How Religion and Ethics Should Be Distinguished

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Date Submitted: 11/13/2012 07:45 AM

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There seems to be some confusion at times over just whether and how religion and ethics should be distinguished from each other, this confusion is not unjustified because there are some very strong similarities between the two.

Religion can be explained as a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances. However, Ethics are a system of moral principles and a branch of philosophy which defines what is good for individuals and society.

Generally, we can refer Ethics as an internal character or what you do when nobody is watching. Religion refers to the act of worship or humanity's attempt to organize beliefs about God and the supernatural. There are at least Christian, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and Shinto who follow similar ethical principles, although they practice separate religions.

There are some real differences between religion and ethics which deserve considering them to be two different types of systems even though they overlap in places. In religion, there are ceremonies for important life events (birth, death, marriage, etc.) and for important days of the year (Awal Muharram, Harvest Festival, Wesak Day, etc.). Ethics do not have their adherents engage in ritualistic actions. However, even a person living ethically without a religion belief, it does not mean they can’t celebrate their special days (university graduation, job promotion, wedding anniversary, etc.). They actually hold freedoms of celebration that does not tight to any religious rules and belief.

Ethics tends to emphasize on the use of reason and critical thinking whereas religions may make use of reason, but at the very least they also rely on faith, or even use faith to the exclusion of reason. In religion, reasoned arguments are ultimately traced back to some basic faith in God, gods or religious principles which have been...