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What is the relationship between religion and morality?

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Introduction

What is the relationship between religion and morality? Humanists and atheists see no connection between religion and ethics, arguing that it is possible to be ethical without being religious. However, others contend that ethics and religion are inseparable, a common view held by Muslims, Christians, Hindus and Jews. An atheist would hold the view that morals are independent of God (autonomy.) Humanists hold strong ethical beliefs, however, deny the existence of a supernatural being. A key question here is, do morals come from God? If not, where do they come from? Do religious people stand a better chance of being moral than non- religious people? Plato asked the key question 'is x good because God commands it or does God command it because x is good? The view that moral rules are true by virtue of being commanded by God is called the divine command theory. 'The good consists in always doing what God wills at any particular moment.' Emil Brunner. The philosopher Gottfried Leibniz writes: '... in saying that things are not good by any rules of goodness, but merely the will of God, it seems to me that one destroys, without realizing it, all the love of God and all his glory. ...read more.

Middle

Since a religious person does his good deed not necessarily for its own sake, but because he has been instructed to do so by God, by Kant's definition, his act is non- moral. Kant's definition is a challenge to religion for it suggests that one can be both 'irreligious' and moral. Acting autonomously, doing right for its own sake, suggests that the right to choose what is right. It is contended that religion provides people with a reason to be moral, because if there were no God, then everything would be permitted or permissible. If we don't have God or religion, then we need to justify acting morally. Arguable, we could act morally to do our duty to others, or perhaps on the desire to have a civilized society. However, it could be reasonable to act selfishly and look after you own best interests. Peter Singer states that 'Why act morally cannot be given an answer that will provide everyone with overwhelming reasons for acting morally. Ethically indefensible behavior is not always irrational. We will probably always need the sanctions of the law and social pressure to provide additional reasons against serious violations of ethical standard.' In conclusion, we all have beliefs concerning the nature of humanity. ...read more.

Conclusion

Currently, Religious education is not part of the national curriculum, but by law all schools have to provide it.' The qualifications and curriculum authority, which regulates the curriculum, is currently drawing up a national framework for religious education. The report comes as French politicians voted to ban all religious symbols, including Islamic headscarves, Christian crosses and Jewish skullcaps from schools. But, recent research suggests that 2/3 of schools aren't providing sufficient religious education, and inspectors have warned that as a result, 'spiritual values' were not being fixed in the children's minds. In conclusion, although it would seem religion is a plausible subject to teach, only 7% of Britain's populations are regular church goers. Therefore, it could be argued that teaching religious studies to children would be of no help. Indeed, perhaps the morality of society is more linked in with society as a whole, and the behavior of the majority. Although it could be said that religion helps combat prejudices within a society, religion should not be enforced on youngsters. Perhaps a system of philosophy or 'social' education would be a better system, offering children the same set of principles as religion and the same set of guidelines, as a religion would offer, without forcing them to practice religious ideas such as communion. 1 ...read more.

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