I generally agree with a lot (but not all) of what AC Grayling has to say concerning religion and morality. His latest article, on the conflation of those two things, particularly in schools, is no exception.
Most of his argument seems excellent. But then as an aside, he throws in this nugget:
the New Testament (whose "love thy neighbour" was anticipated by several centuries by Mohism in China, without theological reward and punishment to back it up)
Half an hour ago, I hadn’t heard of Mohism, but learning new things is always nice, so I followed the link Grayling gives to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry. Some extracts:
An objective standard is needed, one that is not morally fallible in the way that any particular individual or cultural tradition might be. The Mohists propose that we can find such a standard by considering the attitudes of an ideally impartial, benevolent, and reliable moral agent: Tian (Heaven, nature, the sky), whom they revere as a personal god.
…they seek a reliable role model or paradigm against which they can compare their actions and practices. This is why they can propose, as their highest fa or ethical standard, not a normative principle, but Heaven itself, considered as the highest, most reliable moral agent in the natural order.
The Mohists justify their consequentialist ethics by appeal to the intention of Heaven (Tian), which they believe is the objective criterion of morality—utility. Among their reasons for obeying Heaven's intention are gratitude for its gifts, fear of punishment, and their belief that it is the noblest, wisest moral agent in the cosmos.