The Moral Skeptic

Posted: October 14, 2013 in Uncategorized

The next skeptic we are going to discuss is the moral skeptic. The moral skeptic dismisses Christianity because they claim it is immoral and wrong. In the God Delusion Richard Dawkins states: “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” He is making some very strong accusations against God. You may say that Dawkins must be completely deranged for thinking these things about a perfect God.

Did Dawkins really get this picture of God from the Old Testament? Well yes, look at the Deuteronomy 20:17 “But you shall utterly destroy them, the Hittite and the Amorite, the Canaanite and the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, as the LORD your God has commanded you.” There are many examples in the Bible where God commands the Israelites to kill whole groups of people. He even commands the killing of women and even children in 1 Samuel 15:3 “Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.” When faced with these accusations it is very tempting to try and explain all of these accusations away, which is no easy task. However, if we can identify them as a moral skeptic, we can ask one question that will that will get to the heart of the issue and show the weakness of the moral skeptic’s argument. That question is: What is your standard of right and wrong? In any way that the skeptic responds he is in a world of trouble. He has four different moves to make, four different responses to this question: 1. My standard is my own opinion, 2. My standard is my culture and my society, 3. My standard is that there is no right or wrong, 4. My standard is that of an absolute moral law every person has written on their hearts. Here’s how each response gets him in trouble:

1. “I make up my own standard of right and wrong and I think God is evil”

Response – Then can’t God do whatever He thinks is right based on His own opinion? or What if my standard of right and wrong says I can murder, am I justified in murdering your family?

2. “I determine what is right and wrong based on my culture and society”

Response – Then if what God did was ok with a particular culture and society would it be ok? or What about the culture that Hitler built in Germany? If you lived in that society, would you shoot Jewish babies as target practice?

3. “My standard is that there is no such thing as right or wrong!”

Response – Then how can you say God did anything good or bad?

4. “My standard is that everyone knows right and wrong based a law put on their hearts!”

Response – Who put it on their hearts, if not the individual or the society/culture? Wouldn’t that have to be an ultimate law giver, God?

You cannot even ask the question, “isn’t this wrong?” unless you believe in God. Unless you believe in an absolute standard (the moral law) that came from an absolutely moral Lawgiver, you can’t ask this question, as we have seen above. Only when you have an absolute standard of right and wrong can a person legitimately ask this question. If you would like to dig into this idea more, watch the first four minutes of this video, where Dr. William Lane Craig debates Lewis Wolpert. I encourage you all to watch the video by following this link, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wQ-aqnDHqqA . We can see that ultimately a moral skeptic can’t even make a statement about what’s right and wrong without believing in God. If they try to make these statements apart form believing in God, there worldview breaks down with contradictions. As William Lane Craig states multiple times in debates, “what we, as Christians, can offer is a worldview that explains where absolute moral values come from.”

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Comments
  1. Harvey says:

    Based simply on this article (not the accompanying video), I have a few questions. First, deriving morals / ethics from society and culture is more than just looking at your culture. A moral code (in its best form) is taken from viewing the entire world and making rational decisions about what is right and wrong: for instance, killing people is wrong because it takes away people’s right to life (as most societies would state it in political terms) and stealing is wrong because it takes away people’s right to their property. Obviously in a society where people / groups hold power and can forcibly do whatever they want does not make it right for them to do so; when weighed against societies functioning better, it becomes the lesser option. So, my question is, how can you say that right / wrong cannot be derived from the world? Societies have become better and better in terms of civil rights throughout history, and fairly universal standards are accepted or wanted by the world’s people. For us Christians, we obtain our moral code from a perfect being, God. But others gain the same moral code as us from their simply living in society. I understand that most of these societies have been influenced directly by Christianity or by countries who are predominantly Christian / have Christian-based moral codes, but they may not be very religiously minded today. Court systems work very well in a lot of industrialized and modern countries, even when most of the constituents are not Christian or religious in any way. Once again, I may be off course with my comment, but I wanted to know what you think. Thanks again!

    • evangenator says:

      I am slightly confused by the question so let me know if this reply doesn’t answer your question.
      I see your point about a moral code being taken from looking at what is right and wrong in the world, but how does one know that it is right and wrong? Do you feel that it is wrong? Look to the majority of people and what they think? Where does the idea of right and wrong come from? Biblically, we see that God’s Law is written on the hearts of all people; “For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them,” (Romans 2:14-15). The question is how can you state this is right and this is wrong without an absolute moral law. Otherwise, there are no objective morals rather they are just a product sociobiological evolution. So societies can be “better” and people can do morally good things, but without God objective moral values don’t exist. Everyone has a moral conscience from God that tells them this is right or wrong, not just Christians. However, without God there is no objective moral law and, therefore, one can’t even make a statement on right or wrong.

  2. Harvey says:

    Thank you, this does hit towards where my comment was going. I do also believe that everyone has an internal moral code derived from our sociobiological evolution and from our own conscience (essentially the laws of the world, not God necessarily). But wouldn’t the objective moral code sans God be the moral code derived from society and conscience? When someone murders someone else, they normally experience a wide range of emotions that result in them confessing or in their mind degrading, when you steal you think constantly of being caught (which would be evidence that what you just did was wrong), etc. So, couldn’t the absolute objective moral code of God be already present on earth in the law code of societies? In terms of forgiveness of crimes and sins, that power rests with Jesus, not the law of the land (but, societies punishments for crimes and sins are still essential, and so they shouldn’t be downgraded in value). This is simply a theory, and I could be off base because I haven’t done anywhere near the research or thinking necessary to thoroughly defend it, but it would seem that the moral code of God is present in society which would be reasonable, because it offers a way for a society of Christians and non-Christians to live in harmony together with proper punishment for wrong doing.

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