Ethics with Religion I

Laws and rules that are created were made to be followed, but what reason does an individual have in order to follow them. Does a person’s belief justify as the only reason that they follow moral and judicial codes of society, or do humans have the ability to treat others with respect without a belief backing it up. Kai Nielsen, a professor of philosophy at Calgary University in Canada, states in his essay, “Ethics Without Religion”, “that a man who says, “If God is dead, nothing matters,” is a spoilt child who has never looked at his fellow man with compassion.”  I do agree with the fact that people can respect each other and have morals that make them subject to society’s law but I can’t quite grasp the reason what stops people from doing wrong without a religious code. In Nielsen’s essay he states that everyone has a desire to be happy and live a joyful life with the least amount of suffering as possible. This brings me to the question, what is stopping a secular person of selfishly making themselves happy instead of compromising with the interest of those around them. In an extreme situation, if this were the case, without my own moral code I would question to stop at a stoplight if the chance of a collision was taken away. In my head the place that I’m going is obviously more important than the law and the people that share the street with me. Many people have caught on to this notion and are considered criminals but without a deity to strike fear in them, what benefit will the common good do for them. Without the code of “do unto others as they would do unto you” what stops a person from committing a crime they can easily get away with.

Nielsen counters the need for religious ethics by stating that people need a reason to explain or even justify the suffering that goes on in the world. He states we need something to tell those that are in pain why they can’t have a happy life he leads to the question “if God is good why is there suffering?” Sadly I don’t have the ability to answer that question but I do know thanks to God-centered morality hospitals and care centers were created with people, who have no connection to the one suffering, responsible to take care of a patient. Without religion ( To make it clear when I used the word religion I am not speaking to only one belief, despite my multiple use of the word God, but to all beliefs that originated since the dominated tribal era) I generally believe that chaos would rule the world.


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