religion required for free republic?Am I crazy or is there a gap in logic here?  This is the position/logic chain that I am told to assume but don’t understand: A free republic needs virtuous...

religion required for free republic?

Am I crazy or is there a gap in logic here?  This is the position/logic chain that I am told to assume but don’t understand:

A free republic needs virtuous citizens. In order for a person to be virtuous they need religion. Therefore religion is required for free republics (and democracies).

There seems to be a gap in this logic to me but I am not sure. Can a person be virtuous without religion? Isn’t that were the concept of ethics and morals comes into play?

 

Asked on by kateew

10 Answers | Add Yours

kplhardison's profile pic

Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

It is one thing for an opinion to assert that a free republic must allow for freedom of religion. It is quite another to assert that religion is requisite to the existence of free republics. The two, religion and free republic, are not mutually inclusive nor mutually exclusive. They exist as separate propositions with areas of overlap.

One has but to think of religions that do or did practice revenge rituals, human sacrifices (some might also include animal sacrifices), and extreme forms of sin tests and punishments to know that moral behavior and virtue are not inherent in religion. Moral behavior and virtue may not even be said to be inherent in philosophy, consider the philosophy of hedonism.

This being said, I think it is a fair assertion that moral behavior and virtue are requisite to the existence of free republics, consider what happened during the immoral and unvirtuous era of Robber Barons at the height of the Industrial Revolution in Christianity dominated America.

Reason had to intervene in the shape of sound public opinion and government regulation to impose moral behavior and virtuousness with compassion [morality can, has been, and will be legislated]. Perhaps it is just to say that moral behavior and virtue are inherent only in Reason? It seems just to say that Reason is required for a free republic.

literaturenerd's profile pic

literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I, too, agree that one must accept a place of religion in being the say all when it comes to morality to insure this movement works. But, for some without religion, they can be the same morally without adhering to the principles of any given religious theology. While many believe that morals and ethics are religiously based, they are not the only ideology which includes them.

vangoghfan's profile pic

vangoghfan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I would agree that people can be virtuous without being religious. Some religious people would argue that promises of eternal rewards and/or punishment are more likely to encourage people to be virtuous than if such rewards and/or punishments did not exist.  Some of them would also argue that if moral behavior is simply an individual choice, rather than an obligation imposed by an all-powerful God, there is less likely to be moral behavior.  However, I have known many highly moral people who were not religious.

 

bullgatortail's profile pic

bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Good ethical and moral behavior is not restricted to people who have grown up with strong religious beliefs, though many conservative religious zealots will have you believe otherwise. Prisons are full of unethical and immoral men and women who have grown up in the church, or who profess to "find religion," only to find themselves behind bars again and again. I believe that the freedom of religion is a necessary part of a democracy, but no more so than the freedom of its citizens to be non-believers if they so choose.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

It's a fine logic chain as long as you think that religion is the only source of morality.  However, that seems like a pretty big assumption to to swallow.

I would definitely argue that a person can be virtuous without religion.  I would say that the history of our country also shows that people who profess to be very religious can also seem to be utterly without virtue.

As far as virtue without religion, all you have to do here is think of something like the Golden Rule (though it comes to us via religion) or Kant's Categorical Imperative.  Neither of these moral rules says that you have to act in that way because God wants you to.  And people can and do act in those ways simply because they feel that it is right.  I do not in any way think that you have to fear God in order to live a virtuous life.

So, yeah, I completely agree with you.  Maybe your college really is trying to indoctrinate you.

frizzyperm's profile pic

frizzyperm | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

"Can a person be virtuous without religion?" - post 1 Kateew

Speaking as an atheist, may I say that I find this idea EXTREMELY offensive (I realise that you are quoting your question paper). Imagine the outcry if someone said, "Can Jews really be trusted to behave morally?" or "Are women actually capable of virtuous behaviour?" But, thanks to the absolute arrogance of religious attitudes, people still think it's ok to question atheist's morality. It's outrageous

Considering we've just had the tenth anniversary 9/11, an event of mass murder committed explicitly by 'virtuous' religious people, then it is time that comments such as this were denounced in public. Atheists make up a disproportionately small segment of the prison population compared to religious people. Yet I am constantly being told that I cannot be trusted morally because I do not believe there is a bearded guy on a cloud spying on me.

