Theological Beliefs versus Ethical Principles

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Theological Beliefs versus Ethical Principles

Example of a Confusion between Ethical Principles and Theological Beliefs

There are different religious beliefs that people confuse with ethical principles. Some of them include: minorities being forced onto the beliefs of the majorities; religious individuals scorn those who hold views that conflict to theirs, they behave as if the theological views they hold are true; individuals in religious groups do not recognize that “sin” is not an ethical concept, but a theological concept; lastly, different religions describe sin differently (Paul and Elder, 2009).

In the example where the religious individuals fail to recognize “sin” as not being an ethical concept, their judgement of what is ethical becomes clouded. In order for a religious group to determine that a sin has occurred, they set certain regulations, that, if one goes against, he/she is considered to sin. Such regulations that determine when sin is committed result from beliefs of members of the majority religious groups and are then enforced onto the minorities.  Religious beliefs, including taboos, rituals, requirements and rules dominate groups of people and later end up shaping most aspects of people’s lives. 

Practices in This Faith That Are Critiqued As Unethical

There are different practices within this faith that could be critiqued as unethical. For instance, some religious groups believe that the first born male in each family should be sacrificed. If this does not happen, then a sin has been committed and the family is cursed. When certain members go ahead and sacrifice their first born males, all the other members in that religious group would be ethically obliged to kill their males if they appear to be firstborns. Such a practice makes them engage in unethical behaviors.

Another practice in this faith is the belief, “eye for an eye”. Religious individuals believe that people should face the same harm that they make other people go through. If a person kills the other, they believe that the person should be killed. If the murderer is not killed, then a sin is committed. When such a faith makes the believers kill the person who commits murder, they are commit an unethical behavior because they do the same thing that they are not supposed to be doing. According to Valentine and Hollingworth (2012), one cannot be ethical if he/she commits the same crime or unethical behavior that the other person committed. 

Application of Ethical Reasoning Fundamentals in This Case

According to Paul and Elder (2005) the most important tasks that are fundamental to ethical reasoning include: mastering the principles and concepts that are most basic and essential in ethical issues; distinguishing between ethics and various thinking domains  where ethics are mainly confused; and identifying when human sociocentrism and egocentricism impede an individual’s ethical judgement. These ethical reasoning fundamentals should be applied in this case of “sin” beliefs by handling every practice in a special way from the others. For instance a case where a religious member is denounced from being a member of the group because of failing to contribute tithes would be treated differently to the case where a family fails to kill their firstborn male.

Whenever ethical issues are experienced, it is important for the parties involved to think in order to reason out the issue. However, when people in religious groups fail to recognize the differences between their beliefs and ethics, their reasoning would be blurred and lead them to unethical reasoning. Fundamentals of ethical reasoning should be applied by trying as much as possible to avoid such blurredness by separating religious beliefs from ethical concepts. 

References

Paul, R. & Elder, L. (2005). Critical Thinking: Tools for Taking Charge of Your Learning and Your Life (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall.

Paul, R., & Elder, L. (2009). Critical Thinking: Ethical Reasoning and Fairminded Thinking, Part II. Journal of Developmental Education, 33(2), 40-41.

Valentine, S., & Hollingworth, D. (2012). Moral Intensity, Issue Importance, and Ethical Reasoning in Operations Situations. Journal of Business Ethics, 108(4), 509-523. doi: 10.1007/s10551-011-1107-3

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