Monthly Archives: November 2008
I’ve gone over some of the arguments for the existence of God, now I’m going to turn to the one major philosophical argument against their being of God. Please hang in there with me; I’m doing this in several parts since I’m trying to fight off a lovely illness, and I don’t feel like typing for long periods of time at the present. 🙂
This argument against God is often called “The problem of evil,” though even more often people just ask it as a question, such as, “If God exists why is there evil in the world?”
The philosopher Hume put it this way; “Is he willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is impotent. Is he able but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?”
Some other vocabulary will suffice in this introduction; the difference between natural evil and moral evil. Natural evil is that evil that occurs because of nature, or the natural world; if I trip and fall, gravity will pull me down. Sometimes when we trip, we break a bone, which leads to suffering…that is one example. Also things like starving, or drowning. Anything that is a result of a natural law, or an effect can be considered a natural evil.
Moral evil is much more “personal” to humans. This evil springs from human will. Anything we do to ourselves or others falls in this category; murder, torture, rape, abuse, etc…. are examples of moral evil.
So, evil is present in our world, not many people dispute that. Most don’t dispute that it is a bad thing either…especially moral evil. In my next few posts I’ll be looking at different responses to this idea of “the problem of evil,” including mankind’s free will, and also asking if it is even a logical argument against God.
I’m sure most of my readers, both believers and non, have already seen or heard about the latest campaign by the “new atheists.” This one, in Washington DC features the phrase, “Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness’ sake.”
This backs several of my recent blog posts, and/or comments. The first is that there is now a group of fundamentalist atheists that like to proselytize their religion. On the surface the group tries to hide their true aim of proselytizing behind some notion that atheists feel a bit lonely around the holidays.
Hmm….”Why believe in a god?” Yup, that really seems to be about the loneliness of non-believers. This also displays my point nicely about morality. “Just be good for goodness’ sake,” provides no hint as to who gets to decide what “good” means, or why I should logically care about “goodness’ sake.”
Again, if there is no God, there is no absolute objective morality….if there is no objective morality, the definition of “good” is totally and completely up for grabs. It becomes mere human opinion.
Of course proselytizing is indeed the real reason behind these campaign ads…do I support their right to put the ads out there? Yes, but the true intentions behind the ads must become known as well.
Here’s a news story on FOXNews about the ads: “Why Believe in a God?” Ad Campaign
Jehovah-Tsidkenu is another of the revealed names of God. As noted above, in the title it translates into “The LORD our Righteousness.” This is one of His names that should bring utmost peace and comfort to believers; for we do not have to rely on our own righteousness, which is as filthy rags to God, God Himself is our Righteousness.
Anytime we are being accused, being reminded of our sin, either by other humans, Satan, ourselves, etc… all we really have to do is return to this name of God. He is our Righteousness, and no one can ever take away or put down a righteousness like that.
The name comes from 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.
This name ultimately points to Christ, who does indeed become our righteousness, and anyone in Him has His righteousness imputed to them.
1 Corinthians 1:30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
That is the only righteousness that counts for anything because it is a perfect righteousness. This is why one must be in Christ to be reconciled to God, and we come to be apart of Christ by faithing in/on Him.
He is righteousness itself and He is the standard which we are called to meet; we cannot meet that standard on our own, which in turn is why we need Christ.
Romans 3: 21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: 23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
This is why faith in Christ (and Christ’s own faith) is so important. Come judgment day those that have not faithed in Jesus do not have His righteousness accounted to them. They must rely on their own righteousness, and that cannot stand before Righteousness itself; before a completely Holy and Perfect God.
I don’t know how many times I’ve heard Christians beating themselves up over some slip or sin. I do it all the time (yes, both sinning and beating myself up 😉 )…you start to question yourself, and realize what a wondrously adept sinner you really are, then that leads to questioning one’s salvation and it shouldn’t! Why? Because our righteousness does not come from ourselves, our righteousness is God Himself once we come to Him in faith!
Turn to this name to be reminded of that, and call out to God praising Him and thanking Him for being that Righteousness and providing us a means by His Grace to have that Righteousness accounted to us! Thank God, literally, that I don’t have to present my sinful self to God without His righteousness being applied to me. All believers, all faithers, in Christ have the exact same righteousness, and that is God Himself.
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.
Uncommon Descent posted this bit about Adam Rutherford’s comments on Darwin’s On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life: Adam Rutherford on his atheists’ Holy Book.
I blogged in the past about the religious overtones of Atheism, and how those within it’s own ranks even see the connection, though are usually loathe to admit it. Church of the New Atheists was my previous post, which explores the odd idea of Atheist “church,” and the fact that many atheists, especially online, love to proselytize their religion.