The Moral Nature of Humanity

People often point to religion as the basis for moral and ethical behavior. The common thought is that people behave morally as a result of God's laws, Jesus' teachings, etc. Though well-intentioned, this is simply not clear thinking.

Much of the teachings of religions around the world does indeed revolve around laying morals and codes of ethics, of defining how we should treat each other and respect each other. But that fact does not establish the morality began with religion. The fact is that morality exists all across the globe, irrespective of any different faith or lack thereof. I personally know many highly moral people who are not religious in any way, and I also know some highly religious people who do not seem to be moral in any significant way. Throughout history, some of the most immoral behavior has occurred as a manifestation of religious belief, perpetrated by people who have spent a lifetime both studying and teaching religious morality.

I would never suggest that being religious specifically breeds immoral behavior, but it clearly does not prevent it. Likewise, being non-religious does not guarantee moral behavior but it also does not prevent it. Mankind developed a tendency toward conscience and morality purely from the need to live peaceably together in societies. Religion may have found ways to codify and often to further the cause of morality, but in no clear sense can it be said to have created morality, or to be a necessary component of essential morality.

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