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Help. An argument against objective morality. Struggling right now

I’m seriously struggling right now. I am wrestling with my faith and I will post a separate post regarding the main issues but on the topic of morality, how would one refute the claim that “There is no objective morality, it’s an evolutionary or herd instinct to provide well being to all others that’s why we find it wrong?” Also what about those who are mentally crazy or lunatic are they born that way without ability to act good?

This article was relatively thought provoking and would like to know what we can logically argue against it etc.

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Hi, I’m sorry you are struggling but take heart, we must wrestle with God to know Him. I am wondering what part of the essay are you feeling is most thought provoking? From what I read his points fall flat in that as an atheist he can’t really say that something is moral or not. In some groups there is great moral differences, people without God do not always make good moral choices that benefit their society (we have a sin nature) for instance in the account of Abraham and Isaac, this story caused all sorts of trouble for me until I discovered that in the surrounding cultures of the time , they routinely used human sacrifice to their gods, a moral wrong according to God. So why did he ask Abraham to sacrifice his son? First I believe of course He was painting a picture of Christ and the sacrifice He would make for all of us, but also there is a statement made that God is above what we deem moral. He was not asking for the sacrifice of Issac, He would provide the sacrifice. I guess the point being that the people without God felt it perfectly moral to practice human sacrifice, they felt it was a benefit to their society because the gods would send rain and failed crops meant death to the group. God never approved of human sacrifice.He does not accept our attempts at being God, no matter how smart we think we are. I think it makes far more sense that there is a moral lawgiver or else everything is up for grabs. If we are no more than a bunch of random cells then moral law has nothing to do with anything. I’m sure there will be others better prepared to help you with refuting what is said in this article but take an overall look at the atheist/humanist view and I think you will find it full of words but void of meaning. I’ll be praying for your heart to find security and peace in the only place it resides, in Jesus.

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@luke.shirley It is an interesting essay that makes a substantially rule utilitarian argument. Rule utilitarianism is a branch of utilitarianism that holds that an act is ethical if practicing it as a rule were to enhance the overall happiness of the community in the long term. Comprehensively responding to the essay will take more time than I have to give at the moment, so I will focus on a few key points upon which others may expand.

First, I am always skeptical of arguments that involve redefining words. Prof. Lindsay wants to redefine “objective” and “subjective.” He argues “that morality is neither objective nor subjective as those terms are commonly understood” (para. 10). Notice that he never explicitly redefines these terms. He just kind of morphs the way that he uses them in order to create wiggle-room for his argument. Some people call this sophisticated; I call it sophistry.

Second, Prof. Lindsay completely overlooks the third option to the Euthyphro dilemma. The Euthyphro dilemma presents only two choices: either God commands something because it is moral, or something is moral because God commands it. This is a true dilemma because it means either that something exists that is moral outside of God’s purview, which makes God less than finite, or that God can call something moral even if it is an evil thing to do, which makes him potentially less than good and makes humanity potentially better than God. The third option is that God is the objective moral standard. He is Good. He does not do or command evil because it is not in his nature.

Third, Prof. Lindsay’s argument needs and assumes an objective moral standard in order to work. Read carefully the following words from his final paragraph:

The obligation to tell the truth will persist as long as humans need to rely on communications from each other. The obligation to assist those who are in need of food and water will persist as long as humans need hydration and nutrition to sustain themselves. The obligation not to maim someone will persist as long as humans cannot spontaneously heal wounds and regrow body parts. The obligation not to kill someone will persist as long as we lack the power of reanimation.

Now ask yourself:

  • Does truth-telling become unnecessary if we stop needing to communicate with each other?
  • Does helping each other become unnecessary if we develop ways to sustain ourselves without food and water?
  • Does it become okay to maim someone if we develop ways to spontaneously heal injuries?
  • Do laws against murder become obsolete if we develop ways to reanimate ourselves?

This is not a comprehensive response, but this should get the juices flowing.

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This is going to sound very stupid, but how does one learn to analyze posts and arguments like this and break them down as you did? I find sometimes I am uneducated on certain topics or do not have the greatest understanding to pick out problems. I really value your input just curious on any books or classes that have helped you along the way.

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Hi Luke,
welcome to the forum. :slight_smile:

To start the thinking process; I found this video from William Lane Craig quite helpful. Here is the transcript from youtube. Consider his point; in the atheistic worldview, a heinous crime is not actually ‘wrong’, it’s just being anti social.

I think that the moral argument arouses deep emotions because it touches us at the very core of our being. You can ignore the evidence for the beginning of the universe and get along just fine in life. You can ignore the fine-tuning of the universe without being inconvenienced. But you cannot ignore these moral questions.

Every day you get up you answer by how you treat other people, whether you think that human beings have intrinsic and objective moral value, and therefore are to be treated as ends rather than mere means to your own selfish purposes. And so the moral argument is inescapable, and if we do believe, as I think the vast majority of us do, that there are certain things that are really objectively right or wrong, then the question arises as to what is the basis or ground for these objective moral duties and values that we sense?

And it’s very very difficult to provide any sort of basis for these on an atheistic or naturalistic worldview. On that view, we are just animals, and moral values and duties are just illusory spin-offs of the evolutionary process which are conducive to our survival as a human species. But when the sociopath murders and sexually abuses a little girl on that view he doesn’t really do anything wrong; he just does something that is antisocial.

