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?).
- social agreement (but does this confer ontological grounding to what we agree on?)
- evolutionary emergence (but in what since are these objective instead of arbitrary?)
- 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.