Religion and Moral Reason: A New Method for Comparative Study

Religion and Moral Reason: A New Method for Comparative Study

Religion and Moral Reason: A New Method for Comparative Study

Religion and Moral Reason: A New Method for Comparative Study

Synopsis

Continuing in the tradition of his well-received Religious Reason, Ronald Green here offers a penetrating moral understanding of religious belief and practice. Human religiousness, he contends, principally arises from a universal "deep structure" of moral reasoning that comprises three essential elements: one guides impartial moral reasoning; a second affirms the reality of moral retribution; and a third provides escape from the penalties that justly accompany unavoidable human moral failure. Using this innovative approach, Green confronts a series of different religious traditions and issues, including African primal religions, classical Chinese religion, the "Divine Command" tradition in Judaism and Christianity, religious ritual, and the economic teachings of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism. Drawing on contemporary rationalist ethical theory, Green provides a simple but effective model for understanding the complexity of religious life.

Excerpt

My aim in this book is to show that religion has its basis in a process of moral and religious reasoning common to all human beings. I term this process "religious reasoning," and I believe it constitutes a "deep structure" of thought underlying historical religious traditions. But I acknowledge at the outset how doubtful these claims appear to be. Looking at the religious communities around us, we see not similarity but difference: differences in moral codes, in attitudes toward religious authority, in views of the self, and in conceptions of salvation. Moreover, for many religious communities, these differences are matters of life and death. As I write, Jews and Muslims, Catholics and Protestants, Sikhs and Hindus are killing one another partly over differences in religious belief.

I have no intention of denying the reality of these differences. Nor do I plan to show that, despite surface disagreements, religions have a common message of human brotherhood or sisterhood. Like many who are disturbed by religious conflict, I wish this were true. But, while I hope that greater mutual respect might result from my investigation, I know that religions' common moral basis can often be a source of bitter conflict. In any case, my primary aim is not to develop an argument for religious tolerance. My interest is more immediately "scientific" in that I hope to further our understanding of the nature of religious belief and . . .

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