Something Gave Our World a Moral Law. It Was God.

In my previous two blogs, I dealt with two different philosophical arguments for God existence. The first was the kalam cosmological argument, and the second was the fine-tuning argument. Here I want to focus upon the moral argument. In general, it makes the observation that an objective moral law exists, and if such a thing exists, then God exists. In syllogism form, it looks like this:

  1. If God does not exist, then objective moral law does not exist.
  2. Objective moral law exists.
  3. Therefore, God exists.

Like all syllogisms, if the first two premises are true, then the conclusion (3) must follow. But are the premises true? Let’s look at each of them.

The first premise is actually not that controversial. In fact, many atheists agree with it. The famous atheist Richard Dawkins states,

“The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference. As that unhappy poet A.E. Housman put it: ‘For Nature, heartless, witless Nature Will neither care nor know.’ DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music.”[1]

Michael Ruse gives a more in-depth explanation but affirms the same idea:

“The position of the modern evolutionist . . . is that humans have an awareness of morality . . . because such an awareness is of biological worth. Morality is a biological adaptation no less than are hands and feet and teeth. . . . Considered as a rationally justifiable set of claims about an objective something, ethics is illusory. I appreciate that when somebody says ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself,’ they think they are referring above and beyond themselves. . . . Nevertheless, . . . such reference is truly without foundation. Morality is just an aid to survival and reproduction, . . . and any deeper meaning is illusory.”[2]

In short, then, if atheism is true, there is no morality at all. The reason for this is that moral law, in order to be law, must be grounded in something unchanging and that which is applicable to all. It must be a standard by which every human must aspire to conform to. It cannot be something determined or based upon human perception or reasoning. Otherwise, morality becomes merely an opinion. And we all know that opinions are not always facts or necessarily the same for every human. Thus, premise 1 must be true.

What about premise 2? Does objective moral law actually exist? This is where things can get a little tricky. It seems that most people would affirm that some actions, no matter who you are or where you live, are just plain wrong (or right). For example, most people seem to intuit that torturing babies for fun is always wrong, everywhere, and for all times. It does not matter if one is Norwegian, American, or European, or whether one lived a thousand years ago or today. It just seems that such an action is wicked. Even if someone perceived it to be a morally right action, it just seems that such a person must be judged to be incorrect in his assessment.

On the other hand, we live in a world that seems to desire to reject the idea that there are actions that are wrong (or right) for everyone, everywhere, and for all times. “You do you” is popular phrase. “Your truth” is another common idea. “What’s right for me may not be right for you” is the principle often lived by today. It seems, then, that objective moral law does not really exist. It’s all in the eye of the beholder.

But is this true? Let’s tease out the logical conclusion from such an idea. If there are no objective moral laws–i.e., morality is different for every person–then anything is permissible, including actions like rape, torture, human sacrifice, murder–everything. The reason why is because morality would be different for everyone. Is this the kind of world we want to live in? Can we honestly say that racism or that Nazi concentration camps were not evil? If there is no objective moral law, then we must say this.

The good thing, however, is that we humans have a strong sense that there are some actions that are just plain right or wrong. Thankfully, we live in a world in which people who affirm that rape or torturing babies for fun is morally right are viewed to have a mental health issue and are in need of counseling. Moreover, we ought to be able to recognize that there is a difference between a person’s perception of what is right and what is actually right. We can be wrong about what we take to be right moral action. Since this is the case, objective moral law must exist.

For these reasons (and many more not discussed here), premise 2 is true. Thus, the conclusion that “God exists” must follow. Because our world displays a moral law that is objective, God must exist.

Dr. Rasor


[1] Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life

[2] Michael Ruse, “Evolutionary Theory and Christian Ethics,” in The Darwinian Paradigm

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