The Argument of Morality Pt.1: Do Objective Moral Truths Exist?

It’s time to introduce a brand new series on the argument of morality for God. This series is going to take a hard look at the argument and its objections. In Pt.1, we need to set the ground.

The argument of morality is one that has been a hot topic for many. The question is, if an objective moral law exists, where does that law come from? The theistic answer is this:

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 subject I’ve been studying for quite some time now, examining the explanations of all sides. During the length of the series, I’m going to avoid the theistic answer and place it as my last resort. But before we can examine arguments, we need to set the stage.

Do objective morals exist?

Already this is a controversial question. When I’d asked atheists their views on the argument, every single one responded with a no. Richard Dawkins, for example, once said,

In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.

With this in mind, any morality we may hold is purely subjective and is based on man’s overall collective agreement. The arguments of moral subjectivity and moral relativity will be addressed in detail in the following entries, but this answer already raises some questions. When the atheist says morality is purely subjective, does that mean it’s all based on mere opinion and feeling (if that is to be the case, there is no right and wrong), or is the answer more closely related to the subjective application of objective moral truths.

To give an example, lying by itself is objectively held as wrong, however, when certain circumstances and events come into play, lying can be seen as the right thing to do. Take the story of Rahab in the Bible for instance. Rahab was protecting Israeli spies from being found and murdered. In the Bible, she lied in order to protect the spies whom she was harbouring in her home. She wasn’t wrong in doing this, in fact, God saw it as an act of loyalty.

So does the atheist’s answer confuse subjective morality with a subjective application? Let’s go back to the act of lying, isolated from any circumstances or events. If I wanted to lie simply for the fun of it, is that seen as objectively wrong? Yes. What if we take it a step further and look at the act of murder. While I myself am against murder as an act of self-defense, it’s held by the majority that in an act of self-defense one can take action, and if need to, lethal action. But if I wanted to murder for the fun of it, could that be seen as ok? Absolutely not. If I took any questionable action and added the phrase “For the fun of it,” to the end, there is no question to my actions. They are plain wrong, and no culture disagrees with this. So it’s reasonable to conclude objective moral truths exist. The question is, where do they come from?

Do objective moral truths come from the Bible?

If you ever come across a youtube channel called The Atheist Voice, the video that first comes up on their homepage is titled,”15 Things Christians Should Never Say to Atheists.” What is the first thing a Christian shouldn’t say? “Where do you get your morality from?” The atheist in the video, Hemant Mehta, answers it this way: “Don’t assume that because we’re atheists, we don’t have morals. We all have morals, we all have ethics, ours don’t derive from a holy book, and I hope your Bible isn’t the only reason you’re not out there killing everybody in sight.”

I found this to be a strange answer as it avoids the question altogether and pounces instead on a false theological concept, that is, we get our morality solely from the Bible. The first thing I’d point Mr. Mehta to would be Abraham’s words in Genesis 18:25, when he first learned of God’s intention to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. “Far be it from Thee to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from Thee! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?” Abraham never had the Bible, nor the OT, so how did Abraham know what was right and wrong? How did he know justice required that God would not treat the wicked and righteous alike? The answer is found in Romans 2: 14-15, “For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another.” God created in us a moral compass that points us to what is right and wrong (this will be examined further in Euthyphro’s Dilemma).

Because of this, atheists can be and are very moral people. Belief in God or direction from the Bible does not come into play as He’s inscribed His law in everyone. The Bible simply confirms it. The question asked in the video (where does that compass come from?) was avoided entirely.

This is the theistic argument of morality, but is it right? Is it the only way to answer this trying question? We’ll examine one of the major arguments against the theistic answer in Pt. 2. The nihilistic argument.

 

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3 thoughts on “The Argument of Morality Pt.1: Do Objective Moral Truths Exist?

  1. What is missing from your post is any clear argument for objective morality. In fact, in the following, you just seem to assert that there is such a thing as an objective “questionable action”.

    “If I took any questionable action and added the phrase “For the fun of it,” to the end, there is no question to my actions”

    But of course, the “questionability” of an action is the very thing which is… in question, in this debate between subjective and objective morality. The subjective moral position is clear: no matter how widespread some particular moral injunction throughout various cultures, it is simply the product of those cultures. It is simply a matter of a group’s tastes and opinions. Is racism wrong? Only in groups in which racism is considered distasteful. Is incest wrong? Only in groups in which incest is considered distasteful. Is intolerance of homosexuals wrong? Only in groups in which intolerance of homosexuals is considered distasteful. We have no grounds to also assert some “objective morality” lurking somewhere behind it. We might, however, be dedicated to our subjective moral beliefs, and feel strongly about them. But they remain subjective feelings. I know of no convincing argument to the contrary – and you have not yet provided one.

    1. Hey Deane, thanks for reading and commenting. I do find your comment quite the cause for concern, however. Please remember this is only part one and I’ll go into further detail in the following posts. But for now, I think I’ve provided sufficient reason to conclude objective moral truths exist. Like I said, the actions are questionable only because of the circumstances surrounding them, but if I committed one of those actions just for the mere fun of it, there is no morally acceptable reason to do this. For example, I work for a music review site and we all have our own subjective opinions on the albums we review. I may give an album a poor rating, and even if every other review for it is positive, I’d provide reasons as to why I chose to rate it so in my review. But if I wanted to rate an album poor just for the fun of it, and I just said, “This album sucks!” without providing a reason in my review, I’d be fired. If morality is subjective, it must work the same way.

      Moreover, you say racism isn’t objectively wrong and is based on one’s own opinion. Firstly, I’d ask any black person being mocked for their race or skin color this question. Secondly, to say this, it follows that one who disagrees that racism is wrong has a morally acceptable reason to do so, like with my negative review of an album. Again, if I wanted to mock one’s race for the mere fun of it, would I have a moral right to do so, the same way I have a right to rate an album poorly if I see fit? If it’s only against the culture, that’s all I’d be doing, going against the culture. It’d be no worse than if I wore pajamas to a wedding. What if I took an extreme example and pointed to the act of torturing infants for the fun of it? Do you feel the weight of an objective moral truth here? If torturing infants for the fun of it is not objectively wrong, do you hear how that sounds?

      Blessings to you, bro, and you’re more than welcome to stay for the other parts of this series. I’d be happy to have you!

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