What If UR Wrong

“We are bound by the law, so that we may be free.”

Marcus Tullius

the moral arguement

The Moral Argument

 

by Mark Karapetyan

In April of every year, my accountant, Sara, reminds me that paying taxes “is every American’s civic duty, and paying them on time is a ‘good’ thing.”  Houston, we have a problem !  Sara is an atheist; she doesn’t believe in God. If there is no God, how then, can she differentiate between ‘good’ and ‘bad’? By what standard is she measuring ‘goodness’, and what is her moral reference? The issue at hand is epistemological, not ontological.  I agree that atheists can recognize a moral code; the question is, how do they recognize such code if there is no God?  (Ontology refers to what actually exists, how things are, ‘whether we know’ them or not.  Epistemology refers to ‘how we know’ or believe things).

What is the Moral Argument? 

The Moral Argument is an argument for the existence of God that claims in order for the moral law to exist, God must exist.  How do we explain a moral code that all people recognize?  How do we account for the obvious sense of right and wrong that the majority of people admit they know and feel?

What does the argument say? 

  1. Every law has a law giver.
  2. There is a moral law.
  3. There must be a moral law giver.

Premise one: Every law has a law giver. 

We know from our own experiences in life, that every law implies a law giver.  Rocks, trees, insects, animals, and flowers cannot produce laws or decrees because these are transcendent truths that come from a mind only.

I remember an atheist who once challenged me on this premise and insisted that “not all laws require a law giver.”  The laws of nature, logic, and mathematics, he said “are laws that are discovered not invented, thus they necessarily exist.”  Here’s the dilemma this atheist faces: Although it is true that these laws are not invented but discovered, this begs the question that, for if transcendent moral truths exist, whence do they come and why are they sententious?  Are we to assume that they just exist for no reason and have no meaning?  Can atheists present a simple example of laws that do not require law givers? Furthermore, regarding the laws that my atheist friend claims he ‘recognizes’ as discovered laws, is he not using his mind to recognize them?  I hold that it is his mind, not his ears or eyes that are processing the reality of these laws.  If a mind is needed to recognize laws as laws and not cars, rat poison, or coffee, why isn’t a mind also required to give them?

The moral law must have its basis in a mind outside of mankind and with authority over mankind, that’s why I believe God is the moral law giver. [1]

Premise two: There is a Moral Law.

A large majority of people around the world accept the existence of objective moral values.  Murder, rape, stealing, and torturing babies for fun are considered ‘wrong’ by almost everyone.

Surprisingly, this is widely accepted, even by the leading “New Atheists.”  For instance, the late Christopher Hitchens said, “you don’t need God to tell you that murder is wrong; this information is available to all humans.” [2]

We do not condemn animals for such behavior; they are not morally accountable. Richard Taylor explains: “A hawk that seizes a fish from the sea kills it, but it does not murder it; and another hawk that seizes the fish from the talons of the first takes it, but it does not steal it – for none of these things is forbidden.”  [3].  One must ask the question, forbidden by whom and why? If there is no God then all behavior is acceptable and nothing is forbidden.

Dr. William Lane Craig says: “But the problem is that objective values do exist, and deep down I think we all know it. There is no more reason to deny the objective reality of moral values than the objective reality of the physical world. Actions like rape, cruelty, torture, and child-abuse aren’t just socially unacceptable behavior. These are moral abominations. Some things are really wrong. Similarly, love, equality and generosity are really good.” 

Where does this universal understanding of moral right and wrong come from – an understanding that transcends human opinion? Why does a small child immediately know when they’ve been treated unfairly or know that it is wrong to have something stolen from them? They know because there is a universal moral law that has been intrinsically woven into them by their Creator. [4]

We can reasonably conclude that all moral truths are absolute and universal – all societies share these fundamental ideas about good and evil. One does not need to be taught by his parents or teachers that it is wrong to be hit in the face for no reason. This knowledge comes naturally to us. Two children stranded on a desert island without parents would come to this conclusion by their own observations and experiences. How do different people arrive at similar conclusions if God is not the moral law giver?  The ideas of good and evil are intrinsic to our human nature, and adherence to the good would be beneficial for all of mankind. Hence, this universal standard of morality can only come from God. [5]

Is Morality Subjective?

Morality cannot be subjective, because if it were, each person that did something wrong would have his or her own subjective standard of morality that is different from others.  Who’s to say that person was wrong?  That person is just dancing to the music of his or her DNA !  Atheists who claim morality is subjective are quickly offended when their morals are objectively violated.  The minute you steal from them suddenly they believe in objective morality.

Back to my accountant, Sara, the atheist.  She once argued with me that morality is subjective.  “We humans decide what’s right and what’s wrong for us” she stated.  “Is punching people for fun wrong?” I asked.  “Of course it is, are you crazy?” she shot back.  “Wait a second” I objected, “but according to you morality is relative, which means it changes from one person to another.  If this is true, then I can decide what’s right for me, and so if I say punching you right now is a good thing then who are you to tell me otherwise?”

Let the moral relativist be lied to, be the victim of false advertising, uncover the fact that their spouse has been relatively faithful to them, and the relativist instantly becomes  a moral absolutist…Just like Sara !  [6]

Adolf Hitler killed over six million Jews.  In 1915, the Turks massacred over 1.5 million innocent Christian Armenians (The Armenian Genocide).  Joseph Stalin mercilessly murdered 20 million of his own people.  If moral relativism were true, how could we say that these inhumane barbaric acts were wrong? Wrong according to whom?  After all, they were just following their own morality !

The screams of a young atheist echoed throughout the entire room last fall when this young man jumped to his feet in the middle of one of my engagements and retorted, ” The God of your bible is immoral and evil. He condones slavery, rape, and murder.  What say you ?”

“Let me first ask you a question” I replied.  ” Is morality objective or subjective?”

OF COURSE SUBJECTIVE !” he shouted.

“But If morality is subjective, then what’s the issue with slavery, rape, and murder?” I questioned.  “Who are you to tell others how to define morality?  “If morality changes from one person to another and each person can define morality the way that person sees fit, why can’t God define morality in the same way?” I continued.

Irritated, he muffled. “But these are heinous acts and we all know it”

“According to whom? I asked. “Are you telling me that morality is objective, since we all recognize the same moral codes?”

Convulsed and agitated, the young man left the room and never returned.

If morality were subjective, no one, and I mean no one, would ever be wrong…think about it !

 

“The law is like a mirror. In it we contemplate our weakness, then the iniquity arising from this, and finally the curse coming from both—just as a mirror shows us the spots on our face.” 

John Calvin

 

 

[1] Fran Turek.  I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH FAITH TO BE AN ATHEIST

[2] Christopher Hitchens, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (New York: Hachette Book Group, 2007), 99, 101–2

[3] Richard Taylor, Ethics, Faith, and Reason (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus, 1988), 73.

[4] Compelling Truth.org / Moral Argument

[5] Jonson Family Ministry.com.  Relative Morality

[6] Christianspot.com. Problems with Moral Relativisim

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