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The Moral Argument: Addressing Red Herrings

Question:

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?”

Response:

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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The Flourishing of Human Creatures

The Flourishing of Human Creatures

Another common objection atheists will launch at premise (1) of “The Moral Argument” is to that claim that objective moral values can some how find ground in whatever is conducive to the flourishing of human creatures. Such a view however would be guilt of “specie-ism” which is an unjustified biased toward one’s own species[1]. On atheism, human beings have no basis for objective moral values if they are a mere by-product of the same blind process that coughed up mosquitoes and leeches.

Human Flourishing? On atheism there is no God to bestow value or ultimate purpose on human beings. The universe does not care; it has no feelings and will show no favoritism toward mankind when it inevitably swallows the human race up in a finite amount of time. On atheism the end for mankind will be identical to the end for all other life forms such as pigs, amoebas and e coli.

On atheism there is no justification for objective moral values and to suggest that human beings maintain some special place in the universe is arbitrary and unintelligible.

Other Objections to Premise (1)

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[1] Craig, William Lane. Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics-3rd ed. Wheaton Illinois: Crossway Books, 2008. Print.

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Moral Platonism

Moral Platonism

(Common Objection to “The Moral Argument”)

What is Moral Platonism?

In the absence of God atheistic naturalists will sometimes attempt to say that objective moral values just simply exist without any foundation! This sort of view on objective moral values is often referred to as “Moral Platonism” (MP). You see, Plato once upon a time believed that “goodness” or say  “forbearance” simple existed somewhere out there as part of the universe. Likewise “greed” “hatred” “loyalty” “selfishness” and so forth just exist, absent of any grounding!

A Double-edged Response to MP

Firstly, it is arbitrary. For instance to hold that “goodness” simply exists out there independent of any persons seems quite odd and indefensible. Moral values are properties of person and it does not make any sense to speak of them as impersonal abstractions. I mean, just appreciate that for a moment and think of what it would be like for “goodness” to simply exist as part of the universe in the absence of any God and before the arrival of the human species.

Secondly, this seems to be ad hoc. It appears to be quite coincidental that in the absence of God; a blind physical process would cough up just the right human creatures that would match up to these impersonal and ungrounded abstractions. It is like the platonic realm was just waiting for human beings to show up! And on a side note, why would there be any moral obligation to align oneself with such abstractions in a meaningless and purposeless universe. Does the universe really care?

Moral Platonism is unintelligible. The person that wants to put stock in MP has a lot of explaining to do if they don’t want to give up rationality in the process.

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A Common Misunderstanding

A Case of Misunderstanding

It can be almost guaranteed that when you present The Moral Argument (TMA) to an unbeliever they will object to premise (1) in a similar fashion following:

“I don’t believe in God and I am a lot better than most Christians I know!”

“Are you trying to say that I have to believe in God in order to be a moral person?”

The Response

This sort of response is a very common misunderstanding of premise (1). Remember that the premise says:

If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist.

It is a mistake to understand this as saying; one must have belief in God in order to live a moral life. That is not the claim. In fact, I would like to mention that I know a number of atheists I worked with in the SEAL teams. And I am certain of this when I say those guys would run into harms way in the blink of an eye for the sake of others.

With that said, it is not a belief in God that is necessary to live a moral life; it is the existence of God that is necessary for the existence of objective moral values! Again, the issue at hand is not belief in God; it is the existence of God.

(1) If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist.

Thus, in the absence of God there is no such thing as a moral life in the objective sense that we have been discussing! With God in the paradigm, morality reduces down to subjectivity. Just an aid to survival and any deeper meaning is illusory[1].

