Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Christians always equate morality to religion. My friend of which I lend my book of "Atheism: The Case Against God" by George Smith called me on the phone and told me that he was not convinced of Mr. Smith's arguments even though he was still in the beginning of the book, my friend being a Catholic for 35 years cannot imagine living a life without God and argued that "why would one still do good things to others if he does not believe in God?". He believes that a person will have no moral foundation in the absence of God, and that a person without God can do any abominable deeds, a belief that many Christians hold even in this modern times. As a former Catholic who was raised literally in the church (as my father is a church caretaker and I was an altar boy) I understand his sentiments.

Obviously, he missed the end of the book where it discusses about morality. This is an attempt to summarize Mr. Smith's some point of view about morality as well as my opinion.

Man's morality and values has nothing to do with religion, let alone Christianity. If you'll examine closely, man's values has something to with his survival. For human to preserve his existence, he will do things that will benefit him. But first, some definitions, Moralism, according to Webster's is the practice of or belief in a system of morals independent of religion. Whereas, morals is relating to character and human behaviour, particularly as regards right and wrong. Ethics on the other hand is a moral principle or set of principle.

Christians based their principles on the Bible and is commonly known as "religious morality". It defends a universal moral order established by god and existing independently of man, e.g. other Christians believe that god's law is different from man's law. It is by nature, authoritarian, where one supreme being will punish the believer if he did not comply with moral rules of the Book. Christian ethics however is deontological, or duty-centered, where the "good" is defined with the moral rules set by the Bible. Mother Theresa once said that she is not helping the poor out of her own volition, but rather she is assigned by God to do the task of which she cannot refuse. Obedience is the major virtue, disobedience is the major vice.

Evidently, religious morality has made it's way to the laws of the land of some countries creating oppression and injustice. For example, in the middle eastern countries, women has few social rights than men. This practice was even carried out to some Christian sect, depriving women members of preaching and must humble themselves to their husbands.

Rational morality, on the other hand, is a code of values required by man for his survival, well-being and happiness. These code of values were made via logical approach, e.g. to obtain x one must do y. Man must make a decision about the reality that confronts him in order to survive. Does it mean that each man may seek to expoit and trample his neighbor? No. Man is a physiological as well as psychological organism, so any random action that will not benefit his physical well-being will also not benefit his psychological well-being. He may do self-destructive actions but he will not be able to escape its physical and psyschological consequences. When you pick up the end of the stick, you also pick up the other. Christian morality prohibits theft, but it doesn't mean rejecting Christian morality means approval of theft. It is possible for religious morality to coincide with rational morality, although many assuredly do not.

Christians may believe that human morality always comes from the Bible, is it safe to assume that without the Bible there is no morality. Why is it immoral for Christian countries to have more than one wife while it is moral for Arabs? If there is one god that created the earth and the sky, then why is there no one moral standards?

These are just some of the many questions about religious morality, I just hope that my friend may someday see the light at the end of the tunnel.