Archive for October, 2016


In recent posts, I have been defending the reasonable notion of God’s existence with the Cosmological argument (causation) and the Teleological arguments (design). Today, I want to turn to

what I consider to be one of the most powerful and compelling arguments for the existence of God, the Moral argument.

First, here is the structure of the argument, as proposed by William Lane Craig in On Guard:

  1. If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.
  2. Objective moral values and duties do exist.
  3. Therefore, God exists.

This is a deductive argument in the modus tollens form, and so the conclusion follows if the premises can be shown to be true. I believe they can, so let’s have a careful look at them.

  1. If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.

Possibly I am ignorant, or simply do not understand alternate explanations, but without a transcendent source, I cannot fathom how any objective standard of right and wrong can exist. Since we all seem to have a sense of right and wrong innate within us, we must account for it somehow. And unless that source is God, I don’t see how it can exert any moral authority in a final and objective sense; all other explanations seem to collapse into moral relativism and subjectivism. Here, in brief, are the other proposed explanations I’ve heard for the origins of morality.

Social Contract

The social contract theory observes that in order for a civilized society to exist, the members of that society have to agree to abide together peaceably to promote safety for citizens and their property. This social contract is one which we agree to implicitly by living in such a society, and it is enforced by laws. The trouble is that the social contract theory is not an explanation of the origin of these moral rules we contract to live by, but a statement of their need. The social contract may be cited as an argument in favor of the existence of objective morality, but it does not serve as an alternate explanation of the origination of objective moral standards.

Evolutionary Ethics

Another offered origin of objective morality applies macro-evolutionary theory in that as we as a species developed over time, so too did our sense of right- and wrong-ness. Societies flourished as we observed such rules as “don’t kill your neighbor” and “don’t take what is not yours.” As societies flourished, more reproduction occurred, and this sense of right and wrong progressed through the surviving and thriving generations. Stated this way, it becomes more of a discovery of objective morals, rather than a development or their origination. And if we say they just developed over time to the objective set we have now, this actually constitutes a contradiction, as if they changed and developed, they cannot be objective.

Love

Another explanation of objective moral values I have heard given is that if one just does the loving thing in a given situation, that is guide enough, and no detailed rules or God is necessary in the process. Each person can discover the objectively right thing to do if guided by love. This sounds great, and is true, as far as it goes. The difficulty comes in applying this to dilemmas. If a strong swimmer sees a small child drowning in a pool, the loving thing is easily seen to be rescuing the child. Moral dilemmas occur when two different “goods” are in conflict with one another, and one must be chosen. In these situations, declaring that the objectively right thing to do is to do what is loving is far too simplistic. Some people consider Christian evangelism to be intrusive and offensive; most Christians consider it to be the most loving thing that can be done for someone. Who decides? It ends up distilling down to personal or group moral relativism, not objectivism.

Next post, we’ll investigate premise 2: Objective morals and values do exist, and on to the conclusion.

Comments, questions, challenges? Email me through the form on my “about” page, we’ll discuss, and your comments may inspire a follow-up post!

In the last post, I gave an overview description of the design argument as applied to the life on earth, further expanding the positive case for the existence of a Designer. This time, I want totoolbox address some of the explanations proposed by materialistic and evolutionary theories, and how I think they fail as adequate alternatives.

Time + Chance

If you recall from last time, two strong arguments, specified complexity and irreducible complexity make a compelling case in favor of intelligent design of life on earth. Scientists committed to materialism have fewer tools available with which to construct alternative theories, and thus have (at least) two very large problems: 1. origin of first life, and 2. diversity of complex life forms we observe today. In this space today, I’m not going to address the origins of life problem; suffice it to say that producing life from non-life has proven daunting, at best, even with intelligent agency (the scientists) manipulating initial conditions. If anything, any success in this area seems to give more credibility to the need for intelligent agency.

Materialists have only a few tools with which to construct complex life: natural selection and random mutations operating over a long period of time. Extrapolating from observable and non-controversial micro-evolution, time plus chance are proposed as adequate to change the (elusive) first single-celled organism to the highly diversified life forms throughout the earth today (macro-evolution). The trouble is, “time plus chance” are articles of blind faith, not words which provide any adequate explanatory power.

Our uniform and repeated experience tells us that higher complexity does not flow from lower complexity; water does not rise higher than its source. Adding time and chance does not help, either. Consider the following example paraphrased from Frank Turek. Consider a fellow taking with him a large bag of red, white, and blue confetti into an airplane. At 5,000 feet, he dumps the bag over a football field; how good do you think are the chances that the confetti lands in the pattern of the American flag? Probably not too good. What about if the plane goes to an altitude of 30,000 feet? If he empties the bag from there, is it more or less likely to form the flag than at the first altitude? It’s pretty easy to tell that adding extra time for random chance to act to produce something orderly is so unlikely to work that it is hard to imagine that adding any amount of time would produce success. Applying this intuition to the issue of development of life forms has led some to refer to Darwinian evolutionists as “young-earth evolutionists,” meaning that the amount of time needed for probabilities of random mutation to have acted appropriately to get where we are now is exponentially larger than the same scientists estimate the age of the earth to be.

The Philosophy of Science

Why is it that materialistic scientists have fewer explanatory tools than do theistic scientists? They limit themselves to only naturalistic explanations; no supernatural explanations are even allowed as possible. This results in many a round-peg-in-square-hole scenarios. This approach is called philosophical naturalism, and as its name suggests, is not a statement of science, but one of the philosophy of performing science. It is a commitment to providing a naturalistic explanation for all things. Methodological naturalism, by contrast, is a more modest approach to science which says one must presume and investigate the object of study as if it has a naturalistic explanation; most things will comfortably fall into this category. However, if the evidence leads to a supernatural explanation as being the best fit for the evidence, the scientist is free to consider such a theory.

From this discussion, it should be clear that science is not the final authority on truth and fact; science itself rests on philosophy. The methods of scientific testing and inquiry set the boundaries of what is acceptable and what is out-of-bounds. Science cannot be done without philosophy, and even faith (used broadly); we exercise faith when we apply the scientific method that the natural laws will provide consistent results and can reliably assist to explain scientific mysteries. The philosophical assumptions brought in to the experimentation process can drastically impact the conclusions a scientist makes about data gathered. After all, science does not say anything; scientists do, and their interpretations are influenced by their prior philosophical commitments. Of course, none of this is to denigrate science or the scientific method, but one should be somewhat skeptical when the monolith of Science is said to proclaim the truth. A good scientist must be able to recognize his or her own presuppositions and attempt to mitigate its influence on the interpretation of scientific data.

In my next post, I’ll move into another area of argument for God’s existence, the moral argument. I hope you’ll join me!

Comments, questions, challenges? Email me through the form on my “about” page, we’ll discuss, and your comments may inspire a follow-up post!