1. Welcome to Religious Forums, a friendly forum to discuss all religions in a friendly surrounding.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Our modern chat room. No add-ons or extensions required, just login and start chatting!
    • Access to private conversations with other members.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

Featured Must a Religion Affirm a Set of Morals?

Discussion in 'General Religious Debates' started by Sunstone, May 31, 2020.

  1. Sunstone

    Sunstone De Diablo Del Fora
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2004
    Messages:
    76,156
    Ratings:
    +37,810
    Religion:
    Non-Theistic Mysticism
    Is there anything about the nature or purpose of religion that requires a religion to affirm a set of morals (or otherwise not be a religion)?

    Could there be an amoral religion? If so, what might be the purpose of such a religion?

    Would a religion that affirmed a set of morals in any way be superior (or inferior) to a religion that did not?







     
    • Like Like x 1
  2. Snow White

    Snow White Veteran Member

    Joined:
    May 2, 2019
    Messages:
    14,897
    Ratings:
    +11,925
    Religion:
    New follower of Wicca
    Flying Spaghetti Monster.

    ......


    ......


    Did I win?
     
    • Funny Funny x 1
    • Winner Winner x 1
  3. Rival

    Rival Dex Me Gart
    Staff Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2012
    Messages:
    23,006
    Ratings:
    +35,439
    Religion:
    Noachide
    I think a kind of 'way of life' ethic is part of the 'religion' umbrella; otherwise you just have atheism, theism or some other abstract concept that imo can't really be laballed a religion.
     
    • Like Like x 3
  4. Harel13

    Harel13 Am Yisrael Chai
    Staff Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2019
    Messages:
    7,294
    Ratings:
    +8,650
    Religion:
    Orthodox Judaism
    My first thought was: What about LaVeyan Satanism? But as I don't know too much about them, perhaps what most people view as immoral are what they view as their own morals, in which case, they, too have a set of morals?
     
    • Like Like x 1
  5. Vouthon

    Vouthon Dominus Deus tuus ignis consumens est
    Staff Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Messages:
    3,881
    Ratings:
    +4,543
    Religion:
    Catholic Christianity
    Extremist 'antinomian' sects of early Christianity - including but not limited to Gnostics - were amoral, inasmuch as they believed that salvation in Christ and mystical union with God had rendered them free from conformance to every moral injuction.

    They had their roots in the so-called Libertine Christians of the first century church in Corinth, later castigated by their enemies as antinomians (from the Greek: ἀντί, "against" + νόμος, [moral] "law") and who evolved into the Carpocratians of the second century CE, only for their ideas to resurface in the medieval 'Brethren of the Free Spirit' and then in the Ranters of 17th century England.

    You can find support for almost anything within the wider rubric of 'heretical' Christianity - once you move outside the orthodox mainstream, inclunding unrestrained amorality and unlimited sexual freedom.

    Some of these primitive Christian sects, like the Valentinian Gnostics, were brain-numbingly metaphysical and arcane; others were radically egalitarian, including the holy-spirit guided Montanist church which recognised women as bishops and priests but also encouraged ethical rigorism and strict fasts; another variety were fanatically ascetic, such as the Encratite Christians who forbade marriage and practised vegetarianism; while others again were devoutly Jewish and Torah-observant but also socially radical, like the Ebionite Christians who adhered to voluntary poverty and rejected the Apostle Paul as an apostate from the law of Moses.

    And then you had the good old Carpocratian Christians, who - according to the partisan wording of the church father st. Irenaeus - taught their "followers to perform every obscenity and every sinful act" as a means of salvation, meaning absolutely free sexual licence and hedonism.

    The Carpocratian Christians believed the sex impulse was natural and God-ordained, and that God had made everything common to mankind at the beginning, and so considered patriarchal, monogamous and polygamous marriage to have been introduced through the sins of men. For this reason, they believed in sexual freedom outside the bonds of marriage and practised polyandry, sleeping with each other as they pleased without compunction.

    The ascetic Encratitite Christians countered with the view that the sex impulse, if not contained, could be destructive: resulting in self-centeredness, rape, abuse and moral decline. For this reason, they opposed marriage entirely and enforced celibacy on the entire community, near enough.

    The orthodox (with aberrant exceptions) came to affirm elements of both contradictory positions and to reject the remainder of each: sex was natural and good. Marriage was good. True, Christians had a newfound freedom in Christ but it shouldn't mean that one is enslaved to lustful passions either, which are not good either. Faithful monogamous sex is the best way to go therefore.

