Religion: An Unnecessary and Contradictory Ingredient to Morality: Amy Ionadi

Amy Ionadi received $500 as one of three college-bound high school seniors tying for third place in FFRF’s 2007 contest.

“I am an eighteen-year-old high school senior intending to attend La Roche College for Film and Digital Media. My interests include film, digital media, photography, writing, art, and science. A long-time Christian, I was finally freed of religion in recent years. I realized the vital importance of applying the scientific method to every aspect of my life, and finally became honest to myself and my beliefs. In that complete honesty without bias, I was finally able to be rid of the power of religion. Now, one of my goals is to help others to accept this personal honesty and to look at the world critically. This goal is a very important aspect of what I will do after college with my career.”

By Amy Ionadi

In a modern world utterly hot-wired with religion, it is simply expected to see the religious claim invention of the concept of morality. Morality, or the code of human ethics and right and wrong, is often sourced as emerging entirely from religion. This is, of course, a misguided and deceptive claim. Religion did not invent and is entirely unnecessary to the existence and demonstration of morality. In fact, religion is quite the antithesis of morality, and its quite evident contradictions have been apparent in history and are seen clearly in the modern world. Whereas religion often destroys the very morality it claims, the history of morality itself can be traced and explained entirely by the scientific concept of evolution, and morality can even be noted in animal species today. Morality could easily–perhaps with more ease–exist in a world entirely devoid of religion.

Religion, though often claimed the source of morality, is often a contradiction to morality itself. Of the myriad religious beliefs in the ancient and modern world, the majority of them hold deep-rooted concepts evidently quite against apparent human rights. For example, the modern triad of a common source, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, are intensely negative forces on the face of the planet. Each of these religions has a history of violence and evil and destructiveness. Ironically, the statistics of the modern world also show a quite surprising fact: atheists often show quite a bit of morality by boasting a low crime rate and statistical lows on other things that might be considered non-moral. Religion is quite obviously not a big fan of following the moral values it claims to have discovered.

Two of these religions are the most prevalent religions on the planet (Major, 1), and all three are often claimed to be home of morality. Yet, it is quite the opposite. Historically, all three are bathed in blood, violence, and degradation. Each often murmurs about the martyrs of their individual religion in the coliseum of ancient Rome or stoned in the dusty streets of Jerusalem, but they often forget about such historical circumstances as the Crusades or any of the various slaughters of adherents with opposing views. During the Crusades, an army of redirected Christian knights abandoned their safe haven in Europe to march upon the divided Holy Land, where Muslims and Jews bickered over patches of land claimed to be holy ground. There, a slaughter ensued.

For a 196-year chunk of history, adherents of the three religions boasting the one-god trinity slaughtered each other for their own god-given right to the same bit of land called Israel (Christian, 1). Every religion has its own mass murder to claim. Judaism claims the original attempted genocide of the Arabic people alleged in the early books of the bible. Christianity has its endless inquisitions, whether they are those within their own faith in the murderous, war-ridden squabble between Catholics and Protestants (Wars, 1), or the murder of such innocents as those “witches” at Salem (Linder, 1). Islam has its war-like history of imperialism and hatred (Karsh, 1). All three of these religions ravaged the ancient world with hatred and destruction, and quite contradicted the concept of morality.

In the modern world, the same three religions often batter each other and the innocents of the planet. Christianity, for example, is a major source of discrimination. The bible itself encourages hatred toward a number of groups. Homosexuality and women are two major targets of Christianity. In Leviticus, it says in chapter 20, verse 13, that “If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed abomination. They shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them (Lev. 20:13).”

In the tradition of the bible, instead of allowing human beings to live in freedom, there is a constant struggle between Christianity-charged politics and homosexuals, especially in the United States. A segment of Christians consider homosexuals the source of many negatives in the modern world, and seek to destroy homosexuality for the sake of religion alone. For an example of this modern hatred, a prominent Christian leader once said: “I really believe that . . . the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians . . . I point the finger in their face and say ‘you helped this happen’ (Rev., 1)” in reference to the American tragedy of 9-11. As this Jerry Falwell quote reveals, women are also the target of religion. Religion has traditionally attempted to deny women equality; women are restricted from such things as the Roman Catholic priesthood, and biblical injunctions order them to submit like dogs to husbands. The bible says that “The head of woman is man” (1 Corinthians 11:3), and the Koran notes that “Men are guardians over women” (Sura 4:35) and that men may “marry of other women as may be agreeable to you, two, or three, or four” (Sura 4:4). Modern religions still obey these texts and abuse and degrade women because of them. In addition, many racist groups, such as the Ku Klux Klan, invoke religious sources. The Klan claims that it is “Bringing a Message of Hope and Deliverance to White Christian America” (What, 1), and is a predominantly Christian group.

