Religion and Morality
Africa, Australia · Canada · Canada (français) · España · France · Global Perspectives But the causal link is not as clear as it first appears. This happens all the time, and a good thing too. Basically, people take or leave religious morality according to some internal moral compass they already have. RS: Ethics: The Relationship Between Religion & Morality Home & Away Text moral change if it appears not to be in society's best interests. Morality and religion is the relationship between religious views and morals. Many religions morality is an active process which is, "at the very least, the effort to guide one's conduct by reason, that is, doing what there are the best reasons.
Are ethical ideals of one religion limited to group members? For instance, in the 19th century, Mormons considered polygamy a moral imperative, while Catholics saw it as a mortal sin.
Moreover, religious ideals of moral behavior are often limited to group members and might even be accompanied by outright hatred against other groups. These examples also reveal that religious morality can and does change with the ebb and flow of the surrounding culture. In recent years, several Anglican churches have revised their moral views to allow contraceptionthe ordination of women and the blessing of same-sex unions. Discrepancy between beliefs and behavior In any case, religiosity is only loosely related to theology.
That is, the beliefs and behaviors of religious people are not always in accordance with official religious doctrines. Instead, popular religiosity tends to be much more practical and intuitive. Similarly, the Catholic Church vehemently opposes birth control, but the vast majority of Catholics practice it anyway.
In fact, theological incorrectness is the norm rather than the exception among believers. After all, communism is an egalitarian ideology, but communists do not behave any less selfishly. So, what is the actual evidence on the relationship between religion and morality? Do people practice what they preach? Social scientific research on the topic offers some intriguing results.
When researchers ask people to report on their own behaviors and attitudes, religious individuals claim to be more altruistic, compassionate, honest, civic and charitable than nonreligious ones. Even among twinsmore religious siblings describe themselves are being more generous. But when we look at actual behavior, these differences are nowhere to be found.
Researchers have now looked at multiple aspects of moral conduct, from charitable giving and cheating in exams to helping strangers in need and cooperating with anonymous others. They found that religiosity played no role in helping behavior, even when participants were on their way to deliver a talk on the parable of the good Samaritan.
This finding has now been confirmed in numerous laboratory and field studies. Overall, the results are clear: No matter how we define morality, religious people do not behave more morally than atheists, although they often say and likely believe that they do. When and where religion has an impact On the other hand, religious reminders do have a documented effect on moral behavior.
Studies conducted among American Christians, for example, have found that participants donated more money to charity and even watched less porn on Sundays. However, they compensated on both accounts during the rest of the week. As a result, there were no differences between religious and nonreligious participants on average.
When does religion have an impact? Dimitris Xygalatas, CC BY Likewise, a study conducted in Morocco found that whenever the Islamic call to prayer was publicly audible, locals contributed more money to charity. However, these effects were short-lived: Donations increased only within a few minutes of each call, and then dropped again.
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Numerous other studies have yielded similar results. In my own work, I found that people became more generous and cooperative when they found themselves in a place of worship. Religion finds itself in similar territory when claiming we have a unique purpose, a soul, and an afterlife that is off-limits to non-humans.
MORALITY AND RELIGION
To justify these claims, morality is co-opted by religion. Morality is seen as a gift from the gods; a piece of their ultimate perfection that can be assimilated. In so doing, we become more like a god, and less like the animals beneath us. We become special, superior, and closer to our archetypal image of perfection. All other life becomes inferior, immoral, imperfect, and immaterial. Through religion we display our propensity for attributing the most perfect aspects of our lives to something that is perfect in origin.
Morality and love are deemed to be sent from the gods because we want these human traits to be perfect. It is our way of enhancing ourselves; a form of self-apotheosis.
This may appear to be a selfish and disrespectful belief to hold, but it is one that satisfies our evolved desire for superiority over the species that compete with us for survival. Furthermore, it is a position that supposedly fits with the evidence. Animals will often kill indiscriminately for food, kill their own young, and leave their weaker offspring to die. However, it would be imprudent to say that animals are bereft of moral behavior. Primates, lions, and other pack animals co-operate in groups, look after their own, and appear to feel pain and anguish at the loss of a family member or ally.
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The fact that our morality surpasses that of other species makes it easier to assume it has supernatural origins. Religious displays show the individual adheres to the morals of that religion.
Religious Morality Increases Prestige To be thought of as a good person is to have an advantage in matters of trade and friendship. It matters not where you believe your morality comes from; only that people recognize and approve of your moral code. Many people identify with religions to 'free-ride. Belonging to a religion establishes that one follows the associated moral code, leading to increased respect and prestige.
If I saw a farmer or a businessman not belonging to any church at all, I wouldn't trust him with fifty cents. Why pay me, if he doesn't believe in anything? Religious Morality Generates Power Thousands of years ago, an individual demonstrating knowledge of divine rules and punishments would have been recognized as a wise prophet deserving of attention and respect.
Those espousing rules without supernatural backing are less important because the consequences of not following them are less severe.
The respect that comes from being knowledgeable in these matters has brought wealth and power to the clergy, primarily because their blessing is sought by monarchs. Hell can convince people to follow the rules. Religious Morality Establishes Control Belief in a supernatural being that passes judgement and wrath upon immoral humans will prompt individuals to unreservedly comply with the moral code endorsed by that being. Indeed, fear of damnation is an effective way of enforcing rules.
Other origins for morality leave room for questions, whereas a divine origin favors unquestioning obedience. Thus, there has always been a desire to promote divine morality because it allows for a greater level of control over the populace, and a greater chance of success in inter-group conflicts. What Came First, Religion or Morality? Organized religion requires a civilization in order to exist, so it could not have been the architect of moral behavior. Humans lived in groups for hundreds of thousands of years prior to the first religion.
Is one to conclude that before religion we were co-operating within tribes, yet still killing each other without reservation? Primates have avoided such barbarism without a couple of engraved stone tablets. Religion may have provided the first written account of a moral code, but it is certainly not the origin of morality. Rape is an example of the fallacy of divine morality. The Judeo-Christian Ten Commandments prohibit adultery, a potentially innocuous crime, yet rape doesn't receive a mention.Sam Harris: The Link Between Religion And Morality
Only in recent centuries has the rape of women become a crime without conditions. Adultery was seen as theft for this reason. One can only conclude that the commandments were a mundane product of human society. We had not advanced enough to consider the rape of an unmarried woman to be a crime, and it therefore had no reason to be part of a two thousand year old moral code.