Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Should God Define Your Morals?
Section 6 Philosophy
The debate over religion, particularly God, has never ended since the idea of him first came into fruition. Ever since God became widely accepted by the masses, his followers have been encouraged to never question him, because God is considered an omnipotent being who always knows what is best. His word should be the law of the land; everything you do, should be done for him. But what happens when the god you so firmly believe in commands you to do something that you know is morally wrong? Do you obey him, or do you defy him and risk damnation for this? A prime example of this can be seen in the Bible, when God instructs Abraham to murder his son in order to test his loyalty. Abraham is torn by this, but his faith wins. Although God doesn’t make him kill his son in the end, this shows how much religion determines what a person sees as the right path to take.
This example raises the question of how far people should go when it comes to what they will do for their god. Should they kill innocent people if their god tells them to? Should they prosecute other people because their beliefs differ? Should you ever even question your god?
Kierkegaard would probably say that it is best to question your god. You should make sure that the deity you worship upholds your own beliefs of what is morally right and wrong. Although he was deeply religious, I believe that, if Kierkegaard had been in Abraham’s position, he wouldn’t have agreed to sacrifice his son, even if this meant that he would suffer damnation for this. Kierkegaard was often torn between what his religion told him and what he knew he knew was right. This caused him to encourage other people to try to evaluate their own actions through their own moral compasses, rather than blindly following along with what their religion tells them is right or wrong.
This questioning the wisdom of a higher being was very taboo at the time. Most people were expected to never question their religion, and simply do as they were told by their gods. However, Nietzsche took this questioning of God’s morality even further. In fact, at one point he was even bold enough to say that “God is dead.” This statement was not meant literally. Instead, it was designed to make people question how they would define the difference between what is morally right and wrong if they knew that God had never existed all along.
Unlike Kierkegaard, Nietzsche was not a particularly religious person. He did not personally have to struggle between what his heart and religion told him; however, he likely witnessed the people around him go through this battle. That is why Nietzsche wanted to further encourage the people to question their beliefs. He understood that, without a god telling them what to do, the majority of people would not be able to tell difference between right and wrong. By asking them to create their own moral code separate from their religion, he could show them that morality could exist outside of religion, as well as prove that the word of god might not always be what people should so easily accept as right.
A painting of Friedrich Nietzsche
Together, these philosophers encouraged people to question their religions and to define their own moral standards that they should live up to, rather than taking every word offered by their religion as an absolute truth that must be followed, at any cost.