Thursday, December 17, 2009

Morality and it's Justification in Theism

The existence of true, objective morality is one of the most important philosophical, ethical and personal questions which needs to be justifiably answered. The importance of justification is that many people have many different views about the same subject, especially when it comes to morality. I agree firmly that all people have the right to believe what they want. The problem is that many people believe things that have no evidence to support their beliefs. For example, when we look at many of the scientists and philosophers before the discovery of an absolute beginning of the universe, they believed that the universe was most likely eternal. But what was their justification for that belief? There wasn't any scientific proof for the universe being eternal. Even philosophically, they would not be able to justify their belief. But now, we look at science and philosophy and we see that the belief of a finite universe is justified. We can look at the Big Bang model, the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics and philosophically, we can see that it would be impossible to come to "today" if there were an infinate number of past events. So, believing in a beginning of our universe is a justifiable belief. Now the question is whether or not we can justifiably say that objective moral values either do exist or do not exist. I will be making the argument that objective moral values do, in fact, exist. I will also argue that the only justifiable explanation for objective moral values is God.

I will lay out my argument as follows:

1.) If God does not exist, then objective moral values do not exist.

2.) Objective moral values do exist.


3.) Therefore, God exists.

This is a logically valid argument and if premises (1) and (2) are true then the conclusion (3) must also be true. Now, let us look at the premises to see if they are true.

Premise (1): If God does not exist, then objective moral values do not exist.

By objective moral values I mean moral values which are true whether anyone believes them or not. They are valid and binding regardless of their acceptance from society. They would be an absolute standard of right and wrong, good and bad, ought and ought not. But are they truly objective? I strongly believe so, and hopefully I will provide the evidence to justify my belief.

The reason I say that objective moral values cannot exist without God is that there would be no standard for them to be valid and binding. Without God, morality is relative. So I could argue that if God does not exist, then even though you may not think it is good to beat a child, that is only your opinion. For a drunk, abusive father could think it perfectly okay to beat his child. And if your morality is relative, then you cannot say that him beating his child is wrong. It may be distasteful to you, but not to him. Again, we can look at slavery. If God does not exist, and objective moral values do not exist, then slavery isn't actually wrong. You may not like the idea of slavery, but that doesn't mean there is anything outside of you and a slave owner that could say slavery is a moral abomination. Or we can look at Nazi Germany. If God does not exists and objective moral values do not exist, then Hitler was justified in what he did to the Jews. After all, morality is relative in an atheistic worldview. How could an atheist say that Hitler was wrong? He thought he was right and carried out his beliefs. What he did may not be acceptable to our modern day society, but that doesn't mean he was actually wrong in what he did or that what he did was actually evil. So, in my opinion, without a moral Lawgiver, there are no objective morals. I find it interesting that so many atheists pass moral judgments. Many people, like Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris say that Christianity is horribly wrong and evil. But where do these moral judments come from? They are not justifiable in an atheistic worldview. Nothing is really right or wrong. I really don't believe that atheists can truly live out their worldview when it comes to morality. If you are an atheist and someone pointed a gun to your head (which I don't condone, I'm just using an illustration) would you say, "I'd rather you not shoot me but it's not really wrong if you do. It's only my opinion that you shouldn't kill me,"? Or again, say you lived in Sodom in ancient times and a group of men came to rape you. Do you believe they would be justified in raping you because they believe it's okay?

Another argument I hear is that God and Christians are immoral for saying homosexuality is wrong. But where do their moral judgments come from? They don't want to be bound to the Christian view of morality, so why should Christians be bound to the atheists view of morality? Some may say that homosexuals don't have a choice in their sexuality so it's wrong to discriminate against them. I wholeheartedly agree that discriminating against homosexuals is wrong, but why? And something to think about, if you base your morality on societal tolerance and if homosexuality isn't wrong because they can't help it because their genetic make-up causes them to be that way, then why do we discriminate against pedophiles? Are they not born with a tendency to be sexually attracted to children? Even serial killers shouldn't be discriminated against on this view because they are born with a violent disposition.

Premise (2): Objective moral values do exist.

