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I have never set fire to an orphanage. I have no wish to. There are many who believe that we must heed the Bible and religion, claiming that it brings us morality and without it, we have none. It is true that up to this point in history morality and religion have been closely linked and are often used interchangeably. Whether we look at Judaism, Christianity, or ancient Greek philosophy, morality has always been a key component. Well, I have never set fire to an orphanage, and I do not follow the Bible. It seems there may be a little morality in me after all. If this is the case, then it is time we re-evaluate the relationship between morality and religion. It is time to treat these two ideas as the separate entities that they are. There is a belief that we must have religion to have morals. However, many problems arise when we link morality so closely with religion. For starters, it has the unavoidable fate of being subjected to much hypocrisy. For example, the Bible tells us to not kill, (King James Bible, Exodus 20:13), so we must not do it. This rule is accepted by all major religions and the majority of atheists as well. However, the Bible endorses more controversial morals too. For example, there's the oft-cited passage, "If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads." (King James Bible, Leviticus 20:13) Here, the Bible clearly states that homosexuality is wrong. This moral has been adopted as law in many religious households. They are less likely, however, to bring up some other Biblical morals, such as how it is a sin to wear clothing made of two types of materials (King James Bible, Leviticus 19:19), or that anyone working on the Sabbath must be put to death (King James Bible, Exodus 35:2). And then there's the Bible's moral view on rape. Deuteronomy 22:28-29 says, "If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her ... he shall pay her father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the young woman." (New International Version) I've found that religious people, on average, do not seem to endorse rape. This is because they do not get their morals exclusively from the Bible. Rather they choose passages that suit their lifestyle. But if the Bible is a moral compass, shouldn't Christians follow it faithfully? Of course, atheists derive their morals from elsewhere: themselves. They create their own belief structure, qualifying what is good and what is evil. If atheists are able to have morals that are separate from the Bible, so can the rest of us. Another philosophical argument against linking morality and religion is that if our morals come from a divine being, what happens when the divine being changes his mind? If all of a sudden, God said that raping and murdering children was the moral thing to do, would it be? In the Bible, all of God's morals carry consequences that will occur if they are not followed, typically involving eternal suffering. Those who claim that religion is the only source of morality are indirectly saying that without the fear of going to hell, they would have no motivation to follow the morals. Do these men and women believe the only thing standing between them and theft, murder, and rape is fear of punishment? Morality is a hard thing to measure. It cannot be quantified. It is the internal fire of quality inside us that leads us to make the right decision, and I do not believe it burns if our decisions are made out of fear. On the surface, two men may look the same if they are doing the same deed. They may both be serving soup at a homeless shelter, but one man is doing it because he empathizes with these men and women and wants to help them. The other is volunteering only because he is afraid that if he does not, he will be punished. The argument could be made that it matters little to those being helped. However, only one is demonstrating true morality. And that does matter. I urge you to begin looking within. The next time you volunteer, ask yourself, Am I doing this because I want to make the world a better place, or because I want to save my soul? I believe religion and morality are separate. Being strong in one does not make you strong in the other. We must be good for the sake of being good. We must help others for the sake of helping others. If we do not, then our actions mean nothing. I have never set fire to an orphanage - because it is wrong to set fire to an orphanage. I do not need the Bible to tell me that.
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An essay on Morality and Religion
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An Essay On Morality And Religion

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              I have never set fire to an orphanage. I have no wish to. There are many who believe that we must heed the Bible and religion, claiming that it brings us morality and without it, we have none. It is true that up to this point in history morality and religion have been closely linked and are often used interchangeably. Whether we look at Judaism, Christianity, or ancient Greek philosophy, morality has always been a key component. Well, I have never set fire to an orphanage, and I do not follow the Bible. It seems there may be a little morality in me after all. If this is the case, then it is time we re-evaluate the relationship between morality and religion. It is time to treat these two ideas as the separate entities that they are.
             
              There is a belief that we must have religion to have morals. However, many problems arise when we link morality so closely with religion. For starters, it has the unavoidable fate of being subjected to much hypocrisy. For example, the Bible tells us to not kill, (King James Bible, Exodus 20: 13), so we must not do it. This rule is accepted by all major religions and the majority of atheists as well. However, the Bible endorses more controversial morals too. For example, there's the oft-cited passage, "If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads. " (King James Bible, Leviticus 20: 13) Here, the Bible clearly states that homosexuality is wrong. This moral has been adopted as law in many religious households. They are less likely, however, to bring up some other Biblical morals, such as how it is a sin to wear clothing made of two types of materials (King James Bible, Leviticus 19: 19), or that anyone working on the Sabbath must be put to death (King James Bible, Exodus 35: 2). And then there's the Bible's moral view on rape. Deuteronomy 22: 28-29 says, "If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her . . . he shall pay her father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the young woman. " (New International Version)
             
              I've found that religious people, on average, do not seem to endorse rape. This is because they do not get their morals exclusively from the Bible. Rather they choose passages that suit their lifestyle. But if the Bible is a moral compass, shouldn't Christians follow it faithfully? Of course, atheists derive their morals from elsewhere: themselves. They create their own belief structure, qualifying what is good and what is evil. If atheists are able to have morals that are separate from the Bible, so can the rest of us.
             
              Another philosophical argument against linking morality and religion is that if our morals come from a divine being, what happens when the divine being changes his mind? If all of a sudden, God said that raping and murdering children was the moral thing to do, would it be?
             
              In the Bible, all of God's morals carry consequences that will occur if they are not followed, typically involving eternal suffering. Those who claim that religion is the only source of morality are indirectly saying that without the fear of going to hell, they would have no motivation to follow the morals. Do these men and women believe the only thing standing between them and theft, murder, and rape is fear of punishment?
             
              Morality is a hard thing to measure. It cannot be quantified. It is the internal fire of quality inside us that leads us to make the right decision, and I do not believe it burns if our decisions are made out of fear. On the surface, two men may look the same if they are doing the same deed. They may both be serving soup at a homeless shelter, but one man is doing it because he empathizes with these men and women and wants to help them. The other is volunteering only because he is afraid that if he does not, he will be punished. The argument could be made that it matters little to those being helped. However, only one is demonstrating true morality. And that does matter. I urge you to begin looking within. The next time you volunteer, ask yourself, Am I doing this because I want to make the world a better place, or because I want to save my soul?
             
              I believe religion and morality are separate. Being strong in one does not make you strong in the other. We must be good for the sake of being good. We must help others for the sake of helping others. If we do not, then our actions mean nothing. I have never set fire to an orphanage - because it is wrong to set fire to an orphanage. I do not need the Bible to tell me that.
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