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Whether morality and religion relate or not is an ongoing debate. Some argue that the two are inseparable while others claim that one, morality, can exist without religion. Statistics reveal that these suppositions bases on nothing else but the peoples’ understanding of morality and religion.
This shows that the relationship between the two varies with people. While a believer will pose that the two function as a couple, a non-believer, on the other hand will hold that morality is independent of religion. It is therefore deducible that what is morally right is not necessarily a God’s command. It is sometimes from the people. This overview provides a separate detailed study of the two as well as their relationship.
Morality in its simplest terms denotes a form of behaviour that controls peoples’ aims, decisions, as well as their doings. It helps in making a clear cut between what ought to be done, planned, or intended, and what ought not to. Morality varies based on cultural, religious, philosophical matters, among other matters. Each of these areas has its own structure of morals commonly referred to as the moral code. Some commonly abused terms on this subject are immorality and amorality.
While the former is the reverse of morality, the latter denotes scepticism of a particular moral law. Following the variability of morality with people, there exist no clear-cut difference between what is right and what is wrong. All these are people’s creations based on their morals. Therefore, it stands out that what a certain culture terms as good may be the other way round for another.
“Religion is the belief in and worship of a god or gods, or a set of beliefs concerning the origin and purpose of the universe. It is commonly regarded as consisting of a person’s relation to God or to gods or spirits” (Regnerus & Burdette 2006, 175-194). Religions vary in their ciphers and beliefs but all depict their relationship with their deities.
Each religion has a specific set of code, which is believed to originate from their god or gods. They all act, aim, or intend to, based on what is in the code. They use it as the source of their moral values as well as a basis of the kind of behaviour they ought to portray to the public and which they ought not to.
This signifies a relationship between morality and religion in that morality makes use of religion but not the other way round. This on the other hand does not deprive morality of its ability to stand-alone as the following paragraph clarifies. Since they just draw some and not all the religious codes and couple them with their moral values, which vary per people, it then stands out that what is morally right is not necessarily a command by God.
There is a debate on whether morality has anything to do with religion. Does morality rely entirely on religion or religion entirely on morality? The answer depends on how the two relate and will vary with people. Given a scenario where a person steals from another and probably punished as a result, people tend to first enquire about the religious status of the particular person.
This on the other hand signifies that, according to them, if the person is religiously upright, he/she cannot afford such an offence. What comes out of this is a claim that religion and morality are related but this is a common misconception. Morality in itself can or can fail to contain a mixture of both religious and other moral laws.
The culture, philosophy, or religion decides on whether to couple some religious morals with theirs or not. This makes it clear that there is a possibility of morality to stand alone even without religion.
The person’s background people and particularly the parents only determine the relationship between the two. Any parent ought to equip his/her child with a rough picture of what morality is. If he/she has a religious background then he/she will teach the child about religion. This is what virtually all parents do, hence relating morality and religion.
A group of people argues that there is entirely no affiliation between morals and religion. This is a common view of humanists and non-believers.
Muslims, Jews, and Christians on the other hand hold that morality and religion are inseparable. Plato came up with a theory entitled, ‘The Divine Command Theory’. This theory is a follow up of a question that triggers the minds of many. Will something become good because God has said so or is it that God has said so because it is good? Considering the instance of the atheists, they believe but not in the existence of God.
What they term as good or morally upright is not determined by religion. On the other hand, it is worthy noting that what they do is not always against those who believe in God. Most of their moral actions conform to those of the believers. This then drives home the claim that what is morally right is not always from God, picturing morality as independent of religion.
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Philosophers, Plato inclusive, argue that religion relies on morality and not the reverse. This follows from the divine command theory. 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).
Given the scenario of Abraham of the Bible whom God commands to offer his son as a sacrifice, though he is willing, that is not the case for the majority. If people receive this kind of a suggestion, it will not be a surprise that 100% will reject it regardless of its godly origin.
It is a religiously right because God is saying it but it must be related to the already laid down morals before it is declared right or wrong. This then shows how religion depends on morality. In addition, whatever is righteous is approved to people that it is accepted before God. This then implies that morals values remain accepted by God since they are excellent just like God, showing that what is religiously upright has to be morally upright and not the reverse.
The issue of morality and religion is no less than a broad subject. While the two may appear the same thing to some, to others it is the reverse. Following the variations of both morals with people, the relationship between the two is also subject to variations. Some people believe in God while others do not, yet all share virtues. Therefore, Morals do not necessarily come from God and thus it is worthy concluding that what is morally good is not always a command by God.
Jonathan, B. The Divine Command Theory. Retrieved from <www.oppapers.com/subjects/divine-command-theory-page2.html> on 19, October 2010.
Regnerus, M. D., & Burdette, A. 2006. Religious Change and Adolescent Family Dynamics. The Sociological Quarterly 47 (1): 175–194.