Is Religion Required for Morality?


ost religionists believe humans are immoral creatures by nature, and that without God and religion we’d be lost causes in terms of morality. This theory is easily debunked.

A whole host of prophets and philosophers came up with the Golden Rule before and after Jesus, and not all of their religions can be true, so even theists must concur that at least some of these great thinkers invented the Golden Rule, the underpinning of enlightened morality, all by themselves, with no help whatsoever from God, or at least that if the source of morality is divine, God seems to be no respecter of religions. The lord bestows inspiration, without prerequisites, to devotees and infidels alike.

American Beaver
Now, let us consider for a moment those role model rodents, beavers.

Beavers mate for life. Couples raise their children together. They protect their territory when necessary, but are tolerant of their neighbors, and they never kill their own kind (or for that matter any other animals; they are herbivores). They do not start wars. They are builders, not destroyers.

By virtually any standard beavers are moral animals.

How is it that beavers are so well behaved even if they’ve never sat for a single minute in Sunday school, or perused the Ten Commandments, or accepted Jesus Christ as their lord and savior?

Beavers receive no credit for their morality. They do not choose goodness, they merely follow their instincts. They are moral by nature.

Perhaps to theists natural morality doesn’t count. Moral behavior must be unpleasant, counter-intuitive, and against one’s best interests – in other words, completely insane – for it to register in the eyes of God, because then it is a symbol of faith and mindless obedience, which are ends in themselves.

Is it possible that humans are moral by nature? I’d like to think so, but there is strong evidence to the contrary. War, murder, rape, child abuse, torture, thievery. Perhaps humans have natural moral impulses, but we also have non-moral ones, or at least we have impulses that can be expressed in non-moral ways. We can be kind if we so wish, but we can also be cruel. And that raises an important question…

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 Posted by on February 23, 2012
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