Religious notions of evil and moral

In the minds of many people, the terms morality and religion signal two related but distinct ideas. Morality is thought to pertain to the conduct of human affairs and relations between persons, while religion primarily involves the relationship between human beings and a transcendent reality.

Religious notions of evil and moral

Ancient Greek Philosophy We can start with the Greeks, and this means starting with Homer, a body of texts transmitted first orally and then written down in the seventh century BCE.

Religious notions of evil and moral

So what does the relation between morality and religion look like in Homer? The first thing to say is that the gods and goddesses of the Homeric poems behave remarkably like the noble humans described in the same poems, even though the humans are mortal and the gods and goddesses immortal.

Both groups are motivated by the desire for honor and glory, and are accordingly jealous when they receive less than they think they should while others receive more, and work ceaselessly to rectify this.

The two groups are not however symmetrical, because the noble humans have the same kind of client relation to the divinities as subordinate humans do to them. This includes, for example, sanctuaries devoted to them, dedications, hymns, dances, libations, rituals, prayers, festivals and sacrifices.

Theoretical Assumptions of Western Ethical Theory

There is a clear analogy with purely human client-relations, which are validated in the Homeric narrative, since the poems were probably originally sung at the courts of the princes who claimed descent from the heroes whose exploits make up the story.

The gods and goddesses are not, however, completely at liberty. It is sometimes said that the Presocratic philosophers come out of Homer by rejecting religion in favor of science.

When Anaximenes around talks of air as the primary element differing in respect of thinness and thickness, or Heraclitus explains all change as a pattern in the turnings of fire igniting in measures and going out in measures, they are not giving stories with plot-lines involving quasi-human intentions and frustrations DK 13, A 5, DK 22, B But it is wrong to say that they have left religion behind.

Heraclitus puts this enigmatically by saying that the one and only wisdom does and does not consent to be called Zeus DK 22, B He is affirming the divinity of this wisdom, but denying the anthropomorphic character of much Greek religion. The sophists, to whom Socrates responded, rejected this tie between human law and divine law and this was in part because of their expertise in rhetoric, by which they taught their students how to manipulate the deliberations of popular assemblies, and so change the laws to their own advantage.

The most famous case is Protagoras c. Protagoras is not correctly seen here as skeptical about morality or religion. But as Plato c.

Even Thrasymachus, in the first book of Plato's Republic, thinks of justice as the same thing amongst gods and humans Republic, c. His view of what this justice is, namely the interest of the stronger, is disputed by Plato.

RLGN 1440 Evil in World Religions (Fall 2010)

But the claim that justice operates at both the divine and human levels is common ground. Euthyphro is taking his own father to court for murder, and though ordinary Greek morality would condemn such an action as impiety, Euthyphro defends it on the basis that the gods behave in the same sort of way, according to the traditional stories.

Socrates makes it clear that he does not believe these stories, because they attribute immorality to the gods. This does not mean, however, that he does not believe in the gods. He was observant in his religious practices, and he objects to the charge of not believing in the city's gods that was one of the bases of the prosecution at his own trial.

Religion and Morality (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

He points to the spirit who gives him commands about what not to do Apology, 31dand we learn later that he found it significant that this voice never told him to stop conducting his trial in the way that in fact led to his death Ibid.

Socrates interpreted this as an invitation from the gods to die, thus refuting the charge that, by conducting his trial in the way he did, he was guilty of theft — i.

His life in particular was a service to god, he thought, because his testing of the wisdom of others was carrying out Apollo's charge given by the oracle at Delphi, implicit in the startling pronouncement that he was the wisest man in Greece Apology, 21a-d.

Socrates makes it clear that his view is the second though he does not argue for this conclusion in addressing this question, and he is probably relying on the earlier premise, at Euthyphro, 7c10f, that we love things because of the properties they have. See Hare, Plato's Euthyphro, on this passage.

But his view is not an objection to tying morality and religion together. He hints at the end of the dialogue Euthyphro, 13de that the right way to link them is to see that when we do good we are serving the gods well.

Plato probably does not intend for us to construe the dialogues together as a single philosophical system, and we must not erase the differences between them. But it is significant that in the Theaetetus bSocrates says again that our goal is to be as like the god as possible, and since the god is in no way and in no manner unjust, but as just as it is possible to be, nothing is more like the god than the one among us who becomes correspondingly as just as possible.What two characteristics set Christianity apart from all other religious beliefs?

1) The concepts of good and evil are determined by God 2) The ethical requirements of the Gospel require the aid of God's grace. 1. Evil-Skepticism Versus Evil-Revivalism.

History of the Devil: The Philosophical Problem of Good and Evil

Evil-skeptics believe we should abandon the concept of evil. On this view we can more accurately, and less perniciously, understand and describe morally despicable actions, characters, and events using more pedestrian moral concepts such as badness and wrongdoing.

Nov 07,  · The fifth and final section deals with moral philosophy and evil. The course is arranged in the form of an argument, a thesis. The readings present evidence for the claim that religious notions of evil are magical in character whereas moral notions of evil are discursive and conceptual.

William Wainwright's Religion and Morality defends the claim that divine command theory provides a more convincing account of moral obligation than any virtue-based theory, including Zagzebski's divine motivation theory, discussed earlier. The fact, however, that this is not the case, and that moral commitment may have to rest on uncertain religious beliefs or on metaphysical beliefs, leads to the recurrent possibility of .

In fact, "moral" or "immoral" is an objective notion like "good" or "bad" or "evil" or "better" or "proper" or "right" or "wrong" all notions that inherently imply some standard objective to our mere preferences only.