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Morality, Religion, and Well-Being

Robert Dimuro

Posted on June 16, 2019 15:16

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How we understand the relationship between these key concepts is crucial in our endeavor to live in moral and happy societies.

What is human well-being? How do we derive moral values? Can there be morality without religion? These are some of the deep philosophical dilemmas that may never be resolved. However, it seems to me that the majority of people can at least agree that morality is objective. Only the nihilists and postmodernists of our time believe openly in a subjective moral framework, one which is based on whim and circumstance.

I’m open to engage in debate with those who support the idea that morality is subjective; however, in this article, I’ll be writing under the premise that morality is objective. This argument is defended most ardently by those who believe that God is the source of moral values and believe that, without God, the concepts of “right and wrong” and “good and evil” would not exist. However, in reality, this is a falsehood. The point that I wish to stress in this article is that religious belief is not conducive to human well-being and, therefore, is not the basis for objective moral truth.

As neuroscientist Sam Harris has written, human well-being can be defined as the “best possible happiness for everyone,” with the opposite being the “worst possible misery for everyone.” In his opinion, this is the one axiom that needs to be accepted in order to derive moral truths and construct a just society, which I believe is an infallible argument. Every person and every group of people in the world fall somewhere on this spectrum of well-being. Within this spectrum, there are clear examples of societies that are closer to the happy end and those that are closer to the miserable end, and this tends to correlate with their moral values.

In particular, societies that are the most dogmatic struggle in the category of well-being. Devotion to extremist Islamic groups and Sharia law in the Middle East has led to civil war and the destruction of entire cities. An unwavering, god-like worship of Kim Jong-un in North Korea has led to a population that’s constantly on the brink of starvation. What these societies have in common is that they believe that eternal truth lies in the subject of their worship, despite not having been presented with supporting evidence.

When you think about it, it’s ironic that religious scriptures are considered to be the essence of morality. How can we praise certain elements of the Bible, such as “love thy neighbor as thyself,” and dismiss others, such as when it provides instruction on how to treat one’s slaves? Clearly, we're transposing an updated, more educated value system onto our judgement of biblical scripture. Our moral values in the 21st century do not reflect the worldview of the ancient Hebrews that wrote the Bible.

Our modern understanding of the world makes clear that morality is rooted in reason and logic and not in scripture and the supernatural. It's this realization that will allow humanity to maximize its own well-being on this planet.

Robert Dimuro

Posted on June 16, 2019 15:16

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Source: Vox - All

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