Navy SEAL Chad Williams

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[1]“The position of the modern evolutionist . . . is that humans have an awareness of morality . . . because such an awareness is of biological worth.  Morality is a biological adaptation no less than are hands and feet and teeth . . . Considered as a rationally justifiable set of claims about an objective something, ethics is illusory.  I appreciate that when somebody says ‘Love they neighbor as thyself,’ they think they are referring above and beyond themselves  . . . Nevertheless, . . . such reference is truly without foundation.  Morality is just an aid to survival and reproduction, . . . and any deeper meaning is illusory  . . .” -Michael Ruse, Philosopher of Biology

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What Is The Moral Argument?

The Moral Argument

 The Moral Argument (TMA) is a tremendously effective tool on the street. The reason TMA has so much force is because it reaches people on a more personal level. The bottom line is that the conclusions one draws from this argument will translate over to how they live their everyday life. In short, this one gets personal!

TMA comes in a handful of different variations and I have selected the most prominent arrangement for our discussion. It comes in the form of a logical syllogism, and therefore the conclusion will follow inescapably according to the rules of logic so long as one affirms premises (1) and (2) as true premises.

The Moral Argument Stated:

1) If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist.

2) Objective moral values do exist.

3) Therefore, God exists.

Before expanding on this, I think it would be crucial to distinguish between what it means for something to be “objectively” or “subjectively” true.

By “objective” we mean: Something is to be true independent of human opinion.

By “subjective” we mean: Something is to be true dependent on human opinion.

Objective vs. Subjective Illustrated:

If I have a 5 Dollar Bill in my wallet, it will be objectively true that I have a 5 Dollar Bill in my wallet. To make it absolutely clear, it is objectively true that I have a 5 Dollar Bill in my wallet and this truth is wholly independent of what any human might feel or think about that.

With regards to the appearance of my wallet, it is subjectively true that it is a fashionable wallet. It is dependent upon my opinion and the opinion of others whether my wallet really has that voguish elegance.

Premise (1) the claim is that if God does not exist there is no justification or accountability for objective moral values. That is to say, if God does not exist there would be no foundation outside of the shifty subjectivism that human beings impart. Put another way, there would be no objective grounding or anchoring of moral values. In the absence of God, Richard Dawkins drives the point home for us in premise (1):

“In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication. Some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is at bottom no design, no purpose, no evil, no good; nothing but pitiless indifference.”

Thus, if someone wants to negate the affirmation of premise (1) the burden of proof will lay squarely on them. It will be their responsible to erect a basis for objective moral values in the absence of God.

Premise (2) objective moral values do exist. You would think that this might be a difficult premise to validate but; almost everyone –when feet are put to the fire- will affirm the existence of some objective moral values. Most of us do experience the reality of objective moral values just as we experience the reality of the physical world. For instance, certain actions like raping to fulfill sexual desires or torturing babies for pure entertainment are not actions of “pitiless indifference” equivalent to love and kindness as Richard Dawkins would have it; rather such actions are objectively wrong regardless and independent of what Dawkins or other human beings might think or have to say on the matter! There may be those that disagree with us on this point but that should not slow down those of us that do apprehend such objective moral values anymore than a color blind or deaf person ought to cause those of us that see color and hear fine to doubt we do. Such a person that does not perceive it to be objectively wrong to rape for pleasure or torture babies for entertainment would simply be morally handicapped in the same way a blind or deaf person is physically handicapped.

Conclusion (3) if a person affirms the first two premises then the logic is airtight and the conclusion will forcefully follow that God exists. God would be the transcendent foundation and anchoring of objective moral values, wholly independent of human opinion or feelings. God would be the very source of moral value as His Nature is the “The Good” and anything contrary to His Good Nature would be Evil.  

Are there common objections to these premises? Certainly, and there are very good responses too! I will be dealing with these common objections on an individual basis in my next handful of posts. As the common objections are dealt with I will provide links to them below:

Common Objections to TMA

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What is Atheism?

All too often on the street I run into people that are self-proclaimed Atheists but, when pressed to give a response as to why they believe that “God does not exist” they recant: “I never said I believe that ‘God does not exist’ I simply lack a belief in God’s existence.”

