Friday, March 14, 2014

The Moral Argument in a Nutshell

Morality is a key component of what it means to be human. The fact that there are at least some standards to which all human beings should adhere is well-recognized across all cultures. Morality is real and must be rooted in an objective reality beyond our natural world.

First, we know that morality cannot be merely a human convention where people agree to behave a certain way.

It differs from other types of societal norms, such as understanding which side of the road to drive on. While driving on the wrong side of the road is illegal, what makes it the "wrong side" is simply a social construct, an agreement between people to ensure safety and a smooth flow of traffic. It makes no sense to say Americans are immoral when we drive on the right side of the road while those in the UK and Australia are behaving morally upright by driving on the left. Those are simply societal norms that help us get about our business.

Therefore, morality cannot be derived from nature or natural law. It cannot be thought of as only stemming from some evolutionary framework to benefit our survival as a species.

The atheist philosopher Michael Ruse clearly understood this when he said that if evolution is true, then morality doesn't really exist. Ruse argued that morality:
"simply does not work unless we believe it is objective. Darwinian theory shows that, in fact, morality is a function of (subjective) feelings; but it shows also that we have (and must have) the illusion of objectivity."1
Ruse goes on to argue that morality is "an illusion foisted upon us by our genes" and that the illusion is the objectivity of moral values. According to Ruse, if morality stems from an evolutionary framework, it is not real, but only a useful fiction. And if it's not real, then it cannot be considered binding for all humanity.

No, morality is a completely different kind of thing. We recognize that a heinous act such as torturing a weaker individual only for pleasure is an objectively evil thing to do—it is wrong for all people across all ages, regardless of whether they thought so or not. Thus, moral laws are considered prescriptive—they are how anyone at any place and any time should behave given a specific set of circumstances. And we can recognize such laws as real, not simply made up to propagate the race.

In order for moral laws to be prescriptive in this way, they must be grounded in something other than a social agreement. Therefore, moral laws must have a source that transcends humanity, that is, God.

So, if there is no God, then there are no real moral values and duties. But, we know moral values and duties do exist. Torturing babies for the fun of it is really wrong. So it stands to reason that God does exist.


1.Ruse, Michael. Taking Darwin Seriously. (New York: Prometheus Books, 1988. 253.

1 comment:

  1. I talked to my youth group at church on this subject briefly Wednesday night.

    I used on illustration first. I was drinking a cup of water. I told them that I had gotten the water from the water cooler in the hall at church. I told them about something that had happened this past weekend when I was staying at a hotel when I tried to get water from a water cooler and none came out. I went to the clerk on duty and told him something was wrong with the water cooler. I turned around then to a television we have mounted on the wall in the youth room and put my cup under it and pushed a button. I asked them would it make any sense for me to say that something was wrong with the television for not dispensing water when I pushed the button. Of course the answer was no. When I asked why the reply was that the television wasn't designed to give water like that.

    I wrote the word WRONG on the dry erase board. I asked them how many of them have ever said "there's something wrong in this world?" Virtually all of them said yes (one said she did it almost daily). I said how can we say something is wrong with the world if there is no DESIGN and no PURPOSE to the world as naturalists tell us.

    I posited 3 possibilities for them.

    1. We can believe there is no design or purpose for humans and hence there is no right or wrong, and when we say something is wrong we merely mean that we don't like it. Moral Nihilism or Moral Subjectivism

    2. We can believe there is no design or purpose for humans but there is still right and wrong. That's called a belief in an absurdity.

    3. We can believe that there is a design and purpose for humans and that to go against it is wrong. Intentional design suggests an intentional designer.