The Self-Evident Nature of Objective Moral Truths
by J Warner Wallace
I occasionally encounter someone who rejects the existence of objective, transcendent moral truths. For many people, all moral truth is merely perspectival; a matter of flexible, cultural convention. Yet there appear to be a number of moral absolutes that transcend culture and history. These objective truths beckon us to seek justification when we attempt to circumvent their prescriptions. “Did you steal the hammer from that man?” “Yes, dad, but he was going to hit me with it!” We intuitively know that it’s never acceptable to steal “for the fun of it”. This action requires proper justification before any of us would find it tolerable or morally appropriate. Still, some folks are unconvinced that such a transcendent Law exists at all.
I’ve talked to people who refuse to accept some of the transcendent moral principles I’ve proposed. In one recent conversation, a female graduate student said she could imagine a culture that might accept (as virtuous) the moral principles I typically offer as transcendent moral taboos:
It’s never OK to steal “for the fun of it”
It’s never OK to lie “for the fun of it”
It’s never OK to kill “for the fun of it”
When people seek to reject the transcendent nature of these claims, I take the following approach.
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