Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Apologist: Objective moral values evidence of God's existence

Here is some of an interview on the issues we are discussing by Dr. Paul Copan: (for the whole article click here)

Evolutionary ethics produce skepticism about a human’s ability to know truth, Copan said, adding that Charles Darwin said, “With me, the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals are of any value or are even trustworthy.”

Ethical foundations, then, are undermined by “an evolutionary process that is interested in fitness and survival but not true beliefs,” Copan said.Theism offers a more plausible context for affirming human dignity than naturalism that puts moral objectivity and rational thought in question.

Copan cited the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights to show that humans have an intrinsic understanding of human rights, regardless of religious convictions. He quoted French philosopher Jacques Maritain, one of the document’s drafters, who said, “God and objective morality cannot be plausibly separated since God is the Creator of valuable, morally responsible human beings and is the very source of value.”Copan concluded by saying that a moral argument alone doesn’t prove the existence of the Christian God but can be supplemented with other arguments for God.“The moral argument points us to a supreme, personal, moral being who is worthy of worship and who made us with dignity and worth,” Copan said. “He is a being to whom we are accountable and who could reasonably be called God.”

Monday, September 22, 2008

Is Goodness without God Good Enough? A Debate on Faith, Secularism, and Ethics

In light of the conversation we are having here about the Moral Argument, I wanted to make you aware of a new book debating these issues.

(From Publisher's Website)

Morality and religion: intimately wed, violently opposed, or something else? Discussion of this issue appears in pop culture, the academy, and the media—often generating radically opposed views. At one end of the spectrum are those who think that unless God exists, ethics is unfounded and the moral life is unmotivated. At the other end are those who think that religious belief is unnecessary for—and even a threat to—ethical knowledge and the moral life.This volume provides an accessible, charitable discussion that represents a range of views along this spectrum. The book begins with a lively debate between Paul Kurtz and William Lane Craig on the question, Is goodness without God good enough? Kurtz defends the affirmative position and Craig the negative. Following the debate are new essays by prominent scholars. These essays comment on the debate and advance the broader discussion of religion and morality. The book closes with final responses from Kurtz and Craig.

List of Contributors: Louise Antony, William Lane Craig, John Hare, Donald C. Hubin, Paul Kurtz, C. Stephen Layman, Mark C. Murphy, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, and Richard Swinburne.

About the Editors:
Robert K. Garcia and Nathan L. King are Ph.D. candidates in the philosophy department at the University of Notre Dame.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Does God Exist? Cont. (the Moral Argument)

Well, let's continue our discussion. In order to stay on task, here is the argument as it stands:

  • If God does not exist, objective moral values & duties do not exist.
  • Objective moral values & duties do exist.
  • Therefore, God exists.

  • An important clarification needs to be made here. Often, people misinterpret the argument to entail that people cannot live moral lives or 'be good' unless they believe in God. This of course if false and it isn't the argument here. The argument here concerns, what makes the best since of objective moral values and duties. What is a sufficient ground for them if they exist? So atheists can live moral lives. It remains to be seen however if atheism has the resources to provide ontological grounding for objective goods, duties and values which one would then have an obligation to exemplifying.

    By way of review, premise 2 seems solid (at the very least more probable than its contradictory).

    So what of premise 1 - that objective moral values and duties would not exist if God did not exist?

    Let's ask the question this way. It seems to me that Atheism entails Naturalism. And Naturalism reduces all existence to physics and chemistry. Non-physical stuff like consciousness, minds, freedom of the will, moral obligations, and beauty seem out of place in such a worldview.

    So moral values and obligations if they exist, on an atheistic view, would arise from only three sources (can you think of any others that would possibly be objective?).

    1. social agreement (but does this confer ontological grounding to what we agree on?)
    2. evolutionary emergence (but in what since are these objective instead of arbitrary?)
    3. some sort of platonic heaven as abstract objects (but how do abstract objects, like numbers, confer obligations?) 
    So the question then is, what is the more reasonable inference? That God grounds objective morality and duty in his very essence, being, and character or these three possibilities?

    What do you think?

    I will post more of my thoughts on these 3 options soon.

    Thursday, September 4, 2008

    Making the Case for Objective Moral Values

    William Lane Craig argues for objective moral values and this is a key premise in the moral argument for God's existence.