Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Why Recognizing Right and Wrong Points to God's Existence

Here's an interesting question that many people have asked: if you can't see, taste, hear, smell or touch something, then how do you know it exists? How can you logically know that a something is there when there's no way to test for it? Don't you have to just accept the existence of that something on blind faith?

Of course, in the context of religious discussion, this question is often asked by the skeptic regarding the existence of God. Can anyone really say that they know God exists by some means other than personal "feelings" or pure faith? Well, actually, the answer is yes. There are several different ways one can show God's existence is more probable than not,and you might be surprised from where these ideas came. One way is to look at how God must exist in order for people to be moral.

Ethics or morality is the idea that certain actions or motivations by people are good or right and other actions or motivations are evil or wrong. The idea of judging another's actions as right and wrong really only apply to people. Nature is not said to be "wrong" when a hurricane destroys property and causes death. Nor are animals judged as right or wrong when they hunt another beast for food. Even when they kill another in their own social group - such as two lions fighting to establish dominance -we don't categorize them as doing the "wrong" thing. So, why are people uniquely thought of in this way?

This question is at the basis of one of the arguments for the existence of God. Philosophers generally refer to this as "the Moral Argument."  the idea that if God doesn't exist, ideas of morality are nonsense and they are "non-binding". In other words, if God doesn't exist, morals are just made up laws by man and there is no logical reason to adhere to them.

In contrast to animals, when we look at the actions of people we understand that people have an ability to make decisions and understand the consequences of those actions. Further, we expect people to be accountable for their actions. But therein lies the rub. If God doesn't exist, to whom are people accountable? Who is going to judge those who break moral laws?

The only way right and wrong can exist at all is if a God who's nature is intrinsically moral created us to live in accordance with that nature and His laws, and this God holds each person accountable for his or her ethical decisions. In other words, morality stems from God's nature because it is who He is. We as humans are considered to do moral acts when we are acting in accord with his nature and we are immoral when we are acting outside of it.

Romans 2:14,15 says "[W]hen Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves [their] thoughts accusing or else excusing them." (NKJV) Now, Paul argues in this passage that all mankind has a kind of universal understanding of basic rights and wrongs in terms of actions and intents.

Everyone on earth understands that things like duplicity or torture for fun are just plain wrong. In other words, people understand ethics or morality. We are supposed to act ethically and upright, and not behave in a way that is morally repugnant. The question that I raise here is why should we act in such a way? Who says that being morally strong is better than being selfish and self-indulgent? And if society sets the rules, who says their rules are right?

Only if God exists can there be things such as right and wrong. And only if God exists does it make any sense at all to try to adhere to those distinctions. Otherwise, even asking the question doesn't make any sense.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoy your blog and thank you for it. I couldn't resist pointing this out "duplicity or torture for fun are just plain wrong." Torture for fun? As opposed to torture for gain, national security? Just curious about the specificity used. Thanks again for all of your writing