The journey from atheism to theism is different for each person who makes it. My journey began with science, then made a turn onto the path of ethics and morality. Webster’s Dictionary defines ethics as “the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation.” Webster’s defines morality as “a moral discourse, statement, or lesson, a doctrine or system of moral conduct.” Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary defines morality as “beliefs about what is right behavior and what is wrong behavior, the degree to which something is right and good, the moral goodness or badness of something.”
As an atheist I would have argued that I was an ethical person. For example, I believed strongly in journalistic ethics and in ethical behavior as it impacted news coverage and the First Amendment. But what was the source of my ethics and ethical behavior? Did that source of ethics affect my personal life? No. I bent personal ethics to suit my selfish interests. What was the source of that behavior? same source? different source? no source?
As an atheist I cared little for “morality.” In fact, how others saw morality was often something I had to overcome to get what I wanted in life. So, when Christians who talked with me about the existence of God brought up the “law of morality,” it wasn’t something I was interested in discussing – at first.
I later learned that the moral argument for the existence of God is based on generally accepted points of morality within societies. It is based on the premise of moral normativity – the awareness of civilized human beings that some actions are right while others are wrong. Here are three ways I’ve heard to state the Moral Argument:
The debate between William Lane Craig and Stephen Law has sent what amounts to shockwaves through the Christian community. Law’s “Evil God” argument is certainly interesting. These are some thoughts and criticisms about Stephen Law’s Evil God argument.
The argument is:
1. If gratuitous good exists, then Evil God does not exist.
2. Gratuitous good exists.
3. Therefore, Evil God does not exist. Continue reading →
I harp on about the moral argument for theism, some think. That’s only because I think it’s an under-appreciated argument that has a lot more going for it than most of its critics believe. Here I want to lay out a simple version of the argument, explain why I think it works and how to defend it.
A very simple version of the moral argument, probably the most common that I see, goes like this:
Unless God exists, there are no moral facts
But there are some moral facts
Therefore God exists
The truth is, I think this argument is sound. All of its premises are true (so say I), and the conclusion logically follows. But the thing about sound arguments is that soundness is not the same thing as persuasiveness. Nobody’s going to be persuaded by a move that’s quite this swift. Even once the argument is unpacked a bit more (which is the purpose of this post) a person may not be convinced (indeed, I think the force of the argument really just gets people thinking a bit more, it rarely convinces on its own), but more unpacking is certainly needed. Continue reading →
In light of the millennia of the history of philosophy that we have behind us, it was only recently – setting the last few decades aside – that the moral argument slipped out of the mainstream. In the first half of the twentieth century C. S. Lewis could refer to the moral argument with some confidence, and it may well have been the most common of the major arguments for God’s existence at the time.
While today most Christians philosophers might look favourably on the moral argument (with the occasional noteworthy exception like Richard Swinburne), it has certainly fallen out of favour among the philosophical community – in spite of what I take to be its strength – bearing in mind of course that in the English speaking world the general population outside of academia was once much more Christian than today. Where did it go? Why, in the mid twentieth century, did the moral argument slip out of sight? Continue reading →
“The 9th commandment defended” is my four words review of Sam Harris’ 26 paged book “Lying”. Harris succeeded to convince me “that lying, even about the smallest matters, needlessly damages personal relationships and public trust”.
Harris is simply at his best in this noteworthy essay to which I, as a Christian theist, do concur with him in all areas but one major issue, namely the ontological wrongness of lying and one minor issue found in “Lies in Extremis”, viz., if truth could be an “hypothetical lie”. Continue reading →