In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Morality Play.”
Where do your morals come from — your family? Your faith? Your philosophical worldview? How do you deal with those who don’t share them, or derive them from a different source?
When it comes to morality, I would probably say that it comes from religion.
“WHY?!!!” – would be something some people will ask.
Some people may also argue that God is immoral, or that God is non-existent and that he isn’t real or that there is no proof of there being a God. So why bother believing in something that is already ‘dead’?
Well, the reason behind this is simple, I grew up in a Roman Catholic household and I am religious. It’s only, reasonable(?) or natural(?) for me to say that I believe that morality comes from my faith, from what I have been brought up with. I was brought up believing in a God, and I do believe that there exist a being that transcends both space and time, an omnibenevolent, omnipotent and omniscient being who has given us divine commands to follow. And as a religious individual, we use the Bible and the Church’s teachings as a moral guidance on how to act morally towards others.
Why do I believe in there being a divine lawgiver? – simple, it is called faith for a reason. I have faith that there is a greater force at work, and that ‘force’ is God. I also believe in science, I know science can provide hard facts about human evolution and how the earth is actually 4.5 billion years old and not a measly several thousand years old. I know these and I believe these facts, but there is no harm in believing and having faith in something.
I understand that many people will disagree with my point of view, and would argue that morality is something that we innately know, that we have an inherent sense of what is right from what is wrong. Or that actually, there is no such thing as morality, as a nihilist would argue.
There are many ways in which an individual will perceive where their morality comes from, and sadly everyone seems to think that it comes from just one thing and that one thing only. They believe in what they want to believe and they will shut down anyone else who says otherwise.
I am not like that, actually although I believe in morality coming from religion, I also believe that we know what is right from wrong intuitively and that we learn more from our society what is deemed morally right and morally wrong. We have a law system that is based on some of the oldest laws that are written in the bible. For instance, one of the 10 commandments tells us “thou shall not kill” and we know that it is morally wrong to kill for no reason, and it is illegal to kill someone.
After studying philosophy and ethics at a-level, I have come to better understand how people understand morality and where it come from in human nature. And all I can say is that there is no one way to say where morality comes from because everyone has a different opinion or view. I respect each and every one of these views, to me they may be different from my own view, but I can see the similarities, I understand where they are coming from. Sometimes, I also like their ideas, for instance, Aristotle’s virtue ethics – it is what philosophers would say the ideal moral theory there is, as there is no divine lawgiver and we can develop each virtue in our own pace, and we become moral beings once we reached the Golden Mean.
I digress. In the morality play, yes I believe that morality comes from religion – from God. But I also believe that it is innately installed in us, that it is biological (as de Waal argued). I also believe that we learn from society, growing up with intimate relationships (close relationships) with our family and friends, learning from other people’s mistake and understanding what is right from what is wrong. Arguably, we are selfish individuals who only look out for oneself and that we treat each other as a means to an end – which Kant clearly disagreed to, he disliked the idea of using people as many of us do, but it is what it is, we use each other to get what we want no exceptions. But in the process of selfishness others also benefit from our actions, albeit we do not know it.
So, I guess when it’s time for the conclusion, I believe in many of things when it comes to the origins or source of our moralities. But I still stand with my first and foremost statement, I believe that the source of my morality is God.