    Among this plurality of sects and theologies, the 'Libertine' strain stands out in particular not only for its notoriety in the ancient world and remarkable persistence down the centuries, in one form or another, but equally due to the fact that its provocative "sexual principles" and proto-libertarian-communist social ethic might actually (according to one commentator) have "had a remote chance of succeeding, for among second-century Christians the question was not whether communal principles were desirable, but what those principles should be and how far they should be taken" (ibid.), to reference Gaca again (who is Associate Professor of Classical and Mediterranean Studies at Vanderbilt University) and indeed because "this apostolic ideal of equitable sharing did not disappear without a trace once Christianity became more fully absorbed into society, with its man-and-wife conventions of marriage, childrearing, and property ownership, for communal monastic orders developed in support of this ideal." (ibid.)

    In his epistles, Paul's engages in rhetorical disputes with his opponents - namely, (1) the 'Judaizers' (Galatians 2:14) or circumcision faction, who still believed in the necessity of Gentile converts complying with the Mosaic covenant and being ritually segregated from Gentiles, (2) the 'Ascetics' who reasoned that "it is well for a man not to touch a woman" (1 Corinthians 7:1) and even forbade marriage and (3) the 'Libertines' (1 Corinthians 5-6) who believed that so-called 'Christian freedom' from the constraints of ritualistic law now meant that, "Anything is permissible" (1 Corinthians 6:12-20), which compelled Paul to tell them, "For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love” (Galatians 5:13) and to remind them of the sacredness of their bodies: "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? He who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Do you not see that he who is joined to a prostitute is one body with her? for God has said, The two of them will become one flesh. Therefore glorify God with your body." (1 Corinthians 6).

    The Libertine strain in the early churches had led some Christians to engage in causal sex as a legitimate lifestyle: "It is actually reported that there is sexual licence among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans" (1 Corinthians 5).

    Carpocrates taught that human beings should strive to live life vigorously, and aim to experience every condition of life ideally in one lifetime. If we can trust the patristic critics of his doctrine (and we need to exercise some caution when they aren't quoting directly from works by summarizing), he believed that one would continually reincarnate - similar to 'samsara' in Dharmic religions and Platonism but with a hedonistic solution - until one had experienced everything this life had to offer, and ideally if one was able to experience everything one could in just one lifetime, then the transmigration of the soul would cease and the liberated person would therefore go to heaven in 'completeness', having become like Jesus. If one failed to accomplish this salvific freedom, the penalty would be that the soul will return to 'pay the very last mite,' a concept the Carpocratians took from their interpretation of Jesus's parable in Luke 12:58, which Catholics often read as a description of purgatory, but the Carpocratians understood as referring to the bondage of reincarnation.

    The ideal life, therefore, for the Carpocratian Christians was a life whereby one has experienced all, either through successive rebirths or preferably in a single full life. They appear to have adapted this doctrine from Jesus's words in the Gospel of John that: “A thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy. I have come that they [human beings] might have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

    A complicated doctrine, no doubt, and greatly advanced in metaphysical speculation since the days of Paul's Corinthian Libertines, but the same essential idea of Christian freedom and life-affirmingness is present:


    CHURCH FATHERS: Against Heresies, I.25 (St. Irenaeus)


    "So unbridled is their madness, that they declare they have in their power all things which are irreligious and impious, and are at liberty to practice them; for they maintain that things are evil or good, simply in virtue of human opinion...

    Men cannot be saved until they have gone through all kinds of experience....

    They deem it necessary, therefore, that by means of transmigration from body to body, souls should have experience of every kind of life...unless, indeed, by a single incarnation, one may be able to...by once and for all, and with equal completeness, doing all those things which we dare not either speak..., in order that, as their writings express it, their souls, having made trial of every kind of life, may, at their departure, not be wanting in any particular.

    It is necessary to insist upon this, lest, on account of some one thing being still wanting to their deliverance, they should be compelled once more to become incarnate. They affirm that for this reason Jesus spoke the following parable...

    And in their writings we read as follows, the interpretation which they give [of their views], declaring that Jesus spoke in a mystery to His disciples and apostles privately, and that they requested and obtained permission to hand down the things thus taught them, to others who should be worthy and believing. They write: "We are saved, indeed, by means of faith and love; but all other things, while in their nature indifferent, are reckoned by the opinion of men -some good and some evil, there being nothing really evil by nature.""


    --Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. Bk. I, Ch. 25, 4

    As you can see from the above quote, the Carpocratians were amoral but still believed in the necessity of 'love' - so I guess they may had some degree of subjective morality amidst all the explicit antinomian amoralism.
     
    #5 Vouthon, May 31, 2020
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2020
    • Informative Informative x 3
    • Like Like x 1
    • Useful Useful x 1
  6. Rival

    Rival Dex Me Gart
    Staff Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2012
    Messages:
    23,006
    Ratings:
    +35,439
    Religion:
    Noachide
    They have a sort of ethical code, afaik.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Informative Informative x 1
  7. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon shunyadragon
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2017
    Messages:
    17,665
    Ratings:
    +8,733
    Religion:
    Baha'i Faith
    Actually religions do not affirm a set of morals and ethics. Morals and ethics are evolved human constructs of social behavior

    Religions reveal and teach spiritual laws. The morals and ethics of cultures do evolve in response to spiritual laws revealed by religions.
     
