An Open Question

Unquestionably there are historical connections between traditional religions and the development of moral codes. Whether Confucius’ advocacy of The Silver Rule, Judaism’s development of The Ten Commandments or Jesus’ endorsement of The Golden Rule, the development of moral codes have been religious. But that has largely changed. Modern developments in moral thinking have mostly come from secular sources. Obvious examples that come to mind are development of Kant’s categorical imperative or Mill’s utilitarianism. Modern developments in moral thinking have come as much from philosophers, as theologians, who are often constrained by their sacred texts. Whether religion fosters intolerance or positive social behavior strikes me as an empirical question best left to the sociologists and psychologists competent to do the scientific studies that could determine the truth of the matter. What remains clear is that across the world most people continue to get their moral training from one or another religion.

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