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!