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Examine two critiques of the relationship between religion and morality and
evaluate their effectiveness . (40 marks)
One critique of the relationship between religion and morality is that
morality is dependent on religion. This is said to be theonomous because
humans can use their own reasoning along with God moral commands in
order to base their judgements on morality. The whole idea of morality
being dependant on religion is that God is said to be the only source of
goodness in which we should obey his commands. An scholar Paul Tillich, it is
the perfect unity of one's own outlook on life with God's law for human life.
For religious believers, morality comes from God and we cannot live a moral
life apart from God. Scholar Jonathan Berg writes:
`One may reason that if God created the universe and everything that is in
it absolutely everything then he created the good. Were it not for him,
there just would not be any such thing as goodness. So ethics, being
essentially concerned with the good, would depend directly on God for its
We see God commanding what is good and wrong in the book of Exodus
and in the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas.
In Exodus, God is portrayed as the source of all goodness in the universe
when he gives the 10 Commandments to Moses and the Israelites `Do not
kill' ( Exodus 20:13).
For Thomas Aquinas, the main reason of Natural Moral Law, God is seen as
the source of all goodness in the universe and that we can use the moral
law through exercising our reason and to do `good'. Natural Law is
theonomous. In other words ` Good' is to be intrinsic because we should
have a priori knowledge. E.g. `Good' is good because it fulfils and end or
Divine command theory supports the view that morality is dependent on
religion. The divine command theory is religious texts such as the bible,
torah, Qur'an which states God's commands is the way in which people
should live their lives.
The divine command theory assumes that God provides the moral
framework for the basis of right and wrong. If God was taken out of the
equation of morality, then everything would be morally permissible.
Therefore God must be the only source of morality.
The divine command theory is also concerned with moral rightness, with
following God will. Whereas moral wrongness is disobeying the will of God.
Believers see that following God laws has eschatological implications of
obeying being rewarding in heaven and disobeying being punished in hell.
This is supported by the bible in Mathew 5:29, `So if your right eye causes
you to sin, take it out and throw it away. It is better to lose part of your body
then for you whole body to be thrown into hell'.
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Morality can depend on the type of religious communities e.g
Fundamental Christians might believe that homosexuality is `wrong'
whereas a liberal Christian might not say its wrong. Therefore its
morally indecisive and suggest that religion is not the only factor
that influences right and wrong.
Divine command theory allows people to exercise freewill as well as
following rules. Through religious laws we can exercise our
conscience to carry out good.
In the book of exodus God explicated commands people not to kill.…read more
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Now let's examine the second part of this dilemma that (x) good is good
because it is commanded by God. nothing is good until God commands it.
This, though, raises a problem too: if nothing is good until God commands it,
then what God commands is completely morally arbitrary; God has no moral
reason for commanding as he does; morally speaking, he could just as well
have commanded anything else.…read more