Religion And Morality – Essay Composition – For W.B.C.S. Examination.
Religion and morality go together. Religion and morality are closely connected with each other. What is good is also willed by God. The fulfillment of God’s will and the performance of moral action, therefore, are two aspects of the same process. Both morality and religion are internal and concerned with a higher law which stands over and above the sphere of the state and outside state control.Continue Reading Religion And Morality – Essay Composition – For W.B.C.S. Examination.
Morality prepares the way for the perpetuation of religious beliefs while religion reinforces morality with its supernatural sanctions. Certain of the moral tenets are explained as having a supernatural origin. Salvation and blessedness are interpreted in terms of the individual’s relation to the moral ideals.
Moral values arrived at by man in the course of living are appropriated by and incorporated into religion. In incorporating these values, religion strengthens and returns them to the people in a refined and crystallized form. The Ten Commandments before becoming part of the Judaeo-Christian religious creed were in the mores.
The belief that they came from God gave them greater binding power. Both jointly control human conduct. In the words of Mathew Arnold, “Religion is morality touched with emotion.” Benjamin Kidd and most of the other moralists believed that religion and morality go together and that morality without religion has no solid foundation.
Thinkers like MacIver hold that religion and morality arise simultaneously and that they have always reinforced each other. He says. “We cannot say that either the religious or the moral code came first just as we cannot say that custom preceded morality or law. Moral codes have prepared the way for the perpetuation of religious beliefs. Religious codes have strongly reinforced with their supernatural sanctions the prevailing morals of the group.”
Morality and religion should be dissociated. But there are thinkers like Spencer, Bertrand Russel, Huxley and Charles Bougie who opine that religion and morality do not go hand in hand and that one should be dissociated from the other. According to them, religion and morality had independent origins. They asserted that the ethical code can develop best and be most effective when separated from religion.
The difference between religion and morality will become clear if we remember that an act may be morally wrong while religiously right. Sometimes religion inspires conduct detrimental to social interests. The Hindu Dharma preaches untouchability which is morally wrong. In the not too distant past the practice of ‘sati’ was allowed rather inspired by the Hindu Dharma which was socially harmful.
The Greek Orthodox Church became a bulwark of the tyranny of the Russian Tsars. Religious persecution of Jews in Germany was morally wrong. Similarly man killing or human sacrifice cannot be held morally right. Thus practices allowed by religion may not be allowed by morality. Likewise, not all the moral values are embodied in religion. Moral laws are based on rational judgment while religion is predominantly emotional and non-rational.
The supra-social sanction of religion
Again, religion implies a relationship not only between man and man but also between man and some higher power while morality implies a relationship between man and man only. Religion invokes a sanction which may be called ‘supra social’. It may be God’s fury, the haunting of ghosts or torture in hell.
Morality does not invoke God’s wrath as its sanction. Its sanction comes from conscience, ridicule or force. “Sin” is associated with religion, “wrong” is associated with morality. Religion is addressed indirectly to the social situation. It seeks to establish social relationships in which human purposes are linked up with and often subordinated to the assumed will of superhuman powers. MacIver observed.
“A code is religious no matter whether its precepts are concerned with the relation of man to God, as the first four Commandments, or with the relation of man to man, as in the last six when its source is presented as divine authority and its sanction is supernatural, or when the penalty is exacted in the name of religion. A code is moral when it promulgates standards of conduct that directly derive their sufficient justification from the human interpretation of good and evil.”
The humanistic religion
Though religion and morality differ it should not be, however, considered that they are poles apart. A man may be moral without being religious but it does not mean that religion should be underrated. Morality cannot be altogether disconnected from religion. The teachings of true religion are the same as those of morality. It is only crypto religion, pseudo mysticism which appear to be divorced from morality.
Morality conflicts with religionism, not religion. Sri Aurobindo writes, “True religion is spiritual religion that which seeks to lives in spirit, in what is beyond the intellect, beyond the aesthetic and ethical and practical being of man, and to inform and govern these members of our being by the higher light and law of the spirit.
Religionism, on the contrary, entrenches itself in some narrow pietistic exaltation of the lower members or lays exclusive stress on intellectual dogmas, forms and ceremonies, on some fixed and rigid moral code, on some religion- political or religion-social system.” A man who observes the moral code and does not profess any religion is, nevertheless, a religious man driven by a sub-conscious wish for universal coherence.
When religion is strongly dogmatic it comes into clash with morality, but when it is humanistic rejecting super naturalistic notions of heaven and hell and striving to unite people on the basis of a code of social morality rather than on the basis of a particular ‘belief’ or ‘faith’ it becomes inseparable from morality.
Many social scientists even hold the view that religion ought to divest itself as much as possible of dogma and supernaturalism and concern itself with the promotion of moral values. Auguste Comte, a bitter critic of dogmatic religion, advocated a religion consisting principally of the ethical teachings of Christ. Sharing Comte’s view, a number of sociologists advocated a kind of humanistic religion, Hobhouse conceived of religion as being to an extent “emotionalized ethics.” He rejected any sort of belief in an anthropomorphic God and even the sophisticated idea of pantheism.
He considered supernatural religion to be ill-adapted to modern civilization and to be, in fact, a hindrance to social progress. The humanistic religion is based upon reason, logic and scientific knowledge. It aims at the creation of a society in which altruism instead of egoism would predominate and in which the individual’s personality would be fully realized.
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