Religion and Morality (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
Morality poems written by famous poets. Browse through to read poems for morality. This page has the widest range of morality love and quotes. 19 quotes have been tagged as moral-law: Fyodor Dostoyevsky: 'It's God and they broaden the connection in which I stand into an unbounded magnitude of. The opening lines of Satire 3 confront us with a bizarre medley of moral may appraise the present claim in relation to a whole range of unlike possibilities: “Is not . More became reconciled to it and to his son-in-law, but Donne lost his job in.
The best way to make sense of talk of duties is in a social context where duties like debts are owed to other persons. One can have very good reasons to do something morally right and still not be obligated to do it. Accountability and responsibility are also needed, and we are responsible to someone. Darwall notes that such diverse philosophers as Suarez in the late 16th and early 17th century, John Stuart Mill, and Nietzsche have defended this view. Exactly who is the moral community is itself contestable.
Theological voluntarists might believe it is really just God.
You and I might believe it is just persons—people who are capable of holding one another morally responsible. Similarly, Susan Wolf, another secularist philosopher, points out that it is not enough to say that moral requirements are requirements of morality; that to follow moral obligations is simply to do what morality requires of us. In other words, human beings are the moral community that gives obligation its normative force.
The point made thus far is that moral obligation is a social concept. Accountability makes sense only if we are accountable to other persons. In the next section, we will see that the Person we are ultimately responsible to is God. Since obligation is not only a social concept but also an objective one, the existence of God makes the most sense of our experience of morality. Human societies or communities cannot adequately account for moral obligation. But it is important to address a common misconception about the normative character of morality in a more direct way.
It is often assumed that reason by itself is adequate to give us all we want in terms of knowing and acting upon our moral obligations. What is moral to do, the claim goes, is what is reasonable to do.
But although morality is indeed reasonable, the relationship between the two is not as clear cut as the foregoing claim implies. It is one thing to have good reasons to do something and quite another to be obligated to do it. Having reasons to perform an action does not necessarily imbue one with the kind of obligation morality requires. An illustration given by C. Stephen Evans might be helpful here.
He would have a very good reason to perform that act. But he would not be considered morally blameworthy should he choose to play golf instead.
The point, once again, is that having good reasons to do something is not the same thing as being obligated to do it. Alternatively, violating rationality is not the same thing as violating moral obligation.
As Robert Adams puts it, To the extent that I have done something morally wrong, I have something to feel guilty about. To the extent that I have done something irrational, I have merely something to feel silly about—and the latter is much less serious than the former.
For example, an error of calculation in designing a bridge is more serious than getting an answer wrong on an engineering examination. Moral obligation has a certain, distinct characteristic that gives it its compulsive force with blameworthiness or guilt attached to it. Moral obligation has the unique capacity to override any other reasons we may have to do or not to do something.
Such a decidedly law-like character of obligation makes sense within a social context where demands or imperatives and accountability are in force. Moral obligation is a social concept: Moral Obligation as Objective So far we have seen that we have good reasons to think that moral obligation is a social concept. As already mentioned, many philosophers agree with this conclusion. Some of those who argue that obligation is a social concept claim that human societies can adequately account for it.
It is the society, period, that places moral demands on its individual members. But while it is true that we have obligations that are created by the societies to which we belong, the imperatival force of morality makes it doubtful that appealing to the society can account for the entire range of the obligations we acknowledge.
To begin with, societies often err in prescribing behavior for their members. For example, those who obediently followed the laws issued by the Nazis during the Second World War were indeed carrying out their societal obligations. But their society was gravely mistaken about the obligations morality prescribed for its citizens. This suggests strongly that moral obligations are not decided by the society. They are objective—what we are obligated to do transcends individual or the collective human will, desires, or beliefs.
Thus unless there is a law above human law, it is hard to see how we can justify our claim that some things commanded by certain societies are wrong.
