The interpretation of religion, as here advanced, implies a dependenceof science on the religious attitude, a relation which, in our predominantlymaterialistic age, is only too easily overlooked. While it is true thatscientific results are entirely independent from religious or moral considerations,those individuals to whom we owe the great creative achievements of sciencewere all of them imbued with the truly religious conviction that this universeof ours is something perfect and susceptible to the rational striving forknowledge. If this conviction had not been a strongly emotional one andif those searching for knowledge had not been inspired by Spinoza's , they wouid hardly have been capable of that untiringdevotion which alone enables man to attain his greatest achievements.
In contrast to natural law theories, other moral theories do not holdquite so strong a view about the universality of knowledge ofmorality. Still, many hold that morality is known to all who canlegitimately be judged by it. Baier (1958), Rawls (1971) andcontractarians deny that there can be an esoteric morality:one that judges people even though they cannot know what it prohibits,requires, etc. For all of the above theorists, morality is what we cancall a public system: a system of norms (1) that is knowableby all those to whom it applies and (2) that is not irrational for anyof those to whom it applies to follow (Gert 2005: 10). Moral judgmentsof blame thus differ from legal or religious judgments of blame inthat they cannot be made about persons who are legitimately ignorantof what they are required to do. Act consequentialists seem to holdthat everyone should know that they are morally required to act so asto bring about the best consequences, but even they do not seem tothink judgments of moral blame are appropriate if a person islegitimately ignorant of what action would bring about the bestconsequences (Singer 1993: 228). Parallel views seem to be held byrule consequentialists (Hooker 2001: 72).
The religious geniuses of all ages have been distinguished by this kindof religious feeling, which knows no dogma and no God conceived in man'simage; so that there can be no church whose central teachings are basedon it. Hence it is precisely among the heretics of every age that we findmen who were filled with this highest kind of religious feeling and werein many cases regarded by their contemporaries as atheists, sometimes alsoas saints. Looked at in this light, men like Democritus, Francis of Assisi,and Spinoza are closely akin to one another.
Relativism And Morality Essay There is certainly a connection between morality (or morals) and ethics; dictionary definitions of one will usually reference the other. Wever, an important.
Lord Kames’s Essays on the Principles of Morality and Natural Religion is atonce a typical example of and an original contribution to the Scottish Enlightenment’sdistinctive attempt to construct a moral science based on theprinciples of natural law. From Gershom Carmichael in the 1690s toThomas Reid and Adam Ferguson in the 1780s, the teaching and writing ...
These I esteemed the essentials ofevery religion; and, being to be found in all the religions we had in ourcountry, I respected them all, tho' with different degrees of respect, as Ifound them more or less mix'd with other articles, which, without any tendencyto inspire, promote or confirm morality, serv'd principally do divide us, andmake us unfriendly to one another.
The main source of the present-day conflicts between the spheres ofreligion and of science lies in this concept of a personal God. It is theaim of science to establish general rules which determine the reciprocalconnection of objects and events in time and space. For these rules, orlaws of nature, absolutely general validity is required--not proven. Itis mainly a program, and faith in the possibility of its accomplishmentin principle is only founded on partial successes. But hardly anyone couldbe found who would deny these partial successes and ascribe them to humanself-deception. The fact that on the basis of such laws we are able topredict the temporal behavior of phenomena in certain domains with greatprecision and certainty is deeply embedded in the consciousness of themodern man, even though he may have grasped very little of the contentsof those laws. He need only consider that planetary courses within thesolar system may be calculated in advance with great exactitude on thebasis of a limited number of simple laws. In a similar way, though notwith the same precision, it is possible to calculate in advance the modeof operation of an electric motor, a transmission system, or of a wirelessapparatus, even when dealing with a novel development.
In small homogeneous societies there may be a guide to behavior thatis put forward by the society and that is accepted by (almost) allmembers of the society. For such societies there is (almost) noambiguity about which guide “morality” refers to. However,in larger societies people often belong to groups that put forwardguides to behavior that conflict with the guide put forward by theirsociety, and members of the society do not always accept the guide putforward by their society. If they accept the conflicting guide of someother group to which they belong (often a religious group) rather thanthe guide put forward by their society, in cases of conflict they willregard those who follow the guide put forward by their society asacting immorally.
But I am persuaded that such behavior on the part of the representativesof religion would not only be unworthy but also fatal. For a doctrine whichis able to maintain itself not in clear light but only in the dark, willof necessity lose its effect on mankind, with incalculable harm to humanprogress. In their struggle for the ethical good, teachers of religionmust have the stature to give up the doctrine of a personal God, that is,give up that source of fear and hope which in the past placed such vastpower in the hands of priests. In their labors they will have to availthemselves of those forces which are capable of cultivating the Good, theTrue, and the Beautiful in humanity itself. This is, to be sure, a moredifficult but an incomparably more worthy task. (This thought is convincinglypresented in Herbert Samuel's book, .) After religiousteachers accomplish the refining process indicated they will surely recognizewith joy that true religion has been ennobled and made more profound byscientific knowledge.
Though I have asserted above that in truth a legitimate conflict betweenreligion and science cannot exist, I must nevertheless qualify this assertiononce again on an essential point, with reference to the actual contentof historical religions. This qualification has to do with the conceptof God. During the youthful period of mankind's spiritual evolution humanfantasy created gods in man's own image, who, by the operations of theirwill were supposed to determine, or at any rate to influence, the phenomenalworld. Man sought to alter the disposition of these gods in his own favorby means of magic and prayer. The idea of God in the religions taught atpresent is a sublimation of that old concept of the gods. Its anthropomorphiccharacter is shown, for instance, by the fact that men appeal to the DivineBeing in prayers and plead for the fulfillment of their wishes.
If it is one of the goals of religion to liberate mankind as far aspossible from the bondage of egocentric cravings, desires, and fears, scientificreasoning can aid religion in yet another sense. Although it is true thatit is the goal of science to discover rules which permit the associationand foretelling of facts, this is not its only aim. It also seeks to reducethe connections discovered to the smallest possible number of mutuallyindependent conceptual elements. It is in this striving after the rationalunification of the manifold that it encounters its greatest successes,even though it is precisely this attempt which causes it to run the greatestrisk of falling a prey to illusions. But whoever has undergone the intenseexperience of successful advances made in this domain is moved by profoundreverence for the rationality made manifest in existence. By way of theunderstanding he achieves a far-reaching emancipation from the shacklesof personal hopes and desires, and thereby attains that humble attitudeof mind toward the grandeur of reason incarnate in existence, and which,in its profoundest depths, is inaccessible to man. This attitude, however,appears to me to be religious, in the highest sense of the word. And soit seems to me that science not only purifies the religious impulse ofthe dross of its anthropomorphism but also contributes to a religious spiritualizationof our understanding of life.