The Argument From Morals
The moral argument says that a logical basis for morality is impossible without someone above nature who hands down the rules of morality. In other words, God.
Let me illustrate this with a story.
A few years ago a group of us from work went out to lunch. Somehow a co-worker and I got talking about morality. She said there is no such thing as a universal right and wrong. Your morality differs from mine, she said, and the morality of one culture differs from another.
I pointed to a woman walking down the street outside the restaurant. So, you wouldn't think it was wrong if I walked outside and shot that woman? I mean really wrong, not just out-of-step with this culture?
Well, she said, clearly uncomfortable with this thought, maybe you would have had a good reason to shoot her.
Notice her thinking. She didn't want to admit that shooting the woman was wrong, but neither did she want to give me carte blanche with a pistol. So, rather remarkably, she appealed to morality. Maybe I had a good reason for shooting her.
No, I assured her. No reason other than the pleasure of seeing blood flow in the street.
Now she was very uncomfortable. Well, she said, I would think less of you.
So that's what it came down to. She would "think less" of a man who murdered someone in cold blood for no better reason than the desire to see blood flow.
See how trapped she was? In her heart she hated the idea of murder, but by adopting a completely relativistic notion of morality, she gave up all logical grounds to condemn it. If you give up the notion of right and wrong, murder is no different than trimming your toenails.
But, some would respond, societies come up with their own morals for their benefit, so you should follow the morals of the society to which you belong.
This is an embarassingly weak and self-contradictory response. It says there are no universal moral principles, then insists on a universal moral principle, that is, that everybody should follow the morals of their own society.
Aside from the contradiction, according to this thinking, if you live among robbers and murderers, you should rob and murder. If you had lived in Nazi Germany, you should have been a Nazi. This notion throws out the whole idea of reform or improvement. If there is nothing better than what is, how do you reform it or improve it?
Becoming a Christian
© Copyright 2002, Brad Haugaard.