Blog Archive


Come Reason's Apologetics Notes blog will highlight various news stories or current events and seek to explore them from a thoughtful Christian perspective. Less formal and shorter than the Web site articles, we hope to give readers points to reflect on concerning topics of the day.

Powered by Blogger.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Why Isn't the Skeptic Skeptical About His Morality?

Many times when I'm in a conversation with an atheist or a skeptic, they will bring up some disaster or evil act as a way to prove that God doesn't exist. A couple of years ago, I received a letter from one that proves fairly typical:
I have been trying to figure out why God created the hurricanes that devastated the gulf coast, the tsunami in Asia & allowed the devastation that occurred in N.Y. in his name on 9/11. Why did god murder all those innocent people? What could have gotten him so pissed off to commit genocide? Has he been talking to Hitler or Idi Amin again?

I do not believe in God, but I do believe man has the potential to be God-like in his kindness & generosity. After all, god was created in man's image. Perhaps that is why god is evil!!
The letter writer does touch on issues of the problem of evil that Christian thinkers have taken very seriously over the history of the faith. I've written on it many times as well, and I won't rehash those thoughts here. However, there are some presuppositions that this questions rests upon that should also be examined.

From where do you get your understanding of right and wrong?

While the last paragraph on my correspondent comes off snarky, the basic question of "How could a loving God allow X" seems to presuppose that the questioner can see right and wrong clearly, and is therefore able to judge the "X" action as good or bad. So, my first question would be "How do you know that the morality by which you are calling God out because He created a world in which hurricanes or earthquakes exist is the right morality? By what standard are you judging God?"

In order for good and evil to make sense, there must be an objective moral standard to which all people are obligated. Where did the skeptic's understanding of morality come from? Because he or she is questioning the existence of God, and God is the standard of right and wrong, that one must ask, "then where does your standard of morality come from?"

How do you know your morality is superior?

The second question I would have to an atheist or a skeptic is simply, "How do you know your moral judgment more correct than God's when judging God's motives?" You see, when ascribing evil to God, one claims a morally superior position. But that's a pretty tough position for humans to take. Especially since no human being has ever been consistent in his or her own moral understanding. We change our minds on morality all the time! Think about this: have you ever previously thought that something was permissible that you now believe is wrong? Have you ever decided that something you thought was wrong is now Ok?

I'm not even talking about being inconsistent within one's view, although that happens a lot. An inconsistency is when you believe lying or stealing is wrong, but you fudge your taxes or maybe take some pens from the office and justify your actions in some way. What I mean is real shifts in the way we understand moral duties. Perhaps someone previously felt that any medical testing on animals was wrong, but as they've aged they changed their position on that issue. The morality of allowing homosexual unions has seen great shifts in thinking just in the last five years. Perhaps in another decade it will change again, who knows? Regardless of what position one takes, the fact is that our moral framework is not something to rest on. It shifts too frequently.

Therefore, when someone tells me that he or she cannot believe in God because of the evil in the world today, I have to ask, "You're a skeptic. You seem to be pretty convinced, based on your mortality, of God's non-existence. But how come you aren't more skeptical of your own morality?" It seems to me that the morality by which one concludes God doesn't exist is much more tenuous. Perhaps the skeptic's skepticism should start there.


Image courtesy Brian Costin via Flickr. Licensed via the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)


  1. He does not see God goodness? Can't see understand that God is preserving the life on this world and it's people. The most powerful nations can destroy the planet earth in a second. Have not been demostrating with the Hiroshima bombing? God is still preserving lives, for those who will accept Him. It love and mercy have been demostrated with this, what else could?

  2. You seem to have reasoned or simply agree with others that have, that inherently absolute qualities of evil and moral must exist or else those terms become meaningless and only a subjective evaluation. The term moral (whether something is right or wrong) is an evaluation of whether some given action is right or wrong and is based on some reason why that is so. Your position seems to depend on the reason being that it just inherently is and clearly a matter of black & white contrasted. I am wondering if you ever have difficulty being certain that a particular action or inaction is the correct or moral choice to make. In most cases I think that the definition of what is moral is based on the recognition that certain actions cause harm and or that we all stand on equal ground in that no one has a basis to claim an unassailable right by virtue of nature or God, to abuse or harm others. It could perhaps also be claimed in an atheist perspective that no standard or moral force actually exists but that humans have subjectively created moral codes for mutual benefit. However as self aware beings who understand the consequences of our actions I think we have an inherent sense about what actions are harmful to our fellow man or fellow creatures and the planet for that matter. This is partly based on our ability to empathise and knowing we don’t want to be harmed or abused by others. Whether or not an absolute standard exists, I can’t help but think that by virtue of the human condition we tend to come to moral determinations based on the inherent nature of human experience. Therefore murder & theft have always been universally frowned upon by the vast majority of people. There are religious and cultural influences on various other matters but I think that whatever standards are arrived at implies a sense of basic rights that people feel should be granted to others for the reasons previously given. This could get very involved as to why any particular group of people come up with certain standards that seem strange or misguided by other groups but I think they all derive from some basic inherent facts about the human condition and how certain actions cause harm to others or even oneself in some way. So I think I might agree there is an absolute standard in that sense. If somehow it could be proved to you that God doesn’t exist I doubt you’d feel it’s okay to go out and rape, murder or steal. In the matter of whether or not God can be judged immoral for allowing evil (my definition of evil is allowing or creating unnecessary suffering) God seems to have a loophole if you will, because it can be claimed there might be a reason we are unaware of. However I am wondering how you would respond to the problem of evil being stated as follows. A being which is omniscient, omnipotent, and morally perfect will not create evil. If, as Plantinga states, it is not possible to create significantly-free-willed beings without some amount of evil, a morally perfect being WILL NOT CREATE (and Plantinga's also full of shit on that premise...).

    Moral perfection does not bargain with evil. If there is a choice between creating free-willed creatures and allowing evil, or not creating at all, the morally perfect being will not create. End of story.

    The usual reply to this is "well suppose it's worth having free-willed creatures around even if it causes evil?"

    The counter, of course, is that Yahweh already DID make a state where free will obtains and evil does not, this being Heaven. Plantinga, and everyone else who uses a free will theodicy, flushes Heaven down the porcelain eminence.

    Perfection does not create imperfection. The combination of absolute knowledge, absolute power, and absolute goodness does not allow for evil to exist at all.

    1. If it wrong to bargain with evil ands better to not create at all then I presume you think it's immoral to have children since some suffering will come to them and they will likely cause some suffering to others.

      Perhaps development is a greater perfection than perfection ready made. That which is worked for is more valued and deeply understood. Heaven would not be heaven without Earth and dare I say hell, which I don't take to be a place of infinite gratuitous torment. Eternity is in love with the produxctions of time


Come Reason brandmark Convincing Christianity
An invaluable addition to the realm of Christian apologetics

Mary Jo Sharp:

"Lenny Esposito's work at Come Reason Ministries is an invaluable addition to the realm of Christian apologetics. He is as knowledgeable as he is gracious. I highly recommend booking Lenny as a speaker for your next conference or workshop!"
Check out more X