The case for objective moral values seems to be intrinsically obvious. I haven't met anyone on the street who thought raping children was only relatively wrong. But I have read works from atheist and have heard them lecture on morality. They argue that raping a child is, in fact, not wrong. It may not be socially advantagous, but there's no standard for raping a child being right or wrong, good or bad. Now, you must reflect on this question. Do you believe it is objectively (valid and binding) wrong to rape a child whether or not anyone else believes that it is?

We can also take the example of Nazi Germany. Hitler decided that it was okay to kill 6 million Jews because in his opinion, Jews were not really human. No matter what anyone may say, there is extremely strong evidence that Darwinian evolutionary theory influenced Hitler and helped to pursuade the masses in Germany. Hitler read works from Nietzsche about "the will to power" and from Darwin about "survival of the fittest." He was influenced by this theory in that he looked at the Jews as an inferior race which was hindering human evolutionary development. His idea of the "perfect man" came from his views of the "survival of the fittest," in which he viewed the Arian race as superior physically, genetically and mentally. He blamed all of the problems Germany was facing, whether it be economic problems or the spread of disease, on the Jews. On his view of morality, he was saving his country and his people from oppression and destruction by killing the Jews, the mentally and physically handicapped, the elderly, the weak, and homosexuals. He believed these people were poisoning and contaminating the genetic line of the Arian race.So based on his view of morality, he was being a moral person. And if there are no objective moral values, then we may say that he was wrong in his view of morality but saying that would be the same as someone saying "guacamole is disgusting." Morality, like your taste in certain foods, is relative in an atheistic worldview. In fact, atheists like Peter Singer and Richard Dawkins agree that morality is subjective. Peter Singer believes that we should be able to kill babies even up to 28 days after they are born. Where he gets that number I do not know. It would seem to me that killing a 35 year old person or a 28 day old person would be the same. Peter Singer also promotes euthanasia and the killing of the mentally and physically handicap. In his view, an adult ape is more valuable than a newborn or a handicapped person. "Afterall," he might say, "we are all just animals."

Another argument I hear which tries to dismiss objective moral values comes from sociobiologists. They assert that because moral beliefs are shaped by biological and social influences, that those beliefs are not objectively true. But this argument is fallacious because it commits the genetic fallacy. The genetic fallacy is the fallacy of arguing that a belief is mistaken or false because of the way that belief originated. William Lane Craig and J.P. Moreland state in their book, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview, "how or why a belief came to be held is irrelevant to the truth of falsity of the proposition that is the object of that belief." Many atheists commit the genetic fallacy when discussing morality. But lets follow this argument for a little bit. If morality is only based on social influences then slavery wasn't truly wrong in the ancient world. Even Nazi Germany wouldn't be considered evil because in German society it was acceptable to kill Jews. In early American society it was acceptable to be racist and own slaves. Right now we say that racism is a horrible thing. But in an atheistic worldview, it's only horrible if you believe that it is horrible. So atheists cannot justifiably say that anything is really wrong according to their worldview. How can an atheist say, "you shouldn't be racist," or "you shouldn't kill people," and expect anyone to accept what they say if there isn't a true standard of "ought" or "ought not"?

Hopefuly, you do believe that the Nazi's were absolutely wrong in their persecution of the Jews. I hope you believe that even if Hitler succeeded what he set out to do and killed or brainwashed every one into believing what he did was right, it would still be absolutely wrong. I hope you believe that slavery and racism were wrong in early America, eventhough society said it was okay. I hope you believe that no matter what anyone else believes, raping children is objectively wrong.

Conclusion (3): Therefore, God exists.

As we have seen, if objective moral values do exist, then God must exist. I have shown that objective moral values do, in fact exist and that objective moral values cannot be justified on an atheistic worldview. If you believe it is always, objectively wrong to beat children, then you must agree that God exists. And if you believe God exists, then you are justified in believing objective moral values exist. It logically follows from this argument I have presented.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article and, as always, feel free to comment and raise objections about what you've read. Don't forget to read and think about the quotes by atheists and Christians on the subject of morality below this paragraph!!!!

