I would posit that there is a huge societal disagreement about the difference between Judeo-Christian philosophy, which represents collective rights and responsibilities and Judeo-Christian mythology, superstition and dogma which represent individual rights and responsibilities. This conflict is further aggravated by scientific reason which tends to support the Christian philosophical view of collective rights and responsibilities vs. the economic interests which supports the Christian dogmatic view of individual rights responsibilities.
While this conflict is long standing it had maintained some equilibrium with albeit slow (and at times arguably absent) progress towards a more humane world until recent events primarily the technological advances of telecommunications and the fall of the Iron Curtain created unrestricted mobility of capital. Finding in common their promotion of individual rights and rejection of science that challenged either dogma or profits, the multinationals and fundamentalist Christians have found common cause in an argument to support both their moral superiority and their pocketbooks.
The sources of morality that have fed this conflict through the years are strongly related to a persons ' ability to function as a processor of abstract information and their perception of the role of spiritual beliefs in their lives. Their determination of the source of moral judgment decides the expectations of the state in the expression of individual and collective rights and responsibilities through both law and policy.
The Overseer God View
The first I call the Overseer God View, the idea that there is an all powerful, all seeing God who unilaterally determines right and wrong. That God punishes some and blesses others in accordance with their compliance with specific rules. Acts are clearly right or wrong, black or white even though religious texts may have conflicting information.
This has strong appeal to the person who is primarily a concrete thinker. They have difficulty understanding abstract collective rights and responsibilities, applying rules to exceptions and tend to be fearful in their approach to their spiritual beliefs. They are big on original and literal interpretations. Unable to understand abstraction they are bound to the symbols, analogies and metaphors as literal and consequently, they are guided by superstition and mythology. Moral rule is determined by an outside force and punishment and reward is imposed in an afterlife if not in this one.
This means they prefer the Ten Commandments to the Sermon on the Mount because they were written in stone, both figuratively and literally. They tend to believe in conformity itself as a value and mistakenly think that it can somehow eliminate fear. They view "right living " as complying with this external code and tend to view those who disagree with them as being evil. They want religious law imposed as civil law. They view society 's obligation as the imposition of their law on others without any other obligation other than the offering of salvation.
This approach represents an exclusionary "us and them " mentality which dehumanizes nonbelievers. The belief is that an individual has only the freedom and obligation to conform to the law or suffer retribution, consequently punishment in any form is seen as an expression of God 's will. The value of life is sacred because it is given by a God and absolute except for sinners which are expendable.
The Intermittent God View
This group tends to also represent people who operate on a mix of concrete and abstract thinking. They believe in a higher power and that it has the ability to intercede, but also believe in free will. They tend to believe that God is willing to help when doing the right thing and to allow you to pay the penalty when you are not. Somewhat like the assistive nurturing parent, a sort of June and Ward Cleaver type.
They tend to be moderate in their views and can change their minds about what is right or wrong depending on how it affects them personally, the further away the relationship, the more dogmatic, the closer the familial or personal relationship with the sinner the more accepting. Their feelings about life being sacred have more to do with their empathy for victims rather than any spiritual beliefs. They believe in charity and think social engineering might work but tend to be easily swayed into thinking of the law as a form of retribution or deterrent.
They do believe in science but also god, not sure where the two intercede. They feel that supernatural forces might be possible and may intercede but doubt it, they believe mostly that their lives are up to them but do ask for spiritual help as a kind of insurance, just in case you can get help and there is a hell. They tend to be unclear about the where religious law and civil law ought to interact. They participate in organized religion because it gives them a sense of community and it is the "right thing to do " or "for their children " even if they are not sure why.
The Metaphysical View
This group of people would tend to agree with the view that the universe is God and it is evolving as a process of expressed reality. They like the concept that that energy is the source of their consciousness and physical being therefore the universe being made of energy must have a consciousness as well. This view is very abstract and is held by many who are primarily abstract in their approach to what they prefer to call spiritual beliefs.
When they participate in "religion " it is primarily to gain communal feelings of belonging and reassurance of personal values. This energy is seen as positive and evolving, like the Buddhist view of a non-theistic spiritual energy which is the universe of which the individual is a transitory part and are guided by situational philosophies as opposed to rigid dogma. They see man 's basic nature as good.
They tend to think reincarnation may be true and if there is another life, it may be determined by their conduct in this life, karma and the golden rule predominate their thinking in moral values. They believe the source of moral values is individual and a product of free will. They tend to judge themselves by their actions and seek to avoid judging others in concrete forms such as law unless these offenses reach the level of being condemned across cultural and societal lines. They view law in the larger context of social policy and seek a balance between punishment and prevention, with an eye toward the later.