For another example, one can name Islamic terrorists as a modern contradiction to morality. Not only do they slaughter in the Middle East, they take every opportunity to murder whomever they can of opposing religions (Helwig, 1). This slaughter is not limited to Muslims though, as the battle in Israel is instigated by both sides. The war-like Jews of Israel often encourage just as much war as Islam (Rokach, 1). All three of these religions work painfully against morality in the modern world.

Ironically, atheists can often claim the best moral statistics. It is the religious countries, like the United States, which have the highest crime rates. In observing a country like Japan, one can see that during the period when Shinto was in power, Japan was the most aggressive. Yet, now, although predominantly nonreligious, it has one of the lowest crime rates. U.S. atheists have the lowest divorce rate at 21% while U.S. Christians have a 24% rate and U.S. Jews as high as 30% (Wong, 1). This statistic reveals who is truly following the common conceptions of morality.

As these religions combat morality, there must be another source for it. This source can be easily traced along the evolutionary line via science. Even today, morality can be seen in other animals, and it is not a uniquely religious human trait. Morality has a more evident, much clearer source.

Morality is a useful trait for survival, and emerged entirely from evolution. It is obvious to see that it is merely a survival tool. The values presented by morality allow creatures to survive in groups. Concepts considered moral, such as do not kill within one’s own group or the importance of caring for others, are often necessary for life. A species would need to spare each others’ lives in order to reproduce and continue the species. A pack of animals needs to insure the survival of the entire pack, and thus care for each other, as demonstrated by wolves or lions. These tendencies easily emerged through gradual evolution, and are entirely for the purpose of survival. Evolution is the true source of morality.

Humans are not the only moral creatures, showing as well that morality did not emerge from religion. Animals, who apparently lack religion, also demonstrate morality. The roots of morality are seen in modern primates, as observed by scientists. Chimpanzees, for example, will drown in an attempt to save their fellow chimps from drowning. In an experiment done by scientists, chimpanzees, who would be fed upon pulling a rope that would shock their companions, chose to forego food instead of doing so (Wade, 1). As animals clearly show roots of morality in their coexistence without religion, it is clear that humans, with common ancestors, developed morality through evolution.

One does not need religion to exist morally, as commonly accepted. The fact that morality was scooped up by religion long after it originally developed often makes modern religious individuals, grasping for straws, claim the patent to this concept necessary to survival. Despite this claim, history and science show that the religious really have no clue what morality is, and have no claim to where it came from. The individual does not need to be, and likely needs to not be, religious to be wholly moral.

Works Cited

Boeree, C. G. “The Evolution of Morality.” 2005. 19 May 2007. Helwg, Otto J. “Terrorism and Islam.” Leadership U. 21 Oct. 2002. 19 May 2007. Karsh, Efraim.”Islamic Imperialism.” Yale University Press. Yale University.19 May 2007. “Koran–What It Says About Women.” 19 May 2007. Linder, Douglas. “The Salem Witchcraft Trials of 1692.” Famous American Trials. Mar. 2007 UMKC. 19 May 2007 “Major Religions Ranked by Size.” Adherents. 19 Apr. 2007. Adherents. 19 May 2007. “Rev. Falwell Blames for Terrorist Attacks.” Actupny. 13 Sept. 2001. 19 May 2007. Rokach, Livia. “Israel’s Sacred Terrorism.” AAUG Press. 19 May 2007. Spirit Filled Life Bible for Students. 1 Cor. 11:3. Atlanta: Thomas Nelson, 1995. Spirit Filled Life Bible for Students. Lev. 20:13. Atlanta: Thorns Nelson, 1995. “The Christian Crusades: 1095-1291.” UMB. United Methodist Women. 19 May 2007. Wade, Nicholas. “Scientist Find Beginnings of Morality in Primate Behavior.” The New York Times. 20 Mar. 2007. New York Times. 19 May 2007 > “Wars of Religion.” Le Poulet Gauche. 19 May 2007 “What is White Christian Revival.” KKK. KKK. 19 May 2007. Wong, Michael. “Creationism Versus Scientific Evolution Theory: Atheist Morality.” Creationism Versus Science. 19 May 2007.

Freedom From Religion Foundation