Philosopher Joel Marks has argued that obligation does indeed require the existence of God, though he sadly rejects morality instead of seeing it as further evidence for God. He writes, I had thought I was a secularist because I conceived of right and wrong as standing on their own two feet, without prop or crutch from God.
We should do the right thing because it is the right thing to do, period. But this was a God too. It was the Godless God of secular morality, which commanded without commander—whose ways were thus even more mysterious than the God I did not believe in, who at least had the intelligible motive of rewarding us for doing what He wanted. Given what we know about ourselves and each other, this is an extraordinarily unappetizing prospect; looking around the world, it appears that if all men are brothers, the ruling model is Cain and Abel.
Only if ethics were something unspeakable by us, could law be unnatural, and therefore unchallengeable. As things now stand, everything is up for grabs. Starving the poor is wicked.
Buying and selling each other is depraved. Those who acquiesced deserve to be damned. There is in the world such a thing as evil.
If we were solely responsible for assigning moral obligations to ourselves, why would we make them so difficult to fulfill, and why do we keep on trying to meet them when we have proven that we are incapable of doing so perfectly?
Why not adjust our obligations to match our practical abilities? Our very struggle in this area shows that we recognize the transcendent, otherworldly source of our moral obligations.
The hound of heaven is ever on our trail. Consider the words of the following poem written by A. I, a stranger and afraid In a world I never made. They will be master, right or wrong; Though both are foolish, both are strong. And since, my soul, we cannot fly To Saturn nor to Mercury.
Keep we must, if keep we can, These foreign laws of God and man.
Moral Law Quotes
The speaker acquiesces to the weight of moral obligation that he finds to be undeniable, even though it is foreign to his preferred mode of existence. How is such compulsion to be justified? Why should one yield to such demands? And then the question—why? Why should I be moral? We find our proper telos or purpose when we become what we were originally intended to be. That process begins in this life and continues on to the next, where it will be fully perfected.
But if this life is not all there is, then the scales will eventually be evened out, and morality and happiness will one day coincide. The Reality of Morality I find it absolutely mystifying that some would choose to deny the reality of morality rather than acknowledge the fact that it indeed points us to God. Thankfully, there are many others who have found their way to the cross after pondering the implications of an objective morality that is simply a part of the fabric of the universe.
After discussing some of the points I have raised here with a seemingly hardened, lifelong atheist university professor, he completely caught me off-guard by confessing to me that the argument makes his atheism untenable. I have seen students give their lives to Christ when they learn how to think clearly about morality and when they consider what the gospel of salvation has to offer them—not just for this life, but also for the life to come, as we will see at the conclusion of this article.
Its long existence therefore presupposes some other will behind it. The hard part for me [as an atheist] was the idea of a personal God, who has an interest in humankind. And the argument that Lewis made there—the one that I think was most surprising, most earth-shattering, and most life-changing—is the argument about the existence of the moral law. In every culture one looks at, that knowledge is there.
Where did that come from? We are at odds with a system of morality that we did not invent, and we stand condemned.
But Christianity does much more. It offers a solution to the human condition through the Cross of Christ. At the cross, God marvelously honors his justice while demonstrating his infinite love at the very same moment.
And, finally, the Word of God promises that we will one day be made morally perfect. At that point, morality will no longer be a subject of debate—we will just live it out the way we breathe oxygen today, only without the threat of air pollution.
Beyond Right and Wrong In addition to accounting for the objectivity and agent-centeredness of moral obligation, Christianity fulfills and complements morality itself in ways naturalism can never hope to do.
When we are honest with ourselves, we all know that we fail to keep the moral law that we know exists. And our failure to keep it is more than just a matter of ignorance; it bears the marks of what the Bible calls rebellion against God. As a result, we all stand in need of forgiveness.
The Bible thus offers both an accurate diagnosis of the human heart as well as the solution for our primary malady. In a chillingly profound passage, atheist philosopher Joel Marks makes the following observation: For God knows that when you eat of [the tree of the knowledge of good and evil] your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. They must have known that already, or the command not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil would not have made any sense to them.
