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Religion and Ethics in Our Modern Society


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Notes for the Course: Religion and Ethics in our Modern Society, 2012
By Dr H Ndlovu
Definition and Nature of Christian Ethics
Ethics is derived from the Greek word “ethos” that is also comes from another word “ethika.” Ethika means norms, conventions, values, customs the society. Thus ethics is a discipline that examines one’s moral standards or the moral of a society. These are absorbed from family, church and friends.
Why Study Ethics
There are nine reasons why human beings have to study ethics.
1. Human beings are capable of reasoning from cause to effect with the understanding that everything done has effect.
2. Human beings are capable of making choices after comparing the alternatives, that is, internal and external. People have two cells namely:
a. Real – what we have now
b. Ideal – what we are aiming at
3. Human beings are self – conscious. This means we can study ourselves by being a subject and be the object at the same time.
4. Human beings are finite or limited not knowing what will happen from the next moment or next door. Thus, we must have principles to apply when situations comes.
5. Human life is an active dynamic phenomenon – We do something as if we do nothing.
6. People also can be taught to be good (Isaiah 1 :18)
7. Human beings are capable of filing an obligation
8. Human beings are also capable of understanding what moral terms like freedom, dignity and so on affects other people.
9. Finally, human beings need to survive. Human civilization, therefore, can not survive without ethical people.

History of Ethics
Outside Christianity, some people have taught about ethics. Amongst those who taught ethics are:
1. Socrates 457 BC, a Greek philosopher whose key question was, “What is the meaning of Life”? Socrates like every life seeker was concerned about the good life. Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worthy

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