Christian Apologists such as William Lane Craig are widely respected for championing a perspective in which it is said that morality is objective and must therefore stem from an ultimate lawgiver. The anchor for such morality is the God of Theism, or more specifically the Christian conception of God. YouTube is replete with Christian channels that provide snippets from his many debates throughout the years, many of which feature Craig’s seemingly uncanny ability to catch the Atheist off guard and send them off with the tail of an inferior moral relativism hanging between their legs.

If there is no objective standard for morality then it is no more right or wrong to rape a little child as it is to feed and provide safe housing for the poor. It is said, “there is no differentiation on the Atheist’s view!” Excuse me? I have a few contentions with this argument, one such contention is this: Well, it all depends upon what you want to truly establish as knowledge within this world, Dr. Craig? You can offer this kind of scenario in which all of humanity must bow to a singular God that acts as an anchor from which morality is derived, however, if we lack the basic facts to establish the validity of Theism in the present then you are by default offering an abstract philosophy about morality and not something that can be applied by necessity. In other words, this argument may very well not be an accurate representation of the kind of knowledge that can be gained in the present, or even ever! I call this a top-down argument with a blindspot built right into it.

Now, for many it seems perfectly fine to not have all of the relevant data but does this reflect a deep concern to represent reality honestly and accurately? Does this reflect a deep concern to level out the playing field and not employ bias in regards to which set of divine claims one takes on faith and nothing else? It would be better for one to first focus on filling the knowledge gap that presently exists between faith and knowledge than to simply jump the gun and provide a well thought out framework from the top-down.

Serious minded scientists and historians build their framework for knowledge from the ground-up. This is the best presently existing endeavor that strives to remain neutral based upon what can actually be known and confirmed within the world. Bravo to Dr. Craig on his creativity, but not in regards to accurately reflecting the present knowledge crisis that exists! That is the informational bridge that is desperately needed, at least in regards to Theism, in order to establish a solid case.

Are we more concerned about the actual data and facts? In the case of having insufficient knowledge as to the plausibility of a God are we willing and open to suspend such a judgment? Suspending judgment about a matter is very humble, careful, and brutally honest! It is a reflection of objectivity that is in direct correlation to the present set of conditions we find ourselves in. The alternative I must say is a blind shot into the dark! A leap into abstract thinking that ignores our own human limits. The potential for error in the case of a knowledge gap is quite high. It is demonstrated over and over when simply assuming what is not yet known within the world. I rest my case in that regard. People can make their own decision on these matters.

Another such contention that I have is that if one does claim a Theistic God as an anchor for their morality then the question naturally unfolds, “From where does God derive his own morality?” It seems that there are two options in this case: Morality either transcends the majesty of God and exists separately from His own knowledge, or morality defaults to being an arbitrary set of desires. In other words, God must either be accountable to some unknown standard outside of himself, or the standard defaults to an arbitrary set of desires. A set of desires that would appear to have no true compass or restraint. Humans simply must trust that this being exemplifies goodness in its purest form. Perhaps an equal concern for moral relativism can be made both ways! Now that we’ve leveled the playing field so to speak, where should we go from here? Thank you for your time friends.

9 thoughts on “An Anchor For Morality?

    1. What do you personally find most valuable about trusting what is neither seen or confirmed in the present? No worries, I won’t turn it into a long drawn out debate or anything. I’ll just leave you with that question for now. Have a good night! 🙂

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      1. It’s not about it being valuable. It’s an unquestionable deep knowing. You believe things that aren’t seen too. You believe things you don’t fully understand. Like how your body turned the cereal you ate this morning into the explosion of energy allowing you to function right now. Scientist can explain how that works but it takes a certain amount of trust on our part to believe it.
        I don’t mind the mystery of God. I don’t have to know all things or see all things.

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      2. Is there any way that you can know for yourself that you are worshipping the true and correct God? What if your beliefs are not falling in line with the salvation story of the true and correct religion? Is it in any way important to know the answer to such questions?

