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Can religion make one moral?

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Jolthig
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Can religion make one moral?

Postby Jolthig » Tue Dec 05, 2023 6:56 pm

Can religion make someone moral?

This is a tricky question. Religion purports to make man moral in order to connect him with God, and yet, multiple individuals throughout history and to this day, use religion to commit heinous crimes.

Yet, for religion, religious people say, a fear and love of God keeps one moral and in line.

So the question would be if religion makes one moral or not?

My answer to this is that, yes, by the book (not necessarily describing actions here), religion can make one moral. It gives one a structure and a system, code of conduct to follow. A "constitution" for oneself if you call it that. It's the dos and donts, and religion, such as Islam and Christianity will encourage the feeding of the poor and needy, being kind to neighbors and others, as well as keeping away from adultery and fornication.

Then the fact Islam has three stages of the spiritual self: the self that incites to evil, the self reproving Self, and the soul at rest.

Basically in a nutshell: Animalistic desires, practicing religion but stumbles here and there, and then, one who is the full embodiment of the faith and God is well pleased with them.

Islam has a system of evolution for each individual as they progress in their relationship with Allah and their moral qualities reflect in that. The closer to God they are, the more moral they become.

In action, religion can make one moral, but it's also the choice of the individual to fully observe that religion, and if they are the true embodiment of it. There are those that are quite sincere in their faith, and there are those that are hypocritical and use religion to mask their shortcomings.

Of course, I will concede, my use of "religion" is not an objective manner, in the sense of the makeup of world beliefs. Religions will differ on many things and define morality in different ways and therefore my usage of it, cannot represent all faiths, and at best, I can only talk of my own experiences.

I will say Islam gave me a much better structure in life and to take life more seriously.

At the same time, I will acknowledge there are many non-religious folks who are wonderful people even if I may not agree with their lifestyles, their hearts are in the right place and they want what's best for all.

I think it's part of the natural human impulse to try to do good. It is inherent in all, if not, the most of us. Although of course, that can also be subjective as the environment can determine such natural impulse.

With that said, let us discuss.
Last edited by Jolthig on Tue Dec 05, 2023 7:07 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Technoscience Leftwing » Tue Dec 05, 2023 8:24 pm

From the point of view of Marxism, morality is, firstly, a changeable thing - among people in antiquity it was different than under feudalism, and in primitive society it was different than now. Secondly, morality is not always a good thing - moral systems that instill obedience of the poor to the rich are bad and reactionary.

In particular, religiouse morality is reactionary: a person, for religious reasons, submits to unjust orders and individuals, considers people of other faiths to be enemies and strangers, hopes for an afterlife paradise instead of improving the real world, and is gentle towards his fellow believers and neighbors not out of a sense of empathy, but out of a feeling of fear of hellish torment (if he loses faith in a very dubious thesis and the existence of hell and the afterlife, he will begin to harm people). That is, in this case, morality is an instrument of the ruling class and slows down scientific, technological and social progress, and in the positive effect of restraining aggressiveness, it relies on illusions about hell and a heavenly overseer instead of earthly comradely compassion.

In contrast to religion, materialists proposed a different moral system, in which what is good is what serves the earthly happiness of the majority of people.
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Postby Saint Kanye » Tue Dec 05, 2023 8:28 pm

Can religion make one moral? Yes.
Is it the only thing that can make one moral? No.
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Postby Floofybit » Tue Dec 05, 2023 8:33 pm

Depends on the religion.
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Postby Bombadil » Tue Dec 05, 2023 8:34 pm

Personally I think there is only one moral code - do not steal.

That is, do not steal someone's life, do not steal their livelihood, do not steal what is theirs, or even steal by taking more of your fair share. In terms of the homeless person stealing a loaf of bread, society has stolen far more from them than a loaf of bread, so in balance society owes that person a loaf of bread while their act of stealing is still stealing from the bread owner, so the bread owner does deserve some restitution.

I think the concept of fairness is ingrained without the need for religion, give one monkey a pellet and another a grape and the pellet monkey gets outraged at the unfairness. We inherently know what theft is, whether physically or out of injustice or unequal treatment.

So you can probably build can entire moral and legal structure off the idea of - do not steal - which is kind of what we've done anyway.

One of the reasons I didn't take up law despite getting a degree was a single case. It was a hedge between two neighbours, one would cut his side and the other wouldn't so the cutter sued because he felt the person was stealing from him in the sense of lowering the value of his house. Given England's long history, it went back and back and back to discover who owned the hedge.

Anyway, it taught me that the only reason we have the law is because people are dicks, and I didn't want a career dealing with dicks.

Anyway - do not steal, it's a simple rule that we should innately understand and has no need for religion.
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Postby Order of Maesters » Tue Dec 05, 2023 8:39 pm

Religion can help to make someone moral.

But it entirely depends on the beliefs of the religion.

Because religion can very easily motivate someone to be immoral or worse.

There are far better sources of morality than religion.
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Postby Benuty » Tue Dec 05, 2023 9:39 pm

Order of Maesters wrote:Religion can help to make someone moral.

