Talk:Ethics in religion

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Should this article be called "Religious ethics", not "Ethics in religion"? Astudent 06:26, 2003 Sep 8 (UTC)

Six of one, half a dozen of the other. RK
Ethical tradition is the most neutral name, and it is now a redirect. A short intro that actually discusses how ethical tradition and theology covers the same material as Western moral philosophy and other secular approaches to ethics would make that title make sense.
That is not a mohkljhkljhre neutral name. It is a meaningless name, which has no connection to the specific topic that this article actually discussed. I can't imagine what kind of person would imagine that the boring title "Ethics in Religion" is somehow a violation of NPOV. RK 18:24, 9 Sep 2003 (EDT)~

To the best of my knowledge, all theistic religions believe in some sort of revelation. What they understand revelation to entail, however, differs from one group to another. See the article on revelation for the many ways that theistic religions use this term. RK 19:01, 8 Sep 2003 (UTC)

I think RK is right. Still, the issue is whether that revelation has specifically ethical content. To the extent that it does, as the sentence says at the moment, ethics is part of theology. Mkmcconn 19:13, 8 Sep 2003 (UTC)
Yes, but this is another reason to use the name ethical tradition to refer to this article.

I don't think Mahatma Gandhi was a Jain, as this article mentions. I think the author has assumed that, since ahimsa forms a core element of both Jain and Gandhian thinking, Gandhiji was a Jain. To the best of my knowledge, he was Hindu. In fact, Mahatma Gandhi's last words were an invocation to Lord Rama. Gokul

You are right, that should be said. He was born a Jain, and is remembered as a Hindu, and emphasized as you say what the two traditions had in common. But remember, his assassin was also a Hindu, and, Gandhi was known to say "I am a Muslim, and a Hindu, and a Christian, and a Jew". He was arguably a global ethics figure rather than part of any ethical tradition exactly. There is now an article on Hindu philosophy that might serve to radically expand this section while Gandhi's views can be more of a side note.

NPOV balance[edit]

As it stands, the depth of treatment given in this article to each tradition is so wildly out of proportion to the sheer numbers of people who practice each tradition, that it is not NPOV at all. I certainly think Jewish ethics need depth if only to introduce how Christian and Islamic thought were applying the same principles to some of the same stories, but, there are 1.5 billion people with the Chinese ethical tradition somewhere in their background, 1 billion with the Hindu, 1.2 billion with the Islamic, 2.5 billion or so with the Christian, and only a few million actual practicing Jews.

You totally Wikipedia. We don't remove material because no one has yet written on other subjects. Rather, we do the precise opposite. We encourage others to contribute on areas where we are currently lacking. Similarly, there is no NPOV violation when we have more articles on genetics, and less on anatomy; that is merely a reflection of the fact that our contributors happen to have contributed more on genetics. We don't attack Wikipedia as biased; we merely ask others to begin contributing in areas that we need more on. RK 18:18, 9 Sep 2003 (EDT)

And these seem to argue a lot about what it really means, so it's hard to give any one view a monopoly on what Jewish ethical tradition really is.

Uh, who gave any Jewish group a monopoly? Which group? BTW, as the article currently stands, there are only short general summaries of Jewish ethics in a few selected categories, and they are not favoring the views of any particular Jewish denominations. Frankly, any decent book on this subject would be at least 150 pages; what we here is a mere general overview. What some people here consider "a lot" is what most book authors would consider "almosty long enough to be the introductory chapter." RK 18:18, 9 Sep 2003 (EDT)

"Jews did not adopt Judaism.. Jews created Judaism... molded and shaped a way of life, belief and practice which grew organically out of their group life... its theological systems have never been compactly or officially ordered, arranged, or defined. Judaism has been relatively free from the authoritative or dogmatic theological coercions of a central religious body, and Jews have been priveleged to enjoy wide latitude in defining and crystallizing their concepts of God." (from p. 135, Christians and Jews: The Eternal Bond, Stuart E. Rosenberg, 1985 edition, previously published 1961 as Bridge to Brotherhood: Judaism's bond to Christianity).

