Often enough we hear people appeal to values as a foundation for the society, but where do they come from? Separation of state and science from church is a big issue today even globally, while one can hardly dissect religious values out of politics as long as people have religious feelings. Different societies have different values and many, if not all, societies have even within them a confrontation of values. Are our social values just some form of human interpretation of some invisible fight between two groups of opposing supernatural entities, that we have decided to call the ones benevolent to mankind good and the ones not evil?

Saynte George?

Medieval angel

A traditionally conservative perspective on values is, that they have been inherited from our ancestors and that they are good because they have provided us with the current exellent society. This is the same in almost any society we are talking about. But how good are the societies we live in? Are we moving towards a better society, or from it?

The blind spot of cultural tradition providing us with values lies in people not really recognizing history as something real. The past generations may have had the same religions as the people today, but only in name. The average Christian of the 14th century would not understand the values of the average Christian of today. They might recognize the rituals, and the most obscure and vague, though seemingly important, concepts of the supernatural, like the idea of the salvation. But the actual practical applications of any value based choises would be totally alien to them. The further we as individuals but also as societies come in our understanding of reality, the better information we have at our disposal, the better we become in dissecting what could be objective from our subjective minds, to make ethical evaluations of any given situations. Yet, religions provide authority of these hypothetical god-characters to the values they happen to hold at the moment. As the major religions are also social powerstructures they typically hold on to the values of the previous generation. Minority religions are sometimes even more strict, because they need to keep their adherents on a tighter leash as the values they present as their own are not universally accepted by the society.

Majority religions are strong currents of tradition within societies and they often stand for the status quo of any society. The stagnant situation may be seen as good merely just as an option to possible social unrest. But the biggest religions are often the oldest and inherited from rather socially primitive and ignorant socieities. The ancient religious scriptures and other traditions often enough sport both moving humane issues, that we can recognize even after generations, but equally they are tribally moralistic works of fiction and obvious superstition. It seems universal, that most people become blind to the superstitions of their own cultural heritage, while they are fully capable of recognizing such in some foreign culture. Equally the values inherited from our own culture are seen as good and the cultural values of others (puttin exoticism aside) as evil, or at least strange and questionable. There are simple and easy methods to evaluate the justification and ethics of any cultural values, but these are not often even taught in schools. Why? Because of the fear, what they might reveal us about ourselves to our offspring?

We are all engaged in ethical evaluation all the time, wether we know it or not. Because, basicly ethical evaluation is only the evaluation of harm and benefit to us as individuals and us as members of the surrounding society. By society here, I mean the many layers begining from the closest family, friends, social groups, nations and even the entire humanity. As mammals we share with other such an empathetic skill inherent to all social species. It dictates a lot about our behaviour towards each other. We are to individually varying degrees both social and selfish. Most of us learn through our empathetic ability the most simple tools of ethical thinking, like putting ourselves in the position of another, already as little children. The trouble with such a simple tool seems to come from cultural traditions in wich we start to put each other into boxes in order to cope with strangers and to intuitively react to possible threats they present. For example, we form and learn stereotypics of different nationalities, tribes, cultures and at worst even according to the perplexion of people. It seems to be just too hard for some people to try to cope with individuals as the individuals they are and not some predeterminable representatives of this, or that bigger group of people and preferably recognizing such from others with the most superficial glance possible.

Values are results of processes, not some fixed ideals, that could stand on their own just because a god said so, or because we chose them through equally arbitrary method and then mutually simply agreed upon them. But processes represent change and that alone seems overwhelmingly threatening to some people. As if some of us were so inherently fearfull of even a thought of a change. The question is for us to evaluate the processes and choose them according to best results. How then do we decide what is best, or even good? To put it as simply as I can, the method to choose what is good and valuable is, to choose the values, that under most objective scrutany give us the results for general human wellbeing only for the simple reason, that we making the choise are indeed humans. As chosen by the largest group of people with the best awailable information who would prefer the values and conditions resulting in them to themselves and equally to others. That is the value of democracy.

The alledged opinions of supernatural entities have the ethical right to try to influence our ethics, if they can first demonstrate themselves to exist through the most objective scientific methodology we have. If these alledged entities are clever enough to have something worthwhile to say, they bloody well, ought to be able to reveal themselves to us all in an equal manner. Otherwise to hell with them.