Saturday, June 27, 2009

Morality: One of God's Footprints

Here’s the classic moral argument for the existence of God:

1. Without God, moral absolutes can’t exist.
2. Moral absolutes do exist.
3. Therefore, God exists!

I just want to look at premise #2, the most contentious premise. Everyone agrees that we are wired for moral truths. Piaget and Kohlberg demonstrated that children’s moral judgments develop as their brain develops. More recently, there’s been a rash of books confirming this, and even going further to claim that even the belief in God is determined by our nervous system.

Acknowledging the fact that we’re programmed for moral truth, C.S. Lewis famously reasoned that making moral judgments is unavoidable:

"Whenever you find a man who says he does not believe in a real Right and Wrong, you will find the same man going back on this a moment later. He may break his promises to you, but if you try breaking one to him he will be complaining, ‘It’s not fair.’"

"If we do not believe in decent behavior, why should we be so anxious to make excuses for not having behaved decently? The truth is we believe in decency so much—we feel the Rule of Law pressing on us so—that we cannot bear to face the fact that we are breaking it, and consequently we try to shift the responsibility." (Mere Christianity)

At this point, the Darwinist readily admits that, although programmed for morality, this programming is the product of blind, purposeless evolution:

"I might react morally, but I know that this reaction is not a product of some higher truth hanging out there somewhere, but merely of the way that the forces of natural selection biologically equipped our race. As a result, I don’t see this as any proof of moral absolutes or that there’s a God who is somehow setting the rules of the game. It’s just a matter of our wiring!"

Well, who can blame the Darwinist! He simply fails to see how our moral impulses prove that there is a God. Perhaps Paul was wrong by insisting that all are without excuse:

"For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse" (Romans 1:20).

However, it seems that Paul anticipates the atheistic challenge and offers a rebuttal:

"You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things" (Romans 2:1).

Although the atheist claims that there is no absolute basis for judgment, he too judges as if he believes in absolute moral standards. According to Paul, the moral impulse is more than a programmed knee-jerk reaction. It’s also something that we make our own! Just watch the atheist for five minutes, and you will see that he agrees with Paul, at least with his behavior. The atheist passes judgments as quickly as the theist. When someone pushes him, he’ll want an apology. He doesn’t say:

"Although I had this bio-chemical, "moral" knee-jerk reaction, I can’t really hold you accountable for pushing me, since there are no absolute moral truths, and therefore, there no moral rules of right and wrong which you have violated. So I have no absolute basis to judge your behavior."

Instead, the atheist becomes indignant and remains indignant long after the knee-jerk reaction passes, proving that he endorses the charge that he has truly been wronged. It is this endorsement, and not merely a knee-jerk reaction, that makes him a hypocrite. On the one hand, he passes absolute, objective judgment, while on the other hand, he claims that there is no higher standard than himself by which to judge! It is also this endorsement that makes him the object of wrath:

"But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed" (Romans 2:5).

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