Is a lack of belief in God’s existence really Atheism though? Certainly not, and when pressed to give an explanation as to what they believe; more times than not they wind up giving a description of Agnosticism.

A true Atheist however is not someone that is open to the possibility of God’s existence. A real atheist is not one that merely lacks a belief in God. A genuine atheist is one that affirms there is no God.

The term Atheist comes from the Greek ἄθεος (atheos). In English this comes out as two words:

represents the “negative” or “no”

θεος represents “God”

Atheism is the negative (ἄ) contrasted form of God (θεος), which is to say that there is “no God.”

Claiming oneself to be an Atheist -in it’s truest form- comes with a burdensome task as it asserts a negative, that is to say, it affirms that God does not exist which comes with shouldering quite a burden of proof. Of course they are not up to the task and therefore they pour a different meaning into the word “Atheist” and so the word games and redefinitions begin.

They want that provocative title “Atheist” but when their feet are put to the fire on it, they describe themselves to be more Agnostic; or as the Latin form puts it Ignoramus. I guess identifying oneself as an Ignoramus just doesn’t have the same rousing ring to it.

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>Atheist Assumption

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>Atheist Tactic

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From Ed:

 “First I’d like to thank you, for rich programming that you all offer.  I’ve only recently discovered your You Tube Channel, but enjoy the show every day.  I recently encountered an atheist, who claimed that the story of Jesus Christ is the same story of Hare Krishna.  Further, he claimed that the story of Hare Krishna, occurred several hundred years prior to the birth of Christ.  I later did some research online, and saw some sites supporting this story.  How do I address this claim?  Again, thank you for all the work you do, and God Bless you all.”

Ed I am very pleased this issue has been brought to light as this is a tact I see many atheists using often across the internet and on the street! So lets take a look at this question broken down into the two claims that the atheist has made. I will give a bit of a commentary and time willing I will give an example of how I might engage this on the street.

(1) I recently encountered an atheist, who claimed that the story of Jesus Christ is the same story of Hare Krishna.

Look, take heed to what I am about to share! My beloved readers, I am about to unveil one of the most common tactics that atheists will use in an attempt to throw smoke in the air, evade the Gospel truth and take pop shots at you from a safe position. I was just on an atheist website the other day following a thread in which atheists were schooling each other in how to successfully pull this tactic off with a Christian. So here it is: When the atheist engages with you they will sometimes throw out an old debaters trick in which they will attempt to divert all attention off of themselves, remove all the burden of giving any account for why they believe what they believe! How? At some time in your interaction, the atheist will use a variation of:

“Well, ‘what about Buddha‘ ‘What about Muhammad‘ ‘What about Mormons‘ ‘What about Gandhi’ ‘What about Krishna?!” 

If you even give an inch here by addressing any one of the above you will be going down a rabbit trail that will truly never end! Do you really think the atheist will be satisfied when you defuse Buddha? Do you really think the suppressor of truth is going to just lay down now that you have untangled Krishna? No! They will go on and on boundlessly without any limits! Throwing their smoke up in the air they slide their personal views out of the equation and play peanut gallery as you deal with an endless barrage of phantom worldviews. Beware of this slight of hand as they are no longer representing themselves or even properly representing the pseudo worldviews that they attempt to collide into you! They are very comfortably out of the battle, in a safe place, no dog in this fight, but they certainly can play constant critic now from their non-existent position! So don’t go chasing rabbit trails! You need to call them out, right up front! Are you a Hare Krishna, a Muslim, a Mormon, a Buddhist ect? They are not, they are atheists remember?! So let them know “sir if you aligned yourself with any of these I would be more than happy to dialogue on such issues but you don’t and neither do I so I would like to engage with you and your beliefs rather than talk about a belief system that has no real representation today!”

(2) he claimed that the story of Hare Krishna, occurred several hundred years prior to the birth of Christ.

