Moral Argument

Moral Argument of God’s Existence

 

Moral Argument of God’s Existence

By T.T. Kumakura

 

 

This paper introduces the Moral Argument for the existence of God, which appeals to the existence of a universal moral law. The argument says the existence of such a moral law suggests a Moral Law Giver, and that Law Giver is God.

 

Here is the argument:

1.     There is a universal moral law in our minds.

2.     Such a law requires a universal Moral Law Giver.

3.     That Moral Law Giver is God.

 

1. There is a universal moral law in our minds. 

This is an argument from the normative nature of morality. People in all cultures and civilizations presuppose the existence of a certain standard of behavior even if they don’t always conform to it.   

C.S. Lewis, perhaps the most popular proponent of the moral argument, cites as an example two people quarrelling. When someone criticizes another person, he is appealing to some kind of standard of behavior which he expects the other person to know about. Quarrelling means trying to show that the other person is in the wrong. And there would be no sense in trying to do that unless the two share some sport of agreement as to what right and wrong are, Lewis says in Mere Christianity. [1] Likewise, when someone is being accused of stealing, he often says he did not steal, instead of saying there is nothing wrong with stealing.

Lewis says people in every culture and civilization share this moral law.  The moral teaching of the ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Hindus, Chinese, Greeks and Romans are very similar to the modern Western moral teaching, he says. [2]  The moral law, then, must be objective. It must exist independently of human minds.

2. Such a standard requires a Moral Law Giver.  

 

Such an objective law exists only if there is a mind that exists independently. Thus, it is necessary to postulate an absolutely perfect mind that transcends our desires and material needs in order to account for the existence of this law, according to philosopher Hastings Rashdall (1858-1952). 

An absolute Moral Law or moral ideal cannot exist in material things. And it does not (we have seen) exist in the mind of this or that individual. Only if we believe in the existence of a Mind for which the true moral ideal is already in some sense real, a Mind which is the source of whatever is true in our own moral judgments,

can we rationally think of the moral ideal as no less real than the world itself. Only so can we believe in an absolute standard of right and wrong, which is as independent of this or that man’s actual ideas and actual desires as the facts of material nature.[3]

This law is prescriptive of human behavior, not merely descriptive of how we behave. The idea that we “ought to’’ do something implies a mind that stands independent of our own minds.  That means the Moral Law is a command. If it is a command, then there must be a commander.

 

3. That Moral Law Giver is God. 

Lewis says the Moral Law is “inside information’’ that God has put into our minds. We find out more about God from the Moral Law than from the universe in general. The Moral Law tells us what human beings ought to do. [4]  Using the language of Kant (1724-1804), we can’t realize summum bonum, or the greatest good, without God:

 

Therefore, summum bonum is possible in the world only on the supposition of a Supreme Being, having a causality corresponding to a moral character. Now a being that is capable of acting on the conception of laws is an intelligence (a rational being), and the causality of such a being according to the conception of laws is his will; therefore the supreme cause of nature, which must be presupposed as a condition of the summum bonum is a being which is the cause of nature by intelligence and will, consequently its author, that is God. It follows that the postulate of the possibility of the highest derived good (the best world) is likewise the postulate of the reality of a highest original good, that is to say, of the existence of God. Now it was seen to be a duty for us to promote the summum  bonum; consequently it is not merely allowable, but it is a necessity connected with duty as a requisite, that we should presuppose the possibility of this summum bonum; and as this is possible only on the condition of the existence of God, it inseparably connects the supposition of this with duty; that is, it is morally necessary to assume the existence of God.[5]

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