What is the relationship between religion and morality? It is in my opinion that religion is dependant on morality and not the other way around. Through this, it can be stated that morality reinforces the development and evolution of religion. In this essay, I shall show that this is the case drawing from theories proposed by Plato, Kant and Berg.
According to Jonathan Berg, “…a way to construe ethics as depending on religion would be on the basis of a ‘Divine Command Theory’ of ethics, identifying the moral good with God’s Will or with what God commands.”(1) So then, if one were to link doing good as essentially doing God’s will, does this mean that one must always obey God’s will eventhough it may not seem to be a good act to us? Take, for example, the biblical story of Abraham and his son Isaac. God had commanded Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, to Him. If we were commanded to do such a thing now, it is quite likely that we would vehemently protest because we would perceive this as wrong. After all, did God Himself not lay down the Ten Commandments of which one of them says that ‘Thou shalt not kill’? Not only would we perceive this act to be morally wrong, but it would also contradict the very rules that God had made! In fact, society as a whole would probably perceive the person who would readily agree to sacrifice his own child to God as quite mad and immoral. Which means that we would look to our own established morals first before obeying such a command, even if God wills it.
In Euthyphro by Plato, Socrates says that “…that which is holy has been acknowledged by us to be loved of God because it is holy, not to be holy because it is loved.”(2) In other words, holy or moral acts are loved by God because they are good, since God is theoretically good, and not where it is moral because God loves it. Which can also mean that moral acts are already moral because they are moral and does not need to be an action loved by God to be moral, which...
References: 1-Jonathan Berg, “How could Ethics depend on Religion?’, in Singer (ed), A Companion to Ethics. (Blackwell, Cambridge) p. 525
2-Plate, “Euthyphro’, in B. Jowett (ed), Dialogues of Plato. (Oxford Press, Chicago) p. 311
3-Jonathan Berg, “How could Ethics depend on Religion?’, in Singer (ed), A Companion to Ethics. (Blackwell, Cambridge) p. 531
4-Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy 2005, Kant’s Philosophy of Religion, viewed 6 May 2008,
5-Jonathan Berg, “How could Ethics depend on Religion?’, in Singer (ed), A Companion to Ethics. (Blackwell, Cambridge a) p. 531
6 -(Blackwell, Cambridge b) p. 529
7-Vatican the Holy See, Considerations Regarding Proposals to give Legal Recognition to Unions between Homosexual Persons, viewed 7 May 2008, .
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