Possible relationships between religion and morality:
- Morality is derived from religion
- Morality and religion are two distinct entities
- Morality and religion are opposed to one another
- Religion is immoral
1 of 6
Morality as dependent on religion
Divine command theory:
- Something is good/bad, right/wrong because God says so
- Adv.- provides a source of authority for moral absolutes
- Disadv.- how can God's will be known?
- e.g. Ten Commandments, Jesus' sermon on the mount
St Thomas Aquinas:
- 4th of his 5 ways to prove God put forward in 'Summa Theologica'-moral argument
- We can observe varying degrees of goodness in the world
- The source of this goodness must be some perfect, absolute goodness from which it all proceeds (Plato's theory of forms)
- This we can call God
2 of 6
Morality as dependent on religion, cont.
- Humans has a categorical imperative (ought) to search for the highest good - summum bonum - in order to bring about a perfect society
- However that is impossible to achieve in this life
- However 'ought' implies 'can'
- Therefore we require immortal souls and an afterlife to achieve summum bonum which God can provide
3 of 6
St Thomas Aquinas:
- Conscience is a device given to us by God to help disitinguish right from wrong
- The main difficulty is differentiating between the two
- Reason for evil deeds is that mistakes are made and a false good is followed
- Syndersis- awareness of moral principles
- Conscienta- distinguishing between the two and make a decision
- Conscience is the final moral decision maker
- It was put there by God and so must be obeyed
- Because your conscience says so is an adaquate justification for doing something
- Conscience is developed through experiances, especially those occurring in childhood
- An over-active conscience can be negative because it represses natural urges
4 of 6
Morality and religion as independent
- Put forward in Plato's 'The Euthyphro' in which Socrates discusses morality
- Is something good because God loves it?
- If so, then the statement 'God is good' makes no sense
- It would be like saying 'good is good'
- This makes goodness/morality arbitrary
- Does God love something because it is good?
- If so, good comes from somewhere else other than God
- God is not omnipotent
- Plato as Socrates argues that God loves something because it is lovable
- Therefore saying that the two are indpendent
5 of 6
Morality and religion as opposed
- Crusades and inquisitions have been done in the name of God
- "Such evil deeds could religion provoke"
- Bertrand Russell
- "principal enemy of moral progress in the world"
- Preventing the ending of wars
- Preventing scientific and moral progress
- Preventing children from getting a rational education
- Put under house arrest for his scientific theories
- holds back scientific progress
- David Hume
- "errors in religion are dangerous, those in philosophy only ridiculous
- Religion is the source for many moral absolutes e.g. Mother Theresa, Ghandi, MLK
- Evil happens whithout religion- evil comes from people, not religion
6 of 6