Before I start, let me state that this is not an attack on religion. I am a christian, and I ask you the reader, to view this post with an open mentality.
There are many similarities between concepts of ethics and the concepts of religious morality. By religious morality we are referencing the standards people worldwide adhere to in the name of their religion, but where religion and it’s teachings differ across the board, ethics remain universal.
What do I mean? set yourself in a modern day utopia, where religion is neither existent or a source of reference for legislation or civil behavior. In this Utopian society, we will call Ethina, the driving force behind the interactions of its citizens is ethics. Here, concepts such as the teaching of why plagiarism is wrong, is based on personal integrity. Not the judgment of a higher God or Gods. It would only be here, that society would be face to face with a functioning civilization void of war in regards to religious inequality, differences and the pressures to convert.
“Ethics is what you do when no one is looking”
Religions offer a stupendous set of moral guidelines to live by. But those guidelines differ across the board; creating various arguments between followers simply because what may be right for one group, is not necessarily right for others. And what is the definition of “right” when it comes to religion? Well, it’s whatever its God deems to be right, sets as a rule to live by, and uses as a criteria in judgement when entering heaven. Here is where ethics diverts from religious morality. For what is the principle meaning of ethics? Long story short, ethics is what you do when no one is looking. Ethics is the standard of what is good, just, and right that one lives by. And the sole purpose of living by these ethics is to preserve your personal integrity because it is what is universally right.
This is often why the pursuit of philosophy excludes the ideals of religion. For philosophy is a quest to learn and gather knowledge, and create standards for which all peoples can live by; regardless of religious standing and compromise. In religion, the way of living is determined by how a God or Gods will pass judgment on you if you veer from their rules. This is not just in terms of whether or not God deems you to be dammed to hell; moreover “hey you should not do that, its against my laws”. More people tend to do right or wrong, based upon the question of “What would God do?”, and that’s not often what is the right thing to do, depending on the religions. The real question should be “What should I do based on what is ethical”. In these two sentences the words would and should differ greatly.
Going back to our Utopian society; everyone’s God would do something different. But here, ethics paints a clear picture of what everyone should do.
“I say to you this, I would not live in a world where I could not dabble into philosophy without being strapped to and bound by the influences of religion.”
I leave you with this. As a Christian, I believe in God, and believe in everyone’s right to worship theirs. But I am no blind person. I see that my religion, and that of many, have their faults as well as great qualities. But I am an avid defender of ethics and practice it daily.
I say to you this, I would not live in a world where I could not dabble into philosophy, without being strapped to and bound by, the influences of religion. The whole purpose of philosophy is to explore the world and reason, without the influences of God and religious pressure. For that’s the only way humans can find what is truly right, not what a belief tells you is right.
So here I stand, a Catholic and an ethical thinker. While I would like to bring my religion with me into Ethina, I cannot ethically risk the success of peace and perfection, by including bias truths of morality. That is a question we must all ask ourselves. Would you?
© C. J. LEGER September 13, 2017