A Critique of William Lane Craig's Moral Argument

(I am a new blogger. For my introduction, please see below and ask me a question there. I am doing a rare double-post to provide the blog and its readers with an example of my own mode of analysis, so if you have a question about the Moral Argument specifically, ask here).

Dr. William Lane Craig's moral argument for God goes as follows:

1) If God does not exist, then objective moral values do not exist.
2) Objective moral values exist.
3) Therefore, God exists.

Although the argument itself is (deductively) valid, we will discuss how Bill's definition of "objective moral value" given in Reasonable Faith leads to the logical impossibility of Premise (1) and at least a shaky ground for Premise (2), thereby literally closing the book on this version of the moral argument for good. The argument is presented within a letter I sent my friend Dr. Paul Copan, who spoke with me personally at the same time I was addressing Bill at the conference.

Paul,

One point of interest that needs to be brought up: we got distracted on Calvinism in the middle of what I was supposed to say for the Moral Argument.

Premise (1) states that "If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist." My friend Marques, the fan of Bill's whom I mentioned during our session, informed me that Bill defines an objective moral value as essentially "a moral assertion that remains true independent of human consciousness." I think this is the notion you and he defined during our talk and that which is given in RF.

The problem with Premise (1), as I mentioned, is that Bill only uses Existentialists in his lectures and similar notions in RF to provide an argument from authority - but we already discussed the "argument from authority" problem when we spoke, so I'll move on.

The further problem, which I did not get to address due to my unfortunate forgetfulness of how much gas the Calvinism subject empties out on a room (honestly sorry!!!), is that Premise (1) is logically equivalent to "If objective moral values exist, God exists,"; to prove this statement logically without appeal under Bill's definition, one must show that either:

(a) Objective moral values are present as an inherent property of reality qua reality independently of any consciousness, including God's, not unlike a Platonic "form" or Aristotelean "essence";

(b) Objective moral values exist because God delivered them by Divine Command, Divine Decree, creating Platonic forms to house them, etc., or in the hearts of men as Paul states.

No other means of morals being objective is at all possible. With what Bill says,

Option (a) is immediately an invalid option to prove Premise (1), for if morals existed as an inherent quality of reality, then either God created them in reality, leading to my objection for Option (b), or they exist in reality apart from God, making Premise (1) automatically invalid prima facie due to the fact that it presents either a possibility for objective moral values under atheism or objective moral values under a nonlawgiver God.

Option (b) renders any proof of Premise (1) automatically invalid by improper deduction. Premise (1) states that "if objective moral values exists, then God exists." But if we assert that objective moral values rest on God's existence due to either Divine Command/Decree, His creation of independent Platonic "moral vats" in reality, etc., as pressed forth in option (b), then Premise (1)'s logical proof fails deduction, to wit:

(1a) Assume objective moral values exist.
(1b) If a Moral Lawgiving God exists, then objective moral values exist due to His Divine Decree/Command, creation of independent "Platonic Morality Vats," etc.
(1c) Therefore, God exists.
(1d) Therefore, the statement "if objective moral values exist, then God exists" is true. Premise (1) is proven.

This argument is wrong from deduction.

Additionally, Bill's definition for an "objective moral value" drops the context of the identity of man, i.e. the context of a **finite** rational being. Indeed, Bill said both that these values would exist if God did not decide to create mankind, and that these values are nonbinding on a God of infinite nature. You might be interested to know that I assert that objective moral values *do* exist, but in a different sense than Craig; they are only possible if men exist, but they are *not* subjective because men exist *in reality.*

objective moral value != "a moral assertion that remains identically true for any rational being within this assertion's context."

If evolution arrived at another humanlike creature, then this objective morality would be the exact same assuming this, um, hypothetical "frog man" is rational; it depends on the identity of a rational being, not just on man qua man. It is objective because rational beings exist in reality, and the contexts of such moral actions exist in reality (i.e. outside of "Sophie's Dilemma" type extremes, all logically demonstrable). I will not go into this morality here, but it is much like Rand's morality that you provide a critique of in your God goes to Starbucks book - however, you'd be surprised that you have some incorrect notions, and that the morality - especially the neo-Ayn Rand version without the harshness she added to it - *isn't* as horrible as it sounds, and *is* objective (i.e. pertaining to reality above subjective consciousness), and *does* bridge "is-ought." I will describe it further if it is of interest to you.