What the Tempter meant was that Adam and Eve did not need to let God define good and evil for them; they could determine that for themselves. When that happens, we become incapable of appreciating and appropriating the power of the gospel in our lives. But the hope offered in the gospel message goes well beyond morality. When we have achieved the status for which we were made, morality will cease to occupy the central place it does in our day-to-day lives.
I think all Christians would agree with me if I said that though Christianity seems at first to be all about morality, all about duties and rules and guilt and virtue, yet it leads you on, out of all that, into something beyond. One has a glimpse of a country where they do not talk of those things, except perhaps as a joke.
Every one there is filled full with what we should call goodness as a mirror is filled with light. But they do not call it goodness. From hour to hour extending his conquest of nature infinitely by his will and his science, man will feel such lofty joy from hour to hour in doing it that it will make up for all his old dreams of the joys of heaven. Everyone will know that he is mortal and will accept death proudly and serenely like a god. His pride will teach him that it's useless for him to repine at life's being a moment, and he will love his brother without need of reward.
Love will be sufficient only for a moment of life, but the very consciousness of its momentariness will intensify its fire, which now is dissipated in dreams of eternal love beyond the grave' Ivan sat with his eyes on the floor, and his hands pressed to his ears, but he began trembling all over.
The devil The question now is, my young thinker reflected, is it possible that such a period will ever come? If it does, everything is determined and humanity is settled for ever. But as, owing to man's inveterate stupidity, this cannot come about for at least a thousand years, everyone who recognises the truth even now may legitimately order his life as he pleases, on the new principles. In that sense, 'all things are lawful' for him. Aristotle draws a distinction between what we honor and what we merely commend NE, b10— There are six states for a human life, on a normative scale from best to worst: The highest form of happiness, which he calls blessedness, is something we honor as we honor gods, whereas virtue we merely commend.
It would be as wrong to commend blessedness as it would be to commend gods NE, a10—a The activity of the god, he says in the Metaphysics, is nous thinking itself b The best human activity is the most god-like, namely thinking about the god and about things that do not change. Aristotle's virtue ethics, then, needs to be understood against the background of these theological premises.
He is thinking of the divine, to use Plato's metaphor, as magnetic, drawing us, by its attractive power, to live the best kind of life possible for us. This gives him a defense against the charge sometimes made against virtue theories that they simply embed the prevailing social consensus into an account of human nature.
Aristotle defines ethical virtue as lying in a mean between excess and defect, and the mean is determined by the person of practical wisdom actually the male, since Aristotle is sexist on this point. He then gives a conventional account of the virtues such a person displays such as courage, literally manliness, which requires the right amount of fear and confidence, between cowardice and rashness.
There are tensions in Aristotle's account of virtue and happiness. It is not clear whether the Nicomachean Ethics has a consistent view of the relation between the activity of contemplation and the other activities of a virtuous life see Hare, God and Morality, chapter 1, and Sarah Broadie, Ethics with Aristotle, chapter 7. But the connection of the highest human state with the divine is pervasive in the text.
One result of this connection is the eudaimonism mentioned earlier. If the god does not care about what is not divine for this would be to become like what is not divinethe highest and most god-like human also does not care about other human beings except to the degree they contribute to his own best state.
This degree is not negligible, since humans are social animals, and their well-being depends on the well-being of the families and cities of which they are members. Aristotle is not preaching self-sufficiency in any sense that implies we could be happy on our own, isolated from other human beings. But our concern for the well-being of other people is always, for him, contingent on our special relation to them.
We therefore do not want our friends to become gods, even though that would be the best thing for them. Finally, Aristotle ties our happiness to our end in Greek, telos ; for humans, as for all living things, the best state is its own activity in accordance with the natural function that is unique to each species.
