Apologetics; The Moral Argument for God…

As with the other philosophical arguments in support of God; The Cosmological, Teleological, and Ontological, there is one more major one, and that is the Moral Argument for God.

This argument is also presented in a general way in philosophical circles; Moral Law only makes logical sense if there is indeed a God, though they don’t really attempt to label which God it is from a philosophical perspective.  As always, I’ll present this from that general perspective, and then show how it does indeed point to The God; The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, The God of Christianity.

There is a distinction to be made before really getting into the main argument; that is the distinction between moral laws and Moral Law.  Moral laws (notice the lower case “l” and the plural), are those laws that vary from culture to culture, and person to person.  Moral Law (capital “L” (which is a personal notation preference of mint) and the fact that it is singular) pertains to morality in and of itself; the fact that everyone recognized that there is “a” right and wrong, even if disagreeing on the particulars.  Moral Law denotes moral principles that are absolute, and objective; in other words meaningful morality.

Humans have a definite sense of right and wrong, there are even areas of “universal” morality; such as each and every human culture having some kind of laws about marriage, and/or sexual practices.  Then, even with the differing moral laws, we see a high level of similarities.

CS Lewis brought this point home by urging people to compare the laws and moral thinking of the various civilizations; Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Hindus, Chinese, Babylonians, etc… Lewis tries to get people to imagine a culture where cowardice in good causes is admired and taught to the next generation; it just wouldn’t happen, it would be illogical.  The idea of morality and Moral Law, or Real Morality is discussed by Lewis in depth in Mere Christianity, which I recommend to anyone digging into this.

But, as mentioned before, the Moral Argument rests more on Moral Law, instead of the changing laws of culture.  Moral Law is moral consciousness; everyone has a sense of right and wrong, even someone like a psychopath.  Now, that psychopath won’t have the same idea of moral laws, but there will be somethings that he will indeed hold to be “right” or “wrong.”  He might very well think it ok for him to kill someone, but he probably would think it wrong for someone to steal his car.

On another level, the psychopath example serves as another illustration; the vast majority of humans recognize that there is something wrong and deviant with that psychopath.   We all recognize that we don’t just have a difference of subjective opinion with Hitler, no, we recognize that Hitler was absolutely and objectively wrong in his actions, even to the point of being evil.

There can only be objective and meaningful right and wrong, good and evil, with an Absolute Law-Giver.  That Law-Giver is labeled “God.”  Of course there are some philosophers that claim to be relativists; they claim that indeed all morality is completely and utterly subjective…but how many of those philosophers actually live out that perspective?

If I stand up in front of a room of people and declare it perfectly ok to kill a little three year old child that annoys me, simply because he annoys me, they are going to very rightly disagree.  A relativist has to admit that it is a valid opinion, and just as true or good as those that argue against killing that child.  That means there would be not actual right nor wrong, no good nor evil, all of it is just opinion.

Relativism also falls by pulling the logical rug out from under its own feet; if every opinion is just as true or right as every other opinion, then what about the opinion that there is an absolute and objective morality?

To any rational human being that is a totally outrageous claim that does not jive with reality.  So, if we claim any kind of meaningful morality at all, it requires a Source; an objective, absolute and unchanging source; that source is God.

One wonderful thing about Christianity is that Christ Himself embodies God’s will, and His unchanging nature.  Not only did the Law-Giver reveal His will and Law to mankind, He also sent us the Son Who is the absolute model of that Law.  He fulfilled the Law without ever sinning (which is simply missing that perfect bulls eye of God’s Will), and He is unchanging in that perfection.

Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

If morality is right and wrong, we get and act in all true “rightness” via God. God isn’t just the author of Righteousness, and He doesn’t “just” define it like we define a word, He is Righteousness. If Righteousness is “right-ness” everything God does is “right;” God is right if you want to.

Jeremiah 23:6 In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.

It’s not about a matter of arbitrariness, righteousness from God is, just as God is (He is “I AM”). Without God, there is not an actual, useful idea of righteousness, without Him it is a meaningless, subjective, arbitrary concept.  This idea is backed up by one of His names; Jehovah-Tsidkenu; The LORD our Righteousness.  It’s one of those wonderful teachings of Christianity; we don’t have to really on our own poor righteousness; The LORD Himself is our righteousness.  I’ll have to do a longer blog post on this name of God soon.

