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15 Cards in this Set

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  • Back

Connection between religion and morality


Aquinas - ‘there must also be something which is to all beings the cause of their being, goodness and every other perfection, and this we call God’

Aquinas based his argument on Plato’s archetypes (that realities of the human mind are pale copies of a greater unseen reality)

Connection between religion and morality

COpleston and Russell

F.C. Copleston ‘I do think that all goodness reflects God in some way’. He maintained that it was necessary to refer to Ged when distinguishing between Good and Evil.

Bertrand Russell argued against this ‘I love the things that I think are good and I hate the things that I think are bad. I don’t say these things are good because they participate in the divine goodness’.

Implications of religious morality

Braithwaite claimed that to be religious and make religious claims is to be committed to a set of moral values - religious language is the language of morality and believers have committed themselves to a way of behaving, refraining and fulfilling certain actions.

A religious believer cannot be immoral without punishment due to eschatological punishment. Equally without God morality may be pointless

Euthyphro Dilemma

Does God Command X because it is good, or is X good because God commands it?

Does God command X means goodness is separate from God

While it is good because he commands it means God decides what is good (could exploit it) Is Gods command enough to say something is Good?

Problems with the DIlemma

Is law arbitrary if good is decided by God?

If god does not express something is good what is it?

Is what God says a moral law - Exodus 23ff has laws with no moral status.

Atheists can still make reliable moral decisions

Is morality through fear of Gods punishment a good basis for morality?

Second position (god commands what is good) limits God’s will as he doesn’t establish morality.

IS morality opposed to religion?

  • If belief in God requires man to accept and be obedient then freedom is violated, whatever the relationship between God and morality.
  • If man isn’t free to make his own moral choices then he cannot be truly moral since morality must then be coerced.
  • Is a God that demands man surrender his freedom worthy of worship?
  • Freud said christianity frustrated the development of sound mental health

Jean Porter

’Something deeply disturbing about the argument that people ought to be prepared to accept suffering... for no other reason than God has not given us the authority to act in the appropriate ways'

Abraham and Isaac


Genesis 22:1-2

kierkegaard said was it ever reasonable for man to be asked to abandon what he understands to be good in order to be faithful?

Kierkegaard said it was as faith is the highest virtue.

We should not confuse morality with doing the will of God as his will goes beyond our understanding of morality

Abraham and Isaac


Habgood- ‘If morality is supposed to be universal can it be discounted, even under such extreme pressure from God?’

Hampson - Story offered a stimulus for moral debate ‘She’s (God) trying to teach you something: that you must challenge even the highest authority on questions of right and wrong’

Tyler - Abraham interpreted it as a joke

Other biblical moral dilemmas

Judges 11:30 Jephthah vows if he wins he will sacrifice first to come out his house - it is his daughter who accepts she must die asking for 2 months first. This does not seem moral. Alternatively Gray said it was simply an aetiological legend.

Job - God permits Satan to do his worst - is this moral. Habgood - situation is resolved by a new encounter with God - ‘the fact that God answered... was what made the difference'

R.A. Sharpe

RA Sharpe put forward a ‘moral case against religious belief’ challenging the misconception that morality requires God. ‘We are predisposed to think of religion and morality as intimately connected’.

Particular case against the prohibition of contraception (Roman catholic) ‘it is remotely inconceivable that God should be interested in whether people use a condom'

Religiously motivated (im)morality

Shariah law prescribe severe punishments for zina (cheating on spouse) and while honour killings are forbidden under shariah in the UK alone 117 have been investigated.

Other examples of religious (im)morality:

  • Condemnation of abortion
  • Westboro baptist church
  • Condemning of homosexuality
  • Discrimination against women due to scripture
  • Blocking contraception which prevents STDs
  • Blaming feminists, homosexuals for incurring the wrath of God allowing for 911


  • Religion leads to evil
  • Religious faith is an ‘indulgence of irrationality’
  • Moraltiy evolves, it is not given by God.
  • ‘Nourishes extremism, division and terror’
  • Religious education is ‘child abuse’

OTher scholars

  • Michael Bray said its not against the bible to execute adulterers.
  • Weinberg - ‘Without religion you have good people doing good things, and evil people people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, it takes religion’
  • Nietzsche - Christianity encourages a ‘slave morality’ - ‘God is dead'
  • Equally is it necessary? - Habgood used the appeal of the Soviet PM for churches to fill the moral vacuum created by the fall of Berlin Wall

AC Grayling

’Religion is precisely the wrong resource for thinking about moral issues in the contemporary world, and indeed subverts moral debate’

Modern society values freedom, achievement, saving money, and success while Christian morality values the opposite.