If for some reason you have taken the bait and stepped into the ring on this one…no sweat! Ultimately there is a ready response that will take down and bring to submission the stronghold of all other works righteousness belief systems. 

The key in dealing with counterfeit beliefs is knowing the original! You don’t need to have your doctorates in comparative religions, you don’t need to be a Walter Martin (a personal hero in the faith), you don’t need to have an exhaustive understanding of the ensemble of false systems of thought out there. You only need to know one thing in order to spot a counterfeit of any kind and that one thing is know the original!  

Speaking of exposing counterfeits, knowing the original is the same tact that U.S. Banks take in training their employees to take on the task of identifying and jettisoning counterfeit notes out of circulation. Above and beyond the man hours spent in learning to identify -the countless and ever changing- counterfeits; they put preeminence on handling and knowing the original so that when they encounter a counterfeit the differences will stick out as the idiom goes: like a sore thumb!

So know the Gospel truth which is the power of God (Rom. 1:16), fall in love with the uniqueness of Christ who is truth incarnate (Jn. 14:6) and know Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16) which is our sword (Heb. 4:12) and weapon that brings down every stronghold captive to Christ (2 Cor. 10:3-5).  There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12). It is the differences that make all the difference between the true Gospel and false gospels (Gal. 1:8,9), and a great launching point in engaging with false systems of thought is to point out that all other religions and false systems of thought put man at the center of the arena as a works righteousness belief system. So be quick to point this out! Whatever it may be, whether Krishna, Buddha, Muhammad or any other: “The major difference is that they are works righteousness belief system and Christianity is not!” They don’t have a coherent basis for Justice, Mercy, Grace, Salvation, Preconditions of intelligibility ect. A good way to to expose this is by affirming the impossibility of the contrary to Christianity. This will turn things around and cause your opponent to be required to give an account as to how whatever false system of thought they bring up could possibly account for such things. 

I should also point out that you ought to at least have the atheist shoulder the burden of representing whatever false belief system it may be that they posit. Let the interrogation begin as you probe and compare against the false solutions for sin, salvation, grace, ect. You have got a real winner on your hands with Christ so let that light so shine (Matt. 5:16), and under that light false systems of thought will be exposed (Jn. 3:20). 

Below is a treat for you folks as I was able to get you a sneak peak at some unseen footage of our upcoming The Way of the Master episode: “Zurich” in which Ray has an encounter with a group of Hare Krishnas! 

*I uploaded a low resolution for the web…The full episode will be available in HD soon here.  


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Turn From God & Turn to What?


As I watched this video I wondered to myself does this young lady not know that God is not the one in need of a spiritual chance? Does she not know that she is not the judge or the prosecutor but rather sitting in the dock found wanton and in tremendous need of grace and mercy before the Judge of all things? It is no wonder she is an unbeliever, a false convert, a stony ground hearer as she attempted to play god with human autonomy in hand (law unto self). As though God could be put in a tube and tested (Matt. 4:7 Deut. 6:16) like an experiment! The only proper starting point for knowledge is not one of autonomy but reverence and fear of the LORD (Prov. 1:7). Scripture instructs, God’s Holy Word declares that any other starting point is the position of fools: who despise wisdom and instruction (Prov. 14:1; 1:7).  She likened her foolishness to a snowball effect and Scripture exposes that the unbeliever’s knowledge so-called is futile and indeed like a snowball as professed wisdom descends down the slope of reason where thoughts and foolish hearts become darkened (1 Tim. 6:20; Rom. 1:21)!  

Turn from God and turn to what?  When the unbeliever suppresses the truths -which God has made known to them- they have nowhere to turn, no foundation to rest their heads upon other than that which has already been laid by God (Rom. 1:18-20).  In their suppression of the truth they display behaviors that betray their professed godless worldview as they utter moral judgments, laws of logic and rely on the scientific backbone of uniformity; that is to say they expect the laws of science to operate tomorrow like they do today yet have no accountability as to why they would when they attempt to oust the controlling influence (God) out of the paradigm (cf. Gen. 8:22). 