Leviticus 2:18 Thou shalt sanctify him therefore; for he offereth the bread of thy God: he shall be holy unto thee: for I the LORD, which sanctify you, am holy.

He is constantly revealing Himself to us as Righteousness and Holiness itself.  As with the other arguments for God, the God of the Bible fits the bill perfectly.

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24 Comments

Filed under Apologetics, Atheism, Christianity, Philosophy

24 responses to “Apologetics; The Moral Argument for God…

  1. Keep this up, Praise God for the work you do laboring for our Lord.

  2. Morality is situational, not absolute, and your own book confirms that hypothesis. Your god supports some killing, but not other killing. Why? Because the situation is different.

  3. Kliska

    Sorry, that’s not why some killing was carried out and why it was not, the situation did not matter; the will of God did.

    It is God who is absolute, and since God is absolute, the ultimate moral standard is as well. God is unchanging, that means righteousness is unchanging, but how He deals with mankind, the covenants and rules He puts forth (and dispensations) do indeed change. Just as one tiny example, in Eden only veggies were to be eaten, but over time, other foods were added.

    Oh, and it’s not my book, it’s His.

  4. “God is unchanging”

    Except for that jump between the OT and the NT where he, you know, changed…

    And certainly the situation mattered. And still does. That’s how we all determine our morality.

    One can see it quite simply by looking at killing a fellow human being. In some situations, like self-defense, killing is (at the least) not immoral. In other situations, like murdering someone for their money, killing is immoral.

  5. Kliska

    Again, you don’t seem to be grasping that the difference between the Old Testament, and New is that the Old Testament was about the old covenant; the New is about a new covenant. God never changed His character, His righteousness, His holiness, not one iota; it was His dealings with mankind that changed.

    The old covenant, and the formal Law was to show mankind that they need a Saviour, who is Jesus Christ. The Law, as Paul says, functioned, and still functions as a schoolmaster to point to our need for Christ. Under this new covenant, that is lined out in the new testament, it isn’t adherence to a Law that saves, or our works, it is faith in Christ by the Grace (unmerited favor) of God.

    The situation is not how we determine morality, it may be how we determine our actions at any one point. Again, there is a philosophical difference between moral laws and Moral Law.

    You’ve made several sweeping morality statements; it is not immoral to kill in self-defense, but killing for money is immoral, or wrong. How do you know? How can you make those claims? It may be your opinion, but for morality to be meaningful it must have some type of base, or something to back it up. Why is killing for money wrong? Because you, a being of mere matter, killed another being made up of mere matter? What about survival of the fittest?

    Again, without an absolute and objective basis for your claims of immorality, your opinion should carry no logical weight.

    I can tell you, as a Christian, why killing for money is absolutely wrong; it goes against the will and righteousness of God. He let us know quite plainly that murder is wrong, as is greed. Beyond that, every human being is made in the image of God, ending that (physical) human life is a no-no.

  6. “I can tell you, as a Christian, why killing for money is absolutely wrong; it goes against the will and righteousness of God. ”

    That’s not moral. That’s pre-moral. Proto-moral.

    You’re essentially admitting that you don’t have a morality, you’re just acting because the guy with the most power is telling you to.

    I have no respect for that kind of pseudo-morality, not least because the guy with the most power could tell you to do literally anything, like kill your family, and you’d happily think it moral.

  7. Kliska

    You are confirming my suspicion that you aren’t really reading the argument logically and trying to grasp the philosophical position. Morality doesn’t hinge on God’s power to back up His rules; it hinges on God’s being. There is a distinct and important difference. God IS righteousness, it is a part of His being, His character, and completely and utterly non-arbitrary. It is absolute because He is absolute, and is unchanging as He is unchanging. He’s it; He’s the standard. He doesn’t set the standard, He defines it by His very existence.

    Take your time, and think it through.

    You still cannot answer my questions about where you derive any meaningful morality from, or why your mere opinion about killing being wrong should matter to anyone. Your way of morality actually does boil down to might makes right. Whoever can back up their opinion, with majority vote, physical might, etc… is the one who gets to set what right and wrong are. That is no actual or meaningful morality at all.

  8. “You still cannot answer my questions about where you derive any meaningful morality from, or why your mere opinion about killing being wrong should matter to anyone.”

    I certainly can.

    I can go simple or complex. Which do you prefer?

    Simply, nearly everyone is happier when they aren’t being killed. That’s simple, and a bit selfish, but by itself it’s good enough for me.

