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(a) Examine the reasons why some argue that morality is linked to religion (30 mks) (b) Examine and discuss the reasons for arguing that morality should not be linked to religion (15 mks)

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Introduction

RELIGIOUS ETHICS (a) Examine the reasons why some argue that morality is linked to religion (30 mks) (b) Examine and discuss the reasons for arguing that morality should not be linked to religion (15 mks) Ans. (a) In seeking to determine the link between morality and religion it is necessary to look back into previous civilizations such as those of Egypt and India where the existence of God and the divine world was almost unquestioned, and the after-death fate of human beings was decided by the purity and goodness of their conduct during this life. In India for example the principle of universal moral order, called dharma, is to be found in the operation of natural law and in the laws of morality. According to Indian thought, all actions have consequences. As we sow, so shall we reap, and the fruits of actions are like their seed : if we act with harmful or selfish intent, then not only will other people be hurt, but we also suffer in the long run. If we act with benevolent intent, not only will others be helped, but our actions will purify our hearts and bring us closer to God. In ancient Greece however the philosophers began to challenge and question the link between morality and religion and indeed began to question religious belief itself. Plato argued that virtue is knowledge and that people will be virtuous if they know what virtue is, and that evil or vice is the result of ignorance. ...read more.

Middle

It makes no sense for us to be afraid when we violate the moral law if we are not afraid of someone to whom we are answerable for our disobedience. It is possible that the guilt we feel is guilt at having disappointed or betrayed our partners, children or employers, but the believer argues that human sin and rebellion, even if it affects someone else, is ultimately rebellion against God - sin - and it is to him that we are ultimately answerable. The German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724 - 1804) argued that the moral law demanded the existence of God. The moral law, to be just, required that human beings be rewarded or punished according to their deeds. However, this was evidently not the case in the world, where evil people prospered and the good suffered. An afterlife was therefore necessary to redress the balance, and God must exist to make this adjustment and to satisfy the demands of the moral law. For the Christian therefore morality and religion are inseparably linked. The Bible contributes to ethics in the following ways : * It gives Christians a theological basis for moral obligations, in terms of the individual`s obligations to do the will of God. * It provides Christians with an account of the relation of morality to God`s purposes in creation, explaining how God`s purpose is hindered by wrong living and how God`s grace can restore righteous living. ...read more.

Conclusion

They would also argue that Christian ethics are repressive - ie. sometimes Christian ethics are viewed as a set of 'do nots', interpreted in a life-denying way, making them appear restrictive and curtailing individual autonomy and freedom. Hector Hawton (humanist) explains humanism`s rejection of moral absolutes when he stated 'Humanists in rejecting divinely-ordained moral absolutes, opt instead for relative autonomy for man in relation to ethical considerations. The humanist emphasis on free-thinking and reason - also explains its rejection of moral absolutes (which in the humanist view are an insult to human intelligence - which the religions mistrust). Clearly we must recognise that it is possible to be moral without being religious and that therefore morality can exist independently of religion. The most ardent atheist can live a life of good works, clean living, integrity and compassion, and will be able to explain why the moral standards by which he / she lives are the best possible standards for humankind. To suggest otherwise is not only arrogant but also would be to ignore a wealth of evidence which humanists are quick to cite - where religion has contributed to many unethical / immoral activities (eg. millions killed over the centuries inWars of Religion not to mention religious sectarian bitterness in N.Ireland, the involvement of religious people in the Slave trade in 19th century, forced conversions of native peoples of Latin America by `Christian' missionaries, abuse of children by Christian clergy etc.) throughout history. D.McCready 14.05.01 ...read more.

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