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Anaylse of the critiques of Religion and Morality.

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Introduction

ANALYSE THE CRITIQUES OF RELIGION AND MORALITY The question that first arises when considering the link between religion and morality is whether someone can truly be moral without necessitating the existence of God? However, when high levels of moral behaviour are found outside the framework of any religious belief or teaching it seems hard follow Aquinas's line of reasoning that goodness is somehow 'a reflection of the supreme goodness of God'. As Bertrand Russell points out, this suggests that 'a man who loves what is truly good, loves god even if he doesn't advert to God'. In fact, isn't doing what is 'good', simply in the hope a divine reward, immoral and selfish in itself? Dawkins states that if someone needs God holds in order to be moral - to abstain from 'robbery, rape and murder' - then they are unveiling a fairly shocking characteristic. Firstly, it would seem that what needs to be considered is the nature of a morality if it is based on the Devine. Plato in his 'Euthyphro dilemma' asks the question 'is X good because God loves it or does God love X because X is good?' Therefore, for Plato we are left with two options, either an action such as murder is simply wrong because God commands or murder is wrong in its self? ...read more.

Middle

In relation to such events, Richard Dawkins states that 'modern morality, wherever else it comes from, does not come from the Bible.' Therefore, it is proposed, that Christians 'cheery pick' Holy Scripture, abstracting only those moral values conforming to the 'cultural norms' of our secular society. Certainly, Christians don't follow some of the commands in Levitcus to stone disobedient children or not eat shellfish. Michael Tanner states that 'the content was evidently for the continuance of the tribe, whose living conditions were vastly different in many ways from ours.' Therefore, the moral principles in the bible are bound to seem quite strange since they have been removed from their original context; this meaning that they have little use for situations in our modern society. For this reason Bertrand Russell describes religion as the 'principle enemy of moral progress in the world.' In fact, far from Morality having any correlation to the existence of a Deity, Richard Dawkins maintains that religion is the main cause of evil in the world. In the 'the selfish gene' (1989) he tries to account for the adaptation of culture in terms of a Darwinian origin and hypothesized the 'meme'; this is any cultural entity replicating through exposure to humans, by a similar method of natural selection, if it tends to promote biological survival. ...read more.

Conclusion

Furthermore, Dawkins in his book 'the selfish gene' (1989) adds that our moral 'altruistic' behaviour (selfless welfare for others) has a biological Darwinian origin. The contention is that the gene serves to guarantee its own survival and replicate itself. Hence, a gene that programs the individual to favour its own genetic kin (organisms with the same genes) has a higher probability of generating copies of itself. For this reason animals may care for, defend, warn of danger and share resources with its fellow individuals. In addition to this he adds reciprocal altruism, a 'you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours' principle; this meaning that we will be altruistic between our own species, and even others, in the intention of repayment. Kinship and reciprocal altruism for Dawkins are the 'twin pillars' for a Darwinian explanation of morality. To this he further adds such things as the 'power of reputation' in our culture for being altruistic; we want to be seen as 'good'. The Darwinian survival value being that we will not just be a good reciprocator but will have a reputation of being a good reciprocator. Therefore, Morality could be described as little more than a set of best practices, Moral terms such as "right" actually meaning 'best for survival' in terms of the Homosapien species. ...read more.

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