Quotes from Atheists:

"If morality is always relative to one’s own society, then you, coming from your society, have your moral standards and I, coming from my society, have mine. It follows that when I criticize your moral standards, I am simply expressing the morality of my society, but it also follows that when you condemn me for criticizing the moral standards of your society, you are simply expressing the morality of your society. There is, on this view, no way of moving outside the morality of one’s own society and expressing a transcultural or objective moral judgment about anything, including respect for the cultures of different peoples. Hence if we happen to live in a culture that honors those who subdue other societies and suppress their cultures, then that is our morality, and the relativist can offer no cogent reason why we should not simply get on with it." — Peter Singer.

"The notion that human life is sacred just because it is human life is medieval." — Peter Singer

"The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference." — Richard Dawkins (emphasis mine)

"The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully." — Richard Dawkins (emphasis mine. Notice how Dawkins says there is no evil and no good, only indifference, and yet says the God of the Old Testament is evil!)

Quotes from Christians:

"To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it." - G.K. Chesterton

"lf law is, in fact, some form of legislated morality. The question is whose morality will dominate." - Frank Schaeffer

"History is a voice forever sounding across the centuries the laws of right and wrong. Opinions alter, manners change, creeds rise and fall, but the moral law is written on the tablets of eternity." - James A. Forude

"To denounce moralizing out of hand is to pronounce a moral judgment." - H.l. Mencken


Anonymous said...

Pretty good. Did you have to have a dictionary next to you while you were typing this?

Joel Varner said...

Thanks! No, I didn't have a dictionary next to me. Hopefully I didn't misuse any words in my argument! Again, thank you for your comment and I'm glad you liked it.

Bob said...

1.) If a god or gods do not exist, then objective moral values may or may not exist.

2.) Objective moral values do seem to exist.


3.) Therefore, We don't know if any gods exist.

Joel Varner said...


The problem with your argument is premise (1). Without God, objective moral values cannot exist. You say they may or may not exist if God does not exist but you'd be hard pressed to show how they could exist without God.

Anonymous said...

1.) Plato wrote Euthyphro about 2400 years ago. Have you still not read it? It's available free on the interent or at your nearest library. Sum: Are god's commandments moral because he commands them or does god give commandments because they are moral? You can't prove objective morality with god or without god.

2.) In your defense of premise 1, you stated that without god, morality is just one's opinion. How is asserting that the Nazi's were immoral not just an opinion? Even if it is a widely held opinion, can you objectively prove it? You have no evidence or proof for the existence of objective morality.

3.) Your conclusion is based on false premises, as shown above.

Hope this helps. There are better arguments for the existence of god. This argument is not one of them.

Joel Varner said...


Thank you for your comment! The question you raised from Plato has no bearing on whether or not objective morality exists, for it assumes objective morality. In the question, either objective morality exists outside of God or objective morality exists with God as it's standard.

Secondly, to say you can't prove objective morality and imply it doesn't exist is astounding. There are many things you can't prove that you know are, in fact, true. For instance, can you prove that your parents love you? Can you prove that other minds outside of your own exist and that your brain isn't in a vat being controlled through stimulation and only making you perceive a reality when in fact your reality is only an allusion? Can you prove that you don't actually believe objective moral values can be proven? Can you prove that you don't believe in God and that you aren't just making an elaborate hoax? Can you prove that you are an atheist/agnostic? There are many things you can't prove that you know to be true. The existence of objective morality is the same.

Thirdly, by saying that me asserting that the Nazi's were immoral is just an opinion and therefore not true is saying that you can't have opinions which are true. In my opinion, the universe began to exist. Is it therefore not true because it's only my opinion?

My evidence and proof for objective morality was clearly stated throughout my article. If you believe molesting babies is objectively wrong then you'll have to believe that objective moral values exist. If you don't believe that molesting babies is wrong then it just shows how ridiculous your worldview is. If you believe that in some circumstances molesting babies is okay then you are what psychologists call a sociopath. I'm not saying that you are a sociopath, don't get me wrong. I'm just showing you the cost of your worldview.


The New Song said...

I am confused by the logic. If God had not ever made himself known then I would be okay with where you were going. But it seems that you did not include the fact that He has made himself known over and over again. If we were looking to logically argue the existence alone then there is room for this or that, but that is not what we are looking to do. It seems that humans sometimes want to cover their eyes and cry aloud I can't see you so you're not there!