Religious teaching Essay
‘Religious teachings offer the only sound basis for moral reasoning.’ Critically examine arguments for and against this opinion.
Morality is the knowledge and practice of what is moral, which may, according to your personal view be instinctive, be associated with religion and culture, or be acquired by reasoning.
Most, if not all religions have a ‘human moral code’, which follows God’s will. Religious people will consult their religious text, whether it is the Bible, Qur’an or Torah ect, when making a moral decision. Very often these religious texts will lay out a set of rules or guide lines. In Christianity it is the 10 Commandments, in Buddhism it is the 8 Fold Path. Although these ‘rules’ do provide a good moral base, if taken to their logical conclusion they are objective and absolute, leaving no room for the flexibility needed in today’s society.
This is taking a Deontological approach; this is when a person has a set of rules that they consider to be absolutely right. They abide by these rules, as they are more important than the effect or outcome. We can use the example of abortion and the 10 Commandments. These religious laws state that ‘Thou shalt not kill’. If taken absolutely this means that abortion is wrong no matter what the circumstances are, even if the child will be born severely disabled or will be born into extreme poverty.
For many people moral values are relative to a specific society, time and circumstances, and their moral view can change through changed circumstances, needs, beliefs and knowledge. This flexibility is known as relativism and is the opposite of absolute. This is also known as taking a Consequential approach, when a person looks to the outcome, and decides how to act to achieve that result. They have in mind the aim and believe that actions can be deemed moral if they achieve that aim – the end justifies the means. Because of this many individuals often experience conflict in making moral decisions because they have no absolute code of what is right or wrong. There are several different methods subjective morality:
Utilitarianism is the view that you decide whether an action is right or wrong by looking at the consequences, and you should choose they action that will produce the most happiness/least-suffering to the greatest number of people. If we consider whether abortion is right or wrong using the utilitarianism view we would have to say that it depends on the individual situation, and whether the baby would be born healthily or not, and whether the baby would be loved, and the number of people affected by the pregnancy, amongst other things.
Natural Law states that morality should use the ‘natural’ form of behaviour, and that humans and society should follow this ‘natural law’. Therefore anything that is deemed as ‘un-natural’ is wrong. This means that in the case of abortion it is always wrong, as pregnancy is a natural occurrence and it should not be ended un-naturally.
Social contract theory claims that laws and morals are a human invention upon which we agree to make life better for ourselves. When making a moral decision a person would have to consider the impact upon society and people’s freedom, amongst other things. Once again considering the case of abortion, a person using social contract theory, would consider the effect having a baby would have on their lives, the lives of people around them, and how the life of the bay would be once it is born.
I conclude by saying that I think that religious teachings do not offer the only sound basis for moral reasoning. I feel that the individual situation also needs to be considered when making a moral decision as every case has different circumstances. I also feel that although the religious laws do give a good, sound basis for morality the objective and absolute rules stated by religion do not leave room for the flexibility needed in today’s society.
University/College: University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 16 September 2017
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