For humans the best state is happiness, and the best activity within this state is contemplation NE, b17— The Epicureans and Stoics who followed Aristotle differed with each other and with him in many ways, but they agreed in tying morality and religion together. For the Epicureans, the gods do not care about us, though they are entertained by looking at our tragicomic lives rather as we look at soap operas on television. We can be released from a good deal of anxiety, the Epicureans thought, by realizing that the gods are not going to punish us.
Our goal should be to be as like the gods as we can, enjoying ourselves without interruption, but for us this means limiting our desires to what we can obtain without frustration. They did not mean that our happiness is self-interested in any narrow sense, because they held that we can include others in our happiness by means of our sympathetic pleasures. The Stoics likewise tied the best kind of human life, for them the life of the sage, to being like the divine. The sage follows nature in all his desires and actions, and is thus the closest to the divine.
Morality and religion are connected in the Hebrew Bible primarily by the category of God's command.
Moral Law Quotes (19 quotes)
Such commands come already in the first chapter of Genesis. In the second chapter God tells Adam that he is free to eat from any tree in the garden, but he must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. When Eve and Adam disobey and eat of that fruit, they are expelled from the garden.
There is a family of concepts here that is different from what we met in Greek philosophy. God is setting up a kind of covenant by which humans will be blessed if they obey the commands God gives them. Human disobedience is not explained in the text, except that the serpent says to Eve that they will not die if they eat the fruit, but will be like God, knowing good and evil, and Eve sees the fruit as good for food and pleasing to the eye and desirable for gaining wisdom.
After they eat, Adam and Eve know that they are naked, and are ashamed, and hide from God. As the story goes on, and Cain kills Abel, evil spreads to all the people of the earth, and Genesis describes the basic state as a corruption of the heart 6: This idea of a basic orientation away from or towards God and God's commands becomes in the Patristic period of early Christianity the idea of a will.
In the Pentateuch, the story continues with Abraham, and God's command to leave his ancestral land and go to the land God promised to give him and his offspring Gen.
Then there is the command to Abraham to kill his son, a deed prevented at the last minute by the provision of a ram instead Gen. Abraham's great grandchildren end up in Egypt, because of famine, and the people of Israel suffer for generations under Pharaoh's yoke. Under Moses the people are finally liberated, and during their wanderings in the desert, Moses receives from God the Ten Commandments, in two tables or tablets Exod.
The first table concerns our obligations to God directly, to worship God alone and keep God's name holy, and keep the Sabbath. The second table concerns our obligations to other human beings, and all of the commands are negative do not kill, commit adultery, steal, lie, or covet except for the first, which tells us to honor our fathers and mothers.
The Greeks had the notion of a kingdom, under a human king though the Athenians were in the classical period suspicious of such an arrangement. But they did not have the idea of a kingdom of God, though there is something approaching this in some of the Stoics. This idea is explicable in terms of law, and is introduced as such in Exodus in connection with the covenant on Mt. The kingdom is the realm in which the laws obtain.
This raises a question about the extent of this realm. The Ten Commandments are given in the context of a covenant with the people of Israel, though there are references to God's intention to bless the whole world through this covenant.
The surrounding laws in the Pentateuch include prescriptions and proscriptions about ritual purity and sacrifice and the use of the land that seem to apply to this particular people in this particular place. But the covenant that God makes with Noah after the flood is applicable to the whole human race, and universal scope is explicit in the Wisdom books, which make a continual connection between how we should live and how we were created as human beings.
For example, in Proverbs 8 Wisdom raises her voice to all humankind, and says that she detests wickedness, which she goes on to describe in considerable detail. She says that she was the artisan at God's side when God created the world and its inhabitants.
Jesus sums up the commandments under two, the command to love God with all one's heart and soul and mind see Deuteronomy 6: The New Testament is unlike the Hebrew Bible, however, in presenting a narrative about a man who is the perfect exemplification of obedience and who has a life without sin.
