It is pretty hard to defend absolutist morals on ground other than religious ones (Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion).
Atheist Christopher Hitchens observed: Hume said, “You can’t get an ‘ought’ from an ‘is.’” I think that is true (Hitchens and Wilson Debate, WMTS).
The language … and practice of morality today is in a state of grave disorder (Philosopher of Ethics Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue).
This essay seeks to demonstrate that moral absolutes exist and that atheism lacks the ontological (nature of being; ontology is the study of existence or reality) grounding for moral absolutes. Atheists can know what is moral (epistemic explanation: relating to what we know); they can know right from wrong. Nonetheless, atheism lacks an objective, immutable, and perfect ontic ground to issue objective immutable moral commandments. Additionally, atheism lacks the means to hold all moral lawbreakers to an account.
A moral absolute is true and completely exceptionless. This is sometimes put by saying that a moral absolute is universalizable: it is equally binding on all people at all times… (J.P. Moreland & William L. Craig, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview).
Many ideologies and religions offer moral edicts, but I maintain that secular, Islamic, Hindu, and naturalistic moral values are inconsistent and cannot be ultimately justified. Some people believe it is right to lie and murder in order to promote their agenda. To a consistent atheistic materialist, the concept of immaterial law is nonsensical. It doesn’t seem to make sense to argue that an immaterial objective moral value comes from a material-only world; therefore, for the consistent atheist, immaterial objective moral values do not exist. I will argue that the only consistent and righteous moral system comes from Christian theism. It is justified and it is impossible for it not to be true because Christianity supplies the necessary truth conditions for immutable moral values. Mutable materialistic atheism ultimately tumbles into moral nihilism.
God is Necessary for Objective Morality
In Christianity neither morality nor religion come into contact with reality at any point (Nietzsche).
If the conclusion of a sound argument is rejected because of sinful suppression, clearly that's no fault of the argument (James Anderson).
- Since the immutable good God with universal reach exists then immutable universal objective moral values exist.
- The immutable good God with universal reach exists.
- Therefore immutable universal objective moral values exist.
Below is another valid but not biblically acceptable form (it does not ontologically start with God)
- If immutable universal objective moral values exist the immutable God with universal reach exists.
- Immutable universal objective moral values exist.
- The immutable God with universal reach exists.
Similarly one could argue employing the following form:
- Objective moral values exist.
- Objective moral values have the attributes of being immutable and immaterial.
- The mutable material cosmos and humanity within lack the attributes of being immutable, and immaterial.
- The mutable material cosmos and humanity within cannot account for objective moral values.
- The triune God has the attributes of being immutable and immaterial.
- Therefore the existence of objective moral values furnishes grounds for knowing that the triune God exists.
These are valid and defendable formulations; nevertheless the issue of the ontology of moral values is not merely a matter of reasoning to God utilizing the existence of moral values. It understands that all reasoning depends and presupposes God. This includes reasoning about moral values.
Additionally, I am not asserting that non-theists do not know (epistemic concern) moral principles nor are they directly rejecting the second table of the Ten Commandments. In some ways non-theists do not have to openly affirm the first four commandments in the Decalogue to live by selected moral principles, albeit incongruously. Accordingly, I am contending that God is ontologically indispensable for the existence (ontic claim) of objective moral values. God is the ontological basis and underpinning for immutable moral values.
God is the unchanging foundation for unchanging moral values for the reason that He is the standard of good. Since He is good and perpetually the same, He is the foundation for unchanging moral values. Under non-theism mutable human beings cannot be the ground for immutable moral values. Evolving humans (evolve means change) lack the ontic capacity to provide a ground in of themselves for unchanging moral values. One cannot give what one does not have (universality and immutability).
On non-theism the best we have is a varying subjective opinion (or collection of opinions) of what some men at a particular point in time consider a moral value; possibly conjoined to a moral duty.
An Ever-in-Flux Cosmos Cannot Ground Immutable Moral Values
Moral law has to be derived from us (Christopher Hitchens, Wilson and Hitchens Debate).
If you don’t like my principles, I’ve got others (Groucho Marx).
Materialistic atheism believes that only the cosmos exists; the matter and motion within the universe is all there is. Does the cosmos have the capacity to ground immutable universal moral values and duties? No. The material cosmos comes up infinitely short since it is a particular mutable (changing) thing; it lacks universal reach (it is not omnipresent) and it is always in a shifting and variable flux. Thus the material cosmos and the matter and motion within fail to ground immutable universal moral values. Since immutable universal moral values exist, strict materialistic atheism cannot be true. Mutability eats at the non-theistic ontic base like acid.
Strict materialistic atheism lacks the ontological ability necessary to furnish a suitable foundation for objective moral values and duties. Equally, mutable humanity embedded in the cosmos is also devoid of the ontic capacity to account for immutable moral values.
First ... human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in certain ways... Second ... they do not in fact behave in that way. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in (C.S. Lewis).
Many actions are universally, objectively, and immutably wrong. Actions like killing babies for mere fun. Child sexual assault and torture for crowd enjoyment are universally and immutably wrong. These actions are unremittingly wrong since these prohibitions are based on God’s unchanging nature. Every person with a properly functioning moral sense knows that gratuitous torture and abuse is always wrong.
Moral values are grounded on God and moral duties are commands revealed by a good God in man’s conscience and in Scripture.
A moral duty is obligatory of men when the good God commands it. A moral action is permitted for people when the good God commands it or the action is derived from the general equity of a biblical command. An action is prohibited when the good God commands people not to do such an action.
Accordingly, moral obligations and prohibitions are known by the commandments of God and the application of the general equity thereof. Additionally, in a subservient manner, one’s properly functioning conscience directed by the truth of Scripture morally informs a person.
See the new eBook: The Sure Existence of Moral Absolutes: Proof for Christian Theism HERE