    I derive my morality from society, family, critical thinking, history and my biologic evolution as a social animal. I’ll gladly be more specific if you care to listen. Though I would doubt it.

  9. Carl Sachs

    “God IS righteousness, it is a part of His being, His character, and completely and utterly non-arbitrary. It is absolute because He is absolute, and is unchanging as He is unchanging. He’s it; He’s the standard. He doesn’t set the standard, He defines it by His very existence.”

    I can’t tell what this is supposed to be. A premise? A conclusion? A definitional fiat? (If the latter, then sure, I can see how that works around the Euthyphro dilemma — but at an extremely high cost.)

  10. Kliska

    Who cares about mere matter’s “happiness?” You’ve not given me a logical, absolute, or objective reason to consider your opinion on morality meaningful.

    Society, family, history, evolution…these things too are completely subjective. One person’s society says X is good, another person’s family says X is bad….people offer mere opinion on history (there are those who still support Hitler), and evolution is random chance and time.

    Now, critical thinking would lead a critical thinker to the conclusion that without an objective base, there is no logical reason at all to label things good or bad, right or wrong. Without God, there is no meaningful morality; everything would just boil down to human opinion, which is subjective and changing. From your perspective on morality, if I could get away with it, meaning if no other human would catch me, you can offer no logical reason not to do exactly whatever I please.

  11. Kliska

    It’s a flat out statement of fact. 😉

  12. “and evolution is random chance and time.”

    No, it’s not. Pick up a text book.

    “From your perspective on morality, if I could get away with it, meaning if no other human would catch me, you can offer no logical reason not to do exactly whatever I please.”

    Not at all. Because I’m a social animal. And the more harm I cause to others, the less time they wish to spend with me. They may even desire to kill me if I keep being a jerk, as you suggest.

    I don’t want to die, so that’s a good enough reason to be a good person.

    Are you telling me that if there were no god, you’d steal and rape and kill?

    If so, keep going to church. I’ll even drive you.

    Some of us are more evolved than that.

  13. dwilli58

    If natural selection is our creator and survival of the fittest is the natural order for existence, then where is the preciousness or sacredness of life? If I’m here by chance and you’re here by chance, then why would I care about you in any way? We came from nothing and we’re mutated by chance, and we go back to beong nothing. There’s no Moral Law involved in that kind of dehumanizing theory!

    I, too, haven’t heard an answer for the issue of survival of the fittest. This is just basic dog eat dog existence, so where is the moral imperative in this warped belief system?

    Morse, you hold to your argument because of your faith in you, man and man’s theories, which renders you incapable of putting forth the truth. You’re upset, perhaps, because you know that you’re mistaken. I was once like you, but God rescued me from my confusion. He can do the same for you!

  14. Kliska

    “No, it’s not. Pick up a text book.”

    With replies like these, don’t be surprised if your next comments get deleted. I’ve picked up many books on the subject, not just text books, and have had plenty of classes at university (and yes, that’s a secular university), acing each class if that matters to you.

    Evolution is indeed random chance and time. Undirected, purposeless, meaningless.

    “Not at all. Because I’m a social animal. And the more harm I cause to others, the less time they wish to spend with me. They may even desire to kill me if I keep being a jerk, as you suggest.”

    Only if you aren’t smart enough not to get caught, or to deal with the situation if you are caught. Being social is still not a LOGICAL reason for me to accept your position on morality.

    “Are you telling me that if there were no god, you’d steal and rape and kill?”

    I’m telling you that if God did not exist that I’d have no LOGICAL reason not to steal, rape, and kill if I could get away with it, and if it made me happy to do so.

    “If so, keep going to church. I’ll even drive you.”

    I go to church when I like, or not when I don’t; going to church, meaning a church building, isn’t even a drop in the bucket of Christianity. It’s about a relationship with God Himself. Christ is the focus, not me, not you, not a church building, but Christ Himself…learn of Him, He will not disappoint you.

    “Some of us are more evolved than that.”

    Apparently, if your POV is right, you haven’t evolved enough logic to see the fallacy inherent in your position.

  15. “Not at all. Because I’m a social animal. And the more harm I cause to others, the less time they wish to spend with me. They may even desire to kill me if I keep being a jerk, as you suggest. I don’t want to die, so that’s a good enough reason to be a good person”

    Is inevitable non-existence such an exciting prospect that it’s worth playing god for the next 10, 20, 30 or so years?