Note that none of this disproves God, or even a moral lawgiver. But it shows that Premise (1) is invalid and that Premise (2) is on shaky ground given Bill's definitions, rendering his standard presentation invalid. Bill would do better to not use it as an isolated argument, but instead depend on Kalam and the Teleological Argument to first establish a God, and then to rule out atheistic "Platonic moral vats" or potential "Moral Lawgiving Gods" separate from a creator and designer of the Universe (as Bill does in his book on both counts, but not as well-developed by method) to then leave God the property of being the moral lawgiver. This is the most that is left for the moral argument given that my critique stands.

Best,
Darrin

53 comments:

Steven Carr said...

'a moral assertion that remains true independent of human consciousness'

Why 'human' consciousness?

Does this mean that moral values are dependent upon God's consciousness?

So God can declare smashing the heads of enemy children against rocks to be moral, even if human beings cannot?

Darrin said...

//'a moral assertion that remains true independent of human consciousness'

Why 'human' consciousness?

Does this mean that moral values are dependent upon God's consciousness?

So God can declare smashing the heads of enemy children against rocks to be moral, even if human beings cannot?//

Yessir. That's another valid objection that I did not present here since I brought it up with them in person. They stated something about how God was not binded, since we are His creation, justice for sin, etc. etc. are properties of His identity we don't possess which may override the morality that God and humanity share.

This makes God rather schizophrenic in my book, but at the least, Bill said that even if God acted randomly - even wickedly - that doesn't mean He couldn't have declared objective moral law for men and that the argument is invalid. Such weird things are possible when you define "objective moral values" the way Bill does; it's not unlike Calvinists and their inability to answer John's charge that God's secretive Will could be to damn all believers and save all us nonbelievers for critically thinking.

Even so, Craig's 100% right. I had to approach the Moral Argument by defeating the logic of the premises specifically, to kill even the "schizo-God" notion. So I did, and I think the disproof of premise (1) is absolutely airtight.

:)

Steven Carr said...

'Bill said that even if God acted randomly - even wickedly - that doesn't mean He couldn't have declared objective moral law for men and that the argument is invalid'

Declare?

Rape is wrong , only because God declared it to be wrong?

And not because it can objectively be seen to harm the well-being of humanity in general and individuals in particular?

And how does Craig known any alleged god has declared rape to be wrong? (and to be punished by forcing the rapist to marry the girl)

kiwi said...

How can we know that "objective moral values" exist?

Definition: 'a moral assertion that remains true independent of human consciousness'

How do we know that there are moral assertions that remain true independently of human consciousness? How has Craig figured that out, independently of his human consciousness?

Darrin said...

Great questions from the both of you; my own answer would be that Craig has concluded implicitly through man's identity that such things are wrong, but confuses this fact by making the assertion that they must be external of man entirely. That's the common "intrinsic" vs. "subjective" notion in moral philosophy.

kiwi said...

You say in your post that you do think that objective moral values exist. Why?

It's interesting that when I google "objective moral values", it's all discussions related to the moral argument. It just seems to me that "objective moral values" is another chimera from apologists.

Even if all human beings on earth agree that x, y, z, etc are morally right, and that a, b, c, ... are morally wrong, it does not automatically follow that objective moral values exist. But that's always how apologists defend the claim that they exist! Their typical argument is: "OMG if objective moral values don't exist, then we have no right to judge Hitler! Or Rapists!", or something. But that's just an appeal to emotions.

Steven Carr said...

Why should you do some things and not do other things?

If you say you should be moral because God will punish you if you are immoral, the question naturally arises, why should I care whether or not I get punished?

If the answer is that being punished is bad for your well-being, we at last get to some common ground on the subject of morals.

We can then say that things like rape, murder, torture etc are bad for the well-being of humanity in general and individuals in particular.

If the Christian response to that is why should he care about the well-being of humanity in general and individuals in particular, then he is open to the same question of why should he care about whether or not humanity goes to Hell.

So atheists can be moral for exactly the very same reasons that Christians can be moral - they are concerned about the well-being of humanity in general and individuals in particular.

dvd said...

So if evolution took a different "route" then Rape could have been "Moral", and we might have had 6 fingers instead of 5?

District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...

Steven Carr~"So atheists can be moral for exactly the very same reasons that Christians can be moral - they are concerned about the well-being of humanity in general and individuals in particular."

That's it Steven C. and true and as soon as that's realized you've entered the world of Objective Moral values, that both Chrisitian and atheist both agree that there are values within humanity to be aspired to and certain values that are repulsive and immoral. No matter where you live.

I'll read this article a little further and get back with a little more detail tomorrow.

Thanks.

Eric said...

I think that the following lecture by Craig may help clear up some of the more obvious misunderstandings of Craig's moral argument evinced in your post (e.g. your 'a' and 'b' alternatives concerning the possibilities of objectivity, which is central to your critique; the problem with grounding ethics rationally, which you suggest, given naturalism; and so on):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0eGuqD1Dt8&feature=related

kiwi said...

