Nick Jones

God, Life, Religion

The Moral Argument

Apologetics is somewhat of a passion of mine. Apologetics is the defense of what you believe. You can be an apologist for Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Atheism, etc… So whenever you are defending what you believe you are in essence an apologist. The statements and phrases used in defending your faith are called arguments, and one that I want to look at today is called the Moral Argument.

The Moral Argument is I believe a difficult argument to dismantle. People keep trying to tear it apart but it keeps popping back up again when some of the logical conclusions of the detractors are considered. The Moral Argument goes something like this:

  1. If objective moral values and duties are objectively real, then God exists.
  2. Objective moral values and duties are objectively real.
  3. Therefore, God exists.

Some definitions:

Moral Values – A general category that refers to all that is ‘good’
Moral Duties – A class of moral values to which one is morally responsible or obligated

A lot of times when I share this argument with people the first thing they say is, “But I know a lot of atheists who are more moral than many Christians.” This may be true, but the argument here is not that belief in God is necessary for morality but rather whether God Himself is necessary for morality. One doesn’t have to believe in God in order to be moral. But the question is, “Is God’s existence for morality necessary?” I would argue yes.

There are certain universal beliefs as to what is immoral. Murdering someone is wrong, raping someone is wrong, stealing is wrong. These are all objective moral values, meaning that they are moral values that are true despite what people believe. We all hold these moral facts as true.

Another argument against I have run up against is that society has learned through the process of what is best for society what is moral and was is immoral. Another way of saying this is that everyone makes up their own moral code. This is moral relativism. The problem with moral relativism is that it is easily abandoned when something they value is threatened.

For example, if you believe murder is wrong but you believe that this is a personal belief and that everyone has the choice to choose what is moral in their own lives, then you must allow someone to believe that murder is right. How can you morally object to their act of murdering your spouse/child/significant other? You can’t. You can’t tell them they are wrong because their morals dictate that they are right.

Moral relativism fails. It has no legs.

There are many more arguments against that I could go into. But I just decided to talk about the ones I’ve most commonly interacted with. I find apologetics fascinating and an opportunity to talk with others about God rather than at them. The purpose of any apologetic argument is not to win, but to share and to connect. It’s a conversation point to help people think more.

1 Comment

  1. I think I’m going to go over this paragraph by paragraph.

    P1:
    Not much here, although you seem to (possibly unintentionally) infer that atheism is a faith. It is not.

    P2, argument, definitions:
    Nothing here. Your definitions appear sound, in everyday language. Your argument is clearly two propositions (labeled 1. and 2.) and a claim that necessarily follows (labeled 3.).

    P3:
    “‘Is God’s existence for morality necessary?’ I would argue yes.” This is the entirety of your argument for proposition 1. Perhaps you could expand upon it? I see no reason to suggest that morality couldn’t simply be the result of applied game theory, based in logic and requiring no supernatural creator.

    The rest of the text, sans paragraph 8, deals with proposition 2.

    P4:
    Murder is an interesting word, particularly as it doesn’t just mean to kill another human, but to do so in a way that is against the law, usually with malice aforethought. If ordered by the state, say as a soldier or an executioner, it’s not murder. Various levels of culpability may be called manslaughter instead of murder. Killing other animals isn’t considered murder, usually. Murder already has so many exceptions it’s universality has to be called into question.

    I don’t want to argue about rape, but there *are* people out there who will justify rape.

    As for theft, that’s a thorny issue; hardly one that’s settled universally. Is it truly objectively immoral to steal bread to feed your family? Is it immoral to steal back something that was stolen from you? Or stolen from your ancestor? What does it really mean to own an object?

    Clearly humanity does not agree on even such simple concepts. Then you have people arguing things like it is morally unjustifiable to increase taxes on income above $10 million to 52%, while some on the other side argue it is morally repugnant NOT to. Where the hell is the objectivity to that?!

    P5:
    Society has learned? I would suggest that our species has evolved a moral code, which goes some ways into explaining why, in broad strokes, there seems to be a basic universal morality among humans. As a social species, we cooperate for our continual survival and success. This similarity among humans doesn’t translate to a moral code that spans the universe, however.

    “The problem with moral relativism is that it is easily abandoned when something they value is threatened.” Um, no. You seem to misunderstand what moral relativism is. See below.

    P6:
    This paragraph does not follow. It’s actually a little difficult to parse, but I’ll try to get into the thick of it:

    a. if you believe murder is wrong
    and
    b. if you are a moral relativist (paraphrasing here)
    then
    c. you must allow someone to believe that murder is right.

    Uhhh, what? I suppose you can’t just up and kill them for believing murder is right, since you don’t, but there’s no part of the belief that murder is wrong or moral relativism that means you can’t silence dissenting opinions, if that’s what you mean by “allow”. There’s also nothing wrong with trying to convince them that their stance will have a negative effect on their life.

    “How can you morally object to their act of murdering your spouse/child/significant other?”

    How could you not? YOU are morally opposed to murder. Moral relativism doesn’t mean you have to respect other people’s opinions, no matter how ridiculous, and it CERTAINLY doesn’t mean you have to just sit by passively while some psychopath murders your family. Where did you pull that idea from?

    P7:
    Straw moral relativism fails. Big surprise.

    P8:
    “There are many more arguments against that I could go into.”

    Please do.

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