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6 Reasons Christians Say God is the Necessary Source for Morality

Updated on August 29, 2014

1. If You Create Someone, You Can Expect Them To Do, Think, and Feel However You Want.

This is a complete non sequitur. If, to use a fairly provocative example, I create a beautiful woman, that does not in itself make it morally wrong for her to object to my raping her. In fact, it could be argued that because I created her with the ability to object to my raping her, I am validating that choice and thus don’t have the moral standing to condemn it without making a condemnatory moral judgment on my own design. The premise that you created something doesn’t mean that it has lost the right to object to the way you treat it, especially when you gave it that right to begin with. That reasoning simply doesn't follow.

Is this an argument for the existence of Zeus?
Is this an argument for the existence of Zeus?

2. Might Makes Right...Therefore God Is Needed for Morality.

So what? You don’t need God to define right and wrong by this principle – you can just say that “right” depends on the opinion of whoever is the most powerful in any particular situation. The claim that moral decisions are influenced by who has the most power in a given situation seems to have some weight to it (although the claim that morality itself is determined by power is far more controversial), but even if you go the extreme claim that “might makes right” there is no way to follow that with “therefore God exists.” That’s a standalone claim that does not require God. And, in addition, the mere fact that someone is mighty does not seem to mean that they need to be followed – most people do not agree that “might makes right,” and would argue that a weaker individual is not necessarily morally obligated to conform to the demands of a stronger individual.

3. God Says He's A Know-It-All. Which Means He Must Exist and He's Right. Because Faith.

This argument is usually used in contrast to the nonbeliever's lack of knowledge. We clearly don’t know everything and thus cannot create a moral system, while God DOES know everything and can, then, create the perfect moral system, or so the reasoning goes. But this proposition does not solve the problem of knowing enough to create a moral system – it actually makes it worse.

First, if you don’t know enough to determine a moral system’s existence on your own, how do you know enough to divine the existence and opinion of something far harder and more controversial – God (especially when definitions and claims concerning God, many of which don't appeal to the Bible, abound)?

Second, when you say you don’t know everything and thus can’t create a moral system, so that we need God, you have merely displaced the problem – even if we assume this God exists (which I’m not), how would this God know that HE knows enough to determine a moral system? I mean, he’s just there, in His context as we are in ours. How does HE know that there’s not a bigger context or that, as the Mormons claim, He’s not one God out of many? So the uncertainty as to whether there is enough knowledge to build a foolproof moral system has not been solved – it’s been made more complicated, because you’re assuming now that you have enough knowledge to determine the existence of God (and yet not enough to determine, on your own, a moral system) AND that this God somehow can be sure that HE is all knowing, when it’s quite possible He may not be, even if He did exist. You’ve introduced more, not fewer, assumptions into the mix.

4. God's Law Is Written on Your (and Everyone Else's) Heart...Whether You Know It or Not.

This is nonsense -- even if we all did, deep down, feel similarly about morality, that would not validate God's existence. It just would mean we had similar thoughts on morality, and there would be a myriad of possible explanations for this phenomenon without any appeal to this particular God.

There are several other reasons this claim doesn't seem to hold true. For one, there are psychopaths who literally cannot feel empathy, so our empathy-based morality seems to them like rules that need to be learned, rather than something that comes out of a natural care for another human being. In addition, there are many different manifestations of love that lie outside of the pale of God's supposed law in the Bible, so stating this is to say that a great many people who honestly state their love for other human beings (for example, many of those in the lgbt community) are lying. Finally, shame has long been known to be something that can easily be manipulated in human beings, so that such claims as this can deaden people to the manipulation in potentially harmful ways (for example, many of the Nazis, who had "God Is With Us" on their belts, firmly thought they were doing the work of God and didn't doubt it precisely because claims to God's morality being written on their hearts barred rational thought that would criticize said morality). This thought also, arguably, deadens people to the thoughts of their fellow human beings, because, no matter what they say or what their sense of morality seems to be, the thought remains that they are, deep down, ascribing to the Bible's definition of morality.

5. We Can't Have Moral Concepts Like Love without God Because, According to Our A Priori Concept of Love, God Loves Us.

How do we know that God is good and loves us? The only way we can gauge that is by having a moral system to judge Him by…which means that the moral system comes first…which means we don’t need God to validate it, but, rather, we need the moral system to validate God. But if you insist that God is needed to validate the moral system, then this is redundant – regardless of the way God acts, it is loving (or any other positive quality) simply because He did it -- you're appealing, then, to his nature, not to some outside quality of love that his nature can be judged by. This leads to a last argument.

