The Beauty of the Ethical

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Updated: Aug 18, 2023
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“The Beauty of the Ethical” is an article written by Ross McCullough, a writer based in Seattle, Washington. The article primarily discusses the state of ethics today. The author examines several topics, including secularism, ethics, and religion. He addresses numerous questions: How does secularism affect religion? How have ethics been impacted in the present day? What is the future of ethics? How can the world awaken from its moral slumber? The writer attempts to present his views on ethics through a well-structured essay.

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This essay will summarize and analyze McCullough’s article.

In the article, McCullough argues that moral decay has escalated due to the rise of secularism. Some may argue that atheists lack ethics since they don’t believe in God; however, the writer disputes this claim. He gives an example of how ordinary secular people detest actions such as theft and genocide, suggesting that moral judgments pervade their lives beyond religious affiliations. He argues that these individuals generally avoid criminal behavior, such as murder, rape, and domestic abuse. Some may infer that secularists’ moral judgments only affect political decisions, such as voting or spending money. Secularists don’t reject morality, but they resist societal and institutional pressures—like attending church or confessing sins. Those who regularly attend these religious institutions often judge their counterparts harshly, labeling them as secularists for not following their routine. They are categorized as secularists merely because they do not devote attention to these activities or fail to follow institutional routines.

According to McCullough, there is a beauty inherent in ethical behavior. It is alluring to act righteously. When one executes an action appropriately and under the correct circumstances, the action becomes ethically beautiful. A perfect example of this would be the saints. Yet, the author contends that the world is currently in a state of moral slumber. According to McCullough, the recent moral decay cannot solely be attributed to secularism. Several reprehensible actions have taken place. Atheists, he argues, cannot always be blamed for such actions, such as the current crisis in Venezuela or the riots and protests occurring alongside it. The author maintains that believers, too, can lose sight of their faith. They may hide behind their religious beliefs and still decay morally. For instance, they could campaign against rape and global warming, but not avoid being involved in murderous activities.

Various interpretations can be derived from the article. According to the author, moral decay arises when belief in God diminishes. Nevertheless, this assertion lacks empirical support. Regardless of his views, current societal observations appear to contradict his claim. Societies that are religious have not necessarily upheld moral standards. Violent crimes, rape, murder, and corruption are unfortunately prevalent. Conversely, societies with fewer religious individuals often seem to be more peaceful and morally upright. Therefore, secularity does not inherently lead to moral decay.

In the modern world, religious organizations have been caught in the middle of several wars and conflicts. Church leaders have been accused of double standards. According to several people, moral ethics is a human constant, and religion is just a variable. However, some actions cannot be prevented by religion, such as rape and killing. These are human constants which occur when a person fails to control the urge to do the action. Therefore, it is wrong to argue that secularism has led to the growth of violence and moral decay because these are human constants.

Despite the previously stated argument, I do agree with the author on several points. Religion has had a role to play while installing ethics in the community. However, religion’s role has been overestimated for a long period of time. Non-religious people have been judged harshly due to their stance regarding religion. One can only be morally upright if he practices thinking rationally and independently. Religion tends to influence the independence of one’s decision. Thus, religious people may grow up being ethically irresponsible. Religions tend to set norms, values, dos, and don’ts for their members. Do these norms inherently have a rational reasoning behind them? Followers could raise questions leading to rebellion; religious groups do teach ethics which helps integrate society.


According to the author, the world needs to awaken from its sleep. Several things can be done to maintain the society’s moral standards. First, we need to stop judging people based on their past and their principles. Secondly, ethics should be a topic that children are taught by their parents and guardians. Children not taught ethics by their parents should be placed under the guidance of a trusted adult who can educate them. Society needs to stop praising material wealth and instead instil a desire for the beauty of doing good, akin to saints. As McCollough wrote, there is a sense of beauty in the ethical. Acting rightly is attractive.

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The Beauty of the Ethical. (2022, Aug 27). Retrieved from