Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

2.6 Religion and Ethics

2.6.1 Introduction 

The principle of human autonomy in ethics stands in conflict with the religious counterclaim of Godly revelation. Ethics is a product of enlightenment (Plato, Aristotle, Kant) and criticizes religiously grounded ethics as heteronomous external control of human beings. 

However, Religion is the foundation of every (Paul Tillich). This is especially true for both of the primary roots of every ethic – justice and love. “Justice is the affirmation of a person as a person.” Likewise, this holds for their outgrowths – equality and freedom. Afterall, love is the “origin of all moral norms.”

Ethics is bound to religion through the necessary element of the “Absolute” (the secular placeholder for God) without which there would be no connection and without connection there would be no ethics. 

The term “religion” comes from the Latin term re-ligio: re-connect. 

Supposedly “autonomous” ethics are missing the “Archimedian Point:”

δοσ μοι πω στω και κινασο ταν γαν! 

“Give me a (firm stand)-point, and I will move the earth.”


That is also applicable for constitutional law: 

  • “The state rests on a foundation that it cannot give itself.” Bӧckenfӧrde, constitutional lawyer
  • Conclusion: “autonomous” ethics approaches are nothing more than products of crisis.


2.6.2 Sources

Paul Tillich: The Religious Foundation of Moral Action (Note: this text may not be available in English language)


2.6.3 Application/Discussion

For example: According to GG, the field of ethics is a “replacement” course in education. However, more and more commonly it is coming to be seen as a “core” course because it is easier to organize than confessional religious teaching.