Digital History at Ursinus

"Religion as a Basis for Morality?" December 5th, 1995.

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Title

"Religion as a Basis for Morality?" December 5th, 1995.

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Description

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Creator

The Grizzly

Source

Ursinus College

Publisher

The Grizzly

Date

1995-1996

Contributor

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Rights

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Relation

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Format

pdf

Language

English

Type

opinion article

Identifier

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Text Item Type Metadata

Text

Recently, Dr. Phillip Johnson spoke at Ursinus about alternatives to Darwin's theory of natural selection. Dr. Johnson offered an explanation for the reason so many people believe in Darwinian evolution: it is an escape mechanism used by people to get away from the moral order of the universe as commanded by God. Accepting
the possibility that humans, in all their complexity, evolved according to the process of impersonal natural selection is effectively saying that God is not a necessary
prerequisite for humans to exist.

But,in making this claim, Dr. Johnson failed to realize that God is not the only source of morality. Just because a person may not acknowledge a God, and the moral laws that go along with that God, this does not mean that those people are prone to go on adulterous, murderous, not-loving-your-neighbor-as-yourself rampages through society. Most people recognize the destructiveness of such behaviors on their own, without the help of a God, and this prevents most of them from doing such things.

To draw Darwin's ideas out a little further, the whole concept of a God may be an adaptive device that was created by humans to help keep society functioning smoothly. "God" is a good adaptation because in order for moral laws to be effective, they need to be lodged with someone or something that is considered authoritative and legitimate beyond question, and that something can only be wholly outside of human nature- hence comes from Gods, created in different forms by human societies the world over, over all the time.

The moral laws of any society hold that society together in a shared sense of right and wrong, and the more people are synchronized with those ideas, the less conflict there should be. Less conflict means more stability, and more of a chance of presenting a unified front against outside threats to the society.

God and religions are pretty effective tools which societies have adopted to ensure their own continued existence.

Of course it all becomes ironic, yet tragic, when religion is used as the basis for great atrocities and crimes against humanity – because unfortunately, most religions have the idea that nobody else can believe something different about what God is or what God stands for. The once-adaptive concepts of religion and God are often used destructively, drawing lines between who can be loved, and who must be changed before they can be accepted.
It's a tragedy that concepts with such great potential for human society should be turned against each other, used as tools of intolerance and discrimination, and as a means of perpetuating stereotypes and hatred. Not all religions and concepts of God have this same bleak conclusion, but many of them do.

Therefore I take serious issue with any viewpoint that insists morality comes from a God, where wanting to escape from religion is equated with wanting to escape from morality and common decency. Escaping from religion is like taking a breath on your own, for the first time.

Original Format

newspaper article

Files

ReligionAsBasis2.jpg
ReligionAsBasis.pdf

Citation

The Grizzly , “"Religion as a Basis for Morality?" December 5th, 1995.,” Digital History at Ursinus, accessed September 22, 2017, http://omeka.ursinus.edu/items/show/215.