Are Moral Truths a Product of Culture?
by J Warner Wallace
In my new book, God’s Crime Scene: A Cold-Case Detective Examines the Evidence for A Divinely Created Universe, I examine eight pieces of evidence in the universe by asking a simple investigative question: “Can I explain the evidence ‘in the room’ (of the natural universe) by staying ‘in the room’?” This is a question I ask at every death scene to determine if I actually have a crime scene. When evidence “in the room” can’t be explained by staying “in the room”, I’ve got to consider the involvement of an intruder. If the evidence inside the universe can’t be explained by staying “inside” the natural realm of the universe, we must similarly consider the involvement of a cosmic intruder. One critical piece of the evidence in the universe is the existence of transcendent moral truths. Can we explain these truths by staying “inside the room”?
Many atheistic philosophers and thinkers seek to explain moral truth from “inside the room” of the natural universe by offering societies and cultures as the source of morality. According to this view (termed “moral relativism”), morality varies from culture to culture. There are no objective, transcendent, universal moral standards “on all men at all times.” Moral relativists believe cultures and people groups create their moral codes rather than discover them. Moral codes are a social construct designed by the majority to help the group maintain social harmony and increase their ability to survive. But if cultural agreement determines moral truth, several problems emerge…
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