Morality Still Exist if God Research Paper

Pages: 4 (1463 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion

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As long as a citizen honors his or her civic obligations, he or she is considered 'good' or at very least protected by the laws of the land, regardless of his or her personal beliefs about God.

But although ancient Athens was a democracy, it is interesting that was not the case in Socrates' day, as manifested in his prosecution for impiety. Denying the existence of the gods of the state was verboten: to question the gods was considered impious, and to deny the obligations one owed to the gods was illegal. Ancient Athens was a far less diverse society than our own, culturally and religiously, and there was a single state religion even though there were many gods. To honor the particular gods of Athens was considered pious and good; to deviate from the state religion was considered immoral. The Athenians would likely marvel at our pretentions at a secular society as well as its diversity, yet such religious tolerance and a separation between personal religious morality and the morality of the state has made the United States (and, some would argue, religious institutions) stronger and more concerned with morality rather than weaker.

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Seeing piety as something that is 'loved by the gods' rather than 'what is demanded of God' would seem to be a sounder foundation to create a tolerant, functioning government. However, most religions take a different point-of-view. "If God recognizes what is good and wants to do it because it is good, this posits the nature of value independent of Him, so that he must, and wishes to, conform Himself to it. This makes it sensible to praise and revere God's goodness, but it also means that God is no longer the Creator of everything: standards of value stand above and beyond Him, outside of his control and creativity. This is actually what Plato thought (the Forms preexist the creative action of God, and provide the standard for it, in the Timaeus)...as a compromise and limitation of Omnipotence, disturbing for the monotheistic religions" and also for Euthyphro (Ross 2012).

TOPIC: Research Paper on Morality Still Exist if God Assignment

Yet the notion that a concept of God is necessary for a moral society has been a durable one. It was even advocated even by the Enlightenment philosopher John Locke: "In his Letter concerning Toleration, Locke contends that one of the few religious stances that the commonwealth cannot tolerate is atheism (see Locke 1993, 426) for non-theists have no motive to act upon their promises and oaths. So they cannot be fit participants in civil contracts or be trusted when they appear before courts of law. Minus a belief in God, there is no reason to suppose that ignoring moral norms will not pay" (Byrne 2012). Locke's belief is belied by the fact that many religious persons have committed crimes and swore false oaths. At barest minimum, being religious is clearly no guarantee that one will behave piously. Likely, Locke would counter that while some religious people are immoral, all persons who do not believe in God are less likely to be moral.

Locke views the need for God in a more utilitarian fashion, as the glue that holds a society together rather than as an absolute truth. This may be another possible reason that Greek society frowned upon children turning in their parents -- the bond between family members was another instrument of social cohesion and to disturb it was seen as dangerous, just as much so as dishonoring the gods. Regardless, anecdotal evidence from our own secular society suggests that even in the absence of a belief in the divine, or at least membership in a formal religious institution or subscribing to a formal religion does not make someone more prone to 'fall' than a religious person. Systems of ethics can be upheld by feelings of kinship and social obligations to others because of family, community ties, or a sense of mutual reciprocity. There will always be a tension or a question as to which ties are more important, but as Euthyphro demonstrates, even someone who professes belief in the gods will be forced to balance such demands.

Works Cited

Byrne, Peter. "Moral Arguments for the Existence of God." The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2012 Edition). Edward N. Zalta (ed.). [11 Oct 2012] .

Ross, Kelley. "Comments on the Euthyphro." [11 Oct 2012]

http://www.friesian.com/euthyph.htm#four [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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