The Moral Argument Simply Stated
by Saints and Sceptics
Before we begin, we should note that insofar as belief in God makes better sense of various features of the universe, these features provide evidence for God. So the case for the existence of God does not depend on any one piece of evidence. No single piece of evidence, considered in isolation, proved that OJ Simpson killed Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman. But the cumulative weight of all the evidence considered together pointed towards his guilt.
So, although morality provides enough evidence on its own to justify belief in God, here we’ll consider it as part of a cumulative case – something which should give the honest seeker additional reasons to believe in God. The evidence of morality works quite well when it is considered along with the case for the resurrection of Jesus and the design of the universe. So the seeker has some reason to believe in a personal creator, and to believe that Jesus rose from the dead.
First, we’ll note that logic does not dictate that the world had to contain objective moral values – and we can easily conceive of possible worlds which do not contain objective moral values. In fact, some atheists think that this world does not contain objective moral values. But the simple fact of the matter is that moral concepts have great explanatory power; furthermore the experience of morality is a central feature of human existence. Any worldview which attempts to explain morality away is deeply unconvincing.
Second, note that evolutionary theory does not explain morality away. Suppose one reason that we put our children’s well-being ahead of our own is because natural selection favoured those ancestors who had developed parental love. Does knowing why we feel that obligation mean that we don’t really have that obligation? Can we reasonably set aside our obligations to our children? Not at all. The social sciences could plausibly explain the rise and development of science. That would not mean that our scientific beliefs are false. Biologists explain why our perceptual systems developed. That does not mean that we should doubt our senses…
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