  8. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Subway Stalinist
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2007
    Messages:
    62,309
    Ratings:
    +20,092
    Religion:
    None (atheist)
    I think there *are* amoral religions, so apparently they can exist.

    Divine Command Theory, while purporting to establish that God's commands are the basis for morality, ends up failing in this regard. A rules-based system with no underlying values informing those rules is not a set of morals.

    Adherents to Divine Command Theory assert that there's no morality apart from such a rules-based system, so their religion is amoral, IMO.
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
  9. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Subway Stalinist
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2007
    Messages:
    62,309
    Ratings:
    +20,092
    Religion:
    None (atheist)
    What do you find immoral about Laveyan Satanism?

    They enshrine principles like "don't rape," "don't harm little children," and "don't bother people if they aren't bothering you," so it seems to me like they have a leg up on most Abrahamic religions.
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
  10. Harel13

    Harel13 Am Yisrael Chai
    Staff Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2019
    Messages:
    7,294
    Ratings:
    +8,650
    Religion:
    Orthodox Judaism
    Like I said, I don't know too much about LS, so you must have a more rounded-out source on the subject. At the moment, I have Wikipedia:
    "He expressed the view that self-indulgence was a desirable trait,[40] and that hate and aggression were not wrong or undesirable emotions but that they were necessary and advantageous for survival.[62] Accordingly, he praised the Seven Deadly Sins as virtues which were beneficial for the individual."
    Hate and aggression - good, Seven Deadly Sins - virtues.

    "Discussing women, LaVey argued that they should use sex as a tool to manipulate men, in order to advance their own personal power."​

    Sex is a tool to be used for personal gains, in particular, manipulation of others.

    "LaVey believed in the imminent demise of Christianity.[75] In addition, he believed that society would enter an Age of Satan, in which a generation living in accordance with LaVeyan principles would come to power.[76] LaVey supported eugenics and expected it to become a necessity in the future, when it would be used to breed an elite who reflected LaVey's "Satanic" principles.[77] In his view, this elite would be "superior people" who displayed the "Satanic" qualities of creativity and nonconformity.[78] He regarded these traits as capable of hereditary transmission, and made the claim that "Satanists are born, not made".[78] He believed that the elite should be siphoned off from the rest of the human "herd", with the latter being forced into ghettoes, ideally "space ghettoes" located on other planets.[79] The anthropologist Jean La Fontaine highlighted an article that appeared in a LaVeyan magazine, The Black Flame, in which one writer described "a true Satanic society" as one in which the population consists of "free-spirited, well-armed, fully-conscious, self-disciplined individuals, who will neither need nor tolerate any external entity 'protecting' them or telling them what they can and cannot do."[34] This rebellious approach conflicts with LaVey's firm beliefs in observing the rule of law.[34] Although personally neither a fascist nor neo-Nazi,[80] LaVey was on good terms with various neo-Nazi and other right-wing groups operating in the United States.[81]"​

    Some people are more superior than others and the lesser folk should be locked up in ghettos. I assume you can see why someone such as myself would have a problem with this particular idea.

    "​
    1. Satan represents indulgence instead of abstinence.
    2. Satan represents vital existence instead of spiritual pipe dreams.
    3. Satan represents undefiled wisdom instead of hypocritical self-deceit.
    4. Satan represents kindness to those who deserve it, instead of love wasted on ingrates.
    5. Satan represents vengeance instead of turning the other cheek.
    6. Satan represents responsibility to the responsible instead of concern for psychic vampires.
    7. Satan represents man as just another animal who, because of his "divine spiritual and intellectual development", has become the most vicious animal of all.
    8. Satan represents all of the so-called sins, as they all lead to physical, mental, or emotional gratification.
    9. Satan has been the best friend the Church has ever had, as he has kept it in business all these years.[112]"
    I find points 1, 4, 5, 7, 8 to be problematic in varying degrees. Some deeper introspection may lead to being against some other points too.

    I'd be pleased to see a source that says that LSs don't actually believe in this stuff.
     
  11. Sunstone

    Sunstone De Diablo Del Fora
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2004
    Messages:
    76,156
    Ratings:
    +37,810
    Religion:
    Non-Theistic Mysticism
    That's an important observation, @Harel13. Things get very messy, very fast if we attempt to deny that a set of morals is a set of morals on the grounds the morals are rotten. That is, unless one wants to detour into a two or three year long debate over why one set of morals is rotten and another set is not. The debate won't end in victory, either. Just in exhaustion and frustration.

