In the second part of this series, I’m going to add a couple more tools to your apologetics toolbox. One of these, the Ontological Argument, is a bit more philosophical, so you’ll have to bear with me as I try and break it down. The other is the Moral Argument, which is more broadly applicable, in my opinion.
The moral argument has a fairly simple structure, if you look at it formally.
1. If objective moral values and duties do not exist, then God does not exist.
2. Objective moral values and duties do exist.
3. Therefore, God exists.
That probably sounds rather dry and academic, but here’s why I find it to be broadly applicable. Everybody knows, instinctively and experientially, that objective morality exists. It’s very easy in our current culture to hide behind the idea that relative (subjective) morality is the way to go. Whatever is true/right/good for you, go with it, and whatever is true/right/good for me, I’ll go with that. However, the same people who say there is no objective standard will always know when an injustice has been paid to them. Not only that, but we cannot help but make moral judgments. Any time you hear the phrase “that is wrong” or “you should/shouldn’t do this” these are statements appealing to some sort of objective standard.
I once was having a conversation with a lady who was telling me that all morals and values are subjective to the current culture and time period in which they originate. This is a very popular opinion, and it sounds very tolerant and enlightened. However, what I asked her was the following: If that is true, then I would like you to imagine the following. Suppose that WWII went the other way, and that Hitler and the Nazis one, and then killed everyone who disagreed with them. If that was the case, and their view was the dominant one, then by your understanding, the Holocaust would have been not only morally neutral, but morally right and justified, is that correct? She could not answer. The reason is because she knew, and indeed even our modern, secular culture knows, that the Holocaust was unquestionably evil. The specter of objective morality does haunt those who want to hide behind relative morality, and there are certain things (one could think up any number of them) which are always going to be viewed as wrong.
We will likely cover the Problem of Evil in another post, but I will comment on it briefly here. If there are certain things that are always regarded as evil, then there must be things that are always regarded as good. If that is true, then there must exist a moral law of some kind with which we are all able to distinguish between what is good and evil, and if a moral law exists, then so must a moral law giver.
This argument was originally formed by Anselm back in the 11th century. He said that God, by definition, is “that than which nothing greater can be conceived” and because of this, God must exist. Now let’s unpack that a bit. Basically he’s saying that when you think about the God of Christianity, you automatically think (correctly) of a being which contains all good and perfect things, to their fullest extent. God is all-knowing, all-powerful, perfectly good, etc.
A key point in the argument is the idea that existence is a greater quality than non-existence. It sounds a bit strange in those terms, but the idea is simple enough. For example, which is greater, the idea of a million dollars in your mind, or an actual million dollars physically on your table? The concept is the same.
I’ve found that this argument is best combined with something like the Cosmological argument that we talked about last week, because it’s easier to think of God being “first” in order to create the universe than it is to think that He is a necessarily existing being. However, if you would like to use this argument by itself (and there may be a time when it’s appropriate to) you may want to consider the version made by Alvin Plantinga and subsequently William Lane Craig. I will give a bit of a disclaimer that this gets pretty technical, because it relies on the philosophical concept of modal logic. It may take a couple watches to fully understand what’s going on, but if you can wrap your mind around it, it does add quite a bit of strength to the argument.
That said, if you are interested in any of the arguments mentioned in this post (or any post, for that matter) and would like to know more or simply have questions that would help with their clarity, feel free to ask me the next time you see me.