addressalign-toparrow-leftarrow-rightbackbellblockcalendarcameraccwcheckchevron-downchevron-leftchevron-rightchevron-small-downchevron-small-leftchevron-small-rightchevron-small-upchevron-upcircle-with-checkcircle-with-crosscircle-with-pluscrossdots-three-verticaleditemptyheartexporteye-with-lineeyefacebookfolderfullheartglobegmailgooglegroupshelp-with-circleimageimagesinstagramlinklocation-pinm-swarmSearchmailmessagesminusmoremuplabelShape 3 + Rectangle 1ShapeoutlookpersonJoin Group on CardStartprice-ribbonShapeShapeShapeShapeImported LayersImported LayersImported Layersshieldstartickettrashtriangle-downtriangle-uptwitteruserwarningyahoo

LAAG TALK:(Part 1) Man the Moral Animal: The biological roots of morality

NB: Event is on FRIDAY, (not the usual 2nd wednesday of the month)

Man the Moral Animal: The biological roots of morality (PART 1)

Following his very popular talks last year , we're delighted to have Graham Bell returning as our speaker this month.

This talk expands further and this time concentrates on the naturalistic nature of morality and its biological origins in humans, and is part 1of the talk (with part 2 coming in May).

This also has a connection to Graham's talk last year on humanism ( what are 'Humanistic' ethics, where do they come from?, Where ought they come from?), and will also provide facts and alternative theories about the freewill vs determinism debate. MORE BELOW, INCLUDING SOME INTERESTING VIDEOS


Graham Bell is a retired Physics teacher, and is part of LAAG's Organisers Team.


The origin of moral values has been the subject of almost endless dispute. One tradition suggests that they may be the thoughts in the mind of God; another that they are eternal philosophical truths to be reached by rational reflection; and a third that they are social conventions. In this talk, Graham Bell presents the scientific view that the precursors of morality evolved of necessity in all species of social mammal; and that, although human morality has evolved to become much more complex and sophisticated, its roots lie here.

As a consequence of the agricultural revolution and beginning human settlement some 10,000 years ago, community size and density increased requiring additional social and moral rules, this time not derived directly from biology, to enforce greater group cohesion.  It is clear that organised religion emerged many tens of millions of years after morality. Possibly religion built upon morality by expanding social scrutiny of individual behaviour to include supernatural agents, reaching its zenith in monotheism by reducing the 24/7 surveillance of human behaviour and thought to that of a single ‘policeman in the sky’.

There will be insufficient time in the talk to present some evidence. To see how psychologists test the apparent moral discernment of babies aged only 3 months, watch this 13 minute video.

For a demonstrations of moral behaviour in animals, watch this 17 minute video. The last 3 minutes are quite unmissable!



£5  non members/ Guests/ non RSVP'd
£3  LAAG members, £2 NUS (RSVP'd)

Please note:

  • People who are no shows more than twice in a year (from September 2013 onwards) will not be eligible for discount, so please update RSVP's ;-). Obviously this doesn't include if you are a no show unavoidably- we're aiming this at discourtesy and/or laziness only ;-)
  • RSVP facility will close automatically, at 17:00 on the day of the event. ★★ If you have a genuine issue after that time, or are a 'maybe' for some reason, no worries of course but please comment in the boxes below & that'll be just fine.
  • This is guide only & we won't be draconican, but it is a courtesy that shouldn't need to be asked for, especially when it possibly denies others from attending fully booked events.


19:00- 19:20 General arrival upstairs (please get drinks and order any food DOWNSTAIRS first)

19:30 Discussion /Talk starts PROMPTLY, till latest 21:30 (but flexible)

Social time, drinks & nibbles, till 22:30


The route to the Devereux Pub from Temple station is very easy and only 5 mins - but we've shown it on the photo below as it can be a bit tricky to find the first time - it involves a pedestrian route going through a covered stone flight of steps.



  • Feel free to add your own questions or comments in the comments boxes below (these comments boxes are for pre and post event discussion TO DO WITH THIS PARTICULAR MEETUP - please use the forum to start discussions about anything else)
  • Though these midweek events are usually structured talks/debates/discussions, they are nevertheless fairly informal; so the bar is usually open upstairs in the break and feel free to order food and have it during the event (simple but pretty good we've been told).
  • We start the discussion promptly at 19:30. As a courtesy to others, please try to turn up by 19:20 ... if at all possible :-)   If a late arrival can't be helped, no worries, just come in quietly :-)
  • The usual end time for discussion is 21:30pm, but this is flexible if people want to continue with the discussion, and usually we have some social time afterwards until 10:30pm (or until the pub closes!)

The meetup fee goes towards costs of running the group and activism.

Join or login to comment.

  • Alan D.

    Following up on the question about ageing and dementia:

    January 17, 2015

  • Neil M.

    Interesting talk, particularly the Q&A afterwards.

    January 17, 2015

  • Oly G.

    I'm afraid I will have to pass sadly. Got a migraine and work I have to finish at home. Have fun guys!

    January 16, 2015

    • Georgi L.

      Hope you're better, Oly

      January 17, 2015

  • Georgi L.

    Thanks to Graham for an interesting talk, which opened up lots of questions! Do feel free to continue the conversation here if there are any other points you wanted to raise or discuss. Thanks to all for your participation and good to meet our newer members!

    Graham will be back in May for a follow-up talk which is interactive with quizzes etc.

    And don't forget the NEW MEMBERS' SOCIAL next friday, it's uslally quite a hoot :-) : And the informal discussion/sunday lunch on sun 25th " any such thing as religious moderates?" :

    1 · January 17, 2015

  • Adam

    Charlie Hebdo is sold by this French bookshop close to South Kensington.
    The might have a new delivery on Tuesday, it is still TBC.

    1 · January 16, 2015

  • Ajit

    Really sorry can't make it. If I come it will be well past 8.00 pm so not worth it. I will miss most of the talk.

    January 16, 2015

  • Rafa

    I might be 5 or 10 min late sorry!

    January 16, 2015

  • Bruce B.

    Absolutely gutted. I'm stuck in the office and won't be able to make it down before 21:00 now.

    January 16, 2015

  • Ian G.

    Rats, another one I can't get to. I am Monday to Thursday person in London. Another time.

    January 15, 2015

    • Georgi L.

      The vast majority are on the 2nd wed of each month.

      January 15, 2015

  • Roger

    I am so jealous as I will be working that night! Have a great one folks & good to see a lot of newcomers have signed up for it.

    1 · January 9, 2015

  • Alan D.

    Really looking forward to this - I'm currently running a study for my psychology degree on values and moral systems.

    1 · January 6, 2015

  • Georgi L.

    As Graham Bell is unavailable in December, this talk is moved to Jan slot ( exact date TBA)

    October 24, 2014

50 went

Your organizer's refund policy for LAAG TALK:(Part 1) Man the Moral Animal: The biological roots of morality

Refunds are not offered for this Meetup.

Optional Contribution

GBP10.00 to

This covers: This is to help with LAAG's activism and the Ministry of Reason project.

Payment is accepted using:

  • PayPal
  • Cash or check - “Please email us and we'll send details. Or see us at any LAAG own meetup (i.e. not EXTERNAL events etc.) Again if in doubt email us.

Refunds are not offered for this Meetup.

People in this
Meetup are also in:

Sign up

Meetup members, Log in

By clicking "Sign up" or "Sign up using Facebook", you confirm that you accept our Terms of Service & Privacy Policy