Even if humans agree that there are values within humanity to be aspired to and there are immoral values, how does it follow that objective moral values exist?

Objective moral value: "a moral assertion that remains true independent of human consciousness." If I rely on that definition, I do not see the relevance of a human consensus on some moral values with the existence of objective moral values.

Has anyone ever tried to defend the existence of "objective moral values"

1) Without an appeal to emotions.
2) Without referring to a consensus on the morality of x, y and z? (Which is irrelevant).

?

Darrin said...

>>Kiwi (first post after my last post)

The morality you describe here is pragmatism. I am not a pragmatist. ;)

This *WILL* need fleshing out, but the basic of my argument for objectivity first notes that Bill's definition *IGNORES* the human element whatsoever, which is a definition by nonessentials.

One can ground a morality in objectivity by the following definition:

objective moral claim p != "p is true or false based primarily on the intrinsic properties of a rational creature coupled with the logical primacy of the intrinsic reality which presents moral claim p to a rational creature."

Now that's a lot to swallow, but note that it depends on reality as a logical primacy, not consciousness (i.e. on objectivity).

This is different from Craig's definition, but justly so; Bill's definition completely ignores the element of a rational creature (or a finite rational creature, since Bill includes God in the equation, who is infinite and unbound by these properties as Bill himself states).

I will expand on this in a later post; there is not enough space here to treat it properly.

Darrin said...

>>dvd

If a different creature evolved which depended on rape, this creature would not be rational, since rationality demands the immorality of rape under objective moral values (see my reply above). I will address this topic on my proof for objective moral values at a later time, as I said, but essentially the action of rape is most heinous because it denies that part of the identity of a rational creature which (rationally) reserves sex for persons of extraordinary special and high value in a rational being's hierarchy; exerting force to obtain this sexual gift will therefore be morally reprehensible on two counts: the enabling of force first and foremost, and the theft of such a specially shared value by one who is a nonvalue in that sense makes this exertion of force absolutely wrong (a similar argument can be made for rape of children, who are psychologically unable to ascertain these cases).

Darrin said...

>>Eric

Thank you so much for pointing out this lecture. However, even though I listened to the entire lecture I could not find any passage in which Bill discusses the subpoints (a) and (b) as I described in my post. Bill spends most of his time discussing the difference between moral values and duties, and the ineffectiveness of evolutionary naturalism. Unfortuantely, both of these (valid) points are irrelevant to my case that I present to invalidate Statement (1).

I have read Reasonable Faith, watched this video and another specific morality debate on Youtube, and I have not seen Bill address anything even close to similar to what I presented.

I am sitting on a landmine here. Bill's longstanding moral argument, to my knowledge, is logically invalid. The only Christian I've contacted today about this is a very knowledgeable evidentialist extremely familiar with Bill's morality argument, and he told me I should burn off a few brain cells while he reads up on it (!?). This is the first time I've never seen him answer an argument I presented.

I sent the original email off to Paul Copan not knowing whether the argument was actually correct. After thinking of it for a while, though, I can't imagine any objections whatsoever - and I bring more objections on my own arguments than a great majority of Christians do!

I'm going to repost this after I sleep. I think I'm sitting on an incontrovertible logical disproof of Bill's morality argument, and I'm not saying that with presumption. Holy smokies, what a day! :)

Darrin said...

>>kiwi part two: I have attempted an objective moral definition above, to be fleshed out in a different post.

Recall that I am not a naturalist like Dawkins. I am also not a logical positivist, i.e. the type of people who would agree with the "consensus morality" you presented here. ;)

Steven Carr said...

DVD
So if evolution took a different "route" then Rape could have been "Moral", and we might have had 6 fingers instead of 5?

CARR
And if evolution had taken a different route, then pigs might have developed wings.

If evolution had taken a different route, and rape really did benefit mankind, then you can bet your bottom dollar that people would write a Holy Book denouncing consensual sex as sinful, and commanding men to take their knife to the priest to be blessed by Almighty God before they threatened women with it.

Of course, rape is condemned in the Bible

Deuteronomy 22
If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay the girl's father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the girl, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.

Absolute morality or Biblical morality? The choice is clear.

Steven Carr said...

What are moral values?

Here is one thing the Bible claims is moral behaviour. Or is it?

Is it really moral behaviour to give all your money to the poor for example?

Of course, Christians don't HAVE to give all their money to the poor, but that is a different point.

Is it morally correct to give all your money to the poor?

Is it immoral to give all your money to the poor?

Or would Craig claim it is neither moral nor immoral?

Steven Carr said...

