I Just Kant Believe, In Subjective Reality

The existence of God can be described in several different ways. The one I find most relevant and understandable is the moral argument. Morality is something that everyone experiences everyday. The moral argument for the existence of God breaks down to three or four points. I will be listing the three points to the argument while also expanding on each point, to hopefully display the understanding of the argument. As well as, some problems people have with the moral argument.

 I believe that objective morality does exist. I also believe that without the existence of God, morality becomes subjective. The most popularized moral argument comes from Immanuel Kant, a German Philosopher, and breaks down to four points, Moral behavior is rational; moral behavior is only rational if justice will be done; justice will only be done if God exists; therefore: God exists.  However, the moral argument I would like to expand on is proposed by Dr. William Lane Craig, which states:

 1. If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.

2. Objective moral values and duties do exist.

3. Therefore God exists.

 This argument is simple, and straightforward to understand. The biggest hang up for most people would be the first premise, which almost needs an argument unto itself. The second and third premises are not hard to follow once you get to the truth of the first. Let’s now take a closer look at each premise individually.

 1. If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.

 With the first premise we must first define what objective moral values and duties are. Dr. Craig defines Objective morality, “to say that there are objective moral values is to say that something good or evil independently of whether any human being believes it to be so. Similarly to say that we have objective moral duties is to say that certain actions are right or wrong for us independently of whether any human being believes them to be so” (Craig Reasonable 173). Values and duties, according to Craig, has to do with right/wrong and good/bad. The distinction comes in when, “sometimes all you have is bad choices (think of Sophie’s Choice), but it’s not wrong for you to choose one since you must choose.” (Craig On Guard 130). Where values refer to whether something is good/bad, and, “Duty has to do with the moral obligation, what you ought or ought not to do.”(130), or right/wrong.

 “A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line.”

Now with the distinctions aside, there remains the problem of objective morality, and God being the only source. This is the crux of premise 1. The post popular objections to God come from those on the side believing that science has all the answers. Unfortunately, on matters of morality, science is neutral, leaving morality up to being subjective. It seems that without an objective morality, independent of people’s thoughts, there is nothing binding an individual from any act, anything would be permissible. From where do we get the laws in order to govern ourselves? I am talking about the big moral issues especially, the genocide, rapes, and murders; what makes them bad? I am not inferring that you must abide by the Ten Commandments in order to be moral, but that this world has an inherent objective morality through the nature of God. As C.S. Lewis put it, A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line.” The vast majority of scholars both theist and atheists (especially naturalists) alike come to the conclusion that without God, there is no basis of morality and everything is permissible. On that basis, premise 1 would be fulfilled.

 2. Objective moral values and duties do exist.

 Do certain moral issues differ from culture to culture or person to person? Perhaps, but if you asked anyone if child abuse, genocide, or rape is good or bad, the question itself would seem rhetorical to almost everyone. Certainly some people hold the belief that morals are relative to the cultural norm; in researching moral relativism I came across quite a few websites that displayed what a moral relativist can or cannot do. Essentially the moral relativist cannot believe in anything that supports any sort of moral standard whatsoever, in an article in Salvo Mag, Greg Koukl states that, In fact, nothing can be called evil—not even the Holocaust—because to do so would be to affirm some sort of moral standard.” This premise as I have previously mentioned does not seem to be the hardest to argue with the general public, and most scholars, clearly acknowledge that there is a higher moral standard above our own personal thoughts.

“He was told that they were carrying rifles on their shoulders, but for all he knew, they were shepherd’s staffs….”

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If morality is subjective, then Nazi’s during WWII, were not at fault for the genocide perpetrated on the Jews, because subjectively they were not bound by any higher morals but their own thinking. If you take, for example, the predator drone program in the United States. These are soldiers behind a desk, controlling the predator drones in an overseas country, from the comfort of the desk chair in Nevada, or elsewhere. However, it is not comfortable; more and more drone operators are being diagnosed with PTSD. Why? If morality happens to be subjective, they are in a theatre of war, and killing another human is permitted, subjectively.  The problem for these drone operators is that they are being told, what is being seen on their monitor, and what to target, whether or not they believe a civilian could be in the target zone or not. Mathew Power for GQ, wrote in his article, Confessions of a Drone Warrior, that, “He was told that they were carrying rifles on their shoulders, but for all he knew, they were shepherd’s staffs. Still, the directive from somewhere above, a mysterious chain of command that led straight to his headset, was clear: confirmed weapons.” Objective morality becomes clearer when you remove the immediate sensory display, that the boots on the ground might experience; instead being observed by infrared thousands of miles away. The subject of war is still clear, yet objectively, more and more soldiers are coming forward because they can no longer differentiate between a “clean war” and a “dirty war”. The objective is overshadowing the subjective.

 3. Therefore, God exists.

 With the first two premises considered the conclusion of the argument is that God does exist. We have looked at how objective moral values cannot exist without a higher standard that is imposed from beyond humanity. We then observed how objective moral values do indeed exist, and that without them there would be no standard for which to govern our lives. The moral argument for the existence of God, to me, is the most effective, because it brings to light unmistakable truths that do not normally get discussed when dealing with the existence of God. It is in apologetic circles, as well as philosophical, but the day-to-day person might assume we have morality simply, just because. This argument provides, in my opinion, the most reasonable answer to why we have a higher moral standard. Also, if this is not quite reasonable enough, then it is best to observe other arguments which are complimented by the moral argument such as the Cosmological Argument, or the Teleological Argument.


 

Craig, William L. On Guard. Colorado Springs: David C Cook , 2010. Print.

Craig, William L. Reasonabe Faith. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway , 2008. Print.

Koukl, Greg. “Seven Things You Can’t Do As a Moral Activist”. Salvo Magazine. N.p. 2006. Web. 8 Dec. 2015.

Power, Matthew. “Confessions Of A Drone Warrior”. GQ Magazine. N.p. 2013. Web. 8 Dec. 2015.

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