Morality refers to a set of principles that guide an individual on how one evaluates right and wrong. People believing in religion consider morality is shaped by religion because they believe that morality can be understood only in the context of religion; therefore, those religious people insist if there were no religion, people would be out of control. However, religious beliefs give people a wrong definition of moral value, indeed, morality is shaped only by instinct and environment.
Regardless of religion, morality comes from instinct. Human beings are social creatures; they have to live in groups for reproduction and survival that has not changed at all since the ancient time. Looking back to history, people live in groups to share food, to take care of infants and build social networks to meet the daily challenges of their environment. Similarly, at the present time, people value their society for the same purposes. Even though the way to live has changed for instance, in the Stone Age people hunted and shared foods for their living, unlike people who do business for their living nowadays; they still depend on each other for reproduction and survival.
Therefore, people instinctively have to keep their relationship between each other, and morality is formed to maintain the relationship. Consequently, every human being has morality regardless of religious beliefs. If the religious people insist that religions shape morality, non-religious people or atheists shouldn`t have morality. However, those people do have morality and they can judge the things right or wrong like other people who believe in religion. Furthermore, people who believe in religion said that the religion shapes morality, yet there are so many different religions around the world.
Some people believe in Christianity, other believes in Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam etc. Each religion worships different Gods, and has difference belief systems. Christians, for instance, believe in Jesus Christ while Buddhists venerate Gautama. Even though the same religion, there are different branches. Christianity, for instance, has Catholics and Protestants; on the other hand, Buddhism separate to Mahayana and Theravada. Therefore, if the morality is formed base on religion, the definition of morality should vary since there are many different regions. However, morality that people use in an attempt to do the right thing is the same.
“Trolley Problem”, posted by Phillipa Foot in her 1967 paper, “Abortion and the Doctrine of Double Effect” help for clear understanding about morality (Clark). She was a British philosopher, and she explained if a person put in dilemma to choice for saving five people`s lives or a person`s life, he or she must choose five people`s lives to save instead of one no matter whatever religion he or she believes. Therefore, religion does not affect morality. If the religions control people`s moral values, different religions will define different moral values, and the answer about “Trolley Problem” may vary. On the other hand, not only humans but also animals have morality.
Frans de Waal, Charles Howard Candle professor of Primate Behavior in the Emory University, shared the experimental results that showed the moral behavior in animals. Chimpanzees help each other to get food, and they reconcile after fighting. Those behaviors pretty much indicate their morality (Waal). Since both human and animals have morality, religion that only existence in human world could not be a source of forming moral. Environment shapes moral values. Religion does not affect moral values, but environment does affect because adaption on environment is very important for survival.
Darwin`s evolutionary theory “Natural Selection” proved that all living organisms modified to adapt the environment. Consequently, moral value is different from each environment where people live. Western countries are more individualistic while Asian countries are more collectivistic. Americans, for example, individuality is a moral value; however, helping each other is a moral value in China. Mr Meier, ESL 33B professor, who has an experience for teaching both American and Asian students, mentioned that American students do not willing help each other during the test because they believe self-1 / 2 reliance as a moral value.
Contrast, Asian students prefer to help each other during the test because using each other to achieve their gold is a moral value for Asian countries. Consequently, governments get involved in defining the different moral values. The US government has less control on the society; therefore, people have more freedom, and it leads to enhance the self- reliance as a moral value. However, Asian countries, where government strictly controls various aspects, have less freedom and people in those countries have to rely on each other to get to their goals.
Therefore, those people regard helping each other as a moral value. In addition, cultures, which co-exist in different environments, also define the moral values. In Asian cultures, people are taught to respect and care elder people. Therefore, people from Asia believe respecting the elder and taking care of those people as a moral value. For instance, in Japan, national health insurance system is running very well because people are willing to pay insurance fees, which helps elder people who need health care services. People consider even though they do not need health services right now, elder people who need health care gain the benefits from insurance system, and they are happy to help those people by paying monthly insurance fees.
However, in Western culture, people regard self-belief as a moral value, and they do not prefer to help elder people. Therefore in the US, national health insurance system does not exist, and even though President Obama tried to construct the health insurance system, it did not work well because of different moral values. Therefore, moral value is pretty much related to environment. Religious beliefs exacerbate the collapse the morality.
Religion controlled its believers, and people believing in religion tend to believe whatever the rules that religion lay down. For instance, sky burial, which is take place in Tibetan Buddhism, is the most gross burial way if we think from our common sense of morality. Human corpses are placed on a mountaintop as a prey for birds such as vultures, eagles and other scavengers. Buddhist monks are subjected to the sky burial funerary. They go to the mountaintop by themselves to conduct the funeral ceremony. However, that is normal for people who believe in Tibetan Buddhism because religion teaches the believers “Humans are part of nature.
(People) arrive in the world naturally and they leave it naturally. Life and death are part of a wheel of reincarnation. Death is not to be feared. ” (Xinran 159). Therefore, they were controlled by religion to believe conducting sky burial is the way to return the body back to the nature. On the other hand, religious belief ignite the people`s competitive spirit that lead to break morality. Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is one of the examples that easy to understand for how religious belief stir the people`s competitive spirit. ISIS, the biggest Islamic terrorist group, attempts to create a new Islamic country in Middle East.
ISIS has rapidly expanded by taking over Iraq and Syria territories. ISIS has killed so many innocents who do not follow Islam. This immoral behavior occurred because of ISIS, which was created by extreme Muslim believers, who regard their religion as the best on the world. They want to spread their religion; therefore, they force other people to become a part of Muslim believer by using immoral ways. Therefore, religious beliefs lead people to collapse the morality. In conclusion, morality is important to maintain our society.
Every living organism that depends on each other to maintain life cannot survive without morality. However, humans misunderstand that religion shapes morality, but if we think critically, we can understand that morality is formed not because of religion but because of instinct and environment. Works Cited Clark, Josh. “How the Trolley Problem Works. ” How Stuff Works. N. p. ,n. d. Web, 24 Oct. 2014. Waal, Frans De. “Moral Behavior in Animals. ” TED. N. p. , Nov. 2011. Web. 24 Oct. 2014 Xinran, Xue. “Sky Burial. ” Sky Burial. New York: Anchor Books, July. 2006. Print. POWERED BY TCPDF (WWW. TCPDF. ORG).