Huh? Why are you bringing up someone's ideas on Jewish principles of faith? That has nothing to do with this topic (Ethics). In fact, Jewish ethics are about actions, not beliefs. Even Jewish atheists can follow Jewish ethics. It looks to me like you don't understand the very topic. RK 18:18, 9 Sep 2003 (EDT)

Whateer it is, it's simply over-covered here, as a direct result of our lopsided representation of views - let's not let this lead to systemic bias. I suggest the section on Jewish tradition be summarized so it is equivalent in length to the other sections. I'd suggest an approach based on this statement, also from the above by Stuart E. Rosenberg (same page, actually):

In other words, let us not build an encyclopedia by constantly adding new text and articles, but rather cut what we already have to match your personal ideas of equality, so that it never grows. Nonsense. The rest of us are here to build. If you have nothing to contribute to the section on Muslim or Christian ethics, don't whine about it and cut out stuff on Jewish ethics. We need people who are willing to do work, not to delete work. RK 18:18, 9 Sep 2003 (EDT)

"While Judaism has been called a religion of ethical monotheism, it is more properly understood as a way of life based upon a Jewish system of monotheistic ethics. The Law, or Torah, contains the essential precepts whereby the Jew is helped to know God - not by abstract or mystical faith alone, but rather through a serious attempt to conform to the Divine plan for human behavior. These commandments are 613 in number and they run the gamut of personal, interpersonal, and social relations. While logically a belief in a God who relveals His will to man is at the core of this system, the rabbinical compilers of the 613 Biblical precepts nowhere listed "belief in God" as one of these commandments. They understood "belief" in the peculiarly Jewish meaning of the word; no man could be commanded to believe abstractly and no human tribunal could punish him for not believing. The Jew accepts "God's Kingdom" by building it on Earth."

Please don't lecture us with this essay writing on Jewish principles of faith; that has nothing to do with this topic. RK 18:18, 9 Sep 2003 (EDT)

That's about the right level of detail for this article, and the rest of the space re: Judaism should go into the 613 precepts in some summarized way. Then set up the comparison to Christianity: "In a fairly remarkable piece of Biblical exegesis, a Talmudi rabbi resoundingly summed up the Jewish position: "In the book of Jeremiah it is written: For thus saith the Lord of Hosts, the God of ISrael: 'Me have they forsaken and they have not kept My law.' This is what God is really saying: 'Would that men forsook Me, if only they kept My law...In Judaism's view, the Kingdom of God is definitely of this world, and man's tasks and responsibilities are centered here." This is the polar opposite of the Christian view of it which was defined a lot later.

The satanist section sounds a lot more like an induction into how to be one rather than just what it is. The writing style seems very relaxed almost as if someone is talking. Maybe it's been cut and pasted from somewhere else? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:36, 1 June 2012 (UTC)

Off-topic section[edit]

Why is it called Ethics in religion? The section on China is NOT really related to Chinese religions! wshun 18:52, 9 Sep 2003 (EDT)

You are absolutely correct. That entire section is more of someone's personal POV musings, and I think that off-topic essay should be deleted. The section on Animist ethics is equally bad, the content is questionable, and it doesn't really address the topic. This article is about ethics in religion; it would be appropriate for someone to write about traditional Chinese religions and the ethics taught and studied those religions, and I hope someone who knows something about the subject contributes soon. RK 18:58, 9 Sep 2003 (EDT)

The Jewish ethics section is so well written --so complete and authoriative, that it deserves to be moved to its own article. It does not make sense to have two thirds of this article -- about Ethics in religion to be disproportionately developed as it is now. -戴&#30505sv 19:19, Sep 9, 2003 (EDT)

That makes sense. I'll look at other article titles we already have, and try to figure out what makes sense. I am thinking it should be Jewish ethics, but perhaps Ethics in Judaism. RK 20:06, 9 Sep 2003 (EDT)

The China certainly does need cleaning up. I've started fixing a few things. As mentioned above, the section needs to be related to what Chinese religions say about ethics, not just a philosophical summary. Apeman

Buddhist sentence[edit]

The Criticism of Buddhist Ethics section makes more sense now. But I'm still a little concerned about this sentence:

These critics claim, therefore, that Buddhism instead advocates a "middle ground" in which one does enough that there could be no just criticism of one's actions - a position the critics find unsatisfactory.

This gets pretty confusing for me. For me, "therefore" implies a new, secondary criticism in response to the dispute, which obfuscates the point (so much so that I'm not sure what the point is :). And I'm not sure why critics are arguing that Buddhists "do enough" anyway -- is this even a criticism, or have the critics and the defenders gotten mixed up? In particular, I'm wondering why they would find their own argument unsatisfactory!

I think we should drop this whole sentence, unless someone knows what it's trying to convey.

New Buddhist material[edit]

I have posted sourced material in the Buddhist Ethics section replacing that which before was of poor quality and consisted of opinions and unsourced material. dhammapal


I've removed "P.B.U.H." from the "Islam" section per Etcetera 01:23, 29 November 2006 (UTC)

a far overstrong sentence on the history of western ethics[edit]

"Western philosophical works on ethics were written in a culture whose literary and religious ideas were BASED in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and the New Testament. As such, there is a connection between the ethics of the Bible and the ethics of the great western philosophers."

