The previous five Reasonable Faith videos have focused on philosophical and scientific arguments for the existence of God. This time we look at a chain of thought based on ethical reasoning.
The moral argument asks if it is possible to be good without God. And let’s emphasise a key point right from the start. The question is not: do we need to believe in God to live good and moral lives? That would mean that atheists cannot live good and decent lives, which is clearly not the case – of course they can and they do. Rather, this argument asks if God is essential to objective moral values.
In a world without God, there can be “… no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.” Richard Dawkins
Okay …… so what do we mean by objective?
Objective refers to those fundamental values that hold whether or not any human being believes in them or agrees with them. Values that transcend opinion to form a consistent reference point. Take a quick example like the Nazis. Say they won the war, exterminated those who disagreed with them, then brainwashed everyone else to believe in their poisonous creed. Even so, Nazism would remain objectively evil.
What are the implications from an atheist standpoint?
Many leading non-Christian thinkers like Bertrand Russell and Michael Ruse have stated that if there is no God, then there isn’t any real basis for thinking that human beings have objective moral values.
As far as atheists are concerned, human beings are just accidents of nature. We are highly evolved animals. But animals have no moral obligations. If a lion kills its keeper, it hasn’t done anything morally wrong. It’s just being a lion. So if God doesn’t exist, shouldn’t we view human behaviour in the same way? Why should any action be considered morally right or wrong?
That’s not fair!
Yet we all know that right and wrong do exist. And we confirm it every time we say, “That’s not fair! That’s wrong! That’s an injustice!” The moral argument posits God’s nature as the objective reference point for our moral values – the standard against which all actions and decisions are measured. Conversely, without God we have no objective reference point. This just leaves us with our personal views – none of which are morally more valid than any other.
If you’ve got five minutes to spare, this short animation from Reasonable Faith takes you through exactly what the moral argument has to say.