The origin of ethics is one that dates back probably to the history of time itself. It has not seen any major changes ever since mankind became aware of its own morality. This is because it’s a philosophy that is an ongoing study on the human condition. Whether or not a scholar keeps the study of ethics to a purely academic perspective, it’s virtually impossible to distinguish ethics from morality.
Any code of ethics demands individuals to act in a morally correct manner because he is required to do so. This is usually a religious view based on a traditional perspective. It means that by not doing what is morally correct, an individual denies himself the potential reward of happiness in the afterlife. Furthermore, by acting in an immoral way, the same individual faces the threat of punishment in the afterlife and even an eternity in hell. This perspective of ethics holds that morality and ethical behavior of mankind has already been designed and characterized by a higher power. Therefore, the only thing a person is expected to do it to comply with divine will, i.e. do good deeds, and not bad ones.
Religions are very specific when it comes to the origins of ethics. Many of the practices in religion are closely related to ritual rather than motivated by pure morality. Most of the time, morality and ethics don’t necessarily conform to the parameters of religion. Rather, a religion has to come up with methods in which to fit its own interpretation of morality.
The code of ethics dictated by religion are often much harsher than that set out by pure morality guidelines. Given such emphasis, any deviation from appropriate religious behavior is often met with greater disapproval than other moral transgressions. For example, the indiscretions of a man of the cloth may draw more ire from the public than that of a trust fund manager who siphons off his clients’ money, perhaps because the specter of eternal damnation hangs over a priest’s head more heavily than it does anyone else.
The practice of good ethics, with or without religious structure, is of great importance to the development of the human experience and self-enlightenment. Without it, it would be impossible for mankind to survive and progress.