How do you know if something is morally right or wrong? How can you ground a belief that says acts such as torturing an innocent child, rape, murder, racism, and other such things are objectively immoral? By "objectively," we mean that such acts are immoral in a way that goes beyond personal opinion or feelings; they are immoral whether anyone thinks they are or not. It may surprise you to know that, without God, it is impossible to have objective moral values. Instead, unless God exists, all that is left is mere emotive opinions.
How does the moral argument support the existence of God?
Those who do not believe in God object to such an assertion and say that a person does not need to acknowledge any kind of deity to understand moral right and wrong. And, they are right. Human beings do not need to believe in God to discern moral duties or understand that objective moral values exist. But, that has never been the argument of those who believe in God. Instead, the Christian argument is that in order to ground an objective moral law, you need to have a transcendent source of those values.
This truth is acknowledged by leading atheists. For example, the famous nihilist philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said: "You have your way, I have my way. As for the right way, it does not exist." Richard Dawkins, a leading voice of atheism, says, "Humans have always wondered about the meaning of life...life has no higher purpose than to perpetuate the survival of DNA...life has no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference."
Why do intellectually honest atheists admit that, without God, objective moral values cannot exist? Because it is the logical result of taking atheistic philosophy to its natural conclusion. If there's such a thing as evil, you must assume there's such a thing as good. If you assume there's such a thing as good, you assume there's such a thing as an absolute and unchanging moral law on the basis of which to differentiate between good and evil. If you assume there's such a thing as an absolute moral law, you must posit an absolute moral law giver, but that would be God – the one whom the atheist is trying to disprove. So now rewind: if there's not a moral law giver, there's no moral law. If there's no moral law, there's no good. If there's no good, there's no evil. Which is just what Richard Dawkins admits to.
At issue are the requirements for being able to have objective moral laws. Three things are needed: (1) an absolute and unchanging authority; (2) an absolute and unchanging standard; (3) absolute truth. Atheism and naturalism admit to nothing being absolute, that everything is random, and that everything is changing. In such an environment, no one can ever be sure anything is truly and objectively right or wrong.
Without an unchanging, absolute authority that uses an unchanging, absolute standard, which is based on the right and unchanging truth, ethics simply becomes emotive and opinion. Rape doesn't become wrong, but rather the strongest statement that can be made about it is, "I don't like rape." C. S. Lewis put is simply when he said: "A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line." For those without God, that unchanging straight line does not exist.
However, the rub comes from the fact that every human being recognizes moral absolutes. They may not practice them, but they understand and acknowledge them. There is a difference in what a culture and its people are doing and what they ought to do; a difference between something that is descriptive and that which is prescriptive. And one thing that history has shown is that humanity recognizes universal right and wrong. Acknowledging this, atheist philosopher Louise Antony has stated: "Any argument against the objective reality of moral values will be based on premises that are less obvious than the existence of objective moral values themselves." Antony is correct. No one can name a land where cowardice is applauded and bravery looked down upon; no place where lying is praised and honesty belittled.
Where does this universal understanding of moral right and wrong come from – an understanding that transcends human opinion? Why does a small child immediately know when they've been treated unfairly or know that it is wrong to have something stolen from them? They know because there is a universal moral law that has been intrinsically woven into them by their Creator. This fact produces what is called the moral argument for the existence of God, which can be stated in the following way:
• Laws imply a Law Giver
• There is an objective Moral Law
• Therefore, there is a Moral Law Giver
True object moral good cannot be defined without purpose, and purpose cannot be defined without a cause. Without God – the cause of everything – all that is left is time + matter + chance. And such a combination only produces chaos; not an absolute moral framework.
Poet Steve Turner spells out this awful conclusion – what morals really equate to in a world without God – in his poem entitled Creed, which ends with these words:
"If chance be the Father of all flesh,
Disaster is his rainbow in the sky,
And when you hear
State of Emergency!
Sniper Kills Ten!
Troops on Rampage!
Whites go Looting!
Bomb Blasts School!
It is but the sound of man worshiping his maker."
Does God exist?
Can the existence of God be proven?
How does the cosmological argument support the existence of God?
How does the teleological argument support the existence of God?
What does moral absolutism say about ethics and morality?
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