Moral Without Religion?
An argument in today's time, as relevant as in the days of George Washington, is whether or not one can have good morals without the belief in God. Since God has a specific meaning in some religions, the term deity will be used to keep this argument non-denominational. Washington said in his farewell address "reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle" (G. Washington 1796). Washington believed morals had a divine origin. Dr. Marc Hauser, a professor of psychology from Harvard, argues that people such as atheists and agnostics are moral because they have a strong sense of right and wrong. All religions do not share a set of morals. Some are even disregarded by others. For example Sharia law allows for lapidation, or stoning to death, and some religions allow polygamy, while others condemn it. Because religions do not set a universal set of morals, a person can be moral without the belief in a deity.
In order to support the thesis, a clear definition of morals needs to be explained. Merriam Webster defines moral as:
"1. a : of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior : ethical
MORAL WITHOUT RELIGION? 3
Benjamin Franklin wrote of moral perfection, and referred to morals as "a steady, uniform rectitude of conduct." (B. Franklin 1733). Franklin assigned 13 virtues to further explain morals. Some of these are: temperance, order, sincerity, and tranquility. A person with morals is a person who has good manners, character, and a proper behavior.