Theism and Morality

The Moral argument is another common apologetic defense, that can be considerably effective to convince others of the existence of God when given in a proper setting to a proper audience. I specify the need to read one’s setting and audience, because while this type of argumentation is effective with some, it finds itself falling flat whenover spoken to those embracing postmodernist philosophy. The reason that this argument has lost its former popularity is also because of the postmodern movement. The moral argument has a similar form to the previous arguments that I address, but it differs in the way it attempts to reason from a sense of right and wrong within an individual rather than using physical evidence as an appeal towards theism. Many arguments that address the concept of morality have been portrayed but I find that this apologetic argument has been further expounded by the likes of William Lane Craig and the Presuppositional apologetic method.

What Is Morality?

Firstly, it is essential to understand what morality is and what makes this concept an appealing avenue that can give reason to believe in the reality of theism. Morality is a concept that can be divided into two systems of thought, what is objectively true and what is subjectively true. In other words, morality deals with both facts and opinions. Therefore, it would be helpful to distinguish between what makes something objective or subjective in regards to morality?

Subjective Morality

Subjective morality is like the kind of pizza you like, dealing with personal preference and feelings about something. For instance, while it might be fun to tease about the kind of pizza one enjoys, we can all acknowledge that some enjoy plain cheese…others pepperoni…some may even like pineapple on pizza, but regardless of what toppings someone enjoys the fact remains that it is pizza still.

Objective Morality

Objective morality would deal with what makes a pizza a pizza, rather than how one personally enjoys their pizza. This kind of morality addresses the facts about the pizza that are true regardless of how one feels about it. An example of this would be how when someone orders a pizza, they fully expect to receive a pizza. Now, if a delivery driver was to knock on the door and hand someone a bowl of pasta how would the recipient react? They may question what they are being given, “Hey, I ordered a pizza…not pasta?”. But, what if the delivery driver responds, “Oh? But, this is a pizza. I know it is because I feel like it is.”. The issue here is that someone does not know what makes a pizza a pizza. It is not one’s feelings about the food, but rather it is a very specific type of food that will either be correct or wrong. This makes it objective.

​Okay, but what does pizza have to do with the morality argument? Well, just like there are some things about pizza that are necessary to make it pizza (objective), there are also personal feelings that can make come enjoy certain kinds of pizza more than others (subjective). The same is true in the concept of morality according to proponents of this line of apologetics. Christian apologists believe that God has placed certain moral standards that will always be the deciding rule of right and wrong, many attribute these morals to the ten commandments.

The line of argumentation typically goes like this according to William Lane Craig,

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

2.Objective moral values do exist.

3.Conclusion. Therefore, God exists.”

Point One: If God Does Not Exist, Then Objective Moral Values Do Not Exist

For objective moral values to be to exist there must also be a maker of said values. Otherwise, postmodern philosophy would be correct in its confession that all beliefs of right and wrong are incoherent because all people are unique. They would spout something to the effect of, “Well, what is right to me may be wrong for someone else. So, who am I to judge?”. To this effect I would agree completely, that once an intelligent theistic creator is rejected then all things are reduced to mere subjectivity. For without intelligent design there could not be any uniformity, order, or purpose (this piggybacks off of the former arguments detailed above). But, on that same note many do not live out this kind of philosophy practically. People still get upset when there is a murder of an innocent person, people get frustrated when they are cut off by someone else in traffic, and people are traumatized when someone else abuses them physically and emotionally. But, if postmodernism is correct in its belief that all things are subjective, then no one should truly be upset by these things, for in the minds of others they could be doing what is correct. Shrug it off and move on, because nothing really matters anyway. And all prisoners should be set free from their bondage and judgements, because if there is no true morality then they are in prison wrongfully. This is the kind of world that we would inhabit if there truly was not a god and if there were no such thing as objective morals.

Point Two: Objective Morals Do Exist

Objective morals do in fact exist. The evidence for this is found within the personal experiences of all people. From a very young age, children are taught to be respectful, honor their elders, be kind, do not lie, do not be lazy… and so on. And there are various religions throughout the world that will echo some semblance of the golden rule, “treat others as you would like to be treated.”. There are objective morals that people live out practically in their everyday lives whether they suppress this truth or not does not change what is considered right or wrong in this regard, this is why they are objective.

Conclusion: Therefore, God Exists

​When someone acknowledges the truth of points one and two, then it would logically follow that this conclusion is also true. To deny it someone must make the case that either of the points are in error in the way they correspond to reality. A god must be the one to establish objective morals, otherwise who is able to tell Adolf Hitler that the genocide committed during World War 2 was an evil and wicked thing. Who is able to acknowledge that feeding the poor and defending the helpless is a good and honorable thing? There would be no right or wrong, all things would be dictated simply by how a person feels in that very instant. I say in that very instant because our feelings and ideas about things are in a constant state of development and change. Therefore, what one person feels is right my change on a whim from day to day simply due to the fragility of our own subjective feelings. Because of these truths, there must in fact, be a theistic created that has instituted objective moral values.

​“I believe that Dr. Richard Howe makes a fantastic case for this truth, Understandably, certain ones are critical of taking the moral argument as seemingly being nothing more than a roundabout cosmological argument. But in the metaphysics of Aquinas, there is more going on here than the critic might suspect. It is not merely the fact that, since morality needs humans and humans need God, then morality needs God. Rather, there are important details that are nested in exactly what it is about humans as God has created us that gives rise to morality.”

Concluding Thoughts:

I appreciate that this line of argumentation is directly relatable to all individuals, no matter one’s background and experiences. And because of its simplicity it is fairly easy to grasp the logic of this argument, but there will always be some people who simply reject to accept these truths. While the moral argument can follow the same pitfall of the previous two apologetic arguments, it can in fact overcome this shortcoming if one addresses the Word of God where God addresses what constitutes objective morality in both the Old and New Testaments.

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