But it entirely depends on the beliefs of the religion.

Because religion can very easily motivate someone to be immoral or worse.

There are far better sources of morality than religion.

I'd have agreed with you if it wasn't for the last line here because the last sentence because how one can judge systems of morality without making an objective claim. The problem is that I don't think you can without running into a battle of dogma.
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Postby Order of Maesters » Tue Dec 05, 2023 10:08 pm

Benuty wrote:
Order of Maesters wrote:Religion can help to make someone moral.

But it entirely depends on the beliefs of the religion.

Because religion can very easily motivate someone to be immoral or worse.

There are far better sources of morality than religion.

I'd have agreed with you if it wasn't for the last line here because the last sentence because how one can judge systems of morality without making an objective claim. The problem is that I don't think you can without running into a battle of dogma.

Its about motivation.

Morality can come from philosophy. It can come from reason. It can come from common sense. But all of these things spring from within human beings and our desire to find how to coexist in an equitable and tolerable manner.

Fundamentally, religiously inspired morality does not - or rather claims not to - come from within humanity. Religious inspired morality comes from on high - it is dictated to us - and is backed up with the threat of guilt, reprisal, damnation and a host of other intolerable immoral things.

So while yes religion can indeed help to make someone moral but that morality is far more brittle and, frankly, less meaningful, since its being imposed upon us by a higher power and we are in effect coerced to obey.

"I believe stealing from my neighbour is wrong because I care for his welfare as a fellow human being" - a secular humanist explanation - is more commendable than "I believe stealing from my neigbour is wrong because God/cripture told me to."
Last edited by Order of Maesters on Tue Dec 05, 2023 10:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby The Black Forrest » Tue Dec 05, 2023 10:29 pm

Religon can’t make a person moral; only the person can choose to live a moral life.

The problem? Morality is rather subjective.
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Postby Vikanias » Tue Dec 05, 2023 11:09 pm

I can already hear the stampede of NSG atheists.
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Postby Jubiloso » Tue Dec 05, 2023 11:15 pm

Bombadil wrote:Personally I think there is only one moral code - do not steal.

Am I to assume you think murder is fine?

I'm joking of course, but honestly, how did you miss that?

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Postby Order of Maesters » Tue Dec 05, 2023 11:24 pm

Jubiloso wrote:
Bombadil wrote:Personally I think there is only one moral code - do not steal.

Am I to assume you think murder is fine?

I'm joking of course, but honestly, how did you miss that?

I think Bombadil is being a bit more expansive with the term steal.

To murder is to steal someone's life, after all.
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Postby The Free Joy State » Tue Dec 05, 2023 11:31 pm

I think, if one is only kept "in line" by fear of a higher power, then that's not being truly moral. If someone would be out doing horrendous acts, but for fear of Hell (other celestial punishment), then that is not a sign that religion has made them moral; it's a sign that religion has made them afraid.

True morality involves not having an urge to commit murder, rape, to steal (excluding times of extremis, such as a starving man and food, which is hard to judge), to harm those who had wronged you, not having the thought, "well I would do X, but then I might anger my deity".

Not saying that religious people aren't capable of being moral; they are (I have a religion, and try to do good in the world).

But I don't think religion automatically makes a person moral. Also, there are many moral irreligious people.
Last edited by The Free Joy State on Tue Dec 05, 2023 11:33 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Kostane » Tue Dec 05, 2023 11:34 pm

Bombadil wrote:Personally I think there is only one moral code - do not steal.

That is, do not steal someone's life, do not steal their livelihood, do not steal what is theirs, or even steal by taking more of your fair share. In terms of the homeless person stealing a loaf of bread, society has stolen far more from them than a loaf of bread, so in balance society owes that person a loaf of bread while their act of stealing is still stealing from the bread owner, so the bread owner does deserve some restitution.

I think the concept of fairness is ingrained without the need for religion, give one monkey a pellet and another a grape and the pellet monkey gets outraged at the unfairness. We inherently know what theft is, whether physically or out of injustice or unequal treatment.

So you can probably build can entire moral and legal structure off the idea of - do not steal - which is kind of what we've done anyway.

One of the reasons I didn't take up law despite getting a degree was a single case. It was a hedge between two neighbours, one would cut his side and the other wouldn't so the cutter sued because he felt the person was stealing from him in the sense of lowering the value of his house. Given England's long history, it went back and back and back to discover who owned the hedge.

Anyway, it taught me that the only reason we have the law is because people are dicks, and I didn't want a career dealing with dicks.

Anyway - do not steal, it's a simple rule that we should innately understand and has no need for religion.


It is a bit more complicated than just not stealing — like you mentioned with a homeless person stealing a loaf of bread. Does one infraction allow for another one? In which case, there is no morality because it’s entirely subjective based off of what is perceived as “stealing.” Taken to its extreme, this philosophy is the same as that of a serial killer who feels rejected by society and decides to “steal” the lives of many in retaliation.

