A debate has been ongoing regarding whether one can be moral and fail to believe in God. In America particularly, a culture war is looming over the purpose of religion in the society. Those in support of religion maintain that believing in God is crucial for morality. On the contrary, secular humanists refute this claim and deliberate that an alternative foundation exists for ethical conduct. Just like, we cannot see or feel God, moral values are the same, although no one can refute their existence. Therefore, believing in a spiritual being to some extent can play a part in a person’s moral beliefs, although it is not necessary. In this regard, my position regarding the debate is that a person can be moral and fail to believe in God, since it is up to the individual to choose to be moral.
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Philosophically, history depicts the endeavors of great thinkers like Aristotle to create a rational foundation for ethical conduct. These great thinkers said that ethics can be independent and does not require any theological justification (Durant, 2012). Their emphasis is the requirement for self-restrain as well as temperance in an individual’s desires. According to Plato, the heart is guided by enthusiasm, ambition, and motive. Plato considered that the rational individual being controlled by wisdom could lead a dignified life of balance and control (Lafollette, 2000). The aim is to identify our complete creative abilities including the capability of moral conduct. People can achieve a good life in absence of divinity. It is just incorrect that in case one does not believe in God, things go astray.
Crime wise, many infamous actions have been committed in God’s name, such as the Crusades and the carnage happening in Yugoslavia. This makes it hard to maintain that morality is guaranteed by believing in God. Therefore, it is the extent of intolerance to maintain that just those who support religious dogma are moral whereas those who do not are evil. Truthfully, from God’s fatherhood, religion supporters have drawn paradoxical moral commandments. A good exemplar is the Muslims; they insist that polygamy is inspired divinely (Badawi, n.d). On the other hand, Catholics believe in monogamy and refute divorce. Many Protestants as well as Jews allow divorce in particular circumstances. The name of God has been invoked in favor of and against war, slavery, as well as in capital punishment. The German and French army praised God while marching to slaughter others during the world wars (New World Records, n.d). The question that ought to be asked is whether one can be completely ethical if he has a caring moral conscience.
Contrarily, religion is major determinate of a person’s morality. Believing in God means respecting His teachings, which if well interpreted can lead to eternity. A person qualifying for eternity is definitely one with good morals while on earth. Therefore, religionists have a base to insist that everything is permitted if one fails to belief in God. This implies doing evil, which makes one unethical. Religionists’ belief in existence of God implies that the notion of good and evil exists whereas the claims by the opponents make this notion lose its force (Swinburne, 2008). Today, the society is becoming more secular, banning prayer in public places, such as schools, thereby decreasing the moral tone of the culture. This is not just historical coincidence but a relationship existing between belief in God and ethics.
In conclusion, a person can be moral and fail to believe in God, because it depends on the individual to choose to be moral. Being moral requires controlling desires and having wisdom. People have committed crimes in the name of God and thus, it is difficult to insist that believing in God makes one moral, although religionists insist that believing in God is solely necessary for good morals. Clearly, believing in God without practicing His teaching is useless and cannot make one moral. However, having self-control and acting with wisdom in controlling behavior makes one morally upright.