  16. “Evolution is indeed random chance and time.”

    Plus natural selection. Which isn’t random.

    “Being social is still not a LOGICAL reason for me to accept your position on morality.”

    Sure it is.

    I’m social. I want to socialize with my fellows. If I hurt them, they won’t want to be social with me. So I won’t hurt them.

    What’s illogical about that?

    “I’m telling you that if God did not exist that I’d have no LOGICAL reason not to steal, rape, and kill if I could get away with it, and if it made me happy to do so.”

    Strange. Because god doesn’t exist, and I don’t go around and steal and rape and kill.

    “Is inevitable non-existence such an exciting prospect that it’s worth playing god for the next 10, 20, 30 or so years?”

    Who is playing god? Is taking responsibility for my own actions playing god?

  17. Pingback: Philosophical Arguments for the Existence of God | Intelligent Design and More

  18. aslansmane

    Morsecode– you say “Morality is situational, not absolute” you ask ” where do you derive any meaningful morality from?” You say ” I derive my morality from society, family, critical thinking, history and my biologic evolution as a social animal.” This is a classic example of moral relativism. Moral relativism is more easily understood in comparison to moral absolutism. Absolutism claims that morality relies on universal principles (natural law, conscience . . . the Golden Rule, if you will). Christian absolutists believe that God is the ultimate source of our common morality, and that it is therefore as unchanging as He is. Moral relativism asserts that morality is not based on any absolute standard. Rather, ethical “truths” depend on the situation, culture, one’s feelings, etc.

    There are several arguments for relativism; however, several things can be said of them all which demonstrate their dubious nature. First, while many of the arguments used in the attempt to support these various claims might sound good at first, there is a logical contradiction inherent in all of them because they all propose the “right” moral scheme – the one we all ought to follow. But this itself is absolutism. Second, even so-called relativists reject relativism in most cases – they would not say that a murderer or rapist is free from guilt so long as they did not violate his own standards. Third, the very fact that we have words such as right, wrong, ought, better, etc., show that these things exist. If morality were truly relative, these words would have no meaning – we would say, “That feels bad to me,” not, “That is wrong.”

    Relativists may argue that different values among different cultures show that morals are relative to different people. But this argument confuses the actions of individuals (what they do) with absolute standards (whether they should do it). If culture determines right and wrong, how could we have judged the Nazis? They were following their culture’s morality, after all. Only if murder is universally wrong were the Nazis wrong. The fact that they had “their morality” does not change that. Further, although many people have different outworkings of morality, they still share a common morality. For instance, abortionists and anti-abortionists agree that murder is wrong, but they disagree on whether abortion is murder. So, even here, absolute universal morality is shown to be true.
    The main argument relativists appeal to is that of tolerance. They claim that telling someone that his or her morality is wrong is intolerant, and relativism tolerates all views. But this is simply misleading. First of all, evil should never be tolerated. Should we tolerate a rapist’s view that women are objects to be abused? Second, it is self-defeating because relativists do not tolerate intolerance or absolutism. Third, relativism cannot explain why anyone should be tolerant in the first place. The very fact that we should tolerate people (even when we disagree) is based on the absolute moral rule that we should always treat people fairly – but that is absolutism again! In fact, without universal moral principles there can be no goodness.

  19. Kliska

    “Plus natural selection. Which isn’t random.”

    Natural selection is absolutely random, from a naturalistic POV. It’s chance because it is unguided, it has no ultimate purpose or goal. It is based largely upon random mutation (which lose information, instead of gain it, BTW), and things like genetic drift supposedly contribute to macro-evolution as well.

    “I’m social. I want to socialize with my fellows. If I hurt them, they won’t want to be social with me. So I won’t hurt them.

    What’s illogical about that?”

    Read it again; there is not LOGICAL reason you are giving ME to believe your morality is right on this score. None whatsoever. So, you are social, there are many many people who are not. Since they don’t care if they hurt others as long as they don’t get caught, you’ve not given reason one why they shouldn’t hurt someone if they are smart enough not to get caught.

    You are basing your personal subjective morality on emotion, on personal preference, not logic, and certainly not any meaningful objective source.

    “Strange. Because god doesn’t exist, and I don’t go around and steal and rape and kill.”

