Significance of Religion in Describing Morality
Over the years, there has been a debatable issue that concerns two topics usually viewed as almost being related: religion and morality. Although the two concepts seem different, religion has mainly been used to describe individuals’ morality. However, others claim that determining the morality of an individual does not depend entirely on whether one is religious and follows the doctrines of the religion. Usually, individuals with a religious concern rely on it when justifying morality. In contrast, those who do not have religious concerns may justify morality based just on a person’s deeds. Therefore, to understand the relationship between the two, it is pertinent that we get a deep insight into the two concepts. This article discusses the concepts of religious morality and religious non-morality and whether it is right to justify morality based on religion.
Individual attitude is usually influenced by various factors, including preference or tastes, prudence or group norms, and fads (Skitka et al., 2018). However, a large percentage of individual attitudes are linked to religious beliefs. Most of the developed attitudes towards certain practices are thus referred back to ones religious beliefs. This may be seen, for instance, when an individual is asked about a diabolical issue. They may refer to the bible or religious teachings to justify their stand. These attitudes, based on religious beliefs, are also contemporarily stronger than perhaps other attitudes.
The relation between morality and religion has been well defined in the Christian concept and is mainly linked to the Christian God. In this case, Christians describe God as a being with attributes such as omniscience, omnipotence, and moral perfection (Brown, 1963). There are numerous causes of pain, suffering, and all kinds of evil human actions today. However, Christians are expected to abide by the rules outlined in the holy book. Any actions that deviate from these set codes of conduct are therefore deemed evil-related and against God. In terms of human actions, religious morality can thus be described as any behavior or deed that is against the wishes of the supreme being.
Additionally, to describe religious morality, there need to be immoralities around to help distinguish the two. Brown (1963) also states that Christianity would be a false religion if their world were entirely moral (Brown, 1963). Evils are therefore present. Therefore, Christians, when they engage in them, are considered immoral. For instance, robbery is usually present even in the current world, and it is usually considered wrong if a Christian steals or commits any act that pertains to crime. Christians are therefore obliged to live towards perfection. In this case, perfectionism is considered a state where an individual only performs good deeds and may even become a role model to others.
Religious morality also holds that religion and faith are two inseparable concepts. Thus, faith is a source of moral concern (Skitka et al., 2018). Faith enables one to live according to the requirements as described in a particular religion. One of the requirements may be having values towards becoming righteous or perfection. In this case, religion may shape the values instilled in a person. Some commonly identified values are significant when describing the relationship between humans and their neighbors. Such may include kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control. These values influence individuals to develop a sense of meaning and purpose that, in turn, bolsters the concept of morality (Skitka et al., 2018). Individuals may therefore be considered moral based on whether an individual demonstrates these values.
Non-religious morality is slightly different from the religious one as it mainly focuses on human actions without the basis of religious judgment. This type of morality is therefore not confined to religious teachings. Morality is thus described based on human actions and how society perceives them. In most cases, being moral would entail that one abides by the social norms and does not cause any harm or evil doings (Morgan, 1983). The meaning of morality can also be related to the term’s meaning alone. Morality was derived from mos, a Latin word, and the term means a habit or custom (Iwuagwu, 2018). Morality can therefore be described as the customary actions or deeds that are acceptable, especially in terms of human conduct.
In some cases, the term morality may be related to ethics. The Latin words from which each of the terms were derived all mean the same, although the two terms have different meanings. Generally, morality has been described as the actual human conduct based on whether an action is wrong or right, good or right (Iwuagwu, 2018). On the other hand, ethics is described as an academic overview of morality done by looking back, theorizing, and analyzing morality (Iwuagwu, 2018). Therefore, the description of the two terms can provide a good overview of non-religious morality, which is mainly concerned with human conduct.
Non-religious morality may also entail the customs of human behavior. Usually, some conventions derived from the roots of the terms morality and ethics have been used to describe human customs. Some of these convictions include mode of dressing, table manners, courtesy expression, and forms of speech that may vary from time to time and in different places (Iwuagwu, 2018). However, these types of convictions are considered manners and not a description of the concept of morality. Other fundamental customs such as honesty, respecting individual properties and the lives of others in society, and paying debts may be considered moral. Deviating from these customs would also be considered morally wrong (Iwuagwu, 2018). Non-religious morality can be viewed as a system of values and principles with its constituent elements linked to proper behavior.
The concepts of religion and morality seem to be intertwined, but the two bear different meanings. Human actions are judged or analyzed based on social norms or religious beliefs in both cases. There are usually a set of values or customs that are generally considered to be morally right. Similarly, deviating from these values or customs may be morally wrong. Religious morality has offered a reliable way of determining whether an individual is moral or not by looking at ones deeds and whether they conform to the teachings in the holy book and Christian beliefs. However, this may not be a reliable method for truly determining molarity in society.
The morality of human conduct should not be justified based only on religious beliefs and expectations. This may be explained by the fact that some individuals who may be atheists may still be considered moral by measuring their convictions and behavior. Usually, in the religious aspect, morally good deeds may be presented in a diabolical manner. This is because sometimes the deeds may be considered morally because they are loved by the gods, or because it is just good and thus loved by the gods. Christians are, therefore, subject to follow what the scriptures say on what is considered morally right and avert any instances where they engage in morally wrong actions.
The great influence of religion on determining whether an individual is moral or not may also be justified on the basis that religious morality includes a larger set of socially accepted norms that help in describing the morality of an action or individual. As a result, religious beliefs seem to provide a more contemporary way of influencing morality in the society. However, this may not be entirely true because some norms or customs may not be fully described through religious beliefs and still significant in determining whether an action or individual is moral. Therefore, non-religious morality would be more appropriate in describing morality among individuals as it would include a larger proportion of social norms and behaviors compared to the concept of religious morality.
Religious morality may also be not that appropriate when describing individual morality, especially in terms of human behavior because people may not entirely practice what they preach. In the society, if an individual is known to be a religious one and lives according to the standards or requirements of the religion, he or she is considered moral just at the first instance without further analysis. However, this may not be entirely right since an immoral person may still be a faithful and dedicated religious member but still be categorized as a moral individual. Such instances, therefore, call for a better method of describing individual morality, and this should be based on human conduct and behavior. An individual should be considered moral if they abide by the set social norms and expected codes of conduct and immoral if one deviates from it.
Brown, P. (1963). Religious morality. Mind, 72(286), 235-244.
Iwuagwu, E. K. (2018). The relationship between religion and morality: On whether the multiplicity of religious denominations have impacted positively on socio-ethical behavior. Global journal of arts, humanities and social sciences, 6(9), 42-53.
Morgan, S. P. (1983). A research note on religion and morality: Are religious people nice people?. Social Forces, 683-692.
Skitka, L. J., Hanson, B. E., Washburn, A. N., & Mueller, A. B. (2018). Moral and religious convictions: Are they the same or different things?. PloS one, 13(6), e0199311.
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