    I tend to use the word "morals" as it is used by philosophers to designate a set of normative rules of behavior, rather than to express a preference for one set of normative rules over another by contrasting morals with 'immorals'.
     
    • Useful Useful x 2
  12. Thief

    Thief Rogue Theologian

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2009
    Messages:
    48,775
    Ratings:
    +4,891
    to say religious.....and be immoral....?

    only if you worship a destructive spirit
    and that spirit would have you do harm
     
  13. Harel13

    Harel13 Am Yisrael Chai
    Staff Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2019
    Messages:
    7,294
    Ratings:
    +8,650
    Religion:
    Orthodox Judaism
    Could it be argued that a society based on anarchy also has a set of norms which are that everyone gets to do what they want?
     
    • Like Like x 1
  14. Heyo

    Heyo Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2019
    Messages:
    8,543
    Ratings:
    +7,551
    Religion:
    none
    They do and I wouldn't even call them immoral, just different.
    LaVeyan Satanism - Wikipedia
     
    • Useful Useful x 1
  15. Sunstone

    Sunstone De Diablo Del Fora
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2004
    Messages:
    76,156
    Ratings:
    +37,810
    Religion:
    Non-Theistic Mysticism
    Certainly. "We ought to do what we want", is logically equivalent to, "We ought to give to charity." That is, on the level of logic, there is no difference between the two statements.

    Moreover, both are normative statements.
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
  16. Harel13

    Harel13 Am Yisrael Chai
    Staff Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2019
    Messages:
    7,294
    Ratings:
    +8,650
    Religion:
    Orthodox Judaism
    Hey @Heyo, just wondering what you think about some of the quotes I brought for @9-10ths_Penguin above:
    Is this stuff still considered 'just different' in your eyes?
     
  17. Heyo

    Heyo Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2019
    Messages:
    8,543
    Ratings:
    +7,551
    Religion:
    none
    Of course. "Everyone gets to do what they want" is, when you think about it, a very moral principle.
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
  18. Heyo

    Heyo Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2019
    Messages:
    8,543
    Ratings:
    +7,551
    Religion:
    none
    Very different and somewhat more radical than their rules of conduct. But remember where Satanism comes from: it is basically the negation of Christianity in what they see as problematic. It is not a home grown religion but a product of Christianity.
     
  19. Harel13

    Harel13 Am Yisrael Chai
    Staff Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2019
    Messages:
    7,294
    Ratings:
    +8,650
    Religion:
    Orthodox Judaism
    As a hypothetical question: LS women appear to have a positive commandment to use their sexuality to manipulate others for personal gains. Not doing so appears to be going against a positive commandment. Say one such woman was working in an office. Her boss is a non-LS man. Would you say it would be moral of her to tempt him so he'll eventually give her a promotion?
     
  20. Terry Sampson

    Terry Sampson Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2019
    Messages:
    3,965
    Ratings:
    +3,347
    #1. "To affirm a set of morals"? Hmmm, ... my initial response is "yeah, I think so." Then, I thunk about it.
    • "Even the legal realists, after seeing the horrors of Nazi Germany, came to believe that all government officials, whether executives, legislators, or judges, did not have boundless discretion, and should be restrained by certain principles of what used to be called natural law. The notion that pre-existing legal and constitutional standards derive from custom, tradition, morality, or the prior acts of the political sovereign, in our case the people, ought to bind all private and public actors—that is, the rule of law itself—is the most basic of these principles. A belief in it is not only not naïve; it is the essential precondition for civilized society, and our best defense against the arbitrary use of power." Legal Affairs
    IMO, unpredictability is a consequence of unrestrained private and public actors. Humans don't tolerate "genuine" unpredictability very well. It tends to drive people nuts.

    By "genuine" I mean very real, constant, and prolonged unpredictably and not those brief, artificial scenarios intentionally created for someone's amusement or research.

    Restraint of all private and public actors (i.e. the rule of law) evolves out of frequent social interactions: customs, traditions, morality, legal transactions. Is divine imprimature essential or even necessary? Consensus among atheists and agnostics says "No". Consensus among the civilized (tongue-in-cheek here) says "Yes". Problem is that there are too many barbarians among the civilized who are "passing" for civilized. :eek::D;)

    #2."An amoral religion"? Right off the top of my head, I'd say "Yeah". It would have one, and only one rule: "Thou shalt not make any rules." Purpose? To encourage and increase unpredictability.
    By the way, I always get confused by "the law of entropy". But does that have any applicability here?

    #3. As obnoxious as it may seem, if we think of ourselves being bound by the morals of that religion, in fact, IMO, it's not so obnoxious if you think about living among the moralists but not being one. Living in an all-Them Moralist Freaks neighborhood might drive me nuts, but at least I could sleep well at night knowing that it's got a good chance of being a pretty safe neighborhood. They, on the other hand, won't sleep a wink know that I live among them.
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
Loading...