Morality and Religion

Religion is one of the oldest human institutions and we do have evidence of religious practices which were entwined with laws or taboos exhorting early human beings to behave in certain ways. In these earlier times, morality was embedded in the traditions, mores, customs, and religious practices of the culture.

Furthermore, religion served (as it has until quite recently) as a most powerful sanction for getting people to behave morally. That is, if behind a moral prohibition against murder rests the punishing and rewarding power of an all-powerful supernatural being then the religious leaders will strongly dictate their followers against killing human beings.

  • RELIGIOUS PEOPLE CAN BE IMMORAL – Taking the case of some priests of the Roman Catholic Church who even though highly trained in religion and the ethics of their church, nevertheless were guilty of molesting children under their supervision.

NON-RELIGIOUS PEOPLE CAN BE MORAL – If many human beings do not accept the existence of a supernatural world and yet act as morally then there must be some attributes other than religious belief that are necessary for one to be moral. Although it is obvious that most religions contain ethical systems but it is not true that all ethical systems are religiously based. Therefore, there is no necessary connection between morality and religion.