Ethics and Religion: Definition, Differences, Conflict and Similarities (GS4)

Ethics and Religion: Definition

Ethics is a set of moral principles. It is based on reasoning. It deals with human character and conduct. Ethics deals with multiple assets of human character and conduct. That is why it is also known as moral philosophy.

Religion is based on faith and different faith have some basic values.

Difference between Religion and Ethics:

1. Based on reasoning/logic1. Based on faith/belief
2. Can be accepted or rejected on the basis of estd.stds2. Less or space for rejection or rejection depends upon further evaliation of faith
3. Basis of Ethics: wisdom/mind3. Basis- soul/heart

Religion: Based on faith and there are different faith in our society which have some basic values or propagate some basic values such as:

  1. Christianity- Forgiveness/Love/Care/compassion.
  2. Buddhism- Non greediness/middle-path/self sacrifice/social ethics
  3. Hinduism- Inclusiveness/plurality/truth Nishkam karma/Duty-Dharma/sacrifice
  4. Jainism- Non-Violence/peace ( Three Jewels – Right knowledge, Right faith, and Right conduct)
  5. Islam- Equality.


Learn about Hindu religion and ethical practices:

  • Vedas: the main aim of human life – to be a good human
  • Upanishad: Truth, Dharma, Karma (Mundaka Upanishad- ‘Satyameva Jayate’)
  • Gita: Selflessness Duty.
  • Mahabharata:-According to it, Ethics is defined as – ”Don’t do onto others as you don’t be done by”- dharma/Karma.
  • Ramayana:- According to it, adherence to truth is Ram Rajya (good governance)

”Raghukul Reet Sada Chali aayi, Pran jaye par Vachan Na jaye”- Lord Rama

Similarities between Ethics and Religion:

Even if Ethics and Religion are different. i.e. Ethics can’t be religion & religion can’t be ethics still they have many similarities. In fact, they can’t be separated from each other simply because of the following factors:

  1. Both emphasized human conduct .i.e. the main aim of human life is not to passes anything or worldly things rather be a good human.
  2. Ethics is based on many religious principles & philosophy as religion proceeds to the development of ethics. In fact in India during Ancient India its Religious philosophy guides ethics. e.g. Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism and etc.
  3. Some positive religious principles are also principles of ethics such as adherence to truth, non-evidence, inclusive Society, etc.
  4. Both religion & ethics set aims & objectives for humans which can be achieved on basis of following the right path that both will deal with means & ends.
EthicsImmanuel Kant,
Mahatma Gandhi and etc.
Enlightenment wisdom:

Conflict between Ethics & Religion:

  • Both have experience on a continuous basis: tension & conflict – which happens due to the imposition of one over the other.
  • Religion was imposed during Medival time. (i.e.pope rule in western society). The pope rule was rejected by modern Society due to moral Liberal Values.
  • When the Indian constitution was adopted as secular in the constitution, there was some tension as the perception was also to declare India-Hindurashtra.
  • Similarity, recent times choices of what people should, etc & what they shouldn’t. Slaughtering of animal have generated tension & conflict in Society.
  • Similarly, some religious Shrines & whether women should be allowed their entry in Temple or the issue of Universal Civil Code. Triple Talaq where we find one more dimension- the conflict between Law, Ethics, and Religion.

What should be the appropriate courses of action in the above recent issues? Can be said that “faith can’t be questioned but Ethics can be”. Critically examine:

Main reasons for such conflicts:

  1. The absence of rational thinking in our society or Rational thinking has been not allowed to particulate in Indian society.
  2. Faith can’t be questioned but rituals & practices can be.
  3. There should be balances between religious practices & liberal value

Still, conflicts can’t be completely solved simply coz of the existence of many faiths, views & values & different perceptions by people how society should be established.

Nevertheless, such issues can be tackled more effectively if the state is neutral & has effective governance, it’s pro-active in the resolution of issues.

Religion should be largely kept as private affairs, it should also be practiced in such a way that it should affect other people in society. Religions ve value also be propagated for creating harmony in society.

Society should learn prom R.Mohan Roy & vivekananda- Rationalists philosophy of Ethics & Religion.

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