In order to better understand the argument for God’s existence from morality, we must first understand the vast difference between subjective opinion and objective fact. The first relates more to preferences like our favorite flavor of ice cream or our thoughts on a particular movie, whereas the second refers to facts like 2+2=4 and I live on Earth. In other words, a subjective opinion can change between any two people anywhere and anytime in the universe, but an objective fact is true regardless of who, where or when you are. This argument is dealing with the existence of what is commonly known as the objective moral law. These are rules that all people everywhere should abide by regardless of their upbringing, culture, history or location; some of which are listed below.
The argument for God’s existence from morality goes like this:
- Every law has a law giver
- There is a moral law
- Therefore there is a moral law giver
The primary point of this argument seeks to show that if there is an objective moral law, then God exists. Why? Because if God doesn’t exist, then morality is just an illusion due to there being no authoritative figure that we will have to answer to when we die. If all we are is carbon, chemicals and nothing more, then what we do with our life doesn’t matter.
What we will do from here is establish that there is a moral law and show that evolution cannot account for it. In closing we will show how the only possible option left is that the moral law is a reflection of God’s nature that we are meant to reflect.
There is an Objective Moral Law
While there may be some debate over what is included in the moral law, there are some things we all clearly agree are wrong (Except for those who would look great in a straight jacket) such as stealing, rape and murder. It is from these three components that we will build our case for an objective morality.
Deep down inside us, we all know that something bad has happened when our house is broken into and our cherished possessions stolen, we know a horrible deed has been done when our daughter has been brutally raped and we know that evil has been manifested when one of our loved ones is murdered in cold blood. It is in these moments that we find even those people who denied objective morality screaming at the top of their lungs that an appalling injustice has occurred. But without an objective moral law there is no grounds for justice. Nor is there any support for human rights, measurements of moral differences, right, wrong, grounds for political of social dissent, offenses, courtesies, insults, complements or outcries for being mistreated.
The moral law is something we all hold to, and the quickest way to prove it to someone is to violate it by doing something as simple as cutting in front of them in line, taking a bite of their lunch, or telling them to shut their mouth whenever they speak.
Interestingly, in our culture, many people say that morality is relative and people should just do what they feel is right and not try to impose their views on other people, but they surely won’t feel the same way when someone is trying to steal their wallet, rape their daughter or murder their loved ones. But what is odd on this view, which is called moral relativism, if you try to stop them from doing one of these acts, you are in fact pushing your morality on them, which your worldview says you shouldn’t do. The most you can do is sit there, watch it all happen and not say a word in complaint. But of course, no one in their right mind would do that. They would fight back, defend themselves and do their best to triumph over their attacker, which would show that there is in fact a moral law that they believe all people in all places at all times should hold to.
If we take a moment to look at it from the other side, we could ask, “What should we expect if there is no objective moral law? What kind of world would we see?” C. S. Lewis answers us in his classic Mere Christianity when he encourages his readers to imagine a “country where people were admired for running away in battle, or where a man felt proud of double-crossing all the people who had been kindest to him. You might just as well try to imagine a country where two and two made five.”1 What Lewis is trying to say, is that if there is no objective moral law, then a country where these things are true should exist somewhere, but it doesn’t. Our lack of ability to locate a place like that is how we know that there is an objective moral standard that we are all obligated to hold to, regardless of our theistic beliefs.
So how is it we can account for this idea of objective morality? For the skeptic, the best they can do is claim that morals have developed over time like evolution and should be held to because they ensure the greatest chance of survival for the human race.
What I personally find odd with this claim is that according to atheists, morals should be held to because they ensure the greatest chance of survival, however it is often those who don’t believe in God who chastise those of us who do for holding positions against abortion and homosexuality. The strange part is, if we should encourage people to do what best ensures our survival, atheists should be standing side by side with theists trying to get people to stop murdering the unborn and killing themselves through sexual addiction. But instead, the theists are criminalized and the skeptics are praised for being two-faced.
While there is much which can be said on this, it is important to ask that on the evolutionary model, “Why is it important that our species survives?” If we do not do our individual part to help ensure the prolonging of our kind, there is no judgement or trial after we die that administers justice for our lack of responsibility, we simply cease to exist and are not around to experience regret or contentment for how we lived. To believe otherwise is essentially to believe in God.
In fact, I believe that the controversial German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche had it right when he said in response to the atheistic moral view of Mary Anne Evans, “They are rid of the Christian God and now believe all the more firmly that they must cling to Christian morality.”2 In short, if God does not exist, then there is no difference between the good and the bad, the hero and the villain, the lover and the terrorist, Superman and Lex Luther or Mother Teresa and Adolf Hitler. In atheism, law and justice are illusory; as would be respecting Mother Teresa and demonizing Adolf Hitler. But ask the Jews and the Calcuttans what they think about that.
Simply put, on atheism, morality cannot be accounted for; yet somehow we know it exists.
Morality is from God
How do theists account for objective morality? We believe that the moral law is the final standard by which everything is measured. Additionally, we believe its source must be transcendent, or higher than ourselves, because it is prescriptive and not descriptive. In other words, morality tells us how we ought to behave, not how we do behave. Since prescriptions require prescribers from those who have the proper authority to give them, the moral law must also have a prescriber who has the proper authority to give them. That prescriber is God.
What is sometimes asked in response to this claim is considered an adaptation of Plato’s Euthyphro’s Dilemma which asks, “Is what is morally good commanded by God because it is morally good, or is it morally good because it is commanded by God?” the answer to the question is simply, “Neither” and in logic it is called a ‘;False Dichotomy.’ Since Christians believe that the moral law is a reflection of God’s own nature, things are good because God is good and we, as his creation and under his rule, are commanded to be reflections of him.
- Lewis, C. S. The Complete C.S. Lewis Signature Classics. New York: Harper One, 2007. 17. Print.
- Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm, Walter Arnold Kaufmann, and R. J. Hollingdale. The Will to Power. New York: Vintage, 1968. 69. Print.