Short Rebuttals – Morality and God

In this post you’ll find a couple of quick rebuttals to atheistic arguments against God’s existence in the category of the Moral Argument.  The first is a quick argument derived from the Free Will defense and the second is an argument from moral subjectivity (the belief that moral values and duties are relative to each individual).

Stephen Law seems to misunderstand the free will defense.  He treats the free will defense as an independent argument for God’s existence.  In reality the free will defense is a rebuttal to the Problem of Evil (an argument against God’s existence).  His overall point is that the free will defense justifies the coexistence of good and an evil God just as well as evil and a good God.  The Theist can just answer this by saying, “Great!  I agree, the Problem of Evil is a bad argument just like your Problem of Good.”  It just doesn’t follow from the success of the free will defense against Law’s Problem of Good that we should doubt its success against the Problem of Evil.

At best, Law seems to be suggesting that the Problem of Good is why theists might conclude that God is good rather than evil.  This is an obvious straw man (Law came up with the Problem of Good, not theists).  It doesn’t follow from the failure of Law’s Problem of Good that we should doubt the existence of a good God.

Kudos to the speaker for trying to justify his position!  He provides the following argument:

  1. God is objectively morally good.
  2. There are no objective moral values.
  3. Therefore, God does not exist.

The wording might take a little work, but essentially if God must be objectively morally good in order to exist and nothing is objectively morally good, then God can’t exist.

The speaker takes premise 1 to be obvious for Christianity and spends his time justifying premise 2.  He does this by claiming that moral values do not give rise to moral duties.  The example he uses is homosexuality, and he suggests that even if homosexuality had the property of “wrongness” that it would not compel him to condemn it.  Even if one could show that homosexuality has the property of “wrongness”, it still wouldn’t follow that you or I would suddenly be compelled to adopt any particular attitude towards it.

He is quite right in pointing out that moral duties do not spring automatically from moral values.  If something has a property of objective “badness”, this does not create any new moral duties in us.  He seems to think that this means that there are no moral values, but that doesn’t follow.  All that he has been successful in showing is that if moral values exist as properties in this way, that moral duties would not spring from them.  The Christian can agree with him here, we do not think that moral duties come from moral values.

The more fundamental issue is that he mistakes this view of moral values to be the Christian conception of morality.  In truth what he is describing is Atheistic Moral Platonism.  This is the view that moral values just exist as brute facts and that they attach to particular objects or states of affairs (as properties).  One common Christian rebuttal to Atheistic Moral Platonism is the speaker’s rebuttal, that even if true it still can’t give you objective moral duties.

The Christian conception of morality is that God is the ultimate moral standard and foundation for goodness.  Those things are “good” that correspond to his nature and those things are “bad” that do not correspond.  This is why human beings, for example, have moral value.  We are made in his image.  Christians would also say that moral duties come from God’s commands, not from moral values.

At best the speaker has given a good argument against Atheistic Moral Platonism.  He has not connected with the Christian Worldview.