What motivates morality?

A question was sent to True Freethinker; the question dealt with what motivates morality and brought up various issues such as:

If morals are ingrained in us from birth, as Christianity asserts, why do different religions promote different morals?

And one that proceeded forth from a New York Times blog:

A question was sent to True Freethinker; the question dealt with what motivates morality and brought up various issues such as:

If morals are ingrained in us from birth, as Christianity asserts, why do different religions promote different morals?

And one that proceeded forth from a New York Times blog:

Even though altruistic behavior evolved for the advantages it confers, this does not make it selfishly motivated. Future benefits rarely figure in the minds of animals. For example, animals engage in sex without knowing its reproductive consequences, and even humans had to develop the morning-after pill. This is because sexual motivation is unconcerned with the reason why sex exists. The same is true for the altruistic impulse, which is unconcerned with evolutionary consequences…

The bottom line is whether in a god-free universe ruled by blind forces and inspired by survival of the fittest evolution all “morality” is merely an organism’s accidentally (in a manner of speaking) benefiting others (the in-group) in “expectation” that the others will benefit the individual organism—this is why, on this view, morality is considered to be, in reality, selfishness.

The issue is that in order to make sense of it from a Christian perspective, it will almost seem as if one is discrediting their own position.

Before responding to these questions in the segments that follow; here is some food for Q&A thought:

Make sure that before you begin to think of an answer you always think about the question?

What is really being asked?

What are the question’s presuppositions?

What does the question imply?

Is it generic of could the question be backed by facts?

Etc.

 If morals are ingrained in us from birth, why do different religions promote different moral standards?

Wait a moment: what different moral standards?

First, to seem as if the Christian is discrediting their own position: morals are ingrained in us from birth but later corrupted. The issue is that it seems as a diversionary tactic. How do you prove it?

Well, for example: no culture/religion celebrates cowardice. But what about those who fled to Canada to escape the draft during Vietnam? The US Army considered them cowards but they and their supporters considered them heroic and brave to escape the US Army oppressors. So neither side celebrated cowardice. One side condemned them as cowards and the other defined them as not being cowardly.

How about murdering innocent people? No culture/religion celebrates that. No, not even the most extremist Islamic radical Jihadist terrorists: they consider people who truly are innocent civilians to be, in reality, guilty and/or complicit due to being citizens of the great satan, etc. In other words, they have to turn people who are really innocent into people who are, to them, really guilty in order to justify their actions.

We all justify our actions when seeking to do wrong but never when seeking to do right. We do not justify giving food to the homeless but we do justify stealing, etc. We justify according to the morals ingrained in us from birth.

If you are in the mood to read essays that deal with these and related issues, see my section on Morality and Ethics.