Protocol Paper Assignments
The book by James Rachel “Elements of Moral Philosophy” introduces morality in Chapter 4 and its dependence on religion making intriguing points to human social coexistence. Rachel begins the discourse through an introduction of the problematic pedagogy in determining morality and religion within the society. One point emerges from Socrates that morality, if it is true that it is intertwined with society, then depends greatly on religion. It is evident that the existence of religion and gods to determine the life of humans is present long before the outset of Christianity. The Divine Command Theory and morality dictate that right becomes a command from God. The following issues stand out in the divine connection and God.
First, religion makes morality a mysterious conception. Secondly, arbitrariness is attributed to God’s commands so that no question can suffice his judgment. Therefore, these ideals create a variance between religion and natural law upon which norms exist because they are right and relevant to the justification of the society.
Rachel has established his ideals of moral problems through case studies of characters in the society including that of Moore who is a judge introducing Christianity and the Ten Commandments in his law courts. It is surprising just how society feels attracted to elements of divinity despite the judicial system being objective to natural law. In elaborating and differentiating between divine law and natural law, it becomes clear that society relies more in being comfortable with mysteries rather than absurd natural explanations for the origin of morals. One example that Rachel gives is the case of child abuse, which God condemns. The question emerges as to why God would condemn it. One perspective dwells on the fact that it is not right which replicates the question as to why it is not right. This way, Rachel claims that a cyclic domain emerges that is complex in trying to determine which theory is relevant.
After studying the chapter, it is not clear what position the society holds regarding morality and the religious values of God as the creator. How do the law and conscience determine morality in a case such as that of child abuse? Additionally, where do we draw a line between religion and human existence? It becomes confusing when Rachel asserts as to lacking answers to such critical social quests as that of religion being a major determiner in morals and right or wrong. Such a question should determine the answer to my quest for a connection between science, society, and morals in philosophy.
Rachel introduces various elements of religion through the divine theory when he says “Christians, Jews and Muslims all believe that God has told us to obey certain rules…”(Rachel & Stuart 51). Such a belief becomes interesting when Rachel continues that people become more subjective and personal in morality and religion as he says “…if morality is a violation of God’s commandments, there is an easy answer: On the day of reckoning, you will be held accountable” (Rachel & Stuart 52). Such quests are exemplified by Aristotle in the theory of natural law where he believes that everything exists for a purpose (Rachel & Stuart 54).
Reflecting upon my life, I remember various doctrines that I have learnt from my Christian upbringing. My mother has been an ardent believer in Christ and calls for purpose and a call in everything she does. Her prayers have seemed to be answered as far as she has always prayed for us and we have lived a life fearing God and doing His will making the whole concept of right and wrong religious. On an objective note however, I question why the same God who makes me whole and satisfied and keeps me from my enemies make others suffer.
From the connection to my Christian background and the relationship that necessitates proper and moral decision-making, I find this chapter very helpful and necessary in determining the value of morality and moral judgments especially in matters to do with religion. Specifically, the manner that Rachel introduces the cases and relates them explicitly to morality and religious elements in the society pleases me and makes it easy for anyone to understand the nuances of morality, moral agents, and reasoning within the context of the society and God’s commands. Subsequently, the organization and connectivity between every subtopic serves to make the chapter quite easy to understand and reason.
Rachels, James, and Stuart Rachels. The elements of moral philosophy. New York: Random House, 1986.