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  • Denis Pepin

Why Religion is Not the Answer to Morality: A Rational and Evidence-Based Approach

Updated: Mar 31

Introduction:


Before I present my arguments on why morality is based on reason and evidence, not on faith and authority, I would like to make a disclaimer. I respect people’s beliefs and their religions, and I do not intend to offend or insult anyone who holds a different view from mine. I acknowledge that religion can be a source of inspiration, comfort, and hope for many people, and that it can also foster a sense of community, identity, and purpose. I also recognize that religion can have positive effects on morality, such as promoting virtues, values, and norms that are beneficial for oneself and others. I do not deny or dismiss the role and significance of religion in human history and culture, nor do I claim that religion is inherently bad or evil.


However, I also believe that religion is not the only or the best way to understand and practice morality, and that there are other ways that are more rational, realistic, and relevant for the modern world. I believe that morality is based on reason and evidence, not on faith and authority, and that this view of morality is more consistent, coherent, and comprehensive than the view of morality that is based on faith and authority. I will explain and defend this view of morality in the following essay, and I hope that you will read it with an open mind and a critical eye. I welcome any feedback or questions that you may have, and I hope that we can have a respectful and constructive dialogue on this important and interesting topic.


A collage of two images, one of Moses holding the tablet of the Ten Commandments on the left side, and one of a modern lawyer holding a balance of justice on the right side. The image challenges the assumption that morality is based on faith and authority, and suggests that morality is based on reason and evidence.
Religion vs. Reason: How to Approach Morality. This image contrasts two symbols of morality: the Ten Commandments and the balance of justice. It challenges the idea that morality comes from religion, and suggests that morality is based on reason and evidence. It invites the viewers to question the authority and relevance of the Ten Commandments, and to consider the balance of justice as a better symbol of morality that reflects the values and methods of our society. It encourages the viewers to use logic and facts to support their moral views, rather than relying on faith and scripture.

Morality Based on Reason and Evidence:


Morality is the set of principles and values that guide human actions and judgments in relation to what is right and wrong, good and bad. Different people may have different moral views, depending on their beliefs, cultures, backgrounds, and situations. However, some people may claim that morality is not a matter of personal opinion or preference, but rather a matter of objective truth and authority. They may argue that morality is based on faith and authority, and that the only source of moral guidance is religion. They may appeal to divine commands or sacred texts to justify their moral claims, and to condemn those who disagree with them as immoral or sinful.


However, this view of morality is problematic and problematic for several reasons. First, it assumes that there is only one true religion, and that all other religions are false or inferior. This is a very arrogant and intolerant claim, especially in a world where there are many different religions, each with their own history, traditions, and followers. How can one determine which religion is the true one, and which ones are the false ones? How can one prove that their religion is the right one, and that others are the wrong ones? How can one avoid the risk of being mistaken or deceived by their own religion, or by others who claim to speak for their religion? These are difficult questions that cannot be answered by faith or authority alone, but require reason and evidence.



For example, one could point out the fact that there are many religious conflicts and violence in the world, such as the ongoing war in Syria, the persecution of the Rohingya in Myanmar, the attacks on the Coptic Christians in Egypt, the bombings of the Sri Lankan churches on Easter Sunday, and the clashes between Israelis and Palestinians over Jerusalem. These are examples of how different religions may claim to have the exclusive truth and authority, and how they may use violence and oppression to impose their views on others, or to defend themselves from others. How can one justify such actions in the name of religion, and how can one reconcile such actions with the teachings of religion? These are examples of how faith and authority alone are not sufficient to establish and maintain morality, and how they may even lead to immorality.


Second, it assumes that there is a clear and consistent relationship between religion and morality, and that religion always leads to morality. This is a very naive and simplistic claim, especially in a world where there are many examples of religious conflicts, violence, and oppression. How can one explain the fact that different religions may have different moral standards, and that some religions may even contradict or conflict with each other on moral issues? How can one explain the fact that some religious people may act immorally, and that some immoral people may claim to be religious? How can one explain the fact that some non-religious people may act morally, and that some moral people may not be religious? These are complex realities that cannot be ignored or denied by faith or authority alone, but require reason and evidence.


