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The Moral Argument: Addressing Red Herrings


I know one person I talked to on the subject of the TMA said that how can God be ‘Good’ if He lets His people (in reference to Israel) destroy men, women, and children (citing Deuteronomy 2, particularly vs. 34). Any thing you can lend on this?”


This is a very common slight of hand the person tried to pull on you. I must point out that they are not engaging with TMA at all by erecting an objection to biblical revelation.

To make this clear in your interaction with them ask, “Can you please tell what specific premise of TMA you are attempting to address right now?”

Let us suppose that in response they try to aim their objection at premise (2). You can then point out that biblical revelation was never appealed to as support for premise (2)! So in this particular case -with regard to TMA- such an objection introduces a straw-man and red-herring to the argument! Nobody has to read the bible to know that objective moral values exist. Let me put it this way; I knew it was objectively wrong to murder long before I read Exodus chapter 20. Make it clear that you have not appealed to biblical revelation in your argument but that premise (2) is affirmed by in light of apprehending such objective moral values through moral experience!

Objectivity Apprehended In Moral Experience

As believers we are aware that this realm of objective moral values is made known to us through a God-given conscience (Rom. 2:15) but, we never had to first read Romans 2 as a sort of precondition to get that God-given conscience functioning. The awareness of objective moral values was already in full operation prior to reading the text. So it is not necessary to appeal to biblical revelation in support of premise (2) because objective moral values are already apprehended through moral experience.

Much like how we apprehend the objective reality of the physical world around us, we can also apprehend the objective reality of moral values. Most people are well aware of objective moral values with exception to morally handicapped folks like the psychotic sociopath serial killer. In the same way that some people are physically handicapped, say like the color-blind are incapable of distinguishing between the colors red and green. There are some people out there that are morally handicapped and incapable of identifying the morally objective difference between nurturing a child and torturing a child. Thus, just as a color-blind person that cannot distinguish between the colors like red and green doesn’t cause us that see color just fine to suddenly start doubting the difference we do see. So the morally handicapped person that can’t apprehend the objective difference between loving their neighbor or torturing their neighbor ought not to cause doubt in those of us that do apprehend an objective moral difference between the two.

Street Apologetics

Atheist:how can God be ‘Good’ if He lets His people destroy men, women, and children in the Old Testament?”

Street Apologist: “I never appealed to biblical revelation in support of premise (2). I pointed out that I know objective moral values exist in probably the same way you know they exist. I apprehend them through moral experience.”

(At this point, it would be good to put them on the spot to agree with you.)

Street Apologist: “You do believe certain moral behaviors like rape or child molestation are objectively wrong don’t you?”

Atheist: “Of course!”

Street Apologist: “Ok then you agree with premise (2)!”

Atheist: “Uh…Right.”

Street Apologist: “Ok then you must disagree with premise (1), otherwise the conclusion: ‘God exists‘ will follow logically and inescapably.”

Atheist: “Ok, well I don’t believe the conclusion so I will disagree with premise (1).”

Street Apologist: “Alright, well if you affirm premise (2) objective moral values do exist yet deny premise (1), I would like to hear how you justify the existence of objective moral values in the absence of God’s existence?”

Let the squirming begin!

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