I'm still confused by 'objective' moral values.

Are objective moral values contingent?

Darrin said...

>>Steve

Bill would argue that objective moral values are a part of God's nature.

As far as giving to the poor, Bill's writing clearly outline this as a separate notion, "moral duty."

It is not a break of the Ten Commandments, for instance, to not give to the poor. However, Christ instructed Christians to do so. So even if it is not "bad" (i.e. going against God's law), it is "wrong." The primary difference is that "not raping someone" is "good" in the sense of "not bad": you did not achieve anything by not raping a child today.

However, with charity (i.e. moral duty), one is "right" to give to charity and "wrong" to go against Christ's command.

Both are to be followed. What each specific definition entails for people choosing not to follow those sets is not clear in Bill's work.

Steven Carr said...

If I understand Darrin, then Craig does not claim that giving to charity is moral behaviour, any more than he claims that not giving to charity is immoral behaviour.

It is merely a case of 'right' or wrong', rather than 'moral' or 'immoral'?

Sounds like playing with words to me.

Do we have a 'moral duty' to give to charity, but we do not HAVE to give to charity?

How is this different from Craig claiming we are morally obliged to obey God's commands?

If God sees nothing wrong with us not fufilling our moral 'duties', why are we obliged to behave morally?

And if I understand Darrin, objective moral values are not contingent upon anything.

I must have misunderstood Darrin?!?

dvd said...

Darrin

"Rational" creatures, and the like are all "intuitions" that are supposedly ingrained from a mindless process. It could be that the very things you are uphold might have semed different had evolution took another direction and rape was seen as good. Unless you think that evolution although mindless somehow knew which direction morality existed in?

I think this idea of Objective Morality breaks down on your view, in that Moral Goodness would be arbitrary and just a product of Survival and is not rooted in personhood.

Far more coherent to say that God's nature defines the Good as opposed to a mindless process that is not personal.

Between the two choices, I would choose a personal source for The Good.

Steven Carr said...

DVD
It could be that the very things you are uphold might have semed different had evolution took another direction and rape was seen as good.

CARR
Beliefs as to what is good or bad are not produced by evolution.

And God's nature is as arbitrary as anything ever proposed by anybody.

How do you explain the nature of this alleged god?

Steven Carr said...

DVD
I think this idea of Objective Morality breaks down on your view, in that Moral Goodness would be arbitrary and just a product of Survival and is not rooted in personhood.


CARR
So if beliefs X,Y,and Z get us Survival and Eternal Life , then those beliefs are arbitrary beliefs, selected purely because they guarantee us survival, rather than because they are true?

BobCMU76 said...

Terminology about these things always takes some negotiating. Or at least explaining. But I think Craig's assertions are simple to refute.

In an inertial universe (that the totality of what-is operates in ways that may be observed, but not altered, and do not represent intelliegence, personality, free will, sentience, etc... no God, just intertia) the assertion is made that no information exists from which moral instruction/moral consequence can be had.

I think clearly, moral guidance can be drawn from astronomy and chemisty and , and gravity certainly has moral consequences. The Bible itself suggests that people who claim to speak for God (primarily as agents of moral instruction) ought be able to make reliable predictions about what has yet to happen. Science is pretty good at prediction. Priestly arts not so good.

If the universe is designed and directed by personality, then all the more instruction to be had by its study, but that study and instruction is not absent, absent divine personality.

The second assertion, about objective moral values -- what is objective about rape, theft, running red lights, passing on the right, scooping dog turds, fair weights and measures, blended fiber clothing, etc? Without subjectivity, there is no morality. So, morality can only exist in a self-referntial covenantal format, which runs counter to Craigs insitance that morals can dispense with such.

So Craig's syllogism makes no sense to me. It violates the most basic subject/object relationship and blasphemes God.

I think rather my thoughts go along the liberal/concervative dialectic. Are social constructs to be a function of design by first principle (liberal) or a function of expedient ad hoc adjustments to established ways (conservative). ID or evolution?

The corrolary -- is man intelligent enough to create something better than what generations have caused to function. And corrolary to that, is the tempo of change so accelerated that design is the only valid approach to adaptation and survival?

The deist question is are there social constructs that will never fail at adaptation, being eternally ordained by God? Or does one also ask are there adaptive measures which some value would have us prefer extinction to adoption? Canibalism anyone?

dvd said...

Steve

I think your missing the point. I am talking about what "got us here" with evolution It is *Purely for Survival purposes*, the comparison you made might entail survival but it isn't the sole purpose of "The Good".

On your view, Rape could have been Moral had Evolution been different.

On your view Abortion might have been a crime with everyone agreeing that it is wrong had evolution gone different.

