Notes Book

Scientific Morality

Many people seem to think that God is the only possible source of morality. On the other hand it is possible that man invented God to explain the morality man sees at work in the world. There is some evidence that moral behavior leads to peace and prosperity over time. Perhaps that moral force operates because of the nature of societies rather than divine intervention. Perhaps it is not the wheels of the gods that are grinding slowly but exceedingly fine, but just the natural course of events as prescribed by the laws that govern reality.

Societies are controlled by something that is very like a computer network. There are individual processing units connected by various means of communications. It is true that the human or animal brain is vastly more sophisticated than the computers we have so far been able to build, but it is also true that the laws of information theory limit computers. Some basic limits apply whether the computers are primitive and simple, or complex and sophisticated.

Anything that interferes with the functioning of this social network interferes with the functioning of the society. If the information processing is faulty, the crops will fail, the buildings will collapse, and the Huns will invade. There are certainly enough difficulties when everyone is trying their best to behave well.

I don't think it is any coincidence that the behaviors we consider crimes or sins are also behaviors that interfere with the proper functioning of the social network. Fraud forces the network to do a lot more work to filter out false information. The victim of theft must acquire and learn to use a new tool or material, and also take steps to guard against future theft. In addition to wasting physical resources, theft causes a lot of additional information processing. The difficulty of processing information about violent acts is often expressed in the phrase: “The fog of war”. Sin hurts the sinner, but it also damages the social fabric. Sin in this context is any behavior that interferes with the efficient functioning of the social information-processing network.

In the face of a lot of sin, the error rate of the network goes way up and some individual nodes may fail altogether. Mental and physical illnesses are the fruits of sin as are the destruction of tools and environment.

Given similar technology and resource levels, when two societies are in conflict, the one with the least sin will win. It is also difficult for a corrupt society to maintain a technological edge, because technology requires efficient information processing, and a corrupt society does not process information well.

Many people believe we live in a society in an advanced state of moral decay. The family is disintegrating before our eyes. The family is the fundamental information-processing unit of our society, and also societies of most advanced animals. If families are dysfunctional, then the whole network is dysfunctional. Many people say that the way to keep families together is to make sure that everyone has a job. I think that it is jobs and schools that have torn families apart.

A man who has a job is a man who gets up most mornings and leaves his family. Jobs force families apart. The way to keep families together is simply to let them stay together. We shouldn't be offering monetary incentives for husbands and wives to desert their families for most of their waking lives; we should be offering incentives for families to work together.

Abortion and gay marriage are not the social forces that cause families to disintegrate. It is jobs and schools that cause families to fall apart. Abortion and gay marriage are the results of family disintegration. The government likes for everyone to have a job because it is easy to collect taxes from employees. Governments around the world are sacrificing families on the altar of tax revenues.

Governments like for everyone to go to government school to control what they think, but government school is the biggest impediment to transfer of true and relevant information between the generations.

There are many ways of stating the simple truth that honesty is the best policy.