Religion and morality

HideShow resource information

The Moral Argument

God must exist, otherwise everything is permissible. Bear this is mind when looking at the relationship.

1 of 9

The Euthyphro Dilemma

Does God command X because it is good or is X good because God demands it?

The first position: X commanded because it is good.

Issues directly with this first stance:

  • How does one deal in situations when God does not give a direct command?

The second position: X is good because God commanded it.

Issues directly with the second stance:

  • If God simply demands it because it is good- where does morality orginally come from?
  • Does God operate according to moral laws already structured in the universe?
  • Begs the question if he is limited to the laws of morality? Thus undermining the Judeo-Christian attribute of omnipotence.
2 of 9

Issues with the Euthyphro Dilemma

  • Moral behaviour becomes arbituary (dependent on other factors) if depended on God's commandments
  • If one argued that God would not command an immoral act eg. kill all children then we do not need God as a source of moral authority for we can judge morality for ourselves
  • How do we know whether we are correctly interpreting the given commands eg look at extremism and how they use holy scripture to back themselves up (kill homosexuals)
  • God cannot be all powerful for it is limited by reason
3 of 9

c) Kant

Focus for Kant is on duty (see Kantian ethics)

He offered an argument for the existence of God based on the existence of reality

1) God's existence os the only reason to be moral

2) He is required to achieve the ultimate aim of reality; the greatest good/ 'summum bonum'

3) All humans are have a duty (categorical imperative) to seek this summum bonum

4) Moral perfection will not be achieved in this life

5) An afterlife is need to achieve summum bonum

6) God must exist in order to provide the afterlife so we can achieve our goal of morality.

4 of 9

Problematic issues

  • Is it possible to be religious not moral?
  • Is it possible to be moral not religious?
  • The relationship between God and goodness?
  • If God doesn't exist, then is everything permissable?
  • How far does moral teaching accurately reflect the intentions of God?
5 of 9

b) Aquinas

For Aquinas, God is the supreme source of goodness and therefore reality.

Goodness is reflected in us as we are made in God's image.

This is demonstrated in Aquinas' fourth way.

6 of 9

a) Divine Command Theory

This is a deontological approach - certain acts are wrong in themselves irrespective of the situation eg. lying.

DCT argues that:

  • God is the source of moral authority
  • Human reason is insignificant to God
  • God orders what is morally permissible and what is not


  • 'Thou shall not murder'
  • 'You shall not steal'
  • 'Guide us along the straight path'
7 of 9

The three main viewpoints on their relationship

1) Morality is dependent on religion

The ultimate source of moral authority comes from a divine figure, eg God.

2) Morality is independent of religion.

Morality does not orginate from religion; it is constructed from social and cultural viewpoints.

3) Religion has a negative impact on morality.

This is a very much Dawkins approach.

8 of 9

Support for the link

Support is provided from

A) Divine Command Theory

B) Aquinas

C) Kant

D) Conscience

9 of 9


No comments have yet been made

Similar Religious Studies resources:

See all Religious Studies resources »See all Ethics resources »