6. God's Personality Is Necessary to Define Good, Because...Well, Just Because.

This common statement from apologists that doesn’t make sense. Everyone has a nature. What makes God’s so special that it defines morality more than anyone else’s, outside of one’s say so? It is common here to answer this question with several paths of insistence, and indeed this is how many apologists may use it – as a kind of hub from which they can implicate aspects of God’s supposed moral authority that have already been refuted. From God’s nature, you can implicate several of His supposed characteristics – His status as creator, His power, His knowledge, our natural sense for His morality, and His love. Because the term “nature” vaguely encapsulates all these characteristics, it serves the function of consolidating all these qualities which, individually, don’t hold water but, collectively and vaguely in the term “nature,” are difficult to coherently refute. However, once you show that these claims that God is creator, all-powerful, all-knowing, and loving do not make God a moral authority, there seem to be no aspects left in God’s nature to appeal to that would make Him a necessary moral authority.

Which of these do you use/hear most when discussing the relevance/lack of relevance God has in morality?

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If you filled out the above survey, would you mind sharing your position on religion?

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    • BobMonger profile image

      BobMonger 2 years ago from Carlin, Nevada USA

      "Pity the man that has no faith."

    • Paladin_ profile image

      Paladin_ 2 years ago from Michigan, USA

      This hub is a good start, Breaker, but I believe you may have overlooked the most common reason of all (at least the reason I'VE most often heard religious apologists use):

      "God is inherently good, so simply by default, ANYTHING he commands must be good."

      Of course, this also fails for a number of reasons. First, how does ANYONE know for certain that "God is good" -- other than the fact that he keeps telling them in the Bible that he is?

      Second, the assertion completely ignores the fact that, according to the Bible God often behaves, or issues commands, that are completely contradictory, all depending upon his whim of the moment.

      Then again, presumably, that STILL doesn't matter. For example, if God told you a moment ago to "honor thy father and mother," then tells you a moment later to stone them to death for trying to convert you to another religion, it was "good" both times! (and let's not forget Jesus telling you to abandon them, "pick up" his cross and follow him).

      It's no small wonder why believers sound so confused sometimes!

    • profile image
      Author

      barrierbreaker 2 years ago

      Paladin, I believe I covered that in #6...

    • Paladin_ profile image

      Paladin_ 2 years ago from Michigan, USA

      You did, indeed! I guess I misinterpreted what you were saying (now I see that, if I had examined the poll a bit more closely, it was more clearly stated there).

      I must have also missed the e-mail notification that someone had replied to my comment, or I would have replied to you sooner!

    • russinserra profile image

      Russ Inserra 2 years ago from Indianapolis, In

      Just to play a little "devil's advocate" here...We can believe that God is good simply by observation. There is an age old theological debate about how best to know God (however you perceive him or her). Many well known and respected theologians say that personal experience is the best way to know God. One does not need the Bible, Koran or any other text or established religion to believe in God or to believe God is good.

      As far as the contradictions...are either of you a parent? As a parent, if you honestly evaluate yourself, you know that you contradict yourself to your children, often. Your parenting is consistent in your mind, but to the outsider may not appear so. Why? Because you parent according to the situation and according to the age of the child. When a child is young, sometimes you have to use the "because I said so" method, because his or her understanding is not great. As a person gets older, smarter and wiser, reasoning occurs more often. the same could be said of our faith relationships.

      As I said in other comments of articles written by the author, this often seems more an argument against Christianity than a complete argument against the existence of God. Christianity is but a small religion in the vast universe of which God MAY exist.

    • Joseph O Polanco profile image

      Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

      It appears you're conflating moral ontology with moral semantics. Our concern is with moral ontology, that is to say, the foundation in reality of moral values. Our concern is not with moral semantics, that is to say, the meaning of moral terms. We have a clear understanding of moral vocabulary like “good,” “evil,” right,” and so on, without reference to God. Thus, it is informative to learn that “God is essentially good.”

      To put it another way:

      1. It is possible that a maximally great being exists.

      2. If it is possible that a maximally great being exists, then a maximally great being exists in some possible world.

      3. If a maximally great being exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world.

      4. If a maximally great being exists in every possible world, then it exists in the actual world.

      5. If a maximally great being exists in the actual world, then a maximally great being exists.

      6. Therefore, a maximally great being exists.

      7. God is defined as being a maximally great being.

      8. Therefore, God exists.

      9. It is greater to be the paradigm of goodness than to conform to it.

      10. Moral values are not contingent but hold in every possible world.

      11. Therefore, God is morally perfect.

      12. Therefore, God is the locus of all morally perfect values and duties.

      As you can see, God Almighty doesn’t have moral duties to fulfill, since He doesn’t issue commands to Himself. So we don’t praise Him for doing His duty. Rather He is to be adored for His moral character because He is essentially loving, just, kind, etc. It is because God is that way that these qualities count as virtues in the first place. Essentially, God is good the same way rain is wet, diamond gemstones are hard, photons tear across space at luminous speeds and cerulean suns blaze. So if you think of God’s goodness in terms of His possessing certain virtues rather than fulfilling certain duties, we have a more exalted and adequate concept of God Almighty.

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