Is morality possible without religion?

I happened to stumble upon an interesting question earlier today and I thought that I might try to answer it without holding the position that god does, or does not, exist.

Morality is the duty that human beings have to ourselves, other human beings, and the living world around us. By this I mean that we have an obligation to do what is considered right. Well what is right? And it follows then; What is wrong?

Religions do their very best to teach human beings (the one’s that follow) moral values and ethics. I have a hard time understanding why we should follow the teachings of religious preachers because, more often than not what they preach is interpretations of  their respective texts (I.E the bible, Quran, etc). It is clear that religious texts were written by human beings and not ‘God’s’. I do not wish to argue the texts or their meaning, but rather I wish to show that the information, or the moral values if you will, that are in these books were written by man.

What I am trying to say here is that man wrote these texts, which leads me to say that man created these moral values and teachings for human beings to follow. They, the people who wrote these texts thought that they need to explain to us all how our lives should be morally, they believed to have the answers to the two paradoxical questions posed above. This should lead us to see that, if man/woman of the past were able to figure out that it is not right to steal, or kill, etc… than what stops human beings today, from figuring that out on their own terms without the help of religion. I personally have never read the bible in it’s entirety, nor do I ever plan too, and I say that, not out of spite, or hatred, but I am more than capable of being rational within myself to figure out that killing and stealing is wrong! I do not need to attend Sunday service, for someone else to tell me how my life should be lived, or to explain to me what is right and wrong, or to forgive me for my sins.

Who decided what is a sin? Fine religious followers say god, and I say man defined sin for himself. It is only logical to see that men and women of the past were in a state in which something needed to be done. Something (or someone in this case) had to stop all the absurdities and evils that were happening in the world. (I.E murder, theft, rape, etc…) Human beings are rational, and thus rationality surely kicked in during those times and people derived a method, a ‘Life for Dummies’ book if you will, to help show people that all these things were wrong.

Now that is only my opinion on how things played out. I feel that religion in all it’s dogmatic schemes only attempts to show people how to live. Why can not people figure it out on their own, like I have and have many others? I am not trying to condemn religious texts or religion, but to think that people need religion to find morality is incorrect. We are more than capable of being rational within ourselves to figure out the difference between what is right and wrong. Religion aims at having a universal ‘right’ and a universal ‘wrong’, and I understand the purpose behind that, and I agree that it should be universally understood that murder, rape, stealing, etc, is wrong, but as I clearly have already said, we do not need religion to show us this. Human beings are social creatures, and through social interaction we can come to terms with what is right and wrong within our society through rational discussion, without religion and it’s teachings. What religion does is simple, it resonates and references wrong-doings, and evil, with consequences -divine consequences-. It almost seems as though religion, sin, and hell, were created to scare people from committing evil acts. Universal consciousness during those times was most obviously quite low, human beings did not understand what they were, who they were, and what to do, and religion stepped in to shine the light…

Could people have simply just came together and said, “Ok, let’s not kill each other.”, or “What is mine, is mine, and I ask that you do not take it.”? It seems that , in the primitive state that human beings were in, and during the creation of their respective religions, human beings needed a solution to ‘control’ them masses, and religion was the easiest method to teach people (through fear) of what was right and wrong. In our modern times though, we do not need religion to show us ‘the way’, we can and will find our own way, without religions and their dogmatic, ritualistic methodologies, and scare tactics.

It does not make any sense that if I were to commit a sin, I could simply go to a church and confess my sins to a priest. Does that mean everything is ok, simply because I came to terms with  my act? This seems kind of funny, and silly, that you can be forgiven for your sins. If god set forth a rule, a law, a commandment, yes a commandment, that means he/she is pretty damn serious about it, than I do not think he/she would forgive anyone for breaking it… Is he/she not a vengeful god? Oh ya, he is also merciful… Confusing, and not very concrete for a god is he/she?

Those are human traits…not one that pertains to any god like figure that I could (or could not) think of. To recap…Religion was a tool to control the masses of people, it was used to get people to do things a certain way, to help create a better life. Now that we have EVOLVED further we do not require these methodologies anymore, we can figure it out on our own or through our families, god no longer, or should no longer play a role in how we live our lives. We get it, don’t kill, don’t steal, etc… thanks.

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~ by Peter on December 4, 2009.

5 Responses to “Is morality possible without religion?”

  1. Your preaching to the choir here. Morality is indeed a social construct–absent from divinity. People find comfort in hope–which at times is antonymous with truth.

    Nice post.

    • My point was that, we, for the lack of a better term, modern day human beings, understand that morality, and ethical life is inherent in our very being, and no longer requires god. Although they still are some who believe and would argue saying that we need god for moral teachings, etc…

      Hope is simply (although generalized) faith, and yes people find comfort in that but having faith in god, and trying to find morality through religion has lost its strength. Morality is inherent in our very beings, and it can become dangerous for people to have hope in something that is not necessarily concrete.

      Thank you for the comment.

  2. Hey Peter, it’s Daniel, Sam’s friend (just wanted you to know it was me lol). Great blog, and I agree with everything you said except for one thing:

    “It is only logical to see that men and women of the past were in a state in which something needed to be done. Something (or someone in this case) had to stop all the absurdities and evils that were happening in the world. (I.E murder, theft, rape, etc…) Human beings are rational, and thus rationality surely kicked in during those times and people derived a method, a ‘Life for Dummies’ book if you will, to help show people that all these things were wrong.”

    I personally see no logic in this point of view, merely speculation… And I disagree. I don’t think we were in a state of anarchy (which it seems like you are proposing) before someone came along and said “WHOAH. OKAY. THIS HAS TO STOP,” and came up with the rules of morality. I think the rules were there all along, acquired through natural selection, and that it is in our NATURE to be moral. Evidence has been found for an evolutionary root to reciprocal altruism, for instance.

    • Albeit, that sentence did not say what I truly think, and it also was put together rather quickly! I should really check things like this before posting!

      I do not think that humanity was in a state of anarchy, but I do think that it is quite possible that there were some people who felt that they could, or should, control ‘the people’ by writing a book. A book that guided people morally. They did this because they might have had a plan, or because they felt that human beings needed to be taught their morals.

      I do not doubt that we OUGHT to be naturally moral beings, but that does not change whether or not people can be moral, or STAY moral. What I meant by the state that people were in is, that during that time (before the bible was written) morality was understood to be completely innate, natural, which it is. But my observations would show that in the reality of things, human beings who have power like to warp morality to their liking, so that it fits their needs.

      People learn their own moral beliefs from their life experiences, although at first they only know what is moral, but you could say that the actuality of life corrupts morality, if allowed to of course. Simply, if someone was raised from a young age to hate a certain minority group, it is clear that they would hate that minority group because of their enculturation. And if someone were to be raised to not hate any other human being, it works the same way. I am trying to show that the people who wrote the book simply wanted to teach the masses of people what THEY (the writers) thought was right, and wrong, and that human beings already do have morality set within themselves and they simply have to ‘look’ for it.

      Thanks for the comment! Yea, that part was a bit unclear as to what I was trying to say.

  3. Amen.

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