January 20th, 2017
If God Exists, Is Murder Immoral
My thesis essay will be on “If God exists, is murder immoral? Can those who do not believe in God be highly moral people? Can people who practice different religions agree about how to resolve a moral disagreement?” Morality does not have a specific meaning. This essay will discuss how if God does exist, murder is still immoral depending on the reason why the murder was committed. If it is in the name of God, it is moral. If it is not in the name of God, it is immoral. Furthermore, I would like to point out that not all morals are based on religion. I will also discuss how there are numerous amounts of people throughout the world that do not believe in God whom still have moral standards and beliefs. Morals are the cultural standard or customs applied to individual’s behavior over time.
When you look at the bigger picture, there are many different categories of murder. If an electricity company shuts off the power of a family that cannot pay their bill in the middle of the winter and that family freezes to death, does that constitute as murder? If a child watches their mother get beaten every day by their father and one day it goes too far and the child stabs and kills him. Is that considered murder? Yes, “Thou shall not kill” is one of the ten commandments given to the world by the lord, but is murder justified when it comes to certain circumstances? It is known that murder is not morally right, but there are Christian supporters that are for the death penalty. Is murder justified when it is a life for a life? Abortions and the use of Plan B contraceptives can be classified as a form of murder, but yes there are plenty Christians that have gone through the procedures or condone the use of contraceptives. Naturally when asked that question one may normally start to come up with scenarios when murder could be justified. Who is involved? What events led to it? Why? In all societies murder of the innocent is wrong. But, if God is one who sees all, was it part of his or her plan for that person to leave this earth that way.
According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the definition of morality refers to “certain codes of conduct put forward by society or a group (such as a religion), accepted by an individual for her or his own behavior” (“Morality”). When asked, can those who do not believe in God be highly moral people? There has to be some basis in which to judge what is considered good behavior and what is considered bad behavior. That basis is found from two different beliefs, subjective morality and objective morality. The Merriam-Webster definition of subjective is “relating to the way a person may experience things in his or her own mind” (“Subjective”). In other words, subjective morality can be judging good and bad based on your own personal beliefs. People who believe in subjective morality think there is no such thing as absolute morality. They also believe that morality is a man-made concept that is defined by the society you live in. Subjective morality has no stern basis. How do you judge what is right or wrong, if it changes from person to person? The problem when it comes to subjective morality is the fact that you can’t judge one’s actions because ultimately, they are the judge. For example, if a man decides to break into a home believed to be empty to only to find out the home is occupied by a family, he then decides to leave no witness behind and kills them all and steals their possessions out of the home. With subjective morality as long as he believes that what he did was good, it doesn’t matter what the people or the court of law think. That is why our judicial system in the United States is based off objective morality.
Objective morality is when something is right or wrong independently of whether or not anyone believes it to be so. The Merriam-Webster definition of objective is “existing outside of the mind; existing in the real world.” (“Objective”) The basis for determining if something is actually bad or is it believed to be good comes from a source outside of us. Objective morality is what most religious followers believe in. God’s moral nature is expressed in relation to us in the form of divine commands which constitute our moral duties or obligations. (Craig) These commands do not change or waiver depending on the person, this is the form of a stern basis, one that subjective morality does not offer. For example, the murder of innocent people is considered wrong in pretty much every society. But murder, in general, is not depending on the scenario.
Can those who do not believe in God be highly moral people? there are numerous people throughout the world who do not believe in God but have morals. I believe morals can be taught by those around you and the environment in which you are raised. You do not have to believe in God or have to belong to a particular religion to know right from wrong. Everyone is raised to have a conscience and are taught what is socially expectable and what is not. If religion was the basis for moral judgement, all those who were spiritual being rather than religious or atheists would be considered criminals, which they all are not. You cannot generalize a group of people by a few bad apples in the bunch. Yes, religion plays a part in morality because religion teaches you a set of principles that are meant to guide you and make you behave morally. If a person believes in God, they will more likely try to live their life to please God and therefore will behave in a certain way as commanded by God, but that is not always the case. For example, Ed Kemper whom was also known as the “Co-ed Killer” was one of the most notorious serial killers in the United States. Ed Kemper was also considered a religious conversion and took to looking up any biblical reference he heard. He was clean-cut and conservative, intelligent and sheltered. (Blanco, Juan) But yet, he murdered his own grandparents, his mother and her friend, as well as 15 female hitchhikers. Even those who believe in God can lake morals.
There are many people who are considered good people or may have some sort of goodness in them, they may even have a certain code of morals and values that they live by and are guided by throughout their lives. For example, the television show called Dexter. Dexter was a serial killer who was raised by a police officer who taught him that he should live by a certain code and set rules. He only murdered people who he felt deserved to die because they did bad things. Those type of people choose to live solely off what they may deem to be right or wrong. There are a number of Religious people who do not follow the laws that Jesus himself came within the bible. Just as you have Mormons, Muslims, and others who do the opposite of what was commanded of them in their religion. While most religions teach ethics and morals, religion is not necessary for shaping an individual. Goodness and justice can be judged and practiced without the guidance of any sort of religion. Some may believe that without God, morality would be just another social convention without any real universal validity beyond cultures or self-interest. But, the problem with that way of thinking is that we are all rational beings, therefore we can all understand that basic moral rules that you are taught apply universally.
In the end, everyone should be responsible for their own actions. God may be all seeing but I believe in divine right to choose your own destiny. God will not force you to do anything, he provides all with free will. Everyone is taught what is right and what is right, every person is capable of exercising good judgment and making sound moral decisions in life, whether they are a believer in god or any religion or not. I do not consider myself a religious person, I was raised in a religious household but as I grew older I became more of a spiritual person. It is ridicules to think just because I do not claim a religion, that I lack any type of morals. Atheist do not believe in God, but they can still be moral people, they cannot judge one’s actions since they have no grounds for judging. Not only does god serve as the source for objective moral values, but he also serves as the strength behind it.
In closing, a person’s life is something that cannot be easily judged by others. There is always a reason for everything. Most people are taught by the parents or guardians what is right and what is wrong from an early age. To walk in another person shoes would be to understand their life and why they are who they are and choose to become the person they are today. Whether it is religious beliefs of just every task and choices. Past experiences set the tone as to where someone’s mind can move the world in a direction that they understand.
Bernard, G. “The Definition of Morality.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2002. Print.
Blanco, Juan. “Edmund Kemper | Murderpedia, The Encyclopedia Of Murderers.” Murderpedia.Org, 2018, http://murderpedia.org/male.K/k/kemper-edmund.htm.
“Definition Of OBJECTIVE.” Merriam-Webster.Com, 2018, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/objective.
“Definition Of SUBJECTIVE.” Merriam-Webster.Com, 2018, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/subjective.
Summary of the Kurtz-Craig Debate.” Summary of the Kurtz-Craig Debate. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Oct. 2016.