Morality without God?


Can you have an objective morality without God? Some people seem to think so. I have recently listened to a debate between Dinesh D'Souza and Peter Singer. D'Souza is an Indian-born Catholic writer and author. Singer is a rather famous Australian philosopher, most notable for his outspokenness on atheism and controversial views on animal rights and end of life scenarios. The heart of the debate was on the question of whether or not God exits, but a fair amount of attention was given to the question of morality, of which Singer didn't want to spend much time. Upon researching further what his views were - I can see why. Below is an excerpt from his book Rethinking Life and Death:

[The argument that a fetus is not alive] is a resort to a convenient fiction that turns an evidently living being into one that legally is not alive. Instead of accepting such fictions, we should recognise that the fact that a being is human, and alive, does not in itself tell us whether it is wrong to take that being's life.

Now granted, this is just one statement from an entire book, but his arguments were similar in the debate. Now this statement to me is atrocious, but the question really is I think, "would I have thought it atrocious prior to following God?" In other words; are we okay in working from the assertion that we may make our own morality, because it has 'evolved' over time, or it has always been a human invention? Dan Barker (former minister turned atheist) argues that we are moral as decided only by our actions, without regard to the condition of the heart. Of course Christ turns this teaching on its head in the New Testament when he gives the sermon on the Mount - that God looks at your heart as well as your actions. Nonetheless, many people hold to the convention today that morality is what we make it, and that we can be good simply for goodness' sake.

D'Souza argues the opposite of course, and says in the debate that we end up having a morality similar to the New Testament in the West because of the longstanding influence of the Bible in our country, as well as Europe. He reminds the Peter Singers of the world that you cannot divorce God from morality, and also be honest about it. Now this is an interesting idea. After all, doesn't God validate violence in the Old Testament? Doesn't Jesus say to indulge your enemy and to love him? Do these statements really sound "moral" to us today?

You have probably already guessed my position on this matter. C.S. Lewis provides an excellent demonstration of God as moral law-giver in his book Mere Christianity. If you are interested, search this blog for my post 'The Moral Law.' I suppose my central argument rests on the supposition that you cannot call something good, if there is no objective Goodness in the universe. If there is no God to put the Good into goodness, then we are left arguing goodness from experience and nature; and this allows different people with different perceptions to create their own morality. I'm not angered by this, in fact I sympathize with it. We all do the best we can in life with what we know. But how much more would we know if we didn't stop at the natural, and looked further into what Cause might exist which stamps us with a conscience?

I have posted the link to the website with Singer's debate if you are interested: http://www.greatgoddebates.org/


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Comments

  1. what an interesting argument
    "we should recognise that the fact that a being is human, and alive, does not in itself tell us whether it is wrong to take that being's life"

    Okay, so, using this argument, I like the idea that I heard before (can't tell you where, but I liked it so much I remembered it)... let's take a hat, and in that hat put the name of the mother to be, the doctor performing the abortion and just "unborn child" and whose ever name is pulled from the hat, that will be who is "terminated". At least this way, there's a 2/3 rd's chance that the innocent child will survive and the others, who are considering the "termination" are just as much at risk of being terminated.

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