The arguments for the dependency of morality and religion
Morality is something that comes to humanity in addition to the need for survival of humanity. In fact sometimes, to act in the most moral way possible, survival is put at risk. One can therefore assume that there must be another force that governs why we are moral. And this external force one can reason is therefore God. Many feel that there is a reason for morality to be based upon something, and as it cannot be based upon anything human, due to inherent faults exists within humanity, it has to be based upon something else, which has a higher level of goodness than that which is found in humanity.
Aquinas said that the goodness and morality, which is in humans, is merely a reflection of the utter and true goodness that is found in God. The issue than many have with this is that it almost forces one to be religious or to have religious beliefs to be able to call oneself moral, as morality comes from God. It was Russell that argued that this was not the case. He said that one must love the things one thinks to be good, and to hate those things one thinks of as bad, but to say that they are good or bad because of the existence of God.
Kant said there must be “a holy author of the world who makes possible the highest good’. In a sense, God allows us to reach our most perfect sense, at the point at which we die and enter the afterlife. If it is this holy author that allows one to be moral, and this holy author is God, there is a clear dependency on religion for morality. People are often held to a higher standard than that which a large proportion of humanity can claim to have themselves, and this is because this higher standard is what we consider to be moral, and this comes from God.
Morality, in all senses demands that God exists. Ergo moral behavior would not be invalid should God not exist, but for the goal of morality to be fully achieved, then there must a demand for it to come about, and that that demand comes from God. One can therefore say that while morality does not rely on the existence of God, and the existence of God is not presupposed on the need for morality, that the two are linked. Our demand for a sense of ultimate morality, for a higher power to demand it, proves the existence of God.
One cannot achieve a true state of morality in this life Kant argued and so there most be one were one can achieve as Kant put it a Summum Bonum. Therefore God must exist as God is not something that we only want, but something that must exist for us so that we can have a higher sense of goodness. If God is needed for morality then morality is dependent upon Him and upon religion for its’ context, rather than purely for its existence.
This would seem to be inclusive of none religious people, as one could in theory achieve the Summum Bonum and not be religious, providing of course that God does not care about a person’s religion, which an all loving God, such as the one of classical theism is, should not. Religious institution put foreword some strong moral stances, such as that which the Catholic Church puts forward in regard to the use on condoms. All that happens is that in these cases, the Church gives a moral absolute.
And yet one never hears about someone that does not believe in God give this opinion, even though purely by process of elimination, there must be some people that don’t believe in God but think that using a condom is wrong. No. What religion does is give is moral absolutes when no other body will. As a whole humanity knows these things to be self evident and yet for a lot of the time, it would rather bury its’ collective head in the sand and live in a world where what can happen should happen.
People often say that morality and religion should not be linked because God cannot create morality. If Goodness is an independent entity, and God commands thing because they are good, irrespective of if it is what he wants, He cannot bring goodness into being apart from the goodness that he can access from outside himself and is therefore not all power full. A God who decides what moral and is the source of all morality can therefore create a command to do something that is intrinsically wrong, but because he has decided that it a good thing to do morally, it becomes so.
This is known as the Euthyphro dilemma. If one then asks why is God good? It is because he obeys what he commands, which shows a limited understanding of God. This is often why many people that there should be no link between religion and morality. However Koukl stated that a God who is all loving will always command what is right and what is just because it is in his very nature to do so. Religion is not always moral. The Westborough Baptist Church (WBC) is a shows quite plainly how wrong it can go when morality and religion are mixed badly.
The WBC attends the funerals of dead service men and women and preaches how the deceased are going to go to hell for what they have done as “God hates America”- which is one of their slogans. Clearly these people are using religious interpretation to vastly abuse their moral calling and most people would agree that this is a bad case of religion mixing with morality. The fact that this group is Christian and is able to do things that most would consider very un-Christian shows that in religion there is a huge scope for interpretation.
For this reason, this lack of finite knowledge and structure that is in religion, caused by there being so many different religions, that many feel that religion and morality should have nothing to do with each other. Religion does not depend upon morality, it is the reason for it, it is too religion that the world turns when it is struck by some new disaters. People are often called to religion after they have done something terrible and are in remorse for it, something that one nevers hears about with atheism.
Humans find the faults that are found with morality and religion being dependent upon each other, but neither morality nor religion comes from humans, so the faults are human faults and not faults with morality and religion, as they come to us from God. If as Aquinas said, the goodness that is in humans is merely a reflection of the total and utter goodness that is God, how can any question if God would ever command something to be immoral? Yes, God is Omnipotent and so could command a bad thing be considered good, but what people seem to forget is that he is also all loving and so would never do this.
Nor would he ever need to because he is Omniscience. the point that we all feel a moral sense, both theist and atheist, despite a confirmed root of morality does give the sense that our morality is not necessarily our own, shows that it is a reflection of the truer goodness the comes to us from and through God. While a link between morality and religion is not clearly needed, there is a sense that to have one gives a deeper sense of the other. Morality and religion should, therefore, be reflections of each other. They can be separate, but that does not mean that they cannot be the same in substance.