Comments about ‘Does the world think religion is necessary for morality?’

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Published: Wednesday, March 19 2014 12:50 p.m. MDT

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liberty or ...?
Ogden, UT

Unfortunately, the world has tried this before thinking they could invent their own morality. The french revolution was supposed to be new age of reason and a new morality, it became an immoral nightmare, Mussolini and the other socialists of the early 20th century rejected relgious moral authority as well or tried to hijack it like the Nazis or turn it into a tool of the state like the communists again the nightmare followed. We embraced the 60s new morality only to see our crime rate shoot through the roof are family units fall apart poverty sky rocket and a moral apathy that advocates freedom w/out responsibility with a new nightmare of PC thought control dictated by mobs. Thomas Paine made the same mistake thinking morality could exist w/out God only to realize that Franklin, Washington,and Adams were right all along. without a supreme authority and eventual accountability to a higher power mans morality is as constant as trying to hold water in your bare hands. Morality is only defined by the times and whims of men to be embraced or disregarded at will. Or as washington said no God no Morality

Cedar Hills, UT

Where did the notion and principles of morality orignate from? Darwin? The Romans? The Egytains? Maybe the cavemen or the dinosaurs? Where did the following priciples originate from ???

*the 10 commandents ...thou shalt not steal or kill or covet or bear false witness etc..
*Love thy neighbor as thy self
*Be kind to those that hate you and use you
*Turn the other cheeck
*Protect the innocent including little chidren
*Pull the moat out of your eye before citisizing what is in your neighbors eye
*Be honest and truthful

and the list goes on....

so again where did all of these societal principles originate from??? One place - Jesus Christ. Yes other religions taught some principles but no where near to the degree that Jesus taught them.

so do away with Jesus and do away with morality and say goodbye to society ....say hello to Sodom and Gomorrah...which by the way you can visit by simply going to New York City or Chicago or LA....

Salt Lake City, UT

State with the highest rate of atheism? New Hampshire
State with the lowest violent crime rates in the nation? New Hampshire.

Religion is not necessary for morality. (By the way, I'm not going to use that one state to try and claim the inverse either, looking at all 50 states there's pretty much no correlation. I have no interest in trying to prove religion increases immorality anyway since I am a Christian myself; I'm merely arguing that claiming atheists are immoral is a bigoted claim).

Ontario, OR

The question is pretty meaningless. Of course there are people who have no religion who still have moral principles. We LDS explain that as having "the light of Christ." There have been striking examples of people who have committed everything from fraud to genocide in the name of religion. The Pharisees of Jesus' time were religion personified, but Jesus was unimpressed. What matters is that we can examine our own faith and conscience and, as President Hinckley used to counsel, "be a better people."

American Fork, UT

America and the rest of the world routinely prove that, since God is an entirely subjective concept, not only can we lead a moral life without it, we do, and that much of the worlds' problems and violence are enabled and encouraged by it. Morality originated because we are capable of learning and passing on knowledge either culturally or genetically, and we learned what was necessary for us to survive. We developed a sense of respect for one another, and a revulsion to killing one another. Protecting our young is innate in all species. It is unwise, and arrogant, to claim we have exclusivity to morality and therefore to enforce it externally.

Hank Pym

re: patriot

I'll see your observation & counter with...

Whatever the role of religious moral imperatives... (its) a “Johnny-come-lately” role that emerged only as an addition to our natural instincts for cooperation and empathy. - The Bonobo and the Atheist by Frans De Waal

p.s. The 10 Commandments originated w/ Jesus???

Bountiful, UT

Religion can be a powerful force for good or ill. When kids to Sunday school and are taught to be kind to others and to be honest this helps a lot. When adults are taught to forgive likewise. When religions place needless burdensome restrictions on people, this is a needless hindrance to quality of life. Religions have done worse than this. Its a mixed bag.

Far East USA, SC

"U.S. respondents were much more likely to say that belief in God is necessary to be a good person"

How did that notion get put in someones mind? Possibly by their religious leaders?
Pretty sad actually.

And a great followup question would then be, which version of God throughout the world is required to be a "good person".

There are many acts that fall under the umbrella of "moral" but differ by religion.

Is it morally wrong to

Eat meat on Friday during lent?
Drink coffee or wine?
Play golf on Sunday?
Not fast during Ramadan?

Do moral rules change based on your religion?

It is an uphill battle to defend the notion that morality does not exist without religion.
One must first define what is moral, and who the rules apply to.

Good luck with that.

Bountiful, UT

Re Joe Blow

Morality isn't that hard to define. Its the golden rule .. as practiced by a wise person.

A Quaker
Brooklyn, NY

@patriot: I think you're missing the fact that most of those codified teachings about morality codified notions of morality that already existed. We're a social creature, descended from other social creatures, with a strong tendency to form bands and tribes. The cohesiveness of any social group depends on agreed-upon behavior and relationships. The ability to live, forage, and hunt in a group, and support each other, gives great survival advantage when you're surrounded by predators, or when food is scarce. We see this in bands of primates, and even of simians.

I realize many people don't believe in evolution, and will be insulted by, or at least scoff at the parallels, but the primatologists who have studied this make a pretty good case for it. Cooperation, respect, and caring about your neighbors is the difference between a bunch of competitive, squabbling individuals, and a strong, cohesive community.