Some of the most socially stable and advanced societies in the world (Holland, Sweden, Switzerland, Austrailia, Canada, etc) are also some of the least religious. Questioning the morals of a person just because they do not ascribe to old myths is totally unacceptable.

kateew's profile pic

kateew | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) Honors

Posted on

It is one thing for an opinion to assert that a free republic must allow for freedom of religion. It is quite another to assert that religion is requisite to the existence of free republics. The two, religion and free republic, are not mutually inclusive nor mutually exclusive. They exist as separate propositions with areas of overlap.

One has but to think of religions that do or did practice revenge rituals, human sacrifices (some might also include animal sacrifices), and extreme forms of sin tests and punishments to know that moral behavior and virtue are not inherent in religion. Moral behavior and virtue may not even be said to be inherent in philosophy, consider the philosophy of hedonism.

This being said, I think it is a fair assertion that moral behavior and virtue are requisite to the existence of free republics, consider what happened during the immoral and unvirtuous era of Robber Barons at the height of the Industrial Revolution in Christianity dominated America.

Reason had to intervene in the shape of sound public opinion and government regulation to impose moral behavior and virtuousness with compassion [morality can, has been, and will be legislated]. Perhaps it is just to say that moral behavior and virtue are inherent only in Reason? It seems just to say that Reason is required for a free republic.

I like and agree with what you said about reason. I think that will be included and expanded upon in my essay if you don't mind. Thank you.

kateew's profile pic

kateew | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) Honors

Posted on

It is one thing for an opinion to assert that a free republic must allow for freedom of religion. It is quite another to assert that religion is requisite to the existence of free republics. The two, religion and free republic, are not mutually inclusive nor mutually exclusive. They exist as separate propositions with areas of overlap.

One has but to think of religions that do or did practice revenge rituals, human sacrifices (some might also include animal sacrifices), and extreme forms of sin tests and punishments to know that moral behavior and virtue are not inherent in religion. Moral behavior and virtue may not even be said to be inherent in philosophy, consider the philosophy of hedonism.

This being said, I think it is a fair assertion that moral behavior and virtue are requisite to the existence of free republics, consider what happened during the immoral and unvirtuous era of Robber Barons at the height of the Industrial Revolution in Christianity dominated America.

Reason had to intervene in the shape of sound public opinion and government regulation to impose moral behavior and virtuousness with compassion [morality can, has been, and will be legislated]. Perhaps it is just to say that moral behavior and virtue are inherent only in Reason? It seems just to say that Reason is required for a free republic.

 

I was presented with a cut-and-dry logic chain and instructed read a bunch of articles to support this position. I am then supposed to write a paper in reflection from “what I have learned” and I am trying to write a good essay refuted the logic because I think there is a huge gap in the logic. I want to ensure I am not crazy.

Logic chain I am told to assume: Free republics require virtuous citizens to exist. Religion is required for virtuosity is citizens. Therefore religion is necessary for free republics. I think this is bad logic and I am trying to figure out where to begin my argument. Is it generally accepted that free republics require virtuosity in its citizens? I think that logic is ok. The problem with the conclusion I have is that religion is required for morality.

kateew's profile pic

kateew | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) Honors

Posted on

I, too, agree that one must accept a place of religion in being the say all when it comes to morality to insure this movement works. But, for some without religion, they can be the same morally without adhering to the principles of any given religious theology. While many believe that morals and ethics are religiously based, they are not the only ideology which includes them.

I don't know if I understand what you mean. If one accepts the fact that free republics need virtuous citizens in order to function then the real question I guess I have to tackle is whether or not the virtuous nature of a free republic is founded on some sort of religious morality. Do you mean that it is your opinion that a free republic needs religion in order to exist? Do more citizens in a free republic need to be religious then non-religious in order for a free republic to flourish?

kateew's profile pic

kateew | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) Honors

Posted on

It's a fine logic chain as long as you think that religion is the only source of morality.  However, that seems like a pretty big assumption to to swallow.

I would definitely argue that a person can be virtuous without religion.  I would say that the history of our country also shows that people who profess to be very religious can also seem to be utterly without virtue.

As far as virtue without religion, all you have to do here is think of something like the Golden Rule (though it comes to us via religion) or Kant's Categorical Imperative.  Neither of these moral rules says that you have to act in that way because God wants you to.  And people can and do act in those ways simply because they feel that it is right.  I do not in any way think that you have to fear God in order to live a virtuous life.

So, yeah, I completely agree with you.  Maybe your college really is trying to indoctrinate you.

I guess that is where I was hung-up. It seems to be that basic morals and personal ethic could come into play. I was under the assumption that if one assumed religion was required for governmental function it was called a theocracy, but I could be mistaken.

 

 

We’ve answered 318,911 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question