• James Werner

MORALITY: Is there a standard of right and wrong?




Most people have an instinctive awareness that they should do good and avoid evil. Why is this? Is it because there is a knowledge of right and wrong written on our hearts?


Previously I have written on two scientific arguments from cosmology that point to a Creator. These two powerful explanations for God’s existence are the Cosmological and Teleological arguments. In this post I would like to briefly explore another compelling philosophical line of evidence pointing to God’s existence. This is the Moral Law.


In essence, it goes like this:


1. Every law has a law giver

2. There is a moral law

3. Therefore, there is a Moral Law Giver


If the first two premises are true, then it would follow that the conclusion would be true, there is a Moral Law Giver.


BEHIND LEGISLATION IS A LEGISLATOR


I think everybody would acknowledge the first premise is true. It is obvious that every law has a law giver. I personally work for a governmental agency in the County of San Bernardino that enforces the California Building Codes. Building and Safety’s primary responsibility is the enforcement of building standards adopted by the County and approved by the California legislature. There would be no laws or “codes” if we did not have a body of lawmakers or legislature.


When we hire a new employee they sign a contract. One of the many things this entails is a “code of conduct”. There are certain rules and regulations that must be adhered to as part of their conditions of employment. It is very obvious to the employee that someone or more than one, created and wrote these rules.


When a police officer gives you a ticket for speeding, he must appeal to an established law that allows him to cite that specific violation. There are many examples we could give to reinforce this point.


So if there is a Law Giver behind the law, how does that apply to morality? If there really is a Moral Law then something or someone must be behind it. Is premise two correct? There is a Moral Law.


IS THERE A MORAL LAW?


It seems obvious that all people are impressed with a fundamental sense of right and wrong. However, there are some that try and deny this.


Well know atheist Richard Dawkins wrote the following in his book The God Delusion,


There is at the bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good. Nothing but blind pitiless indifference.”

Is this really true? Does this line up with our human experience? Is there really no evil or good? Are we living in a world without a God? Are we just highly evolved animals with no purpose?


In the wild a coyote will kill a rabbit because it needs to eat. It has not done anything morally wrong. There is a “circle of life” in the animal kingdom that we all recognize. Many times only the strong survive. Animals have no moral obligation to one another. The are just doing what animals do. If God doesn't exist, we should view human behavior in the same way. If Mr. Dawkins is correct, we should be able to kill someone and it shouldn’t really matter right? No action should be considered morally right or wrong. He says there is no evil and no good. So “murder” is just a personal decision and there should no ramifications. This is absurd right? But why is it absurd?


This is a problem for Atheists. They want to do away with God, but they must admit there are moral standards. However, without God, these standards do not exist. Here is a quote from Michael Ruse - Atheist, Philosopher of Science at Florida State University:


"The man who says that it is morally acceptable to rape little children is just as mistaken as the man who says 2 + 2 = 5"

We all know it is wrong to hurt or torture an innocent child. Even though some do this horrible act, deep down they know it is wrong. You see without an objective standard of meaning and morality, then life is meaningless and there is nothing absolutely right or wrong. Everything is a matter of opinion. You may as well just eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die. Again, we know this is a faulty concept.


“Former” atheist C.S. Lewis once struggled with the problem of evil. However, this subject eventually caused him to realize there had to be a higher standard and he eventually became a Christian. He made the following observation:


My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?”

Francis Collins was a “former” noted atheist and scientist. He wrote the following:


Why would such a universal and uniquely human hunger (for God) exist, if it were not connected to some opportunity for fulfillment? Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feel hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water.” {Source: “The Language of God”, 38}

The Law written in our hearts


The Bible addresses this “hunger” or truth stamped upon our hearts.


“…The work of the law is written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness…”
“Because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse!” Romans 1

Regardless of people’s opinions or what our culture may say, we have this “built in” understanding of what is morally right and wrong.


Moral Relativism


Many will say that is just your personal value or opinion. They will assert that morality is relative. They will argue that there are no universal values that help us determine what is right and wrong. They will claim, “that is your moral truth” or “everything is relative.” They may point out that different cultures have different standards therefore there are no standards. They argue moral relativism makes us more “tolerant” of other people’s beliefs. When challenged with truth and logic, these arguments do not stand up. When evaluated you will discover even different cultures have common moral standards. We should definitely be tolerant of others but our culture has re-defined the definition of “tolerance”.


This is why it is so critical for parents and influencers of the youth of our generation to be equipping them with a Biblical Worldview. In his book “The Closing of the American Mind” professor Allan Bloom says the following,


There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of; almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative…The students, of course, cannot defend their opinion. It is something with which they have been indoctrinated.”

Because of this, our culture has become close-minded to the possibility of knowing truth. The truth is that this objective morality is common to all people and given by God. It has nothing to do with our personal opinion or beliefs. Even though our culture may express this relativistic view, they do not live that way. Their actions contradict their “beliefs”.


If you treat someone who believes morality is relative unfairly you will find out real quick that they must admit there is a standard of right and wrong. Try stealing money from them. Take their cherished car or burglarize their house. If there is no standard, then I should be able to do that. After all I am just exercising “my truth” and morality. Like the animal kingdom, if I am stronger than you I will just take it from you. You have no right to complain if you adhere to your relativism. Again, we know this is absurd and if given the chance, they would try and defend themselves against you.


This view just does not match our intuitive understanding of right and wrong. If we take this concept to its ridiculous conclusion, a mass murderer should be no different than the sweet God-fearing lady who obeys the law and tries to help others. Almost no one would make that claim.


DOES MORALITY REQUIRE A MORAL LAW GIVER?


We have provided evidence that there is an objective morality that applies to everyone. Where does this come from? Since this law is written on everyone’s heart, it must come from a source greater than ourselves. The best explanation is for the existence of a Moral Law Giver (God).


For evil to exist good must exist, and for good to exist God must exist. An Atheist may say, I don’t need God in my life to be good. In a sense they are right. People can be good without knowing or believing in God. That is not the argument. There would be no standard of goodness without God. Even though they don’t “believe” in Him, they really need God to make their case. It is like someone who reads a book but does not know the author. This happens all the time. You can read a book and not know who wrote it personally, However there would be no book if there wasn’t an author!


CONCLUSION


We have provided ample evidence that premises one and two are both correct. Every law has a Law Giver. There is a Moral Law. Therefore, the last premise is true. There is a Moral Law Giver and He is God. He is the standard of goodness. Without Him there would be no objective right or wrong. However, God does exist and you can know Him.


The Moral Argument is just one of many reasons that add to the vast cumulative case of evidence that points to our Creator. Jesus said in the Bible:


“I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
“For all have sinned, and come 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
“That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved. For with the heart man believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Romans 10:9-10
“For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13

If you haven’t done this, now would be a good time!