And so we’re confronted with this very deep question and very disturbing implication of atheism as to what foundation there is for the objective moral duties and values that we confront in everyday living. I’m persuaded that theism by far provides the best explanation. Moral values are grounded in the very character of God, and moral duties are grounded in his divine commands to us.

We can see what is (that is what exists); but we cannot make the leap to know how we ought to behave. Secular humanism is the belief that there is only matter and energy; absolutely nothing else.

Here’s another quote from John Lennox:

“Science can tell you that if you add strychnine to someone’s
drink, it will kill her, but science cannot tell you whether or
not you ought to put strychnine into your grandmother’s tea in
order to get your hands on her property.”
– John Lennox

Science is descriptive (describing what exists), it is not prescriptive (telling us how we ought to live).

The article you posted has a lot of content in it - feel free to post more of which parts you’d like to talk about;

some brief thoughts

  • it mentions the ‘Need for God’; this argument is know as the wish fulfilment argument against God’s existence. ie; I wish that God exists, therefore he does as a projection of my mind.

The problem with the argument is that it is a double edged sword and works equally well against the atheist position. the atheists states “I wish there is no God, because I don’t want to meet Him some day and give account for the moral decisions and moral actions I have committed in my lifetime”.

This is covered in one of the chapters in a book by another RZIM speaker @Andy_Bannister called ‘The Atheist that Didn’t Exist’; if you wanted to read more about this topic. We did a book study on the book a while back lead by @boabbott ; and there are some forum threads about it: https://connect.rzim.org/tag/atheist-who-didnt-exist
the chapter on wish fulfilment argument is chapter 5:
TAWDE: Aim for That Haystack! (Ch 5)

  • it mentions at the start the so called ‘god of the gaps’ argument; God who created the universe is the author of the whole show, the parts we understand and the parts we don’t yet.

“God is not an alternative to science as an explanation, he is not to be understood merely as a God of the gaps, he is the ground of all explanation: it is his existence which gives rise to the very possibility of explanation, scientific or otherwise. It is important to stress this because influential authors such as Richard Dawkins will insist on conceiving of God as an explanatory alternative to science – an idea that is nowhere to be found in theological reflection of any depth. Dawkins is therefore tilting at a windmill - dismissing a concept of God that no serious thinker believes in anyway. Such activity is not necessarily to be regarded as a mark of intellectual sophistication.” John Lennox

for more on this topic have a look at some of John Lennox’s books
“Can science explain everything?” is a good introduction one and in it he references his longer works.

  • the article mentions the Euthyphro Dilemma in it’s closing argument; here is a short snippet from the RZIM core module course notes (you could consider doing the course, it’s outstanding!) ; the Euthyphro Dilemma is a false dilemma.

image

I think there are two things to think about here;

  1. the Scripture that states that “All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God” Romans 3:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” Romans 6:23 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 and lastly the amazing good news of the Gospel!: “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved”
  1. To the heart of your question; I would suggest that this might be covered under what seems to be a principle in the Bible; the age of accountability. The age of accountability generally is that children too young to understand and respond to the Gospel will go to heaven, because they are not intellectually and developmentally capable of responding to the simple message of John 3:16.

If a person is born disabled or handicapped, and completely unable to understand morals, you could say that they are intellectually of the age of a 6 month old, then I believe that this would also apply to the age of accountability.

By the way; it’s ok to struggle with doubts; it’s normal and we all have them. To just push them under the carpet and not deal with them is not good at all; it’s best to think them through and I think as Christians, we can also rest in the promise in James 4:8 that “If we draw nigh to God, he will draw nigh to us”. Just ask your questions of God and bring your doubts before him with a humble attitude, genuinely searching for answers from Him…

Whew, sorry if this is a bit long winded. :slight_smile: feel free to ask some clarifying questions; or start a new thread for a separate question. hope that helps a little. :slight_smile:

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You are not stupid. The single most important thing is to spend time with Jesus. Read this about Peter and John:

Now when [the rulers and elders and scribes] saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13, ESV)

The uneducated and common trounced the educated and powerful with their boldness and wisdom because they spent time with Jesus. We all need to spend time with Jesus by reading the Bible over and over again and praying on a scheduled basis every day. This is the utmost priority.

Second, I personally have developed my skill by spending many hours reading and listening to debates and speeches and reading material involving great thinkers like Ravi Zacharias and the RZIM team, William Lane Craig (www.reasonablefaith.org), John Lennox (www.johnlennox.org), and a host of others who respond to their opponents with love and respect. You can find almost everything that you need on these sites, but YouTube is also a treasure-trove. Make sure to keep reading material like that posted about and asking questions. The more that you research, the more that you learn. Do not be afraid to ask questions and examine things.

Third, do not underestimate your own ability to detect false thinking. You posted here because you knew that something is wrong; you just could not put your finger on it. If you are not sure, always ask questions. The Spirit will guide you if you let Him.

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Excellent post, and excellent point, Matthew. I recall purchasing a children’s book about cavemen. My parents tell me that they figured that this was a good opportunity for me to learn and grow, so they let me get it. I got it, asked a lot of questions about it, and grew!

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thanks Brendan (@blbossard), I also really liked your post and especially the four questions you asked as well of the concluding arguments in the article. :slight_smile:

I also liked your point about detecting false thinking with the help of the Holy Spirit.
God bless and enjoy your weekend ahead.

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