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Examine the key ideas of one critique of the link between religion and morality. To what extent does this critique effectively undermine the link between religion and morality?

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Introduction

´╗┐Examine the key ideas of one critique of the link between religion and morality. To what extent does this critique effectively undermine the link between 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? It has often been claimed that there is a link between religion and morality. If we think of religion as the source of morals, and then it seems difficult to live without religion. Dostoevsky said that ?Without religion, everything is allowed.? Presenting the idea that a supernatural authority is a necessary precondition for morality. 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?. Aquinas?s Fourth way does not suggest ?good? can be defined, all we know is that God is the supreme source of it and that it is his very essence to be perfectly good. Many have asserted that the link between religion and morality is not positive and it can be traced back to Plato?s Euthyphro Dilemma. However, critiques of the link between religion and morality have taken many forms such as; sociological and psychological. The Euthyphro Dilemma is a critique of the relationship between religion and morality, which highlights a number of problems associated with the idea that morality stems from God. ...read more.

Middle

Furthermore, if good is to be defined as what God commands, then the goodness of God himself is emptied of meaning and the commands of an omnipotent fiend would have the same claim on us as those of the ?righteous? Lord. ?The good consists in always doing what God wills at any particular moment.? Emil Brunner contemplated. This has the advantage of placing God clearly above morality - it is not an independent measure that exists separately of him, but it is under his control. However, it is perhaps the more problematic of the two positions, as suggested by famous biblical narratives such as God?s command to Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. While Kierkegaard reached the conclusion that faith is the highest virtue, as exemplified in Abraham?s willingness to sacrifice his son for what must have seemed at best a capricious God, at worst a malevolent one, John Habgood exposed the ?nagging doubt? that remains: ?if morality is supposed to be universal, can it really be discounted, even under such extreme pressure from God? To what extent does this critique effectively undermine the link between religion and morality? This critique undermines the link between religion and morality to a limited extent, as William Lane Craig has postulated, the Euthyphro Dilemma is a false dilemma because there is a third alternative. However, those such as Richard Dawkins have used the first horn to develop a straw man argument. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, this does not mean the morality of that action is reduced. Others have argued that Plato?s first horn undermines the link between religion and morality. Clearly in this case, God is not the guarantor of moral goodness and in some way his nature is qualified. He cannot bring goodness into being apart from the goodness that he accesses from outside himself. Therefore, this is surely not the traditional God of classical theism. However, William Lane Craig dismisses this and claims ?It?s not the case God wills something because it?s good nor it?s the case something is good because god wills it. God wills something because he is good. It is God?s own nature that determines what?s the good,? This shows that the Euthyphro Dilemma does not undermine the link between religion and morality, as the dilemma itself is not fully developed. To conclude, the Euthyphro Dilemma does not undermine the link between religion and morality. Despite Richard Dawkins criticising the link using the second horn of the Euthyphro Dilemma, he purposely focuses on certain parts of the Old Testament and uses them to change the definition of God. If the Old Testament is not entirely reliable and then the New Testament offers parables that society still bases moral standards on today, such as ?love thy neighbour?. Furthermore, although many question Christian intent when performing moral acts, due to the possibility of an eschatological reward, this does not apply to all Christians, therefore generalisation should not be the basis to which this criticism focuses on. ...read more.

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