For many years, numerous individuals have debated the fiery issue of the relationship between morality and religion. Greek mythology is riveted with myths about superhuman gods who controlled everything from nature to enforcement of people's behaviors. In cultures across the world, people are accustomed to the idea that every organization or institution has someone or something in authority and every rule is imposed by an enforcer. The expectation is that every thing has a higher power in control. Religious people find it difficult to accept the concept that morality is possible without the guidance of a higher, supernatural being. In the pages that follow, an argument will be made proving that one can have morality that is not based in religion.
Before it can be determined if one has morals, one has to know exactly what morals are. Webster defines morals as "having the ability to decipher between right and wrong." Fittro (Fittro, Family & Comsuner Science) defines the "good" characteristics of moral people as honest, trustworthy, responsible, loving, respectful, self-disciplined, fair, empathetic, forgiving, and service oriented, just to name a few.
Having a moral code is defined as evaluating other's behavior and to feel guilt from one's actions. Morality involves strong attitudes, towards various forms of behavior, which are governed by rules, rights, and obligations. Morals and values play a very important role in people's lives. What one does, not only affects them, but also has an impact on the places and people connected to them. The dilemma is to determine how and when morals are learned.
Children are born ignorant to the ways of the world. The American psychologist, John B. Watson, (Ethics: Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 99) stresses the role of the environment in shaping children's development. His views are consistent with those of behaviorists that had a great impact in the 1950s on research about children.