Natural Selection is a mindless process that has no real "reason" behind it, reproduction and survival is what it is about.

Moreover, there is not even sense of a Free Will on your view, everything would be determined.

dvd said...

Steve Carr

CARR
Beliefs as to what is good or bad are not produced by evolution.


Really? Well, you stand in contradiction to Richard Dawkins who admitted that had evolution gone different something like Rape could have been moral.

dvd said...

Steve Carr
"
And God's nature is as arbitrary as anything ever proposed by anybody.

How do you explain the nature of this alleged god?"


If your talking about the Bible, then your problem is with the innerrancy of the scriptures, not with what I am talking about or arguing about.

God would be the source of Good in that his own very nature would be what all others would be striving for or imitate.

The reflection in a mirror reflects an image but is not the actual "thing".

The "good" we strive for is a reflection of "nature"--God's "nature".

dvd said...

Steve Carr

Now I have a question for you.

If the president of the United States had ordered that one of the Planes that was heading toward the World Trade Center be SHOT DOWN, in your view this blantant "killing" of "innocents" and "women", burnt to death by reason of a missile that would set the Plane on Fire.

In your view, Steve. Is that a Crime of Murder?

Are you being "arbitrary"?

david said...

Darrin,

I haven't surfed the thread yet, but I had a question.

"If objective moral values exist, God exists,"; to prove this statement logically without appeal under Bill's definition, one must show that either:

(a) Objective moral values are present as an inherent property of reality qua reality independently of any consciousness, including God's, not unlike a Platonic "form" or Aristotelean "essence";

(b) Objective moral values exist because God delivered them by Divine Command, Divine Decree, creating Platonic forms to house them, etc., or in the hearts of men as Paul states.

No other means of morals being objective is at all possible.


Exactly how did you arrive at this dichotomy which presumably could warrant premise 1?

Steven Carr said...

DVD
raises a question of whether the planes should have been shot down.

I thought the passengers on one of the planes did bring down the aircraft themselves.

It might be the case that an innocent person has to die for the greater good.

It wasn't only Spock who said that, it is also the main plank of Christianity.

Steven Carr said...

DVD
God would be the source of Good in that his own very nature would be what all others would be striving for or imitate.

CARR
This is meaningless, as it just means good is god's nature and god's nature is good.

This makes 'good' meaningless.

And where did Dawkins say that beliefs are produced by evolution?

He has never said that.

And if we had evolved so that rape was good for mankind, you can bet that Holy Books would condemn consenual sex, and Craig would be pointing to passages in the Bible where it was commanded that men get their knives blessed by God before threatening women with them.

Steven Carr said...

I think Dawkins in his interview with Justin was a bit stunned by this statement of Justin's

'When you make a value judgement don't you immediately step yourself outside of this evolutionary process and say that the reason this is good is that it's good.'

So is that all objective moral values boil down to - the reason something is good is that it's good?

The reason god is good is that he is good?

Surely Christians have something which actually is supposed to make sense, rather than saying something is X because it is X.

Darrin said...

>>David

//Exactly how did you arrive at this dichotomy which presumably could warrant premise 1?//

This is paraphrasing from Reasonable Faith (see the discussion on the first premise of the Moral Argument on the second chapter proving God's existence).

I have a much better presentation that I am working on; I will present it later today.

Charlie said...

Darrin,

I'm not sure why those are the only two options. Could you explain how you derived those? Seems like you're loading down the argument with views to which it's not committed.

Sidenote: you said, "Premise (1) is invalid." FYI, invalidity refers to argument forms, not premises.

AdamKadmon said...

Hello, newbie here. Great site.

Actually, I just love this faulty logic about not being able to have Morality with God. That's like saying, "all cats have four legs, all dogs have four legs, therefore all cats are dogs."

Hammurabi had his version of the Golden Rule over 1,000 years before Moses wrote the first 5 books of the Bible. The fact is, Morality started out, most likely as a selfish act. Meaning that the oldest example is in the Middle Eastern Desert Tribes, where you took in any lost wanderer's that you came across. Fed, watered and healed them, in the hope that whenever someone from your own family/tribe was lost, others would do the same (i.e., do unto others...) The oldest written example of this is Lot taking in the Angels and protecting them by offering up his own virgin daughters (this is not as offensive as most people perceive) as he was duty-bound by taking them in, to do whatever was necessary to protect them.

So, you can have morality without God.

Again, great site, glad I found it!

AdamKadmon said...

ooops . . .

Actually, I just love this faulty logic about not being able to have Morality withOUT God. (sorry for the typo)

dvd said...

