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The Brain creates Morality, not the Bible

About Abhijit Naskar

Abhijit Naskar is one of the world's celebrated Neuroscientists, an International Bestselling Author of numerous books and a popular advocate of mental wellness and global harmony. He has revealed to the world with his contributions in Science how the basic awareness of the brain can completely redefine our perception of life and make our daily life much more cheerful. He takes us on a fascinating investigative journey of understanding the human mind and its vivid features. He was born in Calcutta, India. His rejuvenating scientific philosophy of the mind has been lavishing human life with the colors and sweetness of self-awareness, since its advent with his very first book "The Art of Neuroscience in Everything".

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“Morality” – it is a fantastic term, so much so, that almost every single religious institution wants to claim its exclusive authority or rather copyright of this simple psychological element. The cave-men of the church keep claiming, “morality comes from the Bible”, and so does every other mindless fundamentalist on earth no matter their religion. They truly believe that without their holy scripture there would be no morality on earth. They truly believe, without their doctrines to guide humanity in the moral path, we are destined to be punished in an imaginary hell. So let me tell those fundamentalists – You need to visit a psychiatrist, pal!

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Here let me make something clear at the very beginning. Beliefs are a quintessential part of the human psyche, but they can be both healthy and harmful. And the beliefs of the fundamentalist Australopithecines are particularly harmful. These beliefs are what we call “delusions”. Except unlike in a neuropsychological ailment, the delusion of the fundamentalists is not just harmful for the individuals suffering from it, but more importantly it is the greatest threat to peace, progress and wellbeing of the entire human species.

I am not going to go into the details of which scripture is more moral than others and which one is most immoral. It does not depend on the scripture itself, as much as it depends on the person reading the scripture. All human creations, including all sorts of literature are bound to have flaws, because it is the human mind that creates them. No literature, including the ones in the domain of religion, comes from some Imaginary Big Monkey, high up in the sky. They all rise from the human psyche. Hence the elements of the composer’s mind gets distinctively imprinted into the content of the literature. So the morality depicted in a certain text is not the ultimate standpoint of moral characteristic of a species, it is merely the textual echo of the composer’s internal moral compass. If a pedophile writes a book, he would probably deem abusing a nine year old as morally justified. On the other hand, if the book is written by, say Tolstoy, it would have a completely reformed depiction of morality, ethics and human principles. The depiction of morality by Tolstoy can be something that the human civilization can look up to and expect to march ahead towards becoming less primitive. But a pedophile’s subjective morality would only drag the human civilization back to the days in the wilderness.

So, where does morality come from exactly? I will tell you where it comes from in a little while, but before that let me focus on where it does not come from. Morality does not come from the Bible. Morality does not come from the Quran. Morality does not come from the Torah. Morality does not come from the Vedas. This beautiful mental element which we call morality, does not come from any scripture, any institution or any God. Morality is born in the human brain, from the electrical impulses among the neurons. Morality like any other mental element, such as love, peace, orgasm, rage or hatred, is simply the expression of electrochemical impulses. These impulses in our brain define who we are, what we are, how we feel, how we think, how we behave and how we distinguish between right and wrong, and good and evil. In fact, we our the impulses within our brain. If you mess with even a tiny portion of the neural circuits constantly sharing electrochemical information among each other, it would radically alter your personality. It can alter your entire identity.

Part of that identity are your moral characteristics. These along with other analytical traits of your mind, are distinct creations of the frontal lobes of your brain. This is the region that is most responsible for making us a uniquely intelligent and wise species. This is the part that gives you the sense of an internal moral compass, based on all the available data. It is here that your innate primitive urges and instinctual responses born from the limbic system, are filtered according to the norms of the society as well as your internal ethical elements. Therefore, when a person thinks and behaves as a civilized human being, he or she is doing so because of the civilized elements within him or her, not because of some book, even though the book may have certain influence on that behavior. Burn all the scriptures in the world, still morality will remain intact. But mess with the frontal lobes, or to be specific the prefrontal cortex, of all the humans in the world, and you would inadvertantly jeopardize the intellectual faculties of the entire human species including morality.

To quote from my book “Either Civilized or Phobic: A Treatise on Homosexuality”

“Morality does not come to this mortal world from some imaginary paradise. It rises from the neurons of mortal humans to aid in the process of a healthy conduct in both personal and social life of the mortal humans. Hence, it is the existential responsibility of the humans to reconstruct the moral parameters of a time based on the advancements and achievements of that time.”

All kinds of external information regardless of where they come from, do engage in the shaping of a person’s neural network of moral characteristics as well as other mental features. The environment we live in, has a deep impact over our psyche, but for the human civilization to keep on moving forward in the path of progress all environmental information must be scrutinized by our internal civilized faculties. Nothing from the external world as well as the internal one, should be accepted to be true, good and healthy, unless it passes the test of reasoning.

 

(Simultaneously published on Goodreads.)

Further Reading

Abhijit Naskar, 2017, Principia Humanitas

Abhijit Naskar, 2017, Either Civilized or Phobic: A Treatise on Homosexuality

Abhijit Naskar, 2017, Illusion of Religion: A Treatise on Religious Fundamentalism

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1 Comment

  1. luc lelievre says:

    Great!!!

    2017-06-02 10:38 GMT-04:00 Naskarism :

    > naskarism posted: “”Morality” – it is a fantastic term, so much so, that > almost every single religious institution wants to claim its exclusive > authority or rather copyright of this simple psychological element. The > cave-men of the church keep claiming, “morality comes from” >

    Like

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