    That’s where you are wrong; God does indeed exist, and there is plenty of evidence in support of that fact; historical, prophetic, logical, subjective, objective, etc… The fact that you can’t wrap your mind around your illogical position on morality is further evidence that God does indeed exist; you have Moral Law imprinted on you and can’t find a way around it. Even those atheists who finally come to realize that without God, morality is illogical, even they (the sane ones, not ones like Jeff Dahmer) cannot bring themselves to act or live as though it is illogical…again, evidence for God’s imprinting Moral Law on us. We all know it; there IS meaningful right and wrong, and good and evil does exist. The only logical explanation of this knowledge is God.

  20. “Who is playing god? Is taking responsibility for my own actions playing god?”

    And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever

  21. Carl Sachs

    “It’s a flat out statement of fact. ;)”

    Unfortunately, our hopes at establishing a just and lasting epistemic peace are dashed on the rock of the realization that one person’s self-evident truth is another person’s begging of the question. 😉

    And yes, I’m quite willing to recognize that this is fully symmetrical — what you regard as self-evident truths are what I regard as questions begged, and vice-versa.

    So what do we do?

  22. Kliska

    I don’t have to regard the fact of God as “self-evident;” I believe there is plenty of evidence to back up the statement. But, I also know that not everything has to turn into formal argument (sometimes a statement is indeed just a statement). My evidences, or premises, are presented from time to time on this blog…I don’t expect anyone who is not a believer just to read my words, “God does indeed exist,” and suddenly, just with that, come to belief.

    I do, however, know that God does indeed exist, and that there is evidence for that statement.

  23. Carl Sachs

    Fair enough, Kliska; I am somewhat aware of your view here, and I apologize for having attributed to you the view that the existence of God is self-evident.

    On the other hand, it seems to me that you would regard “every event has a cause” as a self-evident truth — as we discussed on a previous post — and here the assertion that “every one knows and is guided by the moral law, whether consciously or unconsciously” as a self-evident truth. (Whereas the explanation for why this is so leads us to the existence of God.) That’s the argument, more or less, right?

    If so, then here’s where I’m willing to stick up my guns, so the speak: I do not recognize these assertions as self-evident. And I’d be willing to bet that there are truths which I accept as self-evident which would not be accepted as such by someone, perhaps you, perhaps not. (And there are also of course claims which you and I would agree are self-evident, such as the principle of non-contradiction, whereas in Buddhist logic this principle is not recognized.)

    If this is not something you want to discuss, that’s fine by me — this is your blog, so it’s your turf, no question. But I’m fascinated by the question, or problem, of what happens when one person’s self-evident truth is another person’s begging of the question. (Similar to the wry observation that one person’s modus ponens is another person’s modus tollens!)

    What happens, it seems to me, is that there’s now a choice we’re confronted with: whether to practice an “ethics of dialogue” or whether to adopt a strategy of force against the other person. (Ethics, or politics?)

  24. Kliska

    “On the other hand, it seems to me that you would regard “every event has a cause” as a self-evident truth”

    It this particular case I would absolutely regard “every event has a cause” as a self-evident truth, just as I regard “every effect has a cause” as a self-evident truth. As I explained before, sheer logic as well as a posteriori knowledge demands it.

    “— as we discussed on a previous post — and here the assertion that “every one knows and is guided by the moral law, whether consciously or unconsciously” as a self-evident truth. (Whereas the explanation for why this is so leads us to the existence of God.) That’s the argument, more or less, right?”

    The idea of a moral consciousness is at the core of the Moral Law argument. It isn’t that every one knows and is guided by the Moral Law, it is that everyone does have a concept of morality; right/wrong, EVEN (or perhaps especially) if they don’t follow it, or agree what IS right/wrong.

    “But I’m fascinated by the question, or problem, of what happens when one person’s self-evident truth is another person’s begging of the question. What happens, it seems to me, is that there’s now a choice we’re confronted with: whether to practice an “ethics of dialogue” or whether to adopt a strategy of force against the other person. (Ethics, or politics?)”

    I see your response choices as kind of a false dilemma…meaning that I see more options than that (“ethics or politics”). For just one example of what I see as a third option; it is possible to get to a point where something is indeed self-evident, yet no amount of dialoguing will ever win the other party over. Somethings, we all must feel, are completely beyond a need to explain, in fact some things become so self-evident that it is almost ineffable. Then it becomes a matter of stopping the dialogue completely…because further dialogue becomes completely meaningless.

    Someone like Rorty that would go on about philosophy “keeping the conversation going,” would have a fit at the suggestion that sometimes the conversation should just be shut down.

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