Book Discussion Day 8: Chapter 7 – Mother Teresa vs. Hitler
The first three arguments for a theistic God are the Cosmological Teleological and Moral Law arguments.
The Moral Law Argument39 Every law has a law giver
- There is a Moral Law
- Therefore, there is a Moral Law Giver.
Eight reasons for the Moral Law40The Moral Law is undeniable
- We know it by are reactions
- It is the basis of human rights
- It is the unchanging standard of justice
- It defines a real difference between moral positions (Mother Teresa vs. Hitler)
- Since we know what’s absolutely wrong, there must be an absolute standard of rightness
- The Moral Law is the grounds for political and social dissent
- If there were no Moral Law, then we wouldn’t make excuses for violating it.
How we react proves we live by a Moral Law
One student, an atheist, wrote eloquently on the topic of moral relativism. He argued, “All morals are relative; there is no absolute standard of justice or rightness; it’s all a matter of opinion; you like chocolate, I like vanilla,” and so on. His paper provided both his reasons and his documentation. It was the right length, on time, and stylishly presented ion a handsome blue folder.
After the professor read the entire paper, he wrote on the front cover,”F, I don’t like blue folders!” When the student got the paper back he was enraged. He stormed into the professor’s office and protested, “F! You didn’t grade the paper on its merits!”
Raising his hand to quiet the bombastic student, the professor calmly retorted, “Wait a minute. Hold on. I read a lot of papers. Let me see…wasn’t your paper the one that said there is no such thing as fairness, rightness, and justice?”
“Yes,” the student answered.
“Then what’s this you say about me not being fair, right, and just?” The professor asked. “Didn’t your paper argue that it’s all a matter of taste? You like chocolate, I like vanilla?”
The student replied, “Yes, that’s my view.”
“Fine, then,” the professor responded. “I don’t like blue. You get an F!”
Suddenly the light bulb went on in the student’s head. He realized he really did believe in moral absolutes. He at least believed in justice. That simple fact defeated his entire case for relativism.41
We judge, because there is a standard based on the Moral Law
Before he became a Christian C.S. Lewis believed one reason for belief in atheism was all the injustice in the world.
“As an atheist 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?”42When people think that morality is relative, it is due to confusion.43 People confuse absolute morals with changing behavior.
- People confuse absolute morals with changing perceptions of the facts
- People confuse absolute morals with the application of morals to particular situations
- People confuse a what an absolute command is with how the absolute command is practiced by a particular culture
- People confuse absolute morals with disagreements over moral questions
- People confuse values that are absolute ends with the means of achieving those ends
Consider the moral dilemma often used by university professors to get their students to believe in relativism: there are five people trying to survive in a life raft designed for only four. If one person isn’t thrown overboard, then everyone will die. Students labor over the dilemma, come to different conclusions, and then conclude their disagreement proves that morality must be relative.
But the dilemma actually proves the opposite – that morality is absolute. How? Because there would be no dilemma if morality were relative! If morality were relative and there were no absolute right to life you’d say, “It doesn’t matter what happens! Throw everyone overboard! Who cares?”. The very reason we struggle with the dilemma is because we know how valuable life is.44
Ideas have consequences
Hitler used Darwin’s theory as a philosophical justification for the Holocaust.
Princeton professor Peter Singer used Darwinism to assert that “the life of a newborn is of less value than that of a pig, a dog, or a chimpanzee.”45James Rachels wrote a book defending the Darwinian view that the human species has no more inherent value than any other species. He wrote that retarded people should be used as laboratory subjects, or as food, like other animals.46Two other Darwinists, Randy Thornhill and Craig Palmer, wrote a book asserting that rape is a natural consequence of evolution.47Objective moral laws require a transcendent Law-Giver, but the Darwinian worldview has ruled him out in advance. So consistent Darwinists can only consider murder and rape as personal dislikes, not real moral wrongs.48
In their seminar the authors begin with these two points
- If There is no God, then what Hitler did was just a matter of opinion!
- If at least one thing is really morally wrong – like it’s wrong to torture babies, or it’s wrong to intentionally fly planes into buildings with innocent people in them – then God exists.49
I think the biggest reason people do not consider where their ideas about right and wrong come from and what how they should live their lives is based on is that many simply do not think about it. If they think of it much at all their thoughts don’t go below the surface. Have you had conversations with anyone about how they know the difference between right and wrong? How far did the conversation go?
What consequences do you think can result from some of the ideas about whether or not there is a Moral Law?
39Geisler & Turek page 171 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
40Geisler & Turek page 172 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
41Geisler & Turek pages 173-174 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
42C.S. Lewis page 45 Mere Christianity
43Geisler & Turek pages 182-186 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
44Geisler & Turek page 184 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
45Peter Singer pages 122-123 Practical Ethics
46James Rachels page 186 Created from Animals: the Moral Implications of Darwinism
47Randy Thornhill and Craig Palmer A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion
48Geisler & Turek page 191 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
49Geisler & Turek page 192 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.