New Testament scholars disagree about the extent to which Jesus actually claimed to be God, but the traditional interpretation is that he did make this claim; in any case the Christian doctrine is that we can see in his life the clearest possible revelation in human terms both of what God is like and at the same time of what our lives ought to be like.
He takes the commandments inside the heart; for example, we are required not merely not to murder, but not to be angry, and not merely not to commit adultery, but not to lust see Ezekiel Jesus tells us to love our enemies and those who hate and persecute us, and in this way he makes it clear that the love commandment is not based on reciprocity Matt 5: The theme of self-sacrifice is clearest in the part of the narrative that deals with Jesus' death.
This event is understood in many different ways in the New Testament, but one central theme is that Jesus died on our behalf, an innocent man on behalf of the guilty. Jesus describes the paradigm of loving our neighbors as the willingness to die for them.
This theme is connected with our relationship to God, which we violate by disobedience, but which is restored by God's forgiveness through redemption.
In Paul's letters especially we are given a three-fold temporal location for the relation of morality to God's work on our behalf. We are forgiven for our past failures on the basis of Jesus' sacrifice Rom. We are reconciled now with God through God's adoption of us in Christ Rom. And we are given the hope of future progress in holiness by the work of the Holy Spirit Rom. All of this theology requires more detailed analysis, but this is not the place for it. There is a contrast between the two traditions I have so far described, namely the Greek and the Judeo-Christian.
The idea of God that is central in Greek philosophy is the idea of God attracting us, like a kind of magnet, so that we desire to become more like God, though there is a minority account by Socrates of receiving divine commands.
In the Jewish and Christian scriptures, the notion of God commanding us is central. It is tempting to simplify this contrast by saying that the Greeks favor the good, in their account of the relation of morality and religion, and the Judeo-Christian account favors the right or obligation.
It is true that the notion of obligation makes most sense against the background of command. But the picture is over-simple because the Greeks had room in their account for the constraint of desire; thus the temperate or brave person in Aristotle's picture has desires for food or sex or safety that have to be disciplined by the love of the noble.
On the other side, the Judeo-Christian account adds God's love to the notion of God's command, so that the covenant in which the commands are embedded is a covenant by which God blesses us, and we are given a route towards our highest good which is union with God. The Middle Ages The rest of the history to be described in this entry is a cross-fertilization of these two traditions or lines of thought.
In the patristic period, or the period of the early Fathers, it was predominantly Plato and the Stoics amongst the Greek philosophers whose influence was felt. The Eastern and Western parts of the Christian church split during the period, and the Eastern church remained more comfortable than the Western with language about humans being deified in Greek theosis.
In the Western church, Augustine — emphasized the gap between the world we are in as resident aliens and our citizenship in the heavenly Jerusalem, and even in our next life the distance between ourselves and God.
Religion and Morality
He describes in the Confessions the route by which his heart or will, together with his understanding, moved from paganism through Neo-Platonism to Christianity. Augustine accepted that the Platonists taught, like the beginning of the prologue of John, that the Word in Greek, logos is with God and is God, since the Intellect is the mediating principle between the One and the Many John 1: But the Platonists did not teach, like the end of John's prologue, that the Word is made flesh in Jesus Christ, and so they did not have access to the way to salvation revealed in Christ or God's grace to us through Christ's death.
Nonetheless, it is surprising how far Augustine can go in rapprochement. The Forms, he says, are in the mind of God and God uses them in the creation of the world. Human beings were created for union with God, but they have the freedom to turn towards themselves instead of God. If they turn to God, they can receive divine illumination through a personal intuition of the eternal standards the Forms.
If they turn towards themselves, they will lose the sense of the order of creation, which the order of their own loves should reflect. Augustine gives primacy to the virtue of loving what ought to be loved, especially God.
