Where does morality come from? One possible answer is that morality, as everything else, is a byproduct of interactions between physical matter. The same interactions that came together to produce our bodies and our consciousness, are also the ones that produced our morality.
Question: But if so, why then does our morality often contradict our bodies? If they are a byproduct of the same materialistic natural processes, surely these contradictions should not exist?
By contradictions, I am mainly thinking of two things.
- Instincts which we all have but are capable of recognizing as immoral.
For example, natural instincts such as anger, aggression, violence, etc. are all quite common and most people have them. Yet most people are also in a position where they are able to use their morality to judge those instincts to be frequently wrong.
But if both the instincts and the morality came to be naturally, why then does our morality contradict our instincts?
We don't see these other contradictions in nature. For example, is there an animal with eyelids, but no eyes? No, because the natural processes that give rise to these objects work together to avoid any logical inconsistencies. And yet, our morality does often directly go against our natural instincts, which would indicate that they are products of separate types of processes, i.e. that morality is not a natural process.
- Morality is self-independent, while natural evolution of life is not.
Scientific evidence suggests that human life has evolved via a process called natural selection, and the ultimate goal of natural selection is survival. Thus, the natural processes which produce our bodies are self-centered. What matters is me, and only me. What must happen for me or my offspring to survive for the longest time possible?
However, morality is different. It's self-independent, and, indeed, often self-hurting. For example, let us imagine a choice between the painless extinction of all human life for all time on one hand, and, on the other, an eternal process of immense suffering imposed upon an innocent child. In this case, many people would certainly choose to just end life as we know it painlessly, rather than impose infinite torture on a child. Yet this is an example of a morality which is not about survival, in fact, it is a morality which dooms all of us, and so how can it be a byproduct of natural selection, which is about nothing but survival?