Is Believing in 'God' Reasonable?--Part 4
Moral Law Evidence
(what does universal “oughtness” tell us?)
The fact that there is an “oughtness” or overarching common morality in the experience of life that supercedes the individual, society or history gives strong evidence that there is a Moral Law Giver.
--Why are there inherent ‘rules’ in being human the world over regardless of time or culture?
A Moral Absolute is a moral obligation that is objective (true for all people), eternal (true at all times), and universal (true for all places).
If there is no Moral Absolute then all moral issues are Morally Relative (only true at certain times in certain circumstances for certain people, i.e. people make up what is morally right in a given circumstance)
Rom 2:14-15—Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and now their thoughts accusing and defending them.
1. Morality cannot be ultimately individual—If what is 'right' or 'wrong' is up to the individual to determine, then no one could say any action by another individual was 'right' or ‘wrong’ because any action would have been what was ‘right’ for the person doing it. If each person is their own island of morality then no one else's island has juristiction over any others. So, everyone is their own judge of truth for themselves and can make no value judgements about anyone else.
If there is no Creator or power higher than the individual then any individual person should be able to do what they like and not have a society, police force, friends, family or anyone else tell them what is “right” to do. Because a society is just made up of a number of individuals, who is to say that a large group's viewpoint or values are right for any another individual?
I should be able to steal someone’s possessions or rape or kill them if I prefer and not have anyone care that what I did was 'wrong' because I am the judge of my own actions. (And not only that, but I wouldn’t need to judge myself because there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ to what I did—I just acted)
The idea that ‘you can do whatever you want as long as you don’t hurt others’ or ‘what is right for you might not be right for me’ is a moral judgment that you expect others to respect. But if I choose to cause you pain, why should your values (no pain, freedom, etc.) rule over me? If it makes me happy or if I think its right to cause you pain then my value judgment is just as true as yours. If I happen to like giving pain and you don’t like to receive it you can’t call my values ‘wrong’ because its right for me.
This moral law is easier to see in others than ourselves. When we are mistreated by others, we assume that there is a moral law that governs the hearts of all men and women—he or she ought to have told me the truth, he or she ought to have been more kind, etc. even if they are not from your culture or society.
If humans came from gases and particles in space and we are just really new and improved apes, how do we account for what we know we should do or how others should act towards us? If there is no God then there should be no “rules” to live by, no “oughtness” to do the right thing or to have done something better. And no one should care that something wrong has been done to them because there is no standard of right or wrong except to each individual thus putting everyone on the level of animals. (animals never need a counselor and have no court system to decide wrong or right in regards to an animal’s actions or motives) Atheists can’t have it both ways.
How can you explain a universal moral law or inherent 'oughtness' in humanity without Someone to place it there?
2. Morality cannot be ultimately sociological—society is just many individuals and if the majority act a certain way it does not decide ultimate morality—Hitler’s Germany
Might or strength does not make ‘right’. Just because someone can be forced or intimidated to comply does not make what the stronger person wants, morally right.
Majority vote does not make ‘right’. Just because a vast majority of a society see something as good or advantageous does not make it morally right. (slavery, murdering unborn children, killing homosexuals and handicaps, exterminating people groups—genocide, etc.)
Even though all societies express values differently (modesty, marriage, religious belief) and different laws to maintain order, there are values that transcend society.
Although cultures may differ about how they manifest such values as honesty, courage, and preservation of life, they don’t promote dishonesty, cowardice, or arbitrary killing. People of all cultures value love over hate, justice over injustice, kindness over violence, truth over lies etc.
Also, if society decides what is ‘right’, no country should fight against ‘injustice’ being done by one country to another because if one country thinks killing is good then no country can say its not ‘right’ for them, including if they attack your country!
3. Morality cannot be ultimately time/history-bound—though practices may change through the centuries, human values have been constant throughout recorded history
Code of Hammurabi, 1750 BC—Babylonian King Hammurabi created an 8 ft. high stele of black basalt that had listed on it 282 laws relying heavily on the idea that some things are wrong—lying, cheating, murdering, kidnapping, raping, etc.
Book of Exodus, 1400 BC—In chapter 20-22, Moses wrote down the law of the nomadic Israelite people. Among them is the idea that murdering, lying, cheating, rape, kidnapping, stealing, etc. is wrong.
Roman Law from 753 BC-1400 AD was filled with various legal documents describing punishment for murder, cheating, raping, stealing, kidnapping, lying etc.
American Law—The Declaration of Independence to current law (1776-present) states that humans have ‘unalienable rights’ given to them by their Creator meaning that all people have value making rape, lying, murder, cheating, stealing, etc. wrong.
All cultures (English, Greek, Egyptian, Asian, African, etc.) throughout history that have had a written law to pass down have shown the same types of values. Because multiple societies from different eras have the same value system its not enough to say they choose them to have order, rather they choose them because they are already there. The fact that there are overarching vales that transcend time supports the idea that before societies put the laws down there was a Law that preceded them.
People everywhere, at all times have an inner sense of “oughtness”.
Immanuel Kant, renown critic wrote in Critique of Practical Reason,
“Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe, the oftener and more steadily I reflect on them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me.”
The only thing one can reasonably conclude is that humans are special creations with a moral law stamped on their hearts that gives them the idea of right and wrong. In the same way you cannot get social laws with out someone making them, you cannot achieve universal “oughtness” from anything but a higher Being imposing it on you.
If there is a Moral Law there is a Moral Law Giver.
(Exerpts from Geisler, Baker Ency. Of Christ. Apol.)