From the time of Socrates, the nature of morality and whether or not it proceeds from religion has been debated.   As even today a majority of people claim some religious faith, the commonly held view is that morality descends from religion.  There are the three main arguments for those that believe morality cannot stand without religious beliefs:  First, that without religion providing motivation, people would not do the right thing.  Second, that religion provides guidance and shows people what the objectively right action is.  Finally, people have argued that without religion and the existence of God there would not even be a right and wrong since these concepts cannot exist without a God.  However, logic easily shows us that all of these arguments are invalid and that religion is not required or even useful in providing moral motivation or guidance and that morality exists independently of religion and God.

First, we must clearly define the terms of the argument.  Morality will be defined as “the tendency to evaluate the behaviour of others and to feel guilt at certain actions when we perform them”.  Religion is defined as belief in a supernatural power(s) that created and perhaps also control nature along with a tendency to worship and pray to those supernatural forces.  These assumptions are logical and clearly define the terms of the debate.  While others have argued that religion provides a motivating force to do the right thing and that people are incapable of doing the right thing otherwise, logic argues against this premise.  When making any choice there are a number of reasons people assess when deciding between actions.  There are many reasons to do the right thing and most of them are not related to religion at all.  There are societal and cultural pressures along with a myriad of other reasons to motivate people to do the right thing and so logic argues religion is not required as a motivating force.  This argument though simple, is readily self-evident, as religion at best only provides a further incentive to do good and is certainly never required as the only reason to do good.

Logic also argues against the premise of religion providing a moral understanding that humans are incapable of achieving alone.  This premise relies on an assumption that a God actually exists and raises debate on which of the many religions is the true one.  Even when looking at the bible or any other religious document there is debate on how literally to interpret it and which passages to highlight, as often times there are contradictions within the document itself.  Logic argues that rational thought and human intellect are enough to base morality on and that religion actually serves as a hindrance, allowing people to claim divine backing for beliefs they already hold.  This argument succeeds due to the innumerable historical examples both between and within religions of disagreements on the boundaries of the moral code.

Divine command theory, is the belief that without God morality and its laws would not exist and that only this theory can explain the objective difference between right and wrong.  Divine command theory presupposes that morality must even be objective when there is no reason to make that assumption.  Furthermore, if this theory were true then morality could change on God`s whim and as has happened according to the bible, order atrocities that are morally required.  The dialogue of Euthyphro by Plato contains a passage in which Euthyphro says that the Gods love what is holy because it is holy and he implies they do so with reason and not arbitrarily.  This means that if God approves kindness because it is a virtue he is discovering morality and not inventing it.

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