ANCESTORS: "Now that we have made you the highest among us, the intermediary between us and our gods, O Priest, tell us what me must do."From such humble beginnings, the notion the gods are keenly interested in our morals eventually spread to all the nooks and niches of the earth so that, today, it is second nature for us to believe that every religion goes hand in hand with its own moral code.
PRIEST: "You must sharpen your pointy sticks for we must soon war upon the nation of the Amourites, because men with men and women with women of that nation have fornicated with each other."
ANCESTORS [embarrassed]: "Ummm...are you sure it's wrong for same sex couples to fornicate with each other? I mean, we ourselves have been....."
PRIEST: "Of course it's wrong!"
ANCESTORS: "But why? Why is it wrong?"
PRIEST: "Well, I don't actually...[suddenly has an idea]...Wait! It's because the gods forbid us to fornicate with the same sex. Yes! That's it! Because the gods forbid it!"
Joking aside, though, I think there might be a relationship between priests (or a priestly class) and the notion the gods are concerned with our morals.
Based on my very limited knowledge, I cannot think of a society in which the notion is prevalent that does not have priests. Although, I can think of at least one society in which I suspect the notion is either quite weak, or simply does not exist, and yet there are priests (Japan).
Moreover, as Jared Diamond somewhere points out, the New Guinea highlanders -- like many other tribal peoples -- do not think of their gods as beings interested in human morals. That is, the notion is not intrinsic to religion, and you can, and do, have religions without it.
So, do you think there might be a relationship of some sort between a presence of priests and the notion the gods are concerned with our morals? Why or why not?