One argument that I have used the most in my debates and discussions with non-believers is the moral argument. While there are a lot of different formulations of this argument, I think Dr. William Lane Craig’s organization of the argument is the most concise and accurate.

The moral argument’s purpose is to show people that in order for there to be things that are actually good, bad, right, and wrong, they have to come from somewhere. In other words, these values and duties that we see in the world, if real, need to have a grounding.

A few things before I get to the argument. First, the argument doesn’t prove that God raised Jesus from the dead or that Christianity is true. Rather, this is the first step in what we call “classical apologetics” in that we are arguing that theism is plausible. From there, we go on to ask the question “Which God?” and answering that question is how we get to the God of the Bible.

Anyhow, let’s dive into the argument:

(P1) If God doesn’t exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.

(P2) Objective moral values and duties exist.

(C) Therefore, God exists.

If you are challenging this argument, you need to pick a premise and give an explanation as to why you disagree with it. You can’t just dismiss it based on emotion or a knee-jerk reaction, you have to have a reason. But before you are quick to object, allow me to give some commentary on each one of the premises and we can have a discussion from there.

(P1) If God doesn’t exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.

Here we have a statement that implies that if there is no God, there are no objective values and duties. Let’s define a few words before pressing onward. Objective means valid and binding, it is not based on a person’s taste, opinion, or feeling. The opposite of objective would be subjective, which means it is based on a person’s taste, opinion, or feeling.

Values have to do with something being good or bad. An example would be your career. It’s good to be a doctor, nurse, or philanthropist. Duties have to do with right and wrong. This would be an obligation or an action. An example would be if you are walking down a street late at night and you hear a baby crying from an alley, rescuing that baby is the right thing to do. There’s no debate, no opinion, it’s the clear and obvious choice.

As a final thought on values and duties, just because something is good doesn’t mean it is right. Going to a previous example, it may be good to be a doctor but that doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do. You could be a lawyer for a children’s hospital, or a therapist, good doesn’t imply right, but right always implies good. That may be hard to understand on the first read, but at the minimum note the difference between objective and subjective.

Lastly, the reason God would have to exist in order for these values and duties to exist is simply for the reason that there is no other source of morality that can account for objective values and duties. Platonic objects don’t fit and evolution would be subjective change over time. Apart from God, there could be no other source.

(P2) Objective moral values and duties exist.

This is the less controversial of the two premises because the vast majority of the public affirms that certain things really are good, bad, right, and wrong. Murder, for example, is always wrong. Note the difference between murder and killing. Killing is self-defense, war situations, etc. While murder is a cold-blooded crime committed on the innocent.

If you say there are no objective moral values and duties, you would be saying that nothing really is right or wrong, good or bad. You’d be saying that everything is permissible, which is a big statement to make. It’s because of this reasoning that many philosophers and ethicists are not moral nihilists.

(C) Therefore, God exists.

If both premises are more plausible than not, it would follow logically that God exists. I’ve given a small amount of defense for each premise, though I could write pages more. I think both premises are not only possible but they are indeed plausible. Again, if you disagree with this argument, choose a premise and tell me why, don’t merely object because you are bitter from a previous experience.

This is the moral argument for God’s existence and I think it is a powerful argument. If you’d like to read more on this argument, read some of Dr. Craig’s work on this topic at his website, Reasonable Faith.

Grace and Peace

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