Religion and morality

From Conservapedia
Jump to: navigation, search
George Washington warned that it is folly to suppose that “morality can be maintained without religion.”[1]

Norman Geisler writes:

The Christian view of right and wrong is neither arbitrary nor groundless. It is not arbitrary because what God wills is in accord with His nature as absolute good. It is not groundless because it is rooted in what never changes, namely, God’s immutable essence: “I the Lord change not” (Mal. 3:6); “There is no shadow of change” with God (James 1:17). Even though the universe will change, “You [God] are the same,” declared the psalmist (Ps. 102:27). Although God is free to act according to the dictates of His own essential goodness, He is not “free” to act contrary to it. Likewise, His commands will always be rooted in His immutable nature as the ultimate Good.[2]

According to

Let's start with what objective means given the word’s versatility. In philosophy, objective refers to existence apart from perception. An object independent of perception does not change with our feelings, interpretations, or prejudices. Applied to moral values; if they are objective, then they are discovered, not invented. Contrast this with subjective moral values which change from person to person, culture to culture, etc. If morality is objective, it is reasonable to ask: What is the mind-independent basis for objective morality and is this basis sufficiently binding? In other words, it is not enough to show some external ground for morality and then subjectively link that grounding with obligation. Obligation to a particular ethical system must transcend personal preference and also have some significant grounding in the object of perception.

On Christianity moral values have their objective and universal basis in the immutable nature of God. He neither arbitrarily created the moral law, nor is there an external moral domain in which God is subject. Moral values are, because of who God is.[3]

Augustine of Hippo said of Jesus Christ's Sermon on the mount:

If any one will piously and soberly consider the sermon which our Lord Jesus Christ spoke on the mount, as we read it in the Gospel according to Matthew, I think that he will find in it, so far as regards the highest morals, a perfect standard of the Christian life: and this we do not rashly venture to promise, but gather it from the very words of the Lord Himself. For the sermon itself is brought to a close in such a way, that it is clear there are in it all the precepts which go to mould the life. … He has sufficiently indicated, as I think, that these sayings which He uttered on the mount so perfectly guide the life of those who may be willing to live according to them, that they may justly be compared to one building upon a rock.[4]

Wayne Jackson wrote in the Christian Courier:

...the person who truly believes in God, and who has some sense of the moral principles set forth in the Bible, is a better person. He is less likely to be feared in the neighborhood, and is more likely to be a savoring influence in his community.

George Washington once warned that it is folly to suppose that “morality can be maintained without religion.” Studies repeatedly have shown this statement to be true.

Author David Myers penned an essay titled “Godliness and Goodliness,” which appeared in the magazine Sightings (4/11/01). Myers called attention to the fact that:

“[In one] U.S. national survey, frequent worship attendance predicted lower scores on a dishonesty scale that assessed, for example, self-serving lies, tax cheating, and failing to report damaging a parked car. Moreover, in cities where churchgoing is high, crime rates are low. . .In Provo, Utah, where more than 9 in 10 people are church members, you can more readily leave your car unlocked than in Seattle, where fewer than a third are.”...

According to Myers, studies have demonstrated that the most benevolent people of our society are the ones who are involved in religious activity. Americans who never attend church give about 1.1% of their income to charity. Those who are weekly church-goers (who constitute only 24% of the population) give two and one-half times as much as the non-religious, and account for almost half (48%) of all charitable contributions given.

Several other surveys have shown that the highest rates of “volunteerism” are by the religious, as compared to those in whose lives religion was deemed “not very important.”

A poll of 502 teens by the Christian News Service (2001) determined that more than 80% of those surveyed disciplined their sexual activity on the basis of their faith values.[5]

The Christian apologist William Lane Craig declared: say that the Holocaust was objectively evil is to say that it was evil, even though the Nazis who carried it out thought that it was good, and it would still have been evil even if the Nazis had won World War II and succeeded in brainwashing or exterminating everyone who disagreed with them, so that everybody thought the Holocaust was good.”[6]

Religious morality

Painting: Sermon on the Mount by Carl Bloch (1877)

See also: Religious morality

According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, "From the beginning of the Abrahamic faiths and of Greek philosophy, religion and morality have been closely intertwined.[7]

Concerning Jesus Christ and the Sermon on the Mount, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy indicates:

