Friday, August 21, 2009


In every society and organisation as well as institution there are certain rules and regulations which its members are required to observe e.g. each family expects from its members a code of behaviour, so is the case with the members of a club or the members of an educational institution. All are supposed to be honest, faithful, good, true and virtuous. When these rules and regulations are manifested through conscious, we may call that morality. Morality formulates laws of conducts in society and such laws are obeyed due to internal urge and pressure of an individual.
Religion and Morality:
What is relationship between religion and morality? By many of our modern sociologists it is believed that relation between the two is so close that the distinction should be abolished. According to Mathew Arnold, “Religion is morality touched with emotion”. Similarly Bradley says “It is a moral duty not to be moral and that it is the duty to be religious”. It is said that religion and morality are two aspects of the same process. Both depend on individual’s internal urge and are above state influence and control. Many moral principles have the support of religion and in fact both stand for each other. It was with this end in view that MacIver said, “We cannot say that either the religious or moral code came first, just as we cannot say that the custom preceded morality or law. Moral codes have prepared the way for the perpetuation of religious beliefs. Religious codes have strongly reinforced with their supernatural sanction the prevailing morals of the group”.
Religion and Morality Contrasted:
But in spite of this close relationship both can be contrasted as well. One difference between the two is that religion is instinctive and requires supernatural power whereas morality requires internal sanction. If a person violates moral law, he is called wrong, whereas violation of religious law is a sin. In the words of MacIver, “Hence it normally involves a sanction which may be called supra-social whether it be primitive present wrath of God is the penalties of after life torture in hell or merely the sense of being not in time with the infinite when its supposed laws are disobeyed”. Thus whereas religious laws have indirect influence moral laws have direct influence and control over the conscious of an individual. Still another difference is that religion does not change with the passage of time and so is the case with religious laws. These are considered permanent. On the other hand code of moral conduct changes with time and so also moral law. Thus whereas religious laws are permanent, moral laws change frequently. For the formulation of religious laws there is no rational because supernatural power fears, hells and heavens are associated with them, but in the formation of moral laws wisdom and judgment is needed. Thus moral laws are rational whereas religious laws are emotional. It was due to these differences that thinkers like Bertrand Russel, Spencer and Huxley argued that morality and religion do not go hand in hand. They believed that both have different origins.
Not only this, but we find that it is not always essential that what is religiously right must also be morally correct. Our history is full of instances that many actions which religion has supported were morally wrong. Religion supported persecution of Jews in Germany, persecution of Roman Catholics by Protestants and vice versa in England; human sacrifice to please gods in India etc. but all these cannot be considered morally good in any form. Discussing the difference between the two MacIver says, “A code is religious no matter whether its precepts are concerned with the relation of man to God, as the first four commandments, or with the relation of man to man, as in the last six when its source is presented as divine authority and its sanction is supernatural, or when the penalty is exacted in the name of religion. A code is moral when it promulgates standards of conduct that directly devise their sufficient justification from the human interpretation of good and evil”.
Relationship between Morality and Social Code:
Each and every society has a social code and every society expects from its members that these codes should be accepted. And so the society expects from its member that they should have high moral character and standard. They should be true, just, honest, faithful and virtuous. But what is relationship between social and moral codes and that whether both can be identified with each other or not. According to thinkers like Durkheim, both are very closely linked with each other. A particular act of violation of social code is bad because morality does not support it and vice versa. It is also said that morality depends on social opinion which cannot ignore morality.
But on the other hand there are thinkers who believe that in many cases morality and social code do not go hand in hand e.g. morality want every one to be true, but can a person be always true? Can politicians be supported to tell truth about national defence? Or should a thief be told truth about one’s hidden wealth? And so on. They also believe that moral values are internal whereas social values are external and as such both have different fields.


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