And of course, there is the problem of ownership. Can you steal something that does not belong to someone? Obviously, burning a forest down is wrong, and maybe you could use an expansive definition of “steal” to call that stealing from the land / people who could gain enjoyment. But at that point, where you consider the ripple effects of every action to determine its morality, the word steal becomes meaningless because either you cannot do anything in your life because the resources humanity has access to are finite, and therefore every action is stealing. Otherwise, you are drawing the line at some point, and that point is subjectively determined not by whether it is “stealing,” but whether you see it as right or wrong.

It is because of these things that religion is necessary — most religions call for some sort of prayer / reflection in order to make moral actions. Subscribing to many philosophies can leave out case-by-case situations, but belief in a God, even if imagined, ultimately means that either God will guide you and as such you will make moral decisions, or at a minimum you think about the consequences of your actions in terms of more than just the human consequence.
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Postby The Black Forrest » Tue Dec 05, 2023 11:41 pm

Vikanias wrote:I can already hear the stampede of NSG atheists.


Actually; that was just a long distance team doing a training run.
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Postby Shangjunshu » Wed Dec 06, 2023 1:00 am

It's a non question. Morals make you moral. Arbitrary obedience is not a moral. The religious right preaches that non-biblically-dictated morality is not morality because they don't take it as having an "objective" divine source. If you obey the Bible, they call you moral.

The Bible is not, of course, even the only possible idea of divine inspiration; the Mohists took the impartial radiance of the sun as a moral idea.
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Postby Page » Wed Dec 06, 2023 1:18 am

In terms of morality, I'm a consequentialist, so while I answer Jolthig's question with a maybe, I must subsequently ask another: DOES religion make one moral? Like as a general rule. And to that, I say the answer is absolutely not.

I don't really care what's going on inside a person's head. For all I know, there's somebody in my life with the exact same sick impulses and fetishes as Jeffrey Dahmer, but unlike Dahmer, they rein them in constantly and never ever act upon them. Actions are what matter, so if I'm in need and you help me but later alone at home you're fantasizing about murdering me and eating me, so long as you don't ever ever tell me (because creeping people out is immoral), it's no problem.

Jesus says me looking lustfully at a total stranger and playing a 2 second movie in my head of them in my bed is as good as cheating on my spouse. I say that's malarkey. And indeed, religion's obsession with unattainable and unsustainable purity, I say that amounts to a waste of energy, a waste of restraint. If you put effort into trying to change who you are and what you like, you won't have any energy left for good deeds. Just do the good deeds.
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Postby Emotional Support Crocodile » Wed Dec 06, 2023 2:11 am

Is behaving in a moral way the same as being a moral person, or is it just a mask of morality?
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Postby The Sovereign Republic of Sol » Wed Dec 06, 2023 2:15 am

Emotional Support Crocodile wrote:Is behaving in a moral way the same as being a moral person, or is it just a mask of morality?

Yes it is, having temptation is normal, resisting temptation is not evil, quite the opposite
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Postby Factorio Inc » Wed Dec 06, 2023 2:16 am

Depends on what you think morality is, Ancient people preformed human sacrife and they would have called it moral as to them it ensured the sun would rise tommorw
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Postby Shangjunshu » Wed Dec 06, 2023 2:20 am

Emotional Support Crocodile wrote:Is behaving in a moral way the same as being a moral person, or is it just a mask of morality?

You should in fact be immoral internally so that you do not stress over it neurotically.

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Postby The Sovereign Republic of Sol » Wed Dec 06, 2023 2:24 am

Everyone is somewhat immoral internally, but resisting the urge to do evil is in of itself a moral act
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Postby The Free Joy State » Wed Dec 06, 2023 3:00 am

The Sovereign Republic of Sol wrote:Everyone is somewhat immoral internally, but resisting the urge to do evil is in of itself a moral act

Again, the reason why also plays into morality, I think -- if we're assuming morality is an individual's internal code, and not a set of rules that's externally imposed (which doesn't require morality, just obedience).

It's true that everyone has "negative" thoughts... about a boss, about some ex that caused them emotional pain, or even a person who rammed their trolley by at the supermarket with a passive-aggressive "excuse me". No-one's a saint. But, if the only reason someone -- like that would-be cannibal Page was talking about upthread -- doesn't turn these fleeting thoughts to action is because they fear God's wrath (because some outside force is wagging their finger) that doesn't suggest strong internal morality.

Internal morality would require another reasoning than "God says it's wrong", a code that remains consistent regardless of what the Book says.
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Postby Orcuo » Wed Dec 06, 2023 5:22 am

I think it depends on what religion; but I would say that most religions attempt to make their followers ‘moral’.
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Postby Risottia » Wed Dec 06, 2023 5:35 am

Jolthig wrote:Can religion make someone moral?

No.

If a person is unethical, the best you can get from him is scaring him through religion is scaring him into following a moral code out of fear of future retribution, or persuading him into following the same moral code out of hope for a future gain.

People are ethical or unethical independently of religion.
Last edited by Risottia on Wed Dec 06, 2023 5:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
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