The following questions emerged as a result of an amicable discussion happened between me and a a fellow non-believer. The discussion happened at the expense of 'Taboo the famous blogger', on the discussion thread of one of his blog posts. Once these questions are answered, this post will be expanded. For the time being, just recording the questions. The following list contained more questions than what is originally posted in Taboo's forum.
1. Do you agree that morality, and ethics are by-and-large 'byproducts' of religions; or in other words, they are just a built-up around religious doctrines, rather than being their core? All major world religions, including Buddhism, in their fundamental core, seeks some sort of "salvation" from a perceived evil in this world. The doctrine is about the path to salvation, and morality/ethics are peripheral to this ultimate goal; isn't it?
2. Over the past millenniums, do you agree that our (world as a whole) ideas of morality has changed largely, and most of those changes are for better? For example, not more than a few hundred years ago, killing a defector's/traitor's entire family is the default norm of the state, even in Sri Lanka. We now abhor that as an unthinkable crime.
3. Where did the discourse for evolving morality happen? Is it mostly within religious forums, or outside of it? What kind of contributions religion did, in evolving our 'Moral Zeitgeist' that resulted changes like above?
4. As far as providing a moral and ethical framework to the society is concerned, do you think current religious institutions are doing a good enough job in bringing up moral and ethical followers?
5. Do you agree that some sort of transformation is needed from time-to-time, within the religious institutions, in order to re-align themselves with the changing moral and ethical landscape of the society?
6. Do you agree that religions play a huge role in shaping up the thought process of vast majority of people in a given society, and therefore is responsible for the National Conscience of any given country? This may not be not true only in a very few truly secular societies that exist in a few small countries.
7. Do you agree that religion is directly involved in governance in many non-secular states in the world, and even in most secular states, it is indirectly decides the terms of governance via the national conscience mentioned above in 6.
8. Due to the reasons in 6 and 7 above, do you agree that religions have a great impact on everyone's lives, regardless of whether one is religious or not.
9. If left unchallenged, unquestioned, and if left to their own devices, do you think currently functioning religious institutions will get better on their own, or will they spiral back in to a primitive tribal morality**? Specially because (as you yourself said above), the people who practice religious are mostly the people who cannot think for themselves?
10. Should the transformations are better executed within the religious frameworks themselves, or outside of it?
PS: Regarding primitive tribal morality; in my opinion, there is a lowest ebb that humans can fall in to. We will not fall below that level. With or without religions, humans will never become 'animals', There is a built-in moral compass within all of us, that is decided by our genetics. Yes, genetically, we are still the pack animal that is evolved to live in small groups as hunters and gatherers. There are whole host of "human" qualities that we carry genetically that helped us to survive collectively in that habitat. However, all the qualities that we have built on top of this tribal morality, are creations of society. They are carried forward in our memes and not in our genes. If we are to lose our socially created values, carried forward through generations, we will still have the values that is encoded in to our genes. However, it will be a loss of about 10,000 years of human creation. We will have to create our moral zeitgeist from the scratch. Please see following articles for further explanations.