This sentence is far too strong. First of all, note the lack of qualification of 'based' -- at the VERY least, it should be 'based in part', though, really, even this is too strong. No one sat down and decided to spin ethics out of the bible, to base the former on the latter. Rather, the bible INFLUENCED, strongly, the cultural milieu out of which SOME western ethics and philosophy was born. SECOND, it is a mistake to suggest, as BOTH sentences above do, that all western philosophy (first sentence) and all great western philosophers (second sentence) take influence, strong or weak, from the bible. The second sentence is particularly egregious as, to be true, Plato, Aristotle, the pre-Socratics, indeed Socrates himself, the progenitor of philosophy, would all have to be counted as NOT great western philosophers. Now, of couse, there is a connection to SOME great western philosophers. OVERALL, the mistake here is the fact the passages seems not to recognize how many other vital sources shaped, often to a greater degree than the bible (and, in fact, often shaped the bible itself), western philosophy and the great western philosophers.

  -->Stone cairn 05:26, 19 February 2007 (UTC)


"This is particularly true of Augustine, who proceeded to thoroughly develop along philosophical lines and to establish firmly most of the truths of Christian morality." Pacifists would disagree. Why such a thoroughly doctrinal statement from Catholic ethics and theology? I don't care what tradition you come from, but an encyclopedia entry is not the place for evangelizing.Landrumkelly 16:56, 2 July 2007 (UTC)

"...or that biblical morality is itself wrong."[edit]

The article is a general one comparing ethics in religions and how each answers the question of ethics not wether or not a particular view is right or wrong. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:28, 25 February 2008 (UTC)

Moral theology[edit]

There ought to be a separate article on moral theology (instead of a redirect), which includes the more general approach of social morality, family morality, public morality, sexual morality and ecclesial morality, and not just biblical morality. At the same time, it is more specific to the Catholic Church and takes into account the very hierarchical and sacramental character of the institution. ADM (talk) 20:26, 24 January 2009 (UTC)

Christian Ethics Section Too Error-Ridden and Polemical[edit]

Christian ethics is far more varied than the rather conservative Roman Catholic position that seems implied here, although it doesn't even get Roman Catholic ethics right. The notion that Christian ethics is primarily personal, private, and individualistic is simply historically wrong. Roman Catholic Natural Law, and the various Protestant forms of it in Lutheran and Anglican traditions, are not merely norms for private, individual behavior, but have been used by Christians of those traditions as norms for social, political and economic behavior of groups, organizations, and nation-states.

The Reformed and Conservative Evangelical traditions also have attempted to govern social life and practice by "Christian" norms for group and national behavior. It is true that many Christians (especially Conservative Evangelical Christians) have believed and taught that only personal ethics is appropriate for Christians, but that more restricted view has never been the official position of the major traditions in Christianity-- including Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, Anglican (Episcopalian), Methodist, and Reformed (Presbyterian, Congregational and Reformed) churches. Even the heirs of the Anabaptist tradition, even though many are in principle opposed to governments, have a social ethic not reducible to individual moral behavior.

The idea that Christian ethics is understood by Christians to work at a social, national, or international level only through the good behavior of lots and lots and lots of individuals is laughable. Has the writer ever bothered to read papal encyclicals on social issues like war, economic life, the uses of science and technology? Has he or she ever read the voluminous social statements calling corporations, ethnic groups, political leaders and international bodies to task that have been issued by every major Protestant denomination in the past century? Has he or she bothered to read the countless statements delivered to political leaders and corporations by thousands of local, national and regional councils of churches all over the world, including and especially the World Council of Churches, which speaks to nation states and international bodies with social norms it claims are derived from Christian faith?

The problem with this section is not that it doesn't simply balance things between religions. The problem is that it is misinformed and misinforming.
Comsources (talk) 03:40, 4 February 2010 (UTC) (talk) 03:36, 4 February 2010 (UTC)

Shinto Ethics[edit]

The article claims that Shinto does not have many teachings on ethical issues. This, as far as I know, is uncontroversial. However it quite unambiguously makes the claim that this is in virtue of the fact that Shinto is highly polytheistic and animistic. This is a total non sequitur. It is an empirical claim that needs separate justification and has no place in the article without said justification or a reference to a work that provides said justification. (talk) 15:30, 5 February 2010 (UTC)

Hindu Ethics —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:52, 9 April 2010 (UTC)

Hindu Ethics[edit]

The section on Hindu ethics is far too short and far from accurate. To call Mohandas Gandhi a vaishnava is the limit! Also, considering the fact that he was assassinated in 1948, the timeline cited (mid-20th century) is also not correct! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:54, 9 April 2010 (UTC)