When we formulated religions, to some extent it was to rebuild those bonds that we lost when we moved into agricultural communities that were less immediately dependent on each other. One way or another, we're still tribal.

the truth
Holladay, UT

Without a bedrock from which build your morals, your morals will no stronger than the shifting sands.

My prospective is people not living their religion has caused ills, not religion itself.

What terrible ill was ever caused by those living the gospel if Jesus Christ?

salt lake, UT

since mythologies and religions creation by men they have always been one of the vehicles used to transmit social values and have been used to maintain (sometimes to brutal ends) social order, but they are not the source of social values. The risk associated with modern religions is there inability to adapt to the changing world and our understanding of it. If religions continue to fail to respond to the changing needs of people to understand and respond to their world, then they will stop being relevant in peoples lives. The question is how much harm do those religions that fail to respond to the needs of modern society do before they fade away?

salt lake, UT

sorry that should be, were created by men

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

Religion is necessary for morality in the same way Zeus is necessary to explain lightning. That said, it is a sad fact of our species that many still seem to require the promise of eternal reward or (more likely) the threat of eternal torture to follow their own moral intuitions.

But there is hope – all we need to do is look at the happiest countries in the world (based on measurements including low crime) - countries like Sweden, Canada, Denmark, New Zealand, Japan, Norway, Australia, etc. - and contrast them with most religious countries in the world, to see clearly the relationship between belief in God (or more specifically, pre-modern books proclaiming to issue divine commands) and ethical behavior. Hint - the two are inversely correlated.

@the truth – “Without a bedrock from which build your morals, your morals will no stronger than the shifting sands.”

I agree, and the most solid bedrock we have is to avoid unnecessary suffering for as many conscious beings as possible. All our moral intuitions, ethics and codes of conduct simply work backwards from this basic axiom.

Harwich, MA

Religion has failed humanity since it's humanly inception.
Not unlike many others religion failed me in many ways.
I'm a nice guy. I treat humanity, the ecology, animals and the environment with care and respect. That comes from me, not from magical hats, clothing appearance. Not from books, guilt or devotion, just from me.
The culture of religion is for some, not for me.

Karen R.
Houston, TX

The question that was asked was if a belief in God is necessary to be moral. Answer: No, but as others have said before me, a belief in a god or a religion is often what leads moral people to do immoral things.

@ the truth: "My prospective is people not living their religion has caused ills, not religion itself."

When I think of some of the things to be found in holy books, I am exceedingly grateful that people don't live their religions. I wish they'd live even less of them than they do.

@ patriot: I've never understood why the 10 Commandments are so revered. The first four reveal a self-centered and insecure being. The next five we already knew or we wouldn't have survived long enough to learn to write. And the last one creates thought crime. All together they don't paint a picture of a very impressive god. They do, however, reflect what you would expect to find in a rather immature human being.

Here, UT

The majority of people once said the Earth was flat too. They were also wrong.

Midwest City, USA, OK

It's not necessary to be religious to do good things, but without God in the picture, it is impossible to assert that those things are in fact "good". You might argue, for instance, that something such as personal liberty or privacy, or abstaining from harming others, are good things... But if there is no form of divine law or standard, you can't argue that those things are actually "good", as morality is at that point an arbitrary human construct.

For example, if someone believes that some form of "God" has instructed mankind not to eat meat, then they don't eat meat-doing so would be evil. If a person doesn't believe in any specific divine presence or law and insists on being vegetarian, however, there is no basis upon which they can insist that their choice is in any way morally or ethically preferable to any other dietary choice. The right to own property, raise children, or even live are all subject to this. Outside the decree of a loving God, there simply isn't any absolute, "self-evident" concept of personal rights.

Philadelphia, PA

TheTruth asks, "What terrible ill was ever caused by those living the gospel if Jesus Christ?"

Quite a few, my friend. The problem always comes down to who's doing the "living."

The Christian banner has brought us:

Antisemitism, which persists unto this day. Discrimination, persecution, ostracism, exile from entire countries, pogroms and even industrialized slaughterhouses where millions died at the hands of an ostensibly Christian nation.

The Crusades, which even though the Christians lost, incensed our Moslem brothers, establishing a persistent excuse for retaliation, in the minds of some.

The Inquisition, in which hundreds of thousands were forcibly converted, tortured, exiled, or put to death.

Witchcraft trials, in which Colonial townspeople tortured and killed, mostly women, for offenses such as practicing herbal medicine, or extramarital dalliance.

Primitivism, rejection of science and modern medicine, parents allowing their own children to die of easily curable ills through blind belief that God directly cares for the faithful. (Meanwhile, God was screaming at them to call the doctor, but they refused listen.)




I could go on. Faith can lead to incredible ill when practiced by absolutists or opportunists.

Coach Biff
Lehi, UT

The non-religious and anti religious will oft times point out the horrors committed in the name of religion, and where they have a point to a certain extent, it ignores the fact that the the worst holocausts in human history were committed by those whose tenets espoused atheism (or whatever ism you want to call it) I'm talking of Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, etc. The comparison isn't even close. The red herring of New Hampshire or Vermont being the lowest crime rates in the nation is a complete red herring. Do non-religious folks act morally? Of course. Do religious folks act immorally? For sure. The question is, where did the ability to act in a moral manner come from? Also, how is that learning passed down to the next generation? Religion fills that need better than any other method.

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