Fandango’s Provocative Question #33

FPQWelcome once again to Fandango’s Provocative Question. Each week I will pose what I think is a provocative question for your consideration. By provocative, I don’t mean a question that will cause annoyance or anger. Nor do I mean a question intended to arouse sexual desire or interest.

What I do mean is a question that is likely to get you to think, to be creative, and to provoke a response. Hopefully a positive response.

For this week’s provocative question, I am going to leverage a recent provocative post from Marilyn Armstrong in which she wrote about what it means to have a moral compass.  In her post, Marilyn wrote that she believes the concept of a moral compass is how one defines right and wrong, independent of religious beliefs. She wrote, “I’ve concluded that ‘religiosity’ and ‘morality’ have little to do with each other because you either have a moral compass — or you don’t.” You can read Marilyn’s full post here.

There are also those who believe that morality is a set of definitive laws gifted to humanity by God, where God has determined what is “right” and what is “wrong,” and these determinations are deemed to be unimpeachable. In other words, morality cannot exist without God. Thus “morality” and “religiosity” are inextricably intertwined.

So the question this week is this:

Do you believe that one can be moral without believing in God or being religious, or do you believe that you must believe in God in order to have a moral compass and to live a moral life?

If you choose to participate, write a post with your response to the question. Once you are done, tag your post with #FPQ and create a pingback to this post if you are on WordPress. Or you can simply include a link to your post in the comments.

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26 thoughts on “Fandango’s Provocative Question #33

  1. sca11y July 24, 2019 / 3:53 am

    Broadly, I agree with Marilyn. My definition of a moral compass is just a sense of what’s right and what’s wrong – I presume that’s common for us all?

    If you take something with religious connotations – “love your neighbour as yourself”, say – there’s absolutely nothing to say that that isn’t a good principle in life, regardless of whether you also believe in a god or not. So, yes, the two can exist separately, they aren’t commutative.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Irene July 24, 2019 / 5:34 am

    I think that all humans have a moral compass, regardless of whether they believe in God or not. What gets more complex is the particular case of each individual which leads them to follow such compass and live a moral life, or not, and I think that is not necessarily related to religion or believing in God.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Marilyn Armstrong July 24, 2019 / 10:21 am

    It’s not easy answering ones own question. Because I don’t know if I am incorruptible. Maybe no one has offered me the right price?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Melanie B Cee July 24, 2019 / 1:02 pm

      Hey! You got offered a theoretical million to run nekkid across a ball field. You declined. Your ‘moral’ status is confirmed. 😛

      Like

    • Fandango July 24, 2019 / 5:01 pm

      Thanks for jumping in, Melanie! Good response. 👏

      Like

  4. Marvin Edwards July 25, 2019 / 6:44 pm

    An ethical person follows the rules. A moral person seeks good, for others as well as themselves. As a Humanist, my perspective is that man created God, partly in his own image, but partly as a person much bigger and much better than himself. So, we have placed our words into the mouth of God.

    Consequentialists create the ruies, according to what they think will produce the best result for everyone. Then the deontologists disseminate it as the “word of God”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango July 25, 2019 / 9:47 pm

      “my perspective is that man created God, partly in his own image, but partly as a person much bigger and much better than himself.” That makes sense to me.

      Like

  5. Marleen July 25, 2019 / 7:29 pm

    This brings up a number of questions (beyond one or two). I do think a person can have morality without religion; people usually do (even without religion, sometimes or often especially without religion). Some people seem not to have it (morality)… that is whether they slap the word God onto their endeavors or not.* [God is not the same thing as religion, and claiming to believe in “God” (or perhaps there is a better word or a different description preferred by some people) is not the same thing as actually doing so — which, doing so, again is not the equivalent to religion or necessarily inclusive of such, personally.] I also think that people who imagine or assert that God has given a list of laws we should follow which cover everything that matters have not thought this through and, if they stubbornly stick to this despite ongoing evidence to the contrary, likely don’t care about fudging things at the edges or worse (despite the supposed rigidity). (The outcome is either finding out that the sense of everything being tied up with a bow was mistaken — OR stomping ahead as if all is clear so that you can declare your own way.) At the same time, one can learn from religious heritage… but that’s not the question.

    I believe seeking what is true and valuing a sense of morality reaches toward God (or whatever the better characterization or word might be).

    * The way I used the word “morality” is with an assumed good connotation, more or less, and particularly with a sense of “good faith” or integrity. Admittedly, some people have more inexplicable or horrific inner compasses; I’m not sure whether to call those morality/morals or something else. I think the “provocative” question presumes we are talking about something good and socially constructive and respectful of humanity. I’m specifically not sure what the word would be for someone (or a set of people either) who has a system or hodge-podge of principles more self-serving and warped than good. It is alternatively possible to say everyone has morals, some good and some bad. Some confused. {I’m not going to approach someone going above and beyond. I think that’s too complex for the topic of morality.}

    Liked by 1 person

    • Marvin Edwards July 25, 2019 / 8:23 pm

      Kant used the term “good will”, and I think that is the essence of morality. He suggested that all other virtues could equally serve good or bad ends. A bank robber could be intelligent, courageous, and even honorable (splitting the loot equitably with his partners). But a good will would prevent him from robbing the bank in first place.

      I like to distinguish morality from ethics by defining morality as a good will, that seeks the best for everyone. Ethics would then serve this intent by providing the best rules, that is, the rules that are most likely to achieve this moral intent, to seek the best good for everyone.

      I agree with you that religion can be separated from theology. A church is basically a support group for people of good will. By mutual support, they resist the temptation to prosper at the expense of others, but seek the best good for everyone. Sermons, discussions, songs, and meditation serve to bind people together in a common cause. And Sunday school provides a way to share our values with our kids.

      So, an atheist can have the benefits of a religious community without believing in a God.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango July 25, 2019 / 10:09 pm

      I think “moral” generally means good or well intended. Thus, I think “bad morals” is sort of an oxymoron. I would use the terms “amoral” for someone who doesn’t know the difference between right and wrong and the term “immoral” for someone who does know the difference but does wrong because he/she just doesn’t care.

      Like

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