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A New ARI Booklet on Rescuing Morality from the Grip of Religion

A proper approach to morality will teach us to follow reason, without any concession to faith, in order to hold happiness as a sacred purpose.

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The basic reason religion remains such an esteemed aspect of American society is that it is considered important, even indispensable, to morality. The strongest form this idea takes is that morality depends on religion — that without God, the distinction between good and evil loses meaning, and anything goes.

So writes Onkar Ghate in the newly published booklet Finding Morality and Happiness Without God. He’s responding in part to the widely held view, typified in this Dennis Prager video, that without God, even murder wouldn’t be wrong.

Ghate presents the positive case for a secular morality of self-interest, grounded in reason, while blasting the religious view that morality is a matter of faith. “The purpose of morality,” Ghate observes, “is to teach us how to live and achieve happiness.” He continues: “In the same way that medicine formulates causal principles by which we can combat disease and achieve physical health, so morality formulates causal principles by which, in mind and body, we can pursue happiness.”

In this extended discussion, Ghate covers a variety of subordinate topics, including the nature of religion, the need for moral absolutes, the essential similarity between religious and totalitarian ideologies, the distinction between religion and religious people, the corrupting role of religious morality on thinking, and the importance of reclaiming moral idealism in the name of rational values.

Publication of this booklet is especially timely in offering a rational alternative to the religious morality that fuels America’s virulent anti-abortion movement, with its faith-based devotion to “preserving life” by depriving women of control over their lives. (Consult Ben Bayer’s Why the Right to Abortion Is Sacrosanct for more details.)

Originally published in 2018 in New Ideal, Ghate’s article can be found here and in a read-aloud version here. The low-priced Amazon paperback is available here and the Kindle version here. Deep quantity discounts are available for those who would like to purchase fifty or more copies for distribution (email: publishing@aynrand.org).


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Tom Bowden

Tom Bowden, JD and former civil litigator, is a research fellow and publishing manager at the Ayn Rand Institute. He is also a coeditor of Illuminating Ayn Rand (2022) and a contributing editor of New Ideal.

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