MORALITY BASED UPON OBJECTIVE MORAL LAW. In the same way that we have to conform to gravity and not jump off buildings, we have to also conform to moral law so that we do not injure ourselves or others. However, it does not seem that the concept of an objective moral law is sustainable without the concept of God:
- The analogy doesn’t hold up. We can easily bypass the effects of gravity by boarding a plane or even by bungee jumping. Why then shouldn’t we also do an end-run around the moral laws? In contrast to gravity, moral law would require an Enforcer.
- There are no sufficient reasons to adhere to an impersonal moral law. If our conscience bothers us, we can simply take a drug or go live in a culture where our aberrant behavior is acceptable.
- Even if an impersonal moral law is adequate, we would then have to explain where this intricately fine-tuned law came from and why it is universal and immutable in this universe of molecules-in-motion. We would also have to explain why we experience it in the way we do with guilt and shame, as if we had violated more than an impersonal law.
MORALITY BASED ON PRAGMATISM – THE BENEFITS. If morality is not justified by higher principles, then it can only be justified by lower ones – how living the virtuous life beneficially impacts us. We live virtuously because of the psychological and physical payoffs. However, this rationale is clearly inadequate. If pragmatism is the bottom line – the ultimate reason for our choices – then pragmatism can also justify all forms of non-virtuous behavior. Lying to get a promotion will yield positive results for years.
Many believe in God for strictly personal reasons. However, it is also rational to believe in God. Even some atheists will admit morality fails without God:
Arthur Leff, atheist, Duke School of Law, admitted:
- “The so-called death of God wasn’t just His funeral, but was the elimination of any coherent ethical or legal system…As it stands now, everything is up for grabs…Napalming babies is bad, starving the poor wicked, buying and selling people is depraved—but, ‘Sez who?’ God help us.”
The atheist Max Hocutt similarly acknowledged:
- “To me (the non-existence of God) means that there is no absolute morality, that moralities are sets of social conventions devised by humans to satisfy their needs…If there were a morality written up in the sky somewhere but no God to enforce it, I see no good reason why anyone should pay it any heed.” (Understanding the Times)
And eventually, they won’t!