If the “Trolley Problem” sounds unfamiliar to you, then don’t look it up on Google just yet.
Instead, download this mp3 of the recent episode of This American Life (begin listening at the 5:05 mark).
It’s a great explanation of the moral thought experiment… and it has sound effects!
Afterwards, you can check out Wikipedia for more. Richard Dawkins also discusses the Trolley Problem in The God Delusion with some depth (pages 223-226 in the American hardcover edition).
As Dawkins mentions, “there is no statistically significant difference between atheists and religious believers” in their responses to the dilemmas.
The whole point of all this is that the evidence shows us that a certain kind of morality is
an evolutionary adaptation. (Correction: As Larry and Alonzo explain in the comments, it’s not an “evolutionary adaptation” as I said. To quote Larry, explanations could include “social conditioning and rationalism.”) It’s innate. It does not come from religion or God.
My favorite part of the TAL story is this summarizing line from Harvard Psychology professor Josh Greene:
“We think of basic human morality as being handed down from on high and it’s probably better to say that it was handed up from below.”
[tags]atheist, atheism, Trolley Problem, This American Life, Wikipedia, Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, God, religion, Josh Greene[/tags]