Religion and Morality
There is a deep connection between religion and morality. Morality is the internal process whereby an individual chooses between "right" and "wrong." Most of the world's religions have some framework, presented as universal, which is supposed to drive personal behavior towards right decision-making. However, morality and religion are not synonymous. Many atheists and agnostics point out that a moral code does not depend upon belief in a supreme deity.
Monotheistic religions, including Christianity, Islam, and Judaism have moral codes specifically defined as rules set forth by God. These religions see many decisions in absolute terms.
- Christian denominations, for example, have complete prohibitions on such actions as abortion.
- Polytheistic religions, on the other hand, often have somewhat looser, more circumstantial codes of morality.
- In Buddhism, for example, a nontheistic religion, morality is frequently based on the intention of the individual at the time of the decision.
In the modern age, there has been growing criticism of the relationship between morality and religion. David Hume was one of the first philosophers to condemn religion for fostering hatred and violence in the world. The growing acceptance of atheism in the modern world has led many to devise moral codes that are not based on religion, with thinkers such as Richard Dawkins outright condemning religion for creating amoral systems.