Counter-Critiquing the Moral Argument for God


At the 9/11 Museum underneath the World Trade Center

At the 9/11 Museum underneath the World Trade Center

The moral argument for God is one of the basic arguments for proving that God exists. In this piece I follow a critique Dr. William Lane Craig presents of a critique done by Richard Dawkins of the moral argument for God.

First, we need to state the moral argument for God. In its simplest terms, the moral argument has three bases.

The initial premise is this: if God does not exist, then objective moral values and duties do not exist.

In the absence of God as a transcendent standard or plumb line for moral value and duties, moral values and duties just become “socio-biological spinoffs of the evolutionary process”. If God does not exist, moral values and duties are relative to time, place, culture and individuals.  Moral values change and flux, and objective moral values and duties do not exist unless God, the standard of transcendent moral values, exists.

Premise two is this:  objective moral values and duties do exist.

Our moral experience and behavior suggests a realm of moral values and duties that we all intuitively believe to exist. Dr. Craig says, for example, it’s clearly wrong to torture a little child for fun. No “moral” person would say otherwise.

The fact that we all subscribe to the idea of some objective moral standard (whatever that is) is evident every day in the way we act. Whenever a person thinks he has been wronged, and the other person ought to have known better, he is demonstrating a belief in an objective moral standard. Religious people and atheists alike behave and think as if objective moral standards exist.

If premise one and premise two both are true, then God exists.

People like Richard Dawkins, who don’t believe in God, don’t accept the moral argument for God. Dr. Craig observes, in Dawkins’ case, this is true even though Dawkins agrees with premise one (expressly) and agrees with premise two (implicitly). Dawkins affirms both premises in his book, the God Delusion.

Dawkins says, if God does not exist, then there is no good, no evil, “nothing but pitiless indifference”; and we are just “machines for propagating DNA”. To that extent, he concedes the first premise by stating that there is no good, no evil, because God does not exist.

At the same time, Craig says, “it is very evident that Richard Dawkins is a die hard, stubborn moralist”. The God Delusion is “filled with moral judgments”. Dawkins condemns the practice of child sacrifice, the religious indoctrination of children and the harassment of homosexuals, among many other things. Dawkins even proffers his own version of Ten Commandments in the book.

From all of these examples, it becomes clear that Dawkins is a moral realist who believes in the objectivity of moral values and duties.

The problem for Dawkins, in reference to the first premise, is that the existence of objective moral values implies that God exists.

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