There is no foundation for knowledge outside of God. I have written on this somewhat HERE. For those of you that would suppress the truth in denial I invite you to challenge your suppression interactively HERE where my good friend Sye Tenbruggencate has taken the time to give a fuller account that takes into consideration the scope of possible objections.

Well, it is that time of the morning where I must go get ready for the show…In the meantime I leave you with a quote by C.S. Lewis:

If the solar system was brought about by an accidental collision, then the appearance of organic life on this planet was also an accident, and the whole evolution of Man was an accident too. If so, then all our present thoughts are mere accidents – the accidental by-product of the movement of atoms. And this holds for the thoughts of the materialists and astronomers as well as for anyone else’s. But if their thoughts – i.e., Materialism and Astronomy – are mere accidental by-products, why should we believe them to be true? I see no reason for believing that one accident should be able to give me a correct account of all the other accidents. It’s like expecting the accidental shape taken by the splash when you upset a milk-jug should give you a correct account of how the jug was made and why it was upset.”

If this universe is the product of chance and the human mind is ultimately a by-product of that chance process then all reasoning and argumentation reduces down to being nothing more than arbitrary! 

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>Ricky Gervais & Atheistic Morality

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In the previous clip Ricky Gervais asserts atheism yet acknowledges the existence of such things as “goodness” and “love” in the universe. He claims “[Christianity] They haven’t got the monopoly on good.” Gervais then goes onto to proclaim his own goodness (Prov. 26:6). If I were on the street having a conversation with Gervais I would determine to point out a misnomer he builds upon as well as the inconsistency between atheism and the so called Christian monopoly.


Firstly, to claim “[Christianity] They haven’t got the monopoly on good.” is a misrepresentation of the Christian worldview, that is to say a straw-man. Christian philosophers and theologians do not present the “monopoly case” and so erecting such a straw-man brings forth contaminated ambiguity. The argument for morality has always been that God is the Absolute foundation and ground upon a concrete and real “goodness” can be anchored to. The issue is justification and accountability for a non-subjective “goodness.”




Secondly, there is an inconsistency between atheism and objective morality. Two things should be made clear here. (1) By objective morality the Christian means moral values that are valid and binding whether anyone else believes them to be true or not. An example would be to say, rape is wrong today even if the collective consensus of the world signed a moral contract yesterday  to authorize and instate it’s new found contemporary acceptability.  (2) The Christian worldview is not a position suggesting that non-Christian men are incapable performing morally decent acts such as helping old women cross the street or giving food to homeless. Rather the Christian would point out that on atheism, such acts have no grounding basis! No standard or basis for “goodness,” no absolute point of reference to differentiate between a real “right” and “wrong” that goes beyond imaginary! 

The atheist cannot double dip, they cannot have their cake and eat it too. If any atheist denies God’s existence they deny themselves the moral footing for an absolute morality. The atheist can not have his cake and eat it to on this one… To do so is inconsistent but it happens. In one hand they deny God’s existence like a fool (Ps. 14:1), and in the other hand they want “goodness” and “love” in their world. The Christian has a footing for morality but the atheist’s morality amounts to nothing more than an imaginary illusion. Atheists should take a note out of a book written by one of their own as Michael Ruse gets the antithesis right: 

 “The position of the modern evolutionist . . . is that humans have an awareness of morality . . . because such an awareness is of biological worth. Morality is a biological adaptation no less than are hands and feet and teeth . . . Considered as a rationally justifiable set of claims about an objective something, ethics is illusory. I appreciate that when somebody says ‘Love they neighbor as thyself,’ they think they are referring above and beyond themselves . . . . Nevertheless, . . . such reference is truly without foundation. Morality is just an aid to survival and reproduction, . . . and any deeper meaning is illusory . . .” [emphasis added]

Ruse, the Darwinian Paradigm