The Relationship Between Morality and Religion. Essay Example
The Relationship Between Morality and Religion. Essay Example

The Relationship Between Morality and Religion. Essay Example

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  • Pages: 5 (1288 words)
  • Published: October 23, 2017
  • Type: Research Paper
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What is the relationship between religion and morality? It is in my opinion that religion is dependant on morality and not the other way around. Through this, it can be stated that morality reinforces the development and evolution of religion. In this essay, I shall show that this is the case drawing from theories proposed by Plato, Kant and Berg. According to Jonathan Berg, “…a way to construe ethics as depending on religion would be on the basis of a ‘Divine Command Theory’ of ethics, identifying the moral good with God’s Will or with what God commands.

(1) So then, if one were to link doing good as essentially doing God’s will, does this mean that one must always obey God’s will eventhough it may not seem to be a good act to us? T


ake, for example, the biblical story of Abraham and his son Isaac. God had commanded Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, to Him. If we were commanded to do such a thing now, it is quite likely that we would vehemently protest because we would perceive this as wrong. After all, did God Himself not lay down the Ten Commandments of which one of them says that ‘Thou shalt not kill’?Not only would we perceive this act to be morally wrong, but it would also contradict the very rules that God had made! In fact, society as a whole would probably perceive the person who would readily agree to sacrifice his own child to God as quite mad and immoral. Which means that we would look to our own established morals first before obeying such a command, even if God

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wills it. In Euthyphro by Plato, Socrates says that “…that which is holy has been acknowledged by us to be loved of God because it is holy, not to be holy because it is loved.

(2) In other words, holy or moral acts are loved by God because they are good, since God is theoretically good, and not where it is moral because God loves it. Which can also mean that moral acts are already moral because they are moral and does not need to be an action loved by God to be moral, which supports my view that morality is not dependant on religion. The above also supports Kant as cited by Berg that “…moral actions cannot be prompted by any ulterior motives, such as the desire to obey God, but must be done simply on account of their intrinsic accord with unconditional, self-imposed moral principles. (3) Although I had stated earlier that religion is dependant on morality, “… an affirmation of God, made on the basis of what Kant terms “moral faith,” plays in human efforts to sustain conscientious moral endeavor throughout the course of life”(4). Which shows that without religion, or rather, without the belief that there is a God who punishes the evil-doer and rewards the good in the afterlife, there would be no reason to comply with a set of moral rules, as given by Berg, which says that “…God‘s approval (or disapproval) is the only reason for being moral. (5).

According to Harry Browne “…if the Unselfishness ideal is sound, there must be something unworthy in seeking to live your life as you want to live it. ” Therefore,

if happiness in one’s life is difficult to seek due to the demands of morality and being unselfish, why would one be motivated to perform moral acts, unless of course, one shall be rewarded after death with the promise of paradise or the gift of being reincarnated as a human again.So, this motivation to perform virtuous acts is mainly because there is a religion that provides the followers with a reward at the end. However, can it not also be said that religion was created as a means of asserting the importance of morality? And how would a religion be looked upon as good if it didn’t draw from already existing morals that the people of a society have agreed upon? Indeed, it would be much easier for a religion to be accepted if its teachings resonate with the moral code of a society.For example, if a religion where it is perfectly fine to abandon a baby because it is deformed is introduced into a society where this act of abandoning the infant is frowned upon or even enough to be punished for, said religion would be hard-pressed to survive.

As stated by Berg, “…while an act’s being good or not may have nothing to do with God, our knowing whether it is good or not might depend on God. ”(6) However, this cannot explain the existence of moral atheists.Atheists do not believe in God and if the above statement is true, we would have, on our hands, a large number of people who would gleefully do unscrupulous things without hesitation. For, if one does not believe in God, there would be no knowledge of


Subsequently, performing a good act would be a worthless thing to do. But our world is not filled with these morally depraved non-believers, is it? So it is clear that one can still be a perfectly moral person even if one doesn’t believe in the existence of God.As the world’s view on what is morally acceptable or unacceptable changes, they will, more often than not, be reflected in our religions. For example, homosexuality, in the context of the Christian religion, is perceived as a sin and even during a time when people were able to perform sexual acts with those of the same gender without fear of persecution, for example, in ancient rome, this act was discouraged and thought of as wrong by the Christians, as can be seen in the following sentence, “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable. in Leviticus, 18 : 22 of the Holy Bible. However, as homosexuality is becoming more and more accepted by the world today, so do the churches’ views, particularly the Catholic Church’s views, which have changed to become more tolerant as is shown in the following statement: “…men and women with homosexual tendencies must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity.

Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided…” (7) It is quite clear that some things have changed in this religion’s standpoint on homosexuals.If anything, it has, in a way improved the Catholic Church which echoes Socrates when he proposes the question that performing a holy act would benefit, or improve the gods. In this context, being more tolerant, which in itself is

considered a virtue, has benefited the Catholic Church. In conclusion, with the above reasons and arguments I have presented above, I have shown that religion is more dependant on morality and that as our views on what is moral changes, we will be able to influence even the most oldest of existing religions.References: 1-Jonathan Berg, “How could Ethics depend on Religion? ’, in Singer (ed), A Companion to Ethics. (Blackwell, Cambridge) p.

525 2-Plate, “Euthyphro’, in B. Jowett (ed), Dialogues of Plato. (Oxford Press, Chicago) p. 311 3-Jonathan Berg, “How could Ethics depend on Religion? ’, in Singer (ed), A Companion to Ethics. (Blackwell, Cambridge) p. 531 4-Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy 2005, Kant’s Philosophy of Religion, viewed 6 May 2008, <http://plato.

tanford. edu/entries/kant-religion/>. 5-Jonathan Berg, “How could Ethics depend on Religion? ’, in Singer (ed), A Companion to Ethics. (Blackwell, Cambridge a) p. 531 6-(Blackwell, Cambridge b) p. 529 7-Vatican the Holy See, Considerations Regarding Proposals to give Legal Recognition to Unions between Homosexual Persons, viewed 7 May 2008, <http://www.

vatican. va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20030731_homosexual-unions_en. html>.

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