Steve carr
"And where did Dawkins say that beliefs are produced by evolution?"


Richard Dawkins interview with Justin from Premeier Christian Radio:


RD: My value judgement itself could come from my evolutionary past.

Me: So therefore its just as random as any product of evolution?

RD: Well, you could say that, but it doesn't in any case, nothing about it makes it more probable that there is anything supernatural.

Me: Ok, but ultimately your belief that rape is wrong is as arbitrary as the fact that we've evolved five fingers rather than six?

RD: You could say that, yeah."
===============================


Richard Dawkins agrees, that "your belief that rape is wrong is arbitrary"

dvd said...

Steve Carr

When I say God is the Highest Good, when refering to his nature, let me be clear on what it is you believe.

Are you saying that Good does not exist at all? In other words, when you argue that the world "ought" to be a certain way, what would your "ought" be based on?

dvd said...

Steve Carr

I noticed you did not really answer my question. I was not talking about the plane that crashed.

I was talking about a plane that was going into the Towers.

*IF* the president had ordered the "incineration" by way of a missile of Children aboard the Plane, in your view is that "murder"?

If you argue for the "greater good", then on what basis can you judge another person such as God for any supposed "crime"? It could be that it was for a greater good?

District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...

DVD,

excellent questions my friend and I want to hear Steven Carr or Darrin address this. Especially this part:

"*IF* the president had ordered the "incineration" by way of a missile of Children aboard the Plane, in your view is that "murder"?

If you argue for the "greater good", then on what basis can you judge another person such as God for any supposed "crime"? It could be that it was for a greater good?"


I believe Darrin misunderstands Craig's definition OMV and includes "God's consciousness" in the equation when the definition is based on "human consciousness" thus tipping his hand in the Rand type of self-awareness argumentation that robert_b has offered on this site also.

Then Darrin says that OMV's only exist if MEN exist in reality. Now, there's a nugget to chew on. Before the fall of man there was no need for OMV's. As all including man was "good". After the fall there was a need to adjust, adjudicate and discern right from wrong.

So one could make a case that OMV's are vicariously and indirectly a result of sin. However that ability to discern and perceive OMV's are from God, as sin totally depraves the nature of man within the christian world-view, and natural selection being blind and as affirmed by Dawkins would have been arbitrary.

Therefore without OMV as I state on my site, murder wolud hold as much value and moral esteem and preserving life, hate as much vale as love etc...

In essence Darrin, I am one that believes that both sinner and saint alike can be moral, however there is a difference as morality cannot rid a person of a sin nature.

To say that your argument somehow overturns Craig's is a serious overstatement as your conclusions somewhat make leaps, but I will grant you that you insulate yourself by stating that your argument wasn't designed to "disprove God or even a moral lawgiver" which is somewhat confusing to me because craig's statment is designed to prove the existence of God and the existence of him as the Moral Law Giver.

Thanks

Steven Carr said...

DVD
If you argue for the "greater good", then on what basis can you judge another person such as God for any supposed "crime"? It could be that it was for a greater good?

CARR
God does not have to kill people to acheive good.

This alleged god is supposed to be all-powerful.

Did the killing of Jesus by humanity lead to a greater good?

So it was not a crime to kill, flog, beat, strip and mock Jesus.

It led to a greater good.

Scott said...

DVD wrote: *IF* the president had ordered the "incineration" by way of a missile of Children aboard the Plane, in your view is that "murder"?

If you argue for the "greater good", then on what basis can you judge another person such as God for any supposed "crime"? It could be that it was for a greater good?


The problem with this sort of analogy is that you're asserting that God has some "good" reason for actions that do not fit his means.

For example, God doesn't need to incinerate an entire plane to prevent it from flying into a building. He could simply "teleport" it to a safe location on the ground with the terrorists unconscious, in handcuffs.

However, if God did incinerate a plane despite his ability to resolve the issue without harming the passengers, then yes, I'd say it was murder.

Of course, you might make up some kind of mysterious reason why God couldn't exercise his abilities, such as infringing on the terrorists free will, revealing himself in a concrete manner, etc. The problem here is that you'd have to show that these reasons are necessary for the better good given God's means, instead of merely asserting them.

For example, God says he wants everyone to be saved. However, God would rather have only a small number of people saved who choose by faith rather than save significantly more people by revealing himself in a concrete way. In this scenario, what God "wants" and what is best for everyone doesn't seem to match up. Would it be better for the majority to spend an eternity in hell than be given "too much" evidence for God's existence and go to heaven?

In this case, you're depending on the idea that having people choose by faith is better than other options, because that's supposedly what God wants (and God is your moral compass)

You've come to this conclusion by starting out with the presuppositions that God exists and that he intentionally hasn't revealed himself to us in a concrete way (instead of merely not existing)

Eric said...
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Eric said...

