Recently, I had the opportunity to take part in a brief dialogue regarding morality on social media. Normally, I do not engage in commentary responding to someone’s blog, but I felt a sense of obligation because of what was said and the implications if this is what that person truly believes.
The comments were in response to a blog post entitled “9Ways Atheist Moms are Different from Religious Moms.” The post is not really what caught my attention. I honestly can’t remember much from what I read other than there was a lot of interesting language used.
What I remember is a comment in response to the blog basically saying that teaching your children about hell is child abuse. Now I would agree that teaching the concept of hell as a scare tactic to get them to accept your belief is not the right approach. But what struck me most about the comment was that someone who I would describe as an atheist was making a moral judgement on someone’s behavior. On atheism, how can one make a moral judgement when objective moral values and duties do not exist?
I posed this question as a comment and was referred to an article from the NY Times entitled Good Minus God. I read the article and noticed that it was written by philosopher Louise Antony. I recalled that Antony had debated Willliam Lane Craig with the question being Is God Necessary for Morality? I listened to the debate and much of what Antony presented in the debate was restated in her NY Times piece.
Dr. Antony believes that “good” is independent of God. If it is not, then one is faced with the dilemma that it is arbitrary as it is dependent upon what God commands. For example, if God said it is good to eat children, we would have to accept that as good because God said so. This "problem" is commonly referred to as "Euthyphro's Dilemma," named after a character in Plato's socratic dialogue on the subject of goodness.
But as Dr. Craig clearly points out, this problem is actually a false dilemma. This is because there is a third option, this being that God wills something because He is good. And since goodness is part of His nature, God is the anchor for objective morality. Therefore goodness is not independent of God.
This does not mean that non-believers cannot live good a good life. I know many people who do not claim to be Christians but live decent lives. The question is, how can you define what good is without God?
The impression I got from Dr. Antony is that we as humans just recognize that good exists. We can observe this when we see sentient beings suffer. We don't need God to tell us that suffering is not good.
Let me give an example why I believe this explanation is problematic. In March of 2017, Teen Vogue published an article entitled "Planned Parenthood Videos Explain Abortion Process." These videos make abortion look like a safe and fairly harmless procedure. Contrast this with the horrific images you see in this abortion video (about 3 minutes and 26 seconds in). On Dr. Antony's view, why is it not obvious for every human being to see that defenseless babies being tortured and ripped apart is murder? I believe this shows a fatal flaw in the belief that good can exist without God. On atheism, morality is arbitrary.
However the theistic worldview, with God as the anchor of goodness, clearly appears to be the better explanation for objective moral values and duties.
Reasonable Faith Video The Moral Argument: Good without God?
Reasonable Faith Podcast- A Debate on the Moral Argument