Running head: MORALITY AND RELIGION
Does morality need religion?
February 29, 2012
To many individuals, morality and religion are two related but distinct ideas. To be specific, morality consists of principles set by societal norms concerning the distinction between right and wrong and good and bad behaviour among persons. Alternatively, religion involves the relationship between human beings and a transcendent reality or a superhuman controlling power, God. In many societies in the past and present, the idea of God is used to help reinforce moral codes as valuable and vital through rituals and methods of presenting the teachings of God. By many, religion is used to instil fear in others who do not act or behave moral. Consequently, using fear as a potent tool, people begin to act moral because they believe that if they do not, social chaos will fall upon them, as there will be nothing left to govern society. In contradiction, some people, usually Atheist, find the concept of faith as comical when they question the existence of God. Through the examination of the books, The Evolution of Morality and Religion and The Two Sources of Morality and Religion along with various web sources, it is apparent that religion is a reinforcement for morality as it is conditioned into humans since birth, it is how people choose to integrate their religious beliefs into reality and it acts as a contributing factor in our daily survival in today’s civilization. Where does it come from? The need to be moral when questioned with the simplest of enquiries or the largest of struggles. It is in human nature, part of our human heart and brain. Morality is conditioned into human nature since birth through the process of evolution. Since the dawn of early civilization, society has learned the importance and significance of religion and morality through religious institutions. Then as the people transition through life, adolescence to parenthood, society influences their ideology towards the values of morality and religions which then in turn are taught to their children, who are easily persuaded towards what is right or wrong, good or bad. Firstly, today, we all imagine ourselves as the driving force of our own destiny, capable of determining our own faith, religion and morality, but do we truly know what is right or wrong, or does a force larger than ourselves lead us to its direction. Society is often understood as the basic structure and interactions of a group of people or the network of relationships between entities. People, in general, see religion and society as completely separate entities. Although this point of view may appear correct, a closer look at religion and the moral values instilled in society tell us that they are not separate, but are intricately interconnected. In today’s civilization, religion is inherent within many aspects of humanity, as religious institutions affect morality in areas such as politics, economics and cultures. For example, “the relationship between religion, morals and society can be seen in Islamic religion and Muslim social culture, Christianity and economics, and Buddhism and politics” (n.a n.d). Each of these religions uses the sacred texts in their religious institutions’ on morality to influence society. For example, the Islamic holy text, the Qur’an, states that “Allah's apostle gave the judgment that a male or female should be given in Qisa [story] for an abortion case of a woman from the tribe of Bani Lihyan (as blood money for the fetus) but the lady on whom the penalty had been imposed died, so the Prophets ordered that her property be inherited by her offspring and her husband and that the penalty be paid by her Ashaba [companion]” (Qur’an - Hadith - Sahih al-Bukhari). Abortion, a moral issue in society, is deemed sinful in the Islamic religion; hence, it is apparent that Muslim’s use the Qur’an as their guide towards social...
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