Must God exist for there to be objective morality?

Monday Musings for May 02, 2022

Good morning, Musers,

Among the things that God has “finely tuned” is his revelation to humankind through its collective morality. Don’t misunderstand me, though. I am not saying that all humans are moral... not in a “being good” kind of way. I am saying that every human being has an innate sense of what is right and wrong — and many choose to do wrong things despite all that!

But in today’s discussion, how individual people behave on the morality scale is a red herring. The fact of morality is in view. Morality has, does and will exist throughout all cultures, so people like physicalist atheists have to explain it. Why? Objective morality threatens to topple their worldviews. You see, if only physical entities and causes exist, then both the self-awareness and moral consciences found in us humans are illusions... and that’s a tough sell for both sides.

Under the evolutionary paradigm — a paradigm whose main driver is selfishness — how does morality develop in a species? The Darwinian methodology works against every attempt at explaining how human altruism “arose” through purely physical processes. Both self-awareness and the human conscience demonstrate that there are things beyond physical realities. Meta-physical realities are in everybody’s face.

The fact that we have a viable debate shows God’s fine-tuning in this area. He could have made a world where morality weighed so heavily as proof of his existence that only a few odd ducks would doubt him. The question is, why didn’t he? Why didn’t God make a world where the proofs for his existence were weighted more heavily towards “yes”?

I believe this is because those who seek him earnestly tend to find him through the pieces of evidence, and those who stand on their heads not to find him do not. God has provided us with many different revelations (I’ve identified eleven), and he has put faith in the balance as a way to redeem the maximum number of people in a world containing free will.

King David agrees. He said, “With the merciful you show yourself merciful; with the blameless man you show yourself blameless; with the purified you show yourself pure; and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous.” (Psalm 18:25–26, ESV)

Now, a hard-core physicalist does not even believe in free will. He believes that chemistry causes everything... and that we have an illusion that we are free agents who are choosing to do things. The illusion of self-awareness and conscience would be covered under this objection.

But here’s the thing: we can’t prove the physicalists wrong. We are back to the brain-in-a-vat scenario. We can’t “prove” that we are not merely brains in vats that are being stimulated to believe that we are living as embodied people in real-time.

But do you notice that although no one can prove that we are not brains in vats, we do not let that stop our lives. We proceed through our day assuming that our felt lives represent our actual lives... because believing that reality is real is a properly basic assumption about life.

By way of contrast, physicalism is counterintuitive; it is swimming upstream. Frankly, it takes a lot of effort to support this belief. But Jesus’ yoke is easy and his burden is light... so I’m in.


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