...the Christian doctrine is that we can see in his life the clearest possible revelation in human terms both of what God is like and at the same time of what our lives ought to be like. In the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ (Matthew 5–7) Jesus issues a number of radical injunctions. He takes the commandments inside the heart; for example, we are required not merely not to murder, but not to be angry, and not merely not to commit adultery, but not to lust (see Ezekiel 11:19, ‘I will give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes.’) We are told, if someone strikes us on the right cheek, to turn to him also the left. Jesus tells us to love our enemies and those who hate and persecute us, and in this way he makes it clear that the love commandment is not based on reciprocity (Matt 5:43–48; Luke 6:27–36). Finally, when he is asked ‘Who is my neighbor?’, he tells the story (Luke 10) of a Samaritan (traditional enemies of the Jews) who met a wounded Jew he did not know by the side of the road, was moved with compassion, and went out of his way to meet his needs; Jesus commends the Samaritan for being ‘neighbor’ to the wounded traveler.

The theme of self-sacrifice is clearest in the part of the narrative that deals with Jesus' death. This event is understood in many different ways in the New Testament, but one central theme is that Jesus died on our behalf, an innocent man on behalf of the guilty.[8]

Religion and crime reduction

See also: Religion and crime reduction and Irreligious prison population

According to the University of Manchester:

People who regularly visit a place of worship are less likely to be involved in low level crime and delinquency, according to new research by a University of Manchester researcher...

“In line with existing American research, my results suggest that it is the act of mixing with fellow believers that is important, regardless of whether this is via formal worship, involvement in faith-based social activities or simply through spending time with family and friends who share your faith.

“The important thing is exposure to people who encourage pro-social behaviours, and can provide sanctions for their breach”

The study, which is the first time this type of analysis has been carried out in the UK, is to be published later this year. It was funded by the Bill Hill Charitable Trust.

The survey data comprised responses from 1,214 18 to 34-year-olds and was collected last July.[9]

The Daily Mail reported about the University of Manchester study:

In total, researchers asked respondents about eight varying types of delinquency including littering, skipping school or work, using illegal drugs, fare dodging, shoplifting, music piracy, property damage and violence against the person.

Although the study found varying degrees of correlation between increased church visits and decreased crime rates, the most significant were seen in relation to shoplifting, the use of illegal drugs and music piracy.

The researchers did not include more serious, high-level crimes because they 'were too rare for the data to be able to show a significant pattern.'[10]

Baier and Wright meta-study on the deterrence effect of religion on criminality

A 2001 meta-analysis by Colin Baier and Bradley Wright declared: "religious beliefs and behaviors exert a moderate deterrent effect on individuals' criminal behavior".[11]

Larson and Johnson review of studies on religion and juvenile delinquency

Edmund McGarrell, the Director of the Crime Control Policy Center at the Hudson Institute wrote:

With the support of John DiIulio’s “Jeremiah Project,” David Larson and Byron Johnson (1998) conducted what they refer to as a “systematic review” of the studies on religion and juvenile delinquency. The advantage of the systematic review approach is that it provides a quantitative assessment of the research literature that can be replicated by other researchers. Larson and Johnson provide explicit criteria for how they chose the studies to review, how they analyzed the studies, and for assessing the overall evidence from a large body of studies. The first step in the review consisted of identifying 402 articles appearing in peer reviewed articles between 1980 and 1997 that made some mention of religion or related terms and delinquency. Of these, 40 studies were identified that analyzed the potential relationship between religiosity and delinquency. As would be anticipated, the 40 studies varied in terms of methodological rigor. This variation becomes a measured variable in the systematic review whereby the authors can contrast the findings produced by studies employing more or less rigorous scientific standards.

Three-quarters of the studies reviewed found that measures of religiosity had a negative effect on delinquency (1998: 10). That is, the higher the score on the religiosity measure, the less delinquency. Only one study reported a positive relationship with the remainder of the studies yielding inconclusive results.[12]

Belief in Hell lowers crime rate

See also: Atheism and Hell

Science Daily: Belief in Hell Lowers Crime Rate

Religious revivals and crime reduction

Religion and self-control

Engaging in virtuous behavior and quenching temptations to engage in immoral behavior requires self-control.

In the journal article Religion, self-regulation, and self-control: Associations, explanations, and implications, psychologists McCullough and Willoughby theorize that many of the positive links of religiousness with health and social behavior may be caused by religion's beneficial influences on self-control/self-regulation.[13][14] Furthermore, a 2012 Queen's University study published in Psychological Science found that religion replenishes self-control.[15][16]

See also

External links

Morality and the Old Testament: