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Pope Francis: Catechism will be updated to define ecological sins.

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Online Resources. Monastery Candy. Love, Laughter and Living Saints. See all Classifieds. The latest from america. Meet the Twitter account promoting the Gospel, one tweet at a time. JesusOfNaz mixes brief prayers with light humor and punchy political jeremiads. Jonathan Malesic November 23, He came here in October to visit Jesuit missionaries as provincial. The accusations of paganism and idolatry at the Synod on the Amazon sent a troubling message about the universality of the church, writes Mary McAuliffe, a teacher at a Jesuit school in the Pacific. Mary McAuliffe November 22, Jaelani Turner-Williams November 22, In a different example, Blogowska, Lambert, and Saroglou found that self-reported religiosity predicted helping of a needy in-group member and also physical aggression toward a member of a moral out-group a homosexual person.

Blogowska et al. We argue that this behavior can be reconstrued as literally prosocial—after all, if homosexuality is a norm violation from the perspective of a religious group, then behavior that punishes this violation serves to enforce the norm and thus promotes and protects the interests and values of the group.

If the relationship between religion and morality is to be explored within an encompassing evolutionary framework as we intend , the notion of prosociality should assume a literal rather than sanitized meaning i. As we will describe later, we advocate a strategy of scientific pluralism where morality is concerned. Efforts to fully characterize the relationship between religion and morality are limited by a tendency for researchers to conceptualize morality or religion as bundles of either cognitively or culturally evolved traits rather than both.

For example, Bloom has attempted to refute the claim that morality requires religion using evidence of proto moral behavior in infant humans and in other primates. This argument operationalizes morality at the level of evolved psychological systems, but operationalizes religion as a set of cultural notions.


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One way of avoiding this problem is to disambiguate epigenetic, cognitive—developmental, and social—historical processes in the formation of religious and moral traits Whitehouse, For example, a capacity to empathize with the pain of others may be genetically canalized in the development of infant neural structures, but environmental cues also shape the organization of neural networks and even the gross morphology of the brain. The interaction of genetic and epigenetic factors in the maturation of empathizing capacities may follow different developmental pathways in different individuals, resulting in quite different outcomes at the level of cognitive and behavioral patterns in adulthood.

The same principles apply to the development of religious traits. For example, a genetically canalized tendency to process information about mental and mechanical events via quite different neural structures may undergird the cognitive developmental pathways for mind—body dualism Bloom, , but this tendency is also shaped and constrained by cultural concepts and their histories. When asking, for example, how notions of bodiless agents might impact the development of empathy, we need to specify the level s at which the impact is hypothesized to occur and trace its repercussions at all levels on both sides of the religion—morality equation.

In order to circumvent these limitations and avoid these problems, we propose a new approach to the religion—morality debate that not only fractionates both religion and morality but is careful to distinguish the different levels at which explanation is required. This will provide the basis for more precise questions about the relationship between the fractionated components of religion and morality, respectively.

Tinbergen, Thus, if the pigmentation of butterfly wings in industrial areas becomes darker over successive generations Haldane, , it is because darker variants have a selective advantage in smoke-stained environments, but that does not dispense with the need to explain the physiological mechanisms by which individual butterfly wings acquire their coloration, darkness, and hue. These answers are all correct, but together they provide fuller understanding. Hinde, , p. In considering human traits, however, the situation is often complicated by the extent and variability of cultural overlays.

In some cases, these are quite literally overlays—for example, in cold environments, human hands may be overlaid by clothing, such as gloves or mittens. Our general theoretical approach melds recent theorizing in disciplines such as moral psychology and the cognitive science of religion. According to this approach, religious and moral cultural representations are triggered and constrained by implicit, intuitive cognitive systems in much the same way that the morphologies of human hands and feet shape and constrain the morphologies of gloves and shoes see Figure 2.

To become culturally widespread, shoes must fit the basic morphology of human feet, while also satisfying other biologically endowed preferences e. But such structures may, in turn, be subject—given sufficient time scales—to genetic modification under the selection pressures imposed by culturally evolved practices and preferences. So just as shoes adapt to the needs of biologically endowed feet, so feet may need to adapt to fit cultural prescriptions. And in the same way, certain universal features of our biologically evolved cognitive architecture and our culturally evolved religious and moral representations may result from complex processes of coevolution.

To analyze these various processes correctly, however, it is vital that we disambiguate at which levels selection acts on which traits. Cultural representations e. The relations depicted here are intended to be illustrative rather than exhaustive.

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In what follows, we begin by fractionating, first, morality and, then, religion into elements that are thought to be recurrent features of human evolved psychology. We then consider whether there is evidence that any of the fractionated elements of religion have a biologically evolved connection to the fractionated elements of morality.

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We will argue that there is scant evidence for this at present. We then consider the cultural evolution of the religion—morality relationship. Here we argue that cultural evolution has served to connect the fractionated elements of religion and morality in a cascading myriad of ways, and it is at this level primarily that the religion—morality debate might be most fruitfully focused in future.


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MFT is an avowedly pluralistic theory of morality. MFT falls within the latter tradition, proposing that the rich array of culturally constructed moral norms and institutions are triggered and constrained by several universal and innate psychological systems—the eponymous moral foundations.

Moral foundations theorists have highlighted five core foundations, giving rise to the following pan-human principles: a care—harm: harming others is wrong, whereas treating others with kindness and compassion is right; b fairness—cheating: people should reap what they sow and not take more than they deserve; c in group loyalty—betrayal: what is good for the community comes above selfish interests; d respect for authority—subversion: we should defer to our elders and betters and respect tradition; and e purity—degradation: the body is a temple and can be desecrated by immoral actions and contaminants.

Moral foundations theorists claim that each of these principles is written into our distinctively human nature, arising from the normal operation of evolved cognitive mechanisms. On the other hand, the moral foundations are conceived as constraining, rather than determining, the types of moral systems that humans construct. One of the major contributions of the moral foundations approach has been to highlight the cultural and political variability in the expression of these foundations.

Some cultures construct their moral norms and institutions on a comparatively small subset of foundations. Although MFT is not without its critics, we regard it as the most fully developed, integrative, and comprehensive theory of morality currently available. Some critics monists dispute pluralism per se. For example, Gray et al. Many have argued that homosexuality is harmful, for instance, harmful to families or to society more generally e. But Gray et al. Whereas Gray et al.

To cite another topical example, the social media service Facebook recently attracted criticism for allowing users to post graphic footage of beheadings, while prohibiting photos of videos containing nudity including images of breastfeeding in which the baby does not totally obscure the nipple or in which the non-nursing breast is in view; see Clark, A final example concerns moral judgments of suicide, the self-directed nature of which poses an apparent problem for Gray et al. One might argue that people who commit suicide harm others e.

However, a recent study by Rottman, Kelemen, and Young casts doubt on this explanation. Participants read a series of fictitious but ostensibly real obituaries describing suicide or homicide victims, and made a series of ratings including rating the moral wrongness of each death. Whereas perceived harm was the only variable predicting moral judgments of homicide, feelings of disgust and purity concerns—but not harm ratings—predicted moral condemnations of suicide. However, proponents of MFT do not claim that their list of five foundations is exhaustive, but have actively sought out arguments and evidence for others e.

Moral foundations theorists have put forward their own celestial analogy to describe the process of identifying foundations:. There are millions of objects orbiting the sun, but astronomers do not call them all planets. There are six including the Earth that are so visible that they were recorded in multiple ancient civilizations, and then there are a bunch of objects further out that were discovered with telescopes. Astronomers disagreed for a while as to whether Pluto and some more distant icy bodies should be considered planets.

Similarly, we are content to say that there are many aspects of human nature that contribute to and constrain moral judgment, and our task is to identify the most important ones. Graham et al. Using the fairness foundation for illustration, Graham et al. First, the relevant moral concern must feature regularly in third-party normative judgments, wherein people express condemnation for actions that have no direct consequences for them.

Fairness certainly satisfies this requirement—as Graham and colleagues note, gossip about group members who violate fairness norms e. Second, violations of the moral principle in question must elicit rapid, automatic, affectively valenced evaluations. LoBue, Nishida, Chiong, DeLoache, and Haidt found that children as young as 3 years old reacted rapidly and negatively to unequal distributions of stickers, particularly personally disadvantageous distributions.

For Graham et al. Their last three criteria relate to foundationhood per se.

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First, foundational moral concerns should be culturally widespread. According to Graham et al. Second, there should be indicators of innate preparedness for foundational concerns. Moreover, developmental studies show that young infants are sensitive to inequity.

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For example, Sloane, Baillargeon, and Premack found that month-old children expected an experimenter to reward each of two individuals when both had worked at an assigned task, but not when one of the individuals had done all the work. Baumard, Mascaro, and Chevallier found that 3- and 4-year-old children were able to take merit into account by distributing tokens according to individual contributions.

Finally, an evolutionary model should clearly specify the adaptive advantage conferred by the candidate foundation upon individuals who bore it in the ancestral past as Graham et al. Fairness meets this criterion nicely. Although Saroglou provides a valuable synthesis of previous taxonomies of core religious dimensions, in our view, the dimensions he settles on Believing, Bonding, Behaving, Belonging do not correspond well to evolved cognitive systems, so are not good candidates for religious foundations.