I wouldn’t fit in at all

John Shook argues that morality evolved long before religion did, which seems right, but then he claims more.

If you were suddenly plucked from your life and sent back in time to live with people in Indonesia about 15,000 years ago (or even Ethiopia 150,000 years ago), you would be able to figure out what is going on. The basic social roles, responsibilities, and civil rules would seem somewhat familiar to you, and you’d fit in pretty fast.

Oh no I wouldn’t – not fit in pretty fast I wouldn’t. I might be able to figure out what is going on, but I would also want no part of it. I would want no part of the social roles that would be imposed on me as a woman, and I would probably not be crazy about the civil rules to do with how slaves, foreigners, criminals, prisoners of war, and other inferiors or others were treated – in fact I would be a foreigner and thus probably a slave. I’d be a foreign slave woman, and I would ‘fit in’ pretty fast. No I wouldn’t! Not unless ‘fit in’ means ‘obey because I have no choice.’

Cultural anthropologists have long recognized how all human societies have similar basic norms of moral conduct. Marc Hauser, professor of evolutionary biology at Harvard University, has just published a paper about additional studies showing that people’s moral intuitions do not vary much across different religions all around the world.

But they do. People’s moral intuitions about the rightness of killing women for being raped, of stoning women to death in front of their children, of forced marriage, of killing witches, of killing gay people – the list goes on, and those moral intuitions do vary much.

Furthermore, basic morality is highly resistant to religious influence — most people easily reject religious rules that violate their basic moral intuitions.

Really? Then why do some ‘devout believers’ think daughter-murder is mandated by their religion under certain circumstances while other people don’t?

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