Morality describes the principles that rule our behaviour. Without these principles in place, societies cannot survive for long. In today’s world, morality is often thought of as belonging to a particular religious point of view. Everyone sticks to a moral doctrine of some kind.
Morality, as it relates to our behaviour, is important on three levels. C.S. Lewis defines them as to ensure fair play and agreement between people; to help make us good people in order to have a good society, and to keep us in a good relationship with the power that created us. Based on this definition, it’s clear that our beliefs are critical to our moral behaviour.
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Professor Lewis says most reasonable people agree. We begin to see problems happening. Consider the popular philosophy “I’m not hurting anyone but myself,” often used to excuse bad personal choices. How can we be the good people we need to be if we continue making these choices, and how will that result not affect the rest of our society? Bad personal choices do hurt others. While the majority of the world’s population believes in God, or at least in a god, the question of Creation, as a theory of origins, is debated in today’s society.
A recent report in Psychology Today said: “The most significant predictor of a person’s moral behaviour may be religious commitment. People who consider themselves very religious were least likely to report deceiving their friends, having extramarital affairs, cheating on their expenses accounts, or even parking illegally.” Based on this finding, what we believe about Creation has a decided effect on our moral thinking and our behaviour. Without belief in a Creator, the only option that seems to be left is to stick to the moral standards we make up for ourselves. Unless we live in a ruling society, we are free to choose our own personal moral code.
But where does that freedom come from? The view of many who do not stick to Creation is that morality is a creation of humankind, designed to meet the need of steady societies. All kinds of life are in a process of deciding between life and death, choosing what to do with power and or authority. This ultimately leads to a system of virtues and values. The question is: what happens when our choices conflict with each other? What if something I believe I need in order for my life to continue results in death for you? If we do not have a total standard of truth, chaos and conflict will result as we are all left to our own devices and desires.
Morality impacts our everyday decisions, and those choices are directed by our principles. We must decide for ourselves where the conscience originates. Many people hold to the idea that the conscience is a matter of our hearts, that concepts of right, wrong, and fairness are “programmed” in each of us. This is in keeping with the writings of Paul the Apostle, who points out that even those who do not believe in God often obey God’s laws as given in the Ten Commandments.
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