Hi Darrin

You wrote:

"Premise (1) is logically equivalent to "If objective moral values exist, God exists,"; to prove this statement logically without appeal under Bill's definition, one must show that either:
(a) Objective moral values are present as an inherent property of reality qua reality independently of any consciousness, including God's, not unlike a Platonic "form" or Aristotelean "essence";
(b) Objective moral values exist because God delivered them by Divine Command, Divine Decree, creating Platonic forms to house them, etc., or in the hearts of men as Paul states.
No other means of morals being objective is at all possible."

This is a false alternative. There *is* another "means of morals being objective," and it is precisely the one that Craig defends, viz. objective moral values exist *by virtue of god's nature*, which is the standard of moral goodness, and moral duties and obligations, which conform to that standard, exist as god's commands (let's call this option 'c'). (Incidentally, this is why Craig spent so much time distinguishing moral values from moral obligations: it provides an objective moral ground -- god's nature -- for god's commands -- our moral duties and obligations.)

Note that premise one is free from any of your criticisms, given this conception of moral objectivity. Note also that your criticism isn't actually with the logic of Craig's argument, *but with his defense of premise one*. If this is the case, then we *must* look at option (c), and see the consequences it has for your alternatives.

Your criticism of option (a) fails to address Craig's argument because it's not the case, given (c), that morals exist "in reality apart from God." And your criticism of option (b) fails to address Craig's argument because god did not, again given (c), "[create] them in reality"; they exist in god's nature, which means that they exist both objectively and necessarily, and are therefore not created.

Now, one can of course criticize (c) in any number of ways, but your alternatives, and your criticisms of them, in no way affect (c), which is what Craig defends. It seems to me, therefore, that your analysis has not in any way weakened Craig's moral argument.

Scott said...

Eric,

If I understand Darrin correctly, he's implying that Dr. Craig's first premise is really disguised by his 'inversion' of the premise. Dr. Craig must show that objective moral values are contingent on God's existence and could not exist otherwise.

The premise...

(1b) If a Moral Lawgiving God exists, then objective moral values exist due to His Divine Decree/Command, creation of independent "Platonic Morality Vats," etc.

This does not necessarily follow. Just because there would be a Moral Lawgiving God does not mean such a being is actually responsible for objective moral values. This presupposes both objective moral values and God's involvement.

There *is* another "means of morals being objective," and it is precisely the one that Craig defends, viz. objective moral values exist *by virtue of god's nature* which is the standard of moral goodness, and moral duties and obligations, which conform to that standard, exist as god's commands

I think what Darrin is referring to our inherent knowledge and context of these values when he says...

...creating Platonic forms to house them, etc., or in the hearts of men as Paul states.

The fact that Craig claims they these values are non-bingding on God, yet would have existed had God decided not to create mankind, is problematic.

If God is not bound by these values, but humans are, then they must exist in some form that is unique to human beings. They must exist in a human context. Since we, unlike God, have not always existed, they must have been created.

(Incidentally, this is why Craig spent so much time distinguishing moral values from moral obligations: it provides an objective moral ground -- god's nature -- for god's commands -- our moral duties and obligations.)

But all we would have is God's obligations, and that's not what we observe. Instead, human beings appear to hold specific moral values and hold them in a uniform way. What I think Darrin is referring to here is how moral values appear to be, as Paul said, written on the hearts of men, which provides moral ground for our actions.

If men's hearts have not or may not have existed, then God must have written human-specific values on them at some point in time. These values must have been created.

Scott said...

DVD wrote: So if evolution took a different "route" then Rape could have been "Moral", and we might have had 6 fingers instead of 5?

If objective moral values are a part of God's nature, and God has always existed, then how could it have been eternally wrong to rape a child if children have not eternally existed?

How could it be wrong to rape a child even if God had not decided to create human beings (and therefore children)?

Eric said...

Hi Steve

You wrote: "The premise...
(1b) If a Moral Lawgiving God exists, then objective moral values exist due to His Divine Decree/Command, creation of independent "Platonic Morality Vats," etc.
This does not necessarily follow."

Sure, it doesn't necessarily follow, but no implication by itself has a consequent that necessarily follows from its antecedent; implications aren't arguments, so no consequent can necessarily follow, given the antecedent alone. (Remember, I'm talking about implications themselves; obviously, also, I'm not referring to tautological implications.)
But it is precisely because it doesn't necessarily follow that Craig provides an independent defense of this premise. I would note, though, that (1b) isn't, strictly speaking, logically equivalent to Craig's first premise, since Craig's moral argument *itself* makes no reference to *why* god's existence is a necessary condition for the existence of objective moral values, but only asserts that it is a necessary condition. Again, you can question this premise, but to do so you must provide an argument defending the notion that objective moral values can exist independently of god's existence. Darrin's approach, which set up a false alternative concerning how objective morals could be conceived and took of from there did not effectively attack Craig's first premise.

