SOURCE: Science & Spirit magazine

July 11, 2006 10:37 ET

Morality: Science & Spirit Explores Different Views on the Origin of Ethical Judgments

QUINCY, MA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- July 11, 2006 -- Is morality something human beings learn, or are we born with a sense of right and wrong? If there is a universal moral code, then how do we reconcile different perceptions of right and wrong, different opinions regarding acceptable and unacceptable behavior, and the various directives of different religious traditions? Featuring the perspectives of a scientist, a philosopher, and a theologian, Science and Spirit takes a provocative look at morality in its July-August issue.

Marc D. Hauser, a professor of psychology and biology at Harvard University, believes we are born with a universal moral grammar that provides the foundation for our moral systems. His research suggests a universality concerning the permissibility of helping and harming others, and he concludes that these moral judgments are immune to the influences of culture, age, and education. Philosopher Paul Kurtz agrees that "morality is natural to the human condition," but believes moral principles have evolved over a long period of time. Keith Ward, an Anglican priest and professor of divinity at the University of Oxford, credits religion with providing "the objective existence of a supreme being who defines what goodness is," but believes the ultimate determination of right and wrong comes through rational reflection.

The July-August issue also features:

--  An interview with physicist and Templeton Prize winner John Barrow,
    who sat down with historian of science Owen Gingerich to talk about
    cosmology, religion, theater, and our place in the universe
--  A trip to Jerusalem that has the elements of time travel, as a first-
    time visitor reflects on the juxtaposition of the ancient and the modern,
    and on the spiritual traditions preserved amid archeological ruins
--  A look at the power of computer-generated digital humans, called
    "avatars," used to mold the opinions and influence the behavior of real
    people
    

Science & Spirit is published six times a year by Heldref Publications. It is sold on newsstands and by subscription, and can be viewed online at www.science-spirit.org.

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