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NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Ethics and Religion
Article ID: 13152
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 2,425
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Author: Disciple of Oghma
Posted: February 15th. 2009
Times Viewed: 2,516
For centuries religions the world over have claimed the field of ethics as their domain. What are ethics you may ask? They are a philosophical system of reasoning ideals. They consist of the reasoning of checks and balances of the rightness of an action. They weigh want and need against the rights of self and others. It is a system of philosophy where one decides if what one wishes to do is right or wrong.
Just as logic decides what is and is not the nature of a thing. When we are passing along our knowledge to our young we teach them logical reasoning ability so they can understand the world they see, hear, taste, and touch rather than just making them memorized banks of data.
So should we also instruct them how to consider consequences and take responsibility for their actions? So when we are teaching our young systems of grammatical, scientific, and mathematical thought why do we not instruct them in ethics? Why do we leave the instruction of this most important reasoning ability to the often scheming and clumsy hands of a swarm of fractious faiths?
In a world where no two religions or even sects of the same religion agree on anything why is this most important reasoning ability left the their divisive superstitious tinkering? Why can we not simply instruct our young, independent of our religious views, to live nobly? Why not equip them with the ability to be able to determine whether to fulfill one's desire will harm or infringe upon another's rights and whether it is right and just to do so? Why do we have to create religious aspect and mix superstitions into it?
Why not teach them to reason instead of giving them an inflexible template law that does not bend to grapple with unforeseen futures, or worse, give them no direction and leave them completely free to abuse others to their own selfish ends?
Creating a law of commandments that you are damned for not following does not nurture a child's reasoning ability nor does it do anything but teach them conformity. Mixing this brand of control with the idea of love is also despicable. Creating a system of rules and punishments and creating spiritual aspects of a person to imperil does not teach responsibility. When combined with a panacea excuse of conformist forgiveness it not only encourages irresponsible views to one actions but it also gives people a destructive license to do as they wish ignoring consequences. Worse, it encourages a self-righteous hatred and even distorted perception of love as an excuse to violate others rights.
The idea that harassing someone and even exercising violence toward them will drive them to conform to your views and "save them" borders on depravity. The "Obey and conform or you don't love God" is a fiendish invention of religious despotism and should not be encouraged.
Equally counterproductive is the ideas of anarchic "do as you want as long as no one obviously gets hurt by it". This selfish mentality is no direction at all. Most people who are genuinely seeking enlightenment do find direction in it, but really only because they practice ethical thinking. To an immature person this is can become as spiritually pointless a directive as the idea of cleansing oneself in an eternal blood sacrifice.
The liberal ideas of the "do what ye will" religions work as a guideline but it does not replace the need to think ethically. It more so underlines our need to do so. Also we must separate our spiritual guidelines from our ethical reasoning or we start creating spiritual aspect to govern our thought and using mystery to make logical calculations is ridiculous.
We flee the system of deific judgment for adoption of ideals such as karma where some unidentifiable aspect of the universe will punish you for hurtful deeds (whether in this life or the next) . This is no more logical than the "damned or saved" mentality.
I don't belittle people who look at these ideas to try and fathom the physiology of the universe. But it is impractical to try and replace a responsible thought with a scolding from the universe. We need to utilize methods that encourage people to be considerate of other thoughts, needs, and desires to build personal responsibility and integrity.
I do not disparage religious desire to fathom the universe, our origin, and our place in it. I see this personal quest and experimentation with ideas and metaphorical constructs to be necessary to our evolution as a species. But I see religion using dogma to influence a person's lifestyle and decisions as a way to subjugate and control. That action is most despicable. Religion should be a servant and a vessel of man to reach enlightenment, honor, and understanding. It is not the duty of a faith to decide how a person should live, love, and to seek happiness for them. It is the duty of a faith to serve and uplift the world not to lead it. It is neither moral nor honorable to collar a child with a law, as it is to give them no direction or nurturing.
I believe that we must take a firmer hand in the shaping of the world and in the future than our fathers did. We need to teach our children, and ourselves for that matter, to stop and analyze what we wish to do and decide if it infringes upon another's rights to live and to pursue happiness before we do them. The lack of this ability has caused abominations in the past.
Injustices from slavery and genocide to religious wars and bigotry are the consequences of the willful ignorance of this value. Adopting a state of mind where we can consider others and the consequences of our actions is not only desirable but also necessary.
If we can adopt this as reasonable responsibility free of the entangling mysteries of a faith then perhaps we can have integrity and honor without having to invent spiritual forces that have to cajole, threaten, and blackmail us into behaving like adults.
Religion should compliment this instruction. But Teaching ethics should be as personal and important as teaching them science or math. We need to develop wisdom and integrity to compliment our ever-growing knowledge. For integrity without knowledge is impotent and useless, but knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.
Disciple of Oghma
Location: Lafayette, Indiana
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