Science seems to be every bit as substantive as religion when it comes to deriving the ought in morality.

Why should we be good? Religion says we should be good for these reasons:

  1. God said so (note that Satan, another immortal creature, disagrees and says we should be evil—he doesn’t get much air time)
  2. You will suffer forever if you don’t think and act “good”.
  3. Living according to good principles for their own sake makes you happy (eternally so).
  4. Other entities are children of God, so they are like you, so you should respect them.
  5. God is so loving (as evidenced by the story of the sacrifice of Jesus), that it will make you want to love others, too.
  6. Living right is its own reward.

A typical science-wielding secular humanist says we should be good because:

  1. Lots of people in the community say so (note that some people disagree and say we should be evil—they don’t get much air time)
  2. You will suffer in this life if you don’t think and act “good” (well documented in scientific studies, for instance)
  3. Living according to good principles for their own sake makes you happy (for as long as you live) (well established scientifically)
  4. Other entities are conscious (or, for the unconscious ones, they at least represent our own humanity) and experience the world like you do, so you should respect them.
  5. Others have been loving (like Jawaharlal Nehru) and others have been nice to you at various points in your life, so that will make you want to love others, too.
  6. Living right is its own reward.

Religion defines a series of rewards and reasons that might compel a person to do good things and not harmful things. Science delineates a very similar series of rewards and reasons that might compel a person to do good things and not harmful things.

And, in most every case it can be argued that our confidence in the scientific answers is more easily demonstratable than the religiously derived one (these are parallel to the above points):

  1. How do we know that God said we should be good? Because of iron-age texts or because a few individuals claim to speak his mind? OTOH, we have countless moral tracts and moral messages right here and now authoritatively telling/asking us to be good.
  2. The idea that evil-doers may suffer for eternity (in LDS theology they will only suffer based on being separated from God for all eternity) is, as yet, un-demonstrated. Science has already demonstrated to a significant amount the ill-effects on a person’s well-being from doing evil.
  3. Again, we are taking the word of ancient texts when we could be relying on replicable, modern scientific studies.
  4. How do we know that other entities are even the children of God? Why should we accept the truth of this statement? And why should such a knowledge compel us to respect them? What, specifically, is it about being a child of God that is worthy of our respect in the first place? Furthermore, what is our ethical duty with regards to non-human consciousnesses (dolphins, pigs, monkeys, etc)? The child of God standard leaves us little to work with, while a consciousness standard can be extended to envelope other creatures in proportion to the consciousness which they experience. And, it is relatively simple to reason from the hallmarks of consciousness (which we individually experience) that others are almost certainly experiencing the same kinds of things and hence deserve reciprocal respect.
  5. Whether or not Jesus was as kind and loving as he is made out to be depends on how much we trust ancient documents and their authors. Learning about the remarkable life of someone like Jawaharlal Nehru seems to require far less a leap of faith to accept that they were indeed a very good person.
  6. If living right/well is its own reward, then it requires no religious component because it is self-satisfying regardless of the religious content of our universe.

So, what makes religion’s ought superior to science’s ought?

What am I missing?

edit: minor clarifications and some embellisment on the final #4


posted here