APOLOGETICS – The Moral Argument
The moral argument for the existence of God points to the existence of an intrinsic, ubiquitous set of absolute moral values within the human psyche. The argument has three premises:
- If God doesn’t exist, then objective moral values don’t exist
- Objective moral values DO exist
- Therefore, God exists
Most atheists would agree with the first premise: If God doesn’t exist, then objective moral values don’t exist. Richard Dawkins, the noted atheist and evolutionary biologist, in his book “The God Delusion”, writes, “Without God, there is no evil and no good: nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.” Similarly, Fyodor Dostoyevski, the Russian novelist and philosopher, wrote, “If there is no God, everything is permissible”. Jeremy Rifken, the American evolutionist , in his book, “Algemy”, wrote, “We no longer believe ourselves to be guests in someone else’s home and therefore obliged to make our behaviour conform to a set of pre-existing cosmic rules. It is our creation now; we make the rules, we establish the parameters, we create our own world; and because we do, we no longer have to justify our behaviour. We are the architects of the universe, we are responsible to nothing outside ourselves, for we are the kingdom, the power and the glory forever and ever!”
Yet objective moral values DO exist. Almost all people would agree that objective good and evil DO exist. Things like love, justice and faithfulness are perceived as inherently good, while things such as murder, rape and child abuse are perceived as inherently evil. These objective values seem to be hard-wired into the human psyche, and those few individuals who go against these values are rightly perceived as sick by the rest of humanity. Michael Ruse, an atheistic philosopher, concedes the existence of objective good and evil when he says, “The person who says it is morally acceptable to rape little children is just as mistaken as the person who says 2 + 2 = 5”.
The problem for atheism is explaining how these objective, absolute moral values could have arisen from bio-chemical evolution. Some atheists attempt to argue that objective moral values arise as a result of social conditioning. While it is true that, for example, society tends to teach children these values, it doesn’t disprove that God is the ultimate source of those values. The fact that we learn these values from our parents and from society as a whole doesn’t make them less true. In the same way, the fact that someone has to teach us Mathematics doesn’t mean that Mathematics isn’t “true”. Society’s social conditioning isn’t some form of brainwashing; it arises from the fact that we, as a collective, have a strong, instinctive sense of absolute good and evil.
The moral argument for the existence of God is a strong one. C.S. Lewis championed this argument in his book, “Mere Christianity”. Many atheists find themselves agreeing with the first two premises of this argument, yet unable to offer a reasonable explanation as to how these premises can both be true if a moral, creator God doesn’t exist. The Christian response is that these absolute moral values have been stamped onto our consciences as part of being created in the image of God. The ubiquitous nature of these morals throughout society form an indelible stamp of God’s image within humanity.
A more detailed discussion of this argument is found in the resources below:
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