For example, one could point out the fact that there are many moral controversies and dilemmas in the world, such as the issues of abortion, euthanasia, gay rights, animal rights, and environmental protection . These are examples of how different religions may have different moral views, and how some religions may oppose or support certain moral positions, while others may be neutral or ambivalent. How can one determine which moral position is the right one, and which ones are the wrong ones? How can one respect the diversity and complexity of moral views, and how can one engage in constructive and respectful dialogue with others who have different moral views? These are examples of how faith and authority alone are not enough to explain and resolve morality, and how they may even hinder or harm morality.


Third, it assumes that there is a fixed and eternal set of moral rules and values, and that religion is the only way to discover and follow them. This is a very rigid and dogmatic claim, especially in a world where there are many changes and challenges that affect human lives and societies. How can one account for the fact that morality may evolve and vary over time and space, and that different moral issues may arise and require different moral solutions? How can one account for the fact that morality may depend on the context and the consequences, and that different moral situations may demand different moral judgments and actions? How can one account for the fact that morality may involve dilemmas and trade-offs, and that different moral values may compete and conflict with each other? These are dynamic and uncertain situations that cannot be resolved or settled by faith or authority alone, but require reason and evidence.


For example, one could point out the fact that there are many moral changes and innovations in the world, such as the legalization of same-sex marriage in many countries, the recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples and minorities, the development of biotechnology and artificial intelligence, and the emergence of global citizenship and humanitarianism. These are examples of how morality may adapt and improve to the changing circumstances and needs of human beings and societies, and how new moral problems may require new moral solutions. How can one justify and evaluate such moral changes and innovations, and how can one balance the risks and benefits of such moral changes and innovations? How can one embrace and support such moral changes and innovations, and how can one contribute and participate in such moral changes and innovations? These are examples of how faith and authority alone are not adequate to enhance and update morality, and how they may even resist or reject morality.



Therefore, one could argue that morality is based on reason and evidence, not on faith and authority. One could use logical arguments and empirical facts to support moral claims, rather than appealing to divine commands or sacred texts. For example, one could argue that killing innocent people is wrong because it causes unnecessary harm and suffering, not because God forbids it. This way, one could also avoid the problem of moral relativism, which is the idea that different religions or cultures may have different moral standards that are equally valid. One could instead appeal to universal moral principles that are derived from rational reflection and human experience.


One could also use reason and evidence to challenge and criticize moral claims, rather than accepting them blindly or obediently. For example, one could question the validity and reliability of the sources and authorities that claim to speak for religion and morality, and demand that they provide reasons and evidence for their claims, rather than relying on faith or tradition. This way, one could also avoid the problem of moral dogmatism, which is the idea that some people may cling to their moral beliefs without questioning or revising them, even when they are challenged by new evidence or arguments. One could instead adopt a moral attitude that is open-minded and critical, and that recognizes the diversity and complexity of moral issues.


One could also use reason and evidence to improve and update moral claims, rather than sticking to them rigidly or stubbornly. For example, one could acknowledge the fact that morality may change and adapt to the changing circumstances and needs of human beings and societies, and that new moral problems may require new moral solutions, rather than assuming that morality is fixed and eternal by divine decree or natural law. This way, one could also avoid the problem of moral rigidity, which is the idea that some people may resist or reject any moral change or innovation, even when they are necessary or beneficial. One could instead embrace a moral attitude that is flexible and progressive, and that seeks to enhance the well-being and happiness of oneself and others.


In conclusion, one could argue that morality is based on reason and evidence, not on faith and authority. One could use reason and evidence to support, challenge, and improve moral claims, rather than appealing to, accepting, or sticking to divine commands or sacred texts. This way, one could also avoid the problems of moral relativism, dogmatism, and rigidity, and instead appeal to, adopt, and embrace universal moral principles, open-minded and critical moral attitude, and flexible and progressive moral attitude. This would make morality more rational, more realistic, and more relevant for human beings and societies in the modern world.



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