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The link between religion and morality runs deep. Quite often, religion is based on moral standpoints and these are often shared among religions.
However, this is not always the case. In this essay, I will compare the various similar and varying beliefs about morality among religions, while also breaking down the illusion that God and morality should be linked. It is not the blind belief in a godly code of morality that should guide people and their actions, but rational decisions made with the careful consideration of those who are affected. Because religion is too corruptible, it should not be a guiding force in determining morality, and it is only through the philosophers that we should seek guidance. Religion is often full of hate and certain practices and beliefs are unethical, and so these religions should not be tolerated, but condemned.
So-called prophets generally share the same fundamental idea of what constitutes morality, though the small print is quite different depending on the religion. The descriptive, or the differences, that develops when religions disagree on morality is proof that God isn’t communicating with these people, unless there are many gods that have different opinions on morality. But then would these gods have said to the prophets that there is more than one God. We can therefore assume that these prophets weren’t actually talking to God, and that they were in fact making up the moral law. These morals were staged to look like they were objective morality, but they were instead very subjective in their development.
We can further condemn this absurd idea that God was telling these prophets about what is moral by the basis that religions don’t always agree. This means there must be at least one side that is wrong in what constitutes morality. The following is an example of two religions at odds over the acceptance of homosexuality: “Considering that the Catholic Church and members of fundamentalist Christian churches and Jewish traditions have been the most outspoken opponents of gay rights, it is perhaps not surprising the [lesbian, gay bisexual, transgender] people and their families identify religion as a major obstacle in accepting homosexuality and transgender identities, in either themselves or a family member,” (LaSala, 2001). The world’s major religions have greatly varying points on homosexuality. For example, Hinduism doesn’t condemn homosexuality: “The Hindu Council in United Kingdom on Friday welcomed the Delhi High Court’s historic judgment, which decriminalised consensual homosexual relations, and said Hinduism does not condemn gay people,” (Hinduism, 2009). The Hindu scriptures give advice to parents about how to avoid giving birth to a homosexual child, but it does not frown upon the child as being unnatural and unwanted in society.
Normative relativism would say that because there are differences of opinion on what is right and wrong, the beliefs of any religion in society should be tolerated. The theory claims there is no universally moral principle, and this would apply to both objective and subjective morality. “Normative ethical relativism theory says that the moral rightness and wrongness of actions varies from society to society and that there are no absolute universal moral standards binding on all men at all times,” (Pecorino, 2000). The theory is unfounded because there are foolish beliefs in many religions that are clearly unethical. Keeping with the homosexual theme, there are sects of religions that claim God condemns homosexuals to death. Classical Christianity says they will burn for an eternity in hell. This is not moral.
It is too far-sighted to make the claim that God decides what is morally correct. This is because it is quite easy for those who are in power to invent what God would say, so that those assertions allow the person in power to benefit. For example, a priest could say that God requires everyone to donate 10 per cent of their earnings to the church, or they will go to hell. What if God said rape and child abuse were moral? It wouldn’t even be known if “God” instructed these acts because “God” doesn’t communicate with people, though a few crazy people might tell a person otherwise. Is it morally correct if God instructs these acts? No, morality should be determined on whether living creatures are negatively impacted by an action. If God decided what was moral, it could therefore be concluded that mankind isn’t able to make up their own minds about human conduct, and principles like Utilitarianism should be cast aside because it could be assumed that great minds like Immanuel Kant don’t know anything.
Indeed, it is all too risky to place morality with religion, due to the temptation for those in power to be corrupt and use their position for wrongdoing. God’s moral command could be used to commit heinous acts. “The killing is right, according to (right actions are right just because God approves of them and wrong actions are wrong just because God disapproves of them), it was commanded by God; but conventionally murder is expressly forbidden,” (Lazarus, 2009).
No document exists that comes directly from God, if he or she actually exists. Some claim their holy books are the words of God, or that God sent a son to speak on his behalf. In fact, books such as the Bible or the Hindu Vedas are written by people who claim that God is speaking through them. It therefore follows that immoral people could write “moral” content into these books to put themselves into power, or the benefit themselves in some other way. Or, they may just condemn anything to which they don’t agree, such as homosexuality and abortion. These acts are written into the Bible as being ungodly, and anyone who commits one of these acts will burn for an eternity in hell. Over the years, as people have become more secular and, as a result, more logical, the laughable claims that Christianity and other religions have preached to the general public are being seen for what they truly are – and this has created a society that is becoming more secular. This disconnect between God and society hasn’t led to an increase in immoral acts. In fact, many would say it has led to a decrease because of the embrace that has resulted in a multicultural planet. In most cases, religion is no longer segregating people and matching one objective moral code against the other. It should be noted that no objective moral code should be linked to God, because the morality that God advises on is only an allusion, because prophets are not actually communicating with God.
Philosophers offer practical ways to evaluate how to make an ethical decision. These concepts aren’t difficult to understand, and like religion, they can be applied to an entire society. Utilitarianism provides a clear way to make a moral decision, though it becomes difficult when measuring the degree of suffering that could result from making a moral decision. But by attempting to measure the impact of an action on the people who would be affected by it, mankind is coming closer to the way in which a choice should be made, rather than blindly following what some believe to be what God wants.
It should never be decided to tolerate another religion if that dogma is affecting people in a negative way. Complete and utter tolerance of an ideal that hurts someone is immoral. The moral decision on the part of someone who is confronted by religion-fueled anarchy, or something more subtle, shouldn’t be to tolerate, but to condemn and to stand up for what is right. In order to live in a society that is truly moral, religions that are harmful should not be tolerated.