as morally right oder wrong, we do so instinctively, tapping a system of unconsciously operative and inaccessible moral knowledge.
Though equating mortality with religion is commonplace, it is wrong in at least two ways: It falsely assumes that people without religious faith lack an understanding of moral rights and wrongs, and that people of religious faith are more virtuous than atheists and agnostics.
Based on studies of moral judgments in a wide range of cultures, atheists and agnostics are perfectly capable of distinguishing between morally permissible and forbidden actions.
More important, across a suite of moral dilemmas and testing situations, Jews, Catholics, Protestants, Sikhs, Muslims, atheists and agnostics deliver the same judgments – and with the same level of incoherence orders insufficiency when it comes to their justification. … These observations suggest that the system that unconsciously generates morale judgments is immune to religious doctrine.”
It seems very logical and true to me. However the modern people have drifted away from the innocence of a child and therefore can hardly feel the universal moral.
Based on my long-term spiritual experiences I noticed the following: as soon as spiritual powers are awakened, one goes beyond culture or religion. At that state the morality comes up naturally, without any commandments or scriptures.
More and more the scientists will be discovering the universal nature of human beings with the universal value centres at the core of it. They will.
And one day people will understand: we are all one and the same. Then why do we fight?
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