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      3. I have a relationship with Jesus. I’m not religious. Yes I can know. Because I’m changed. I’m comforted and counseled by the Holy Spirit. I read the Bible and the Holy Spirit teaches me. God reveals Himself to me in many different ways though. It’s mostly intangibles that can’t be explained except by faith. I’m no apologist sir. Just a woman deeply grateful for the work of Jesus on the cross and then out of the grave.

        How are sure that God isn’t?

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  1. I appreciate your participation, mariegriffith! Feel free to read my post titled: Faith vs. Knowledge. If you find it interesting there are three more posts following that one in which I build a larger argument that helps us to differentiate between the Biblical definition of faith and what can be understood as knowledge. You’ll learn more about how I’ve developed my own perspective and how it actually stems from realizations that I came to while I was an Evangelical Christian.

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  2. I didn’t see your comments until now – they usually come through on my notifications but these last 2 didn’t. Yes, I will certainly keep reading your blog. Our discussion has forced me to think in a different way, and put into words what I’ve not had to before. It’s helped to deepen my faith and search out the Scripture more diligently.

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  3. The principal problem with thinking of God as the source of moral values is the dilemma captured in Plato’s dialogue called Euthyphro. This is often called the “Euthyphro Argument” or the “Euthyphro Dilemma.”

    The question that is posed in the Euthyphro dialogue is this: “Do the gods love something because it is good or is it good because the gods love it?” Plato was posing the question in a polytheistic context, but it can be posed in a monotheistic context as well.

    The claim of the Euthyphro argument is that either one of these alternatives has unacceptable consequences for the theist. If you say that something is good because God wills it, then that makes good and evil arbitrary. The reason it is wrong to rape and torture someone is simply because God said so, and he could have willed otherwise. But that seems unconscionable. In that case, there really aren’t any objective moral values. They are just the results of God’s arbitrary will, and it could have easily gone the other way.

    But suppose the theist says that God wills something because it really is good. Well, that means that there is some higher standard of goodness beyond God, to which God is himself subject, and he must look to that higher standard and see that it is good to do various things and therefore make his commandments on that basis. Indeed, on that basis, God would be good because he meets that standard himself. But the problem with that is that means God is not the source of moral values, that God is not the ultimate standard – there is a higher court of appeals beyond God and God must measure up to it. The non-theist will, therefore, say that the Euthyphro dilemma shows that moral values cannot be grounded in God.

    Are those the only two options?

    I think the theist can say, in a sense, what Plato himself said, which is, namely, that God’s very nature is the Good. The Good just is the [concrete] moral nature of God himself. This moral nature expresses itself necessarily toward us in the form of certain divine commandments that then constitute our moral duties: you shall love the Lord your God with all your strength and mind and heart, you shall love your neighbor as yourself, you shall not steal, you shall not kill, you shall not commit adultery. The moral commands of God are not arbitrary but are necessary reflections of God’s very nature. On this view, our moral duties are constituted by God’s commands, but those commands are not ultimately rooted in God’s arbitrary will. Rather they are expressions of his essential nature. It is impossible that God could have willed “You shall hate your neighbor and seek to do him harm and kill him” or “You shall not love the Lord your God” and that child abuse or torture would be good or that loving one another would be evil. That is impossible because it is contrary to the very nature of God himself.

    So, in answer to the Euthyphro dilemma, the third alternative is, “God wills something because he is good.” It is not correct to say that something is good because God wills it, and it is not correct to say that God wills something because it is good; rather we should say God wills something because he is good. That is to say, God’s own moral nature is determinative of what the good is, and that expresses itself toward us in the form of certain moral commands that then become our duties.

    One interesting implication of this view is that since God presumably doesn’t issue commands to himself, he doesn’t have any moral duties. It means that he doesn’t have to obey his own commands, so to speak. Rather what we can say is that God, by his very nature, would act in accordance with what he commands, but not in obedience to what he commands. It isn’t as though God is under some higher law than himself. He would simply act in accordance with the moral law in a natural kind of way rather than having a duty to obey, as we do. The commandments are issued to us, so we have moral duties to discharge. On this view, God acts in accordance with the good, but it is not as though God is duty-bound in order to fulfill some sort of moral obligation.

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