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Moral Argument for God

Are you familiar with the moral argument for God? It goes like this:

  1. If there is no God, there are no objective moral values and duties.
  2. Objective moral values and duties exist.
  3. Therefore, God exists.

This is an argument for the existence of God. It is not a proof that God exists. It is an argument that it is probable that God exists. It is reasonable for men to believe that God exists. This is not an argument for the existence of a Christian God, but as I will show it can be used to support that probable conclusion.

The first problem most people have with the argument concerns the definition of “objective” moral values. You will often hear people argue that moral values exist based on various human attributes. Pollution is bad because it hurts us. Science says that mercury in your air is harmful. Eating vegetables is good for you. It is not nice to hurt someone’s feelings. I do not like it when you treat me unfairly.  War makes no rational sense. Good or evil in these examples rests on some human evaluation.

Moral values based on our feelings, our senses and our reasoning are all subject to the foibles, biases and self-serving nature of men. They are ever changing. They vary from society to society. They will change over time. In a word, they are subjective. They are not objective.

Objective moral values are values that find their basis outside the realm of human reasoning, feeling, or senses. They are consistent over time and across cultures. Objective moral values simply exist. They are fixed principles that have the same standing as the facts of mathematics. Murder is wrong the same as 1+1=2.

Notice that the argument does not address how we come to know what is good and evil. It says nothing about how we come to understand that murder is wrong. The argument stands without addressing this important issue.

Do objective moral values exist? Many atheists will stand on their constructionist approach to moral values while defending with moral indignation some basic injustice they observe in how they are treated as atheists. They will argue with moral indignity with the theist, reacting emotionally to what the theist seems to demand. Many atheist philosophers have concluded that objective moral values do exist and then they struggle to ground that existence. They often turn to evolution or to our understanding of DNA as the basis for our having common, unarguable moral standards. Like many evolution arguments, they seem to want to produce something objective out of a chaotic and chance driven mechanism. Given a different evolutionary process, murder might be good.

Watch a group of kids on the playground or go watch a group of preschoolers and you will soon observe expressions of moral indignation. To our children it seems intuitive that certain things are fair and others are not. That sense of fairness largely crosses cultures. Social scientists have come up with lists of common moral principles that cross cultures and time. The application of the principles may vary, but the underlying moral values do not. It is not difficult to support the second argument that objective moral values do exist.

The existence of objective moral values presses us towards finding a basis for their existence. Moral values are expressions of creatures that have the ability to discern good and evil conduct. Men commit murder. Animals kill, but they do not murder. We do not make value judgments on animals that kill to survive. We can conclude that objective moral values have to do with creatures who are cognizant and who develope relationships. This suggests that objective moral values must rest in a being. For those values to be fair in all circumstances and to be just that being must be all knowing, just and loving concerning their application. It is not difficult to carry this argument forward to the place that you are describing the greatest possible being. This exercise will lead you to a description found in scripture of our Christian God.

Objective moral values exist and our intuition about them can lend support to accepting the moral argument for God. It does not take much to move beyond that argument to understanding that belief in the Christian God is reasonable. We cannot prove God’s existence. We can give rational and reasonable support for the probability of His existing. Yes, we are people of faith. Do not , however, allow people to tell you that our religion is mindless, or unthinking.  It is not and there is an abundance of Christian philosophy around to demonstrate that.

Categories: Law, Moral Argument
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