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RELIGION AND MORALITY Two revision summaries can be found here for Religion and Morality.

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1 RELIGION AND MORALITY Two revision summaries can be found here for Religion and Morality.

2  The three views concerning the relationship between religion and morality Morality is linked to God directly. Morality is linked to God indirectly. Morality is not linked to God.  Divine Command Theory  The views of Kant and Aquinas  Conscience  Plato and the Euthyphro Dilemma  Arguments for the relationship between religion and morality and critiques. WHAT DO YOU NEED TO KNOW?

3  It has often been claimed that there is a link between religion and morality. If we think of religion as the source of morals, then it seems difficult to live without religion.  However, if the link between religion and morality is criticised, then there may be good grounds for atheism. Perhaps we don’t need God to be good. THE PROBLEM

4  It seems that the making of moral decisions in unavoidable, yet religion can be optional.  Since the 18 th century, there seems to have been more emphasis on autonomy where even ethical theories (Utilitarianism) has acknowledged secularisation.  Many accept that there are many non religious people who live perfectly moral lives. CHANGE IN PERSPECTIVES

5  Divine command theory is the view that actions are right or wrong simply because God commands or prohibits them. Unless God told us not to steal, stealing would be acceptable. Only direct revelation such as Scripture can give us fixed and firm moral instruction. Emil Brunner describes this as, “The Good consists in always doing what God wills at any particular moment.” Critics see this approach as disenfranchising atheists from the outset since they do not look to divine revelation for their guidance. Although you could argue that we live in a society which is build on many religious traditions. Immanuel Kant is critical of Divine Command Ethics as he believed that, “Even the Holy One of the Gospel must first be compared to our idea of moral perfection before we can recognise him as such.” Basil Mitchell argued with him and suggested that, “Christ is not to be evaluated on a moral scale.” DIVINE COMMAND THEORY

6 Lots of traditional values seem to originate from the Bible… The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20), which include the prohibition of idolatry, murder, and jealousy. Jesus’ command: “do unto others as you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7) “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5) But with the decline of religion in the west in the 19 th century, some began to wonder whether moral values would also decline. Perhaps people would start doing whatever they wanted. The famous Russian author Dostoevsky considered that this might happen. Through one of his characters he makes the following statement… “If God is dead, everything is permitted”

7 THE VIEW THAT THERE IS A LINK Immanuel Kant believed moral actions requires the existence of God. In the ‘moral argument’ for God, we acknowledge that the greatest good (summum bonum) occurs when the greatest virtue meets with the greatest happiness. To believe that such is possible, we have to accept the existence of a benevolent and powerful God. Without the existence of God, supreme goodness would be an unrealisable dream. Our sense of duty demands, “the exact coincidence of happiness and morality.” We must therefore assume the existence of a God who will secure this. Note: Kant claimed his theory was not dependent in belief in a deity??

8  Our God given nature has a telos (purpose or end.) Astley, “we ought to behave in a way that promotes God’s intentions in his creation as shown in God’s design of our nature.”  These rules can be seen in the primary precepts. You follow your reason which can be applicable to atheists also who can observe a natural law in society. One of the precepts demands that we worship God which is what makes this theory dependent on religion. THOMAS AQUINAS – NATURAL MORAL LAW

9 Goodness → God → Man God → Goodness → Man DOES GOD COMMAND GOD X BECAUSE IT IS GOOD? OR IS X GOOD BECAUSE GOD COMMANDS IT? THE EUTHYPHRO DILEMMA

10 Socrates’ Question In Plato’s dialogue, the Euthyphro, Socrates asks Euthyphro about piety and the gods. Which follows on from which? Do the gods make piety, or fit in with it? “Is what is pious loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved?” (Euthyphro 10 A-B) Modern philosophers of religion have rephrased this as an issue in religion and morality: ‘Does God command what is good because it is good, or is good because God has commanded it?’ We could give a ‘God-centred’ answer and say that God is responsible for all morality. The trouble is, we can think of things which intuitively seem to be wrong (murder, rape), yet if God were to command them then they would have to be right. Surely ‘good’ has a value beyond ‘whatever God says it is’. Not even the Bible can justify what is wrong. In Deuteronomy 7, the Israelites are commanded to murder thousands and “show no mercy”. That cannot be right, can it? A purely God-centred answer is flawed.

11 SOCRATES’ ANSWER Doing the right thing is different from doing what the gods approve of. “What is morally right is not necessarily always pious.” Socrates gives an ethics-centred answer to his dilemma. He argues that morality is something independent of the divine and in no way reliant upon God. This makes his friend Euthyphro uncomfortable, so he makes his excuses and leaves. The view is controversial, because it seems to make little room for religion. Morality, studied by philosophers, is now superior to the teachings of religion. Basically, his argument is that we are able to think of morality without any reference to God. Socrates’ main argument in favour of his view is that the Greek gods (like Zeus) have set a bad example in stories of their rivalry. It is a critique of religion and morality. Could we say something similar of the Bible? Jeff Astley, “Tomorrow God might command us to torture our children to death, and on this view we would be doing our duty.”

12 THE COMMAND TO SACRIFICE ISAAC How can we justify this account? According to Soren Kierkegaard, faith demand an obedience to God that suspends the ethical (as with the command to sacrifice Isaac.) According to Karl Barth, the task of a religious Person is to respond to the ethic even if you cannot understand it. (Would this response justify the actions of extremists.) Dietrich Bonhoeffer commented, “the knowledge of good and evil seems to be the aim of all ethical reflection. The first task of Christian Ethics is to invalidate this knowledge.” The only true ethics acknowledged are divine ethics, Which cannot be judged by human ethics. “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)

13  Socrates seems to give a pretty solid argument, but there are a number of objections we may give…  Firstly, if we ignore the immorality of the Greek gods, could we not believe in a God who is perfectly good? The argument is based on stories of wrong-doing which we need not accept.  Secondly, Robert Adams has given a “modified divine command theory” which seeks to defeat Socrates’ arguments. He states that “it is logically possible that God should command cruelty for its own sake… but unthinkable that God should do so.” When believers say that ‘God is good’, they mean that ‘God is kind’. Therefore, cruel actions would conflict with what believers assume about God and so for those of faith are not a genuine possibility for God. If you refer to Job and Abraham- they did not object to God’s command. They seemed to understand his intentions (a type of religious experience.) RESPONSES TO PLATO AND SOCRATES

14  Use the following headings to complete your mind-map:  What are the origins of morality? Include autonomy, heteronomy and theonomy.  What do religions have to say about morality? Include brief notes on the distinctive characteristics of the ethics of each religion. Include notes on a discussion about whether or not religion persuades people to be moral.  Morality is linked to God directly as he commands moral behaviour. Include brief notes on the Euthyphro Dilemma: whether God commands moral laws because they are good or whether moral laws are good because God commands them. Make sure you mention points for and against these arguments.  Morality is linked to God indirectly as knowledge about what is good comes from him. Make sure you mention points for and against this argument.  Morality is linked to God indirectly as he motivates us to behave morally. Make sure you mention points for and against this argument.  Morality is not linked to religion. Include brief notes on those who argue that morality is a result of evolution, it is a result of living with others and that it is a result of how we feel. MAKE YOUR OWN MIND-MAP


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