One of the main reasons that I engage in political debates is that doings so creates so many opportunities for directing the conversation to the topics of God and the Bible. Here's a recent example of a comment that someone left on one of my political posts which then grew into a debate on the moral argument for the existence of God.
John: Can anybody point to god actually ever doing anything? Existing, for example?
Bill: Sure. God established what is right and what is wrong. Of course, I'm sure that you would disagree with that statement, so let me ask in advance -- What do you see as the foundation for what is right and what is wrong?
John: No, men established those things. And men share basic mores with each other.
Bill: So does that mean that since men established what is right and what is wrong men can also change what is right and what is wrong? For example, if men decided that slavery is right, would that actually make slavery right?
John: Yes, bill, which is exactly how slavery was done away with.
Bill: Was slavery something wrong that needed to be done away with?
John: Yes, bill.
Bill: If men determine what is right and what is wrong, then how could slavery have been wrong when the men who practiced it thought that it was right?
John: That's pretty ridiculous there bill. You're arguing in circles because you know you don't have a point. Show verifiable, reproducible proof or leave it alone.
Bill: I'm just trying to follow your logic, here. You say that slavery was actually wrong when it was practiced by men and a society that said that it was right. Yet, you also say that it is men who determine what is right and what is wrong. If men decide what is right and what is wrong, then when the men of the past decided that slavery was right, that should have meant that slavery was right. How can you say that the slavery practiced in former days was actually wrong?
John: Proof, bill, proof, not circular logic. Your responses are proving my point.
Bill: John, it's your own argument that is circular. I'm just repeating what you said, and you have rightly noted that it goes in a circle. Therefore, your claim that men determine what is right and what is wrong is logically invalid.
My claim, however, is that God is the one who determines what is right and what is wrong, and that claim is based on the following logically sound argument:
1. If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist.
2. Objective moral values do exist.
3. Therefore, God exists.
John: Moral values have no need of a god to exist. Man is perfectly capable of recognizing good and evil on his own. You have not still presented one iota of verifiable proof that a god exists. What's worse, you cannot offer that proof. You need an imaginary friend to justify your actions, fine. Rational people dont. Science and thought direct us and our values. But thanks for playing.
Bill: John, my evidence is that there are objective moral values. You have essentially admitted this evidence to be true by claiming that slavery is actually wrong even if a society decrees that it is right. You also admit the existence of objective moral values when you claim that man can recognize those values through the use of science. Man can only recognize right and wrong through science if right and wrong are real, objective values instead of subjective determinations of men. Do you agree that objective moral values exist?
John: The existence of morals are nothing more than the learned behaviors of organisms living together in a beneficial society. They are NOT proof of your god. There is no verifiable proof of his existance. If moral values are the best you've got, then you've got nothing. Give me concrete scientific proof. And you can't do that. The is no god. Period.
Bill: If morals are nothing more than learned behaviors, then that necessarily means that things like slavery, rape, murder and theft are not really bad after all. If we were to train children to think that these were good and not bad, then for those children, all these things actually would be good. Do you think that slavery would be good if we were all taught that it was? I'm sure that you do not. Therefore, if slavery is actually wrong regardless of whether men are taught that it is right, then slavery must be objectively wrong, and since there are objective moral values, there must be a God in whom those values are grounded.
This is basic philosophy. It's why all the atheist philosophers of previous generations consistently and without fail either ceased being atheists or completely rejected the concept of morality at all. This is why Anthony Flew became a theist and why Richard Dawkins has denied the very existence of morality. Real morality (where things actually are right or wrong) cannot exist unless God exists.
Bill Fortenberry is a Christian philosopher and historian in Birmingham, AL. Bill's work has been cited in several legal journals, and he has appeared as a guest on shows including The Dr. Gina Show, The Michael Hart Show, and Real Science Radio.
Contact Us if you would like to schedule Bill to speak to your church, group, or club.
"Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning." (Proverbs 9:9)