"If God is not bound by these values, but humans are, then they must exist in some form that is unique to human beings. They must exist in a human context. Since we, unlike God, have not always existed, they must have been created."

Here you're confusing objective moral values with objective moral obligations. Moral values, according to Craig, are determined by god's nature, so they cannot be 'created.' Moral duties follow from god's uncreated nature; god doesn't create them: they come into existence necessarily the moment god creates free beings (given god's nature). Prior to that, I believe Craig would argue that they exist as true counterfactuals (given Craig's Molinism). Of course, I would add, I can't speak for Craig, and may not be accurately representing the answer he would give.

Eric said...

Sorry! I meant, "Hi Scott!"

Andre said...

Doesn't the idea of us doing good only because it's from God means that we don't have free will in this case? The fact that we didn't have a choice in our existence goes hand in hand in what we call morality. It exists because we exist, there's no other option except to do right or wrong. If we are going to use the good that we do and say it's of God's nature, then the bad that we do should also be of God's nature.

If God is the standard of good, then it only follows that he must also be the standard for bad. To illustrate, since God has always existed with his good nature, then evil/bad must have been there with him or else his goodness would be meaningless. If this is not the case, then someone or something evil/bad was always existing also.

The morality argument is no more important than our ability to reproduce, there is no choice in having that ability, which makes the argument purposeless in regards to it's attempt at proving God's existence.

What is it to God anyways that we do good or bad. Do you think that since good and bad exist that he said it must be made manifested through human beings, so he decided to create us. It seems to me the idea of objective morality is over exaggerated unnecessarily, and therefore serves no purpose.

I especially see no purpose since throughout all human existence, God has stood by and done nothing about all the evils man has done to one another. If he doesn't think it's a big deal then why should we. So basically, if there's no purpose to objective morality in regards to God, there is no purpose for a god, therefore God doesn't exist.

Jacob said...

When I read Craig's premise I think:
Which god, and how is that determined without appealing to human consciousness?

david said...

Jacob,

At minimum the argument presupposes a personal God. Don't tell me you're another Rand fanatic. :-)

Jacob said...

David,
No, I'm not much of a philosopher (Rand-ian or otherwise). I'm just unaccountably curious about these religious/philosophical debates.

RE: presupposing a personal god. Yes, that makes sense, as an impersonal god probably wouldn't care enough about the "oughts" of our personal and interpersonal relationships to establish or make known a set of moral directives.

But I still don't see the dots that go from "objective moral standards" to "the god of the Bible". I suspect that this moral argument isn't meant to be presented in isolation.

Scott said...

Eric wrote: Sure, it doesn't necessarily follow, but no implication by itself has a consequent that necessarily follows from its antecedent; implications aren't arguments, so no consequent can necessarily follow, given the antecedent alone.

Looks like I've used the wrong terminology. I was attempting to be brief by identifying the particular antecedent where things break down.

Eric wrote: Here you're confusing objective moral values with objective moral obligations. Moral values, according to Craig, are determined by god's nature, so they cannot be 'created.'

But choosing to call aspects of reality 'moral obligations' because they must have been created really isn't really a solution. In Craig's argument, human beings must have a separate, but particular and unchanging, value amongst ourselves. This value must be separate from God as he is not bound to it yet it must have always existed.

Moral duties follow from god's uncreated nature; god doesn't create them: they come into existence necessarily the moment god creates free beings (given god's nature).

But we value other human beings. We observe this in reality. I don't see how this can be defined as a "moral obligation." given the Bad or Good vs. Right or Wrong that Craig refers to.

Prior to that, I believe Craig would argue that they exist as true counterfactuals (given Craig's Monism). Of course, I would add, I can't speak for Craig, and may not be accurately representing the answer he would give.

I can't speak for Darrin, but I know he has seen the video posted in the comments above, which clearly presents Craig's idea that God's very nature is Good.

To quote Darrin...

Great questions from the both of you; my own answer would be that Craig has concluded implicitly through man's identity that such things are wrong, but confuses this fact by making the assertion that they must be external of man entirely. That's the common "intrinsic" vs. "subjective" notion in moral philosophy.

However, this was primarily an attempt to clarify my own interpretation of Darrin's critique, so I'll refrain from commenting further until he chimes in with his own clarifications.