It appears that every single “religious” bigot that I have met thus far is convinced that in order to be moral, you need to have religion in your life. And if you don’t have religion in your life, you are then automatically deemed an “animal” with no focus or purpose in life. As asinine as this statement sounds, it does not come to me as a surprise for I really can’t blame them for thinking this way because, obviously, their minds are only limited to what has been spoon-fed to them their whole lives. They lack the ability to think rationally, and further lack enough knowledge, about the world and much of its historical discourses, in order to have an intelligent and healthy discussion.
As for the question of morality, although it’s true that *some* of it is influenced by religion, “religious morality” in itself is a very common misconception, because one can indeed live a perfectly moral life without religion. Most of these morals are innate and are in fact evolutionary, and it’s not necessarily something that is or has to be taught. However, what religion does is that it *emphasizes* morals, and does not necessarily teach them. And besides, it is possible – no, very possible, actually, to be moral without religion. Thus, how this morality is achieved is simply through reason. Such a morality begins with the individual’s life as the primary value and identifies the further values that are clearly required to sustain that life. It observes that human nature demands that we live not simply through random urges or through animal instincts, but by the faculty that distinguishes us from animals and on which our existence fundamentally depends upon: rationality.
Peter Schwartz says it wonderfully in the following quote:
“Since life requires man to produce what he needs, productiveness is a moral value–thereby making moral opposites out of the industrious worker and the parasitic welfare recipient. Since life requires man to use his own judgment rather than submissively accept the assertions of others, independence is a moral value–making moral opposites out of the person (or nation) acting on his own rational convictions and the one deferring to the consensus of his neighbors (or the U.N.). Since life requires the mind, man’s political system must allow him to use it, i.e., freedom is a moral value–making moral opposites out of America, the defender of liberty, and America’s enemies, who seek liberty’s destruction.”
Take a look at Japan for example, they have one of the lowest percentage (only 30% or perhaps even less) of the population that is religious, and that too religious in the sense that most follow Pantheism, which is more like the religion of nature, where you treat it like it’s the most precious thing ever. And yet, this is the most moral country in the whole world! They have the lowest crime rates, the lowest percentage of teenage pregnancies, and the lowest rate of pretty much any “immoral” thing you can possibly think of. You can leave your bike on the street and never have to worry about it being stolen. And then you see countries like the United States, where religion is glorified to such a degree that in order to be president, you have to be a devout, practicing Christian. And, yet, it is the most disgustingly immoral country the world has ever seen.
So, there is indeed morality without religion – a morality, not of dogmatic commands, but of rational values and of unbreached respect for the life of the individual.
And if one wonders whether the notion of morality is necessarily contingent upon religion.
The answer: No, it certainly is not.
*I will write more about this subject a little later on; with an in-depth analysis about how exactly morality is innate by examining it through an evolutionary perspective.*