May 31, 2012

The Moral Argument

The video above is of Dr. William Lane Craig describing the moral argument for the existence of God.  The moral argument is a very powerful argument as nearly everyone can relate with it.  At first glance a skeptic would likely be hesitant to agree because of the obvious theistic implications associated with it.  However, would an atheist stick to their worldview after seriously pondering the premises of this argument?  Let’s take a closer look at what those implications are after reviewing the moral argument itself:

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

So, the first premise states that if God does not exist, there are not objective moral values.  Before we progress, I’d like to define objective as “existing independently of perception or an individual's conceptions”.  Now, let’s dissect that premise.  For the argument to be valid, God would be the authority on morality if He existed.  If He didn’t exist, all observable signs of morality would be pure illusory.  That’s to say that these signs of morality would purely be a byproduct of socio-cultural evolution and nothing would be objectively right or wrong.  Essentially, by natural selection, our species has developed behavioral patterns that are beneficial to the propagation of our human species.

However, do we witness the lack of objectivity in the moral sense?  Do we consider the holocaust in Nazi Germany objectively wrong?  How about the raping of a little girl?  Or, when the terrorists crashed commercial jets into the Twins Towers on 9/11 and killed thousands of people?  If someone were to deny the first premise, that person would then be committed to affirming that these actions are not objectively wrong.  These people committing these atrocities are not morally guilty of anything objectively evil under an atheist worldview because there are no objective moral foundations.  If God does not exist, these actions would simply be categorized as behaving outside of what would be considered culturally acceptable. 

 However, many atheists confirm that there are objective moral foundations in this world but really can’t explain why outside of personally feeling there is a “right” and “wrong”.  One of the most prominent atheist apologists Richard Dawkins writes in his book “The God Delusion”, “The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference”.  If Richard Dawkins can admit that if we are truly purposeless, it would follow logically that good and evil lack an objective foundation.  It is difficult to think that the holocaust, rape, or 9/11 as NOT being objectively evil, but that is what the atheist is faced with if they were committed to their worldview.  Many atheist philosophers have come to this same conclusion after realizing the theistic implications of morals being objective.

 That is NOT to say that atheists are incapable of being moral.  I have atheist friends and family members who are incredibly moral people.  This is a difficult topic because a majority of people affirm objective morals but don’t realize the theistic implication of doing so.  It is important to understand that we observe objective morality on a daily basis, and not as a byproduct of socio-cultural conditioning, but through God.  We are made in His image and that is why when good or bad things happen, we are able to objectively define them as such. 

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