In his homily on I John 4: He held that humans who truly love God will also act in accord with the other precepts of divine and moral law; though love not merely fulfills the cardinal virtues wisdom, justice, courage and temperance but transforms them by supernatural grace. The influence of Augustine in the subsequent history of ethics resulted from the fact that it was his synthesis of Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire after and Greek philosophy that survived the destruction of the Western Roman Empire, especially in the monasteries where the texts were still read.
To understand this, we need to go back into the history of the development of the doctrine of the Trinity.
The church had to explain how the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit could be distinct and yet not three different gods. The doctrine of the Trinity comes to be understood in terms of three persons, one God, with the persons standing in different relations to each other.
The church came to talk about one person with two natures, the person standing under the natures. This had the merit of not making either the humanity or the divinity less essential to who Jesus was.
In the West knowledge of most of Aristotle's texts was lost, but not in the East. They were translated into Syriac, and Arabic, and eventually in Muslim Spain into Latin, and re-entered Christian Europe in the twelfth century accompanied by translations of the great Arabic commentaries. In the initial prophetic period of Islam CE —32 the Qur'an was given to Mohammad, who explained it and reinforced it through his own teachings and practices.
The notion of God's Allah's commands is again central, and our obedience to these commands is the basis of our eventual resurrection. Disputes about political authority in the period after Mohammad's death led to the split between Sunnis and Shiites. Within Sunni Muslim ethical theory in the Middle Ages two major alternative ways developed of thinking about the relation between morality and religion.
These standards that we learn from reason apply also to God, so that we can use them to judge what God is and is not commanding us to do. He also teaches that humans have freedom, in the sense of a power to perform both an act and its opposite, though not at the same time. The second alternative was taught by al-Ashari d. He insists that God is subject to none and to no standard that can fix bounds for Him.
Nothing can be wrong for God, who sets the standard of right and wrong. With respect to our freedom, he holds that God gives us only the power to do the act not its opposite and this power is simultaneous to the act and does not precede it. A figure contemporary with al-Ashari, but in some ways intermediate between Mu'tazilites and Asharites, is al-Maturidi of Samarqand d. He holds that because humans have the tendency in their nature towards ugly or harmful actions as well as beautiful or beneficial ones, God has to reveal to us by command what to pursue and what to avoid.
He also teaches that God gives us two different kinds of power, both the power simultaneous with the act which is simply to do the act and the power preceding the act to choose either the act or its opposite. Medieval reflection within Judaism about morality and religion has, as its most significant figure, Maimonides d.
The Guide of the Perplexed was written for young men who had read Aristotle and were worried about the tension between the views of the philosopher and their faith. Maimonides teaches that we do indeed have some access just as human beings to the rightness and wrongness of acts; but what renders conforming to these standards obligatory is that God reveals them in special revelation. The laws are obligatory whether we understand the reasons for them or not, but sometimes we do see how it is beneficial to obey, and Maimonides is remarkably fertile in providing such reasons.
Aquinas, like Aristotle, emphasized the ends vegetative, animal and typically human given to humans in the natural order. He described both the cardinal virtues and the theological virtues of faith, hope and love, but he did not feel the tension that current virtue ethicists sometimes feel between virtue and the following of rules or principles.
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The rules governing how we ought to live are known, some of them by revelation, some of them by ordinary natural experience and rational reflection.
But Aquinas thought these rules consistent in the determination of our good, since God only requires us to do what is consistent with our own good.
And from this natural willing are caused all other willings, since whatever a man wills, he wills on account of the end. The principles of natural moral law are the universal judgments made by right reasoning about the kinds of actions that are morally appropriate and inappropriate for human agents. They are thus, at least in principle and at a highly general level, deducible from human nature.
Aquinas held that reason, in knowing these principles, is participating in the eternal law, which is in the mind of God Summa Theologiae I, q. Aquinas was not initially successful in persuading the church to embrace Aristotle. Aquinas was a Dominican friar. The other major order of friars, the Franciscan, had its own school of philosophy, starting with Bonaventure c.
First, Scotus is not a eudaimonist.