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….”

how-to-draw-a-predator-drone-predator-drone-step-12_1_000000136435_5

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.

Inexorable Death, Life Awaits

     Death is something I think we have all struggled with at some time or another. For many this struggle is a direct result of a loss of a loved one, or someone very close. I personally could not imagine the loss of a very close friend or family member. I have been sheltered from the immediacy of death, as I haven’t had a developed personal relationship with anyone at all who has died, count me lucky. Though luck is not the quite the word; because of the inevitability of human death, I will surely experience loss first hand. On this area of death I cannot give any real opinion. But the inevitability of death is something everyone can relate to. Knowing that we are going to die, that every second that goes by is one closer to our death; how can we find meaning in the lives we live? And is there any meaning in the dead that had once lived?

     Death is a shadow looming over many people, it blots out hope and conceals all purpose. On the other hand, people that get used to a certain light, do adjust. They say if you eat a lot of carrots your eyes will adjust to the darkness quicker. How quick do our lives adjust to the shadows, where death rules and the belief in eternal life is a sinking sunset? Most people would rather ignore the inevitability of death, and focus on the reasons, and circumstances of the way people die. This ignorance, leads to the actions of nihilism without the personal declaration. C.S. Lewis in, The Screwtape Letters, speaks to this when he wrote, Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one–the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts,…Your affectionate uncle, Screwtape.”

     As a Christian there is light that completely eliminates the shadow of death. When Jesus was killed, that shadow of death loomed (Luke 23:44). With his resurrection, and ascension, he showed the proof of eternal life, and how we are to participate as well. While that shadow loomed Jesus said “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” (Luke 23:46 ESV)

     The answer of Jesus has brought me incredible comfort, when there were no answers from the world, but yet more questions of death and afterlife.

The Good That Goes Unseen

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” -2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (ESV)

     You do not need to look farther than your news feed to see acts of evil, and I am not talking about the “duck face” selfies, although scary, maybe not evil. I am talking about war torn countries, world hunger, IS etc. Is the existence of evil something to be feared or is it something we need to understand? The Apostle Paul implies, in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, directly to the inevitability of pain and suffering. He writes that on one hand we are wasting away on the outside, but through Christ we can be renewing our heart, soul, and mind day by day. Evil and the things that come with it, like pain and suffering, are merely a preparation for what good is to come.
     I believe Paul is writing truth, in my own thoughts, I see evil as a contrast. When we want to explain and understand something in everyday life, we often apply a contrast in order to compare and fully understand a topic. Paul applies evil as the contrast to which we can fully understand more the glory and goodness there is to come. “Where good is to evil, eternity is to a fleeting moment.”
     Good is inherent in creation, Paul writes about that when he mentions the unseen, which is eternal. Simply put, the unseen is good, the seen which is transient, is evil. If you look at life the way Paul is writing here, it should bring you comfort. Comfort in knowing all the bad you may experience here on earth, is nothing by comparison to what good is waiting in eternity. Keep your focus centered on what is unseen, the good things that are eternal. I encourage you to take a few seconds and think about the good relationships in your life; notice the good that goes unseen.

224 Reasons

     Earlier this week the Islamic State (IS) claimed another attack. This attack was on a Russian airliner carrying 224 passengers. IS claims this plane also carried a bomb of their handiwork. This is only one of many stories of atrocities committed by this organization. The actions of the IS are what most people would say to be evil. But what exactly is evil and why does God allow it?
     Evil by definition is the corruption of good. It is the corruption of what is morally right and/or righteous. From a Biblical perspective evil began from the disobedience in Eden, the entrance of sin. Evil is one of those titles that everyone in the world can place it on an action, to some degree or another. This plays into our universal morality we all know and live by. By this morality, we observe immediately that bombing a plane is probably not a good thing to do.
     I think God can and does prevent evil. However, if God did remove all evil, completely shutting down the IS and removing any trace of evil works on earth, then, would this eliminate free will? I think not. Our free will is not reliant on there being an evil, but rather it is reliant on there being good. For there cannot be evil without good but there can be good without evil. It is our own free will that propagates evil in this world. The original creation had no evil, “and God saw everything that he had made, and behold it was very good” (Gen 1:31).
     What can the IS stand to gain from doing such atrocities? It is an example of a prideful organization. They would have you think it is their way or the highway. They operate under a self understanding that they are not doing evil, but good according to their worldview. At the very least I can think of 224 reasons that evil exists, but the exact answer for why God allows such evil, is at its very root, a mystery to me.

“I am whatever you say I am, if I wasn’t then why would you say I am.” -Eminem

     As I was watching a video by Jefferson Bethke that I had previously posted in my blog, the auto-play on YouTube started the next video. Playing on my screen was a well produced and thought out response to Jefferson’s YouTube video. The response was from an Islamic point of view, with the main point of claiming that Jesus never wanted to be called God, and Christians are wasting their time in a made-up religion to which, Jesus would never have approved of. I disagree completely.
     There is irony between the two viewpoints in the video, as they both disagree with the “religious” ways of Christianity today. The hinge point between the views seem to come at the end of the response video, where he claims that Jesus never intended to be worshipped and did not claim to be God whatsoever. On that note, let me just give reference to the words of Jesus that shed light on who he claimed to be exactly…
     The verse that stands out immediately to me is the sequence of events leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus. After Jesus was arrested he was held upon a council. The council were intellectual Jews who knew the Hebrew Bible front and back, known as the Pharisees. In an effort to get Jesus to commit blaspheme they led with a series of testimony. Then finally the high priest asked a straightforward question, in Mark 14:61, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” In response, Jesus quoted from a book which the high priest would have known front and back. Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” (Daniel 7:13 ESV). Then immediately after Jesus said this, the priest tore his clothes and convicted Jesus of blaspheming, which was punishable by death. Jesus knew what the outcome of his response would be, so why on earth would he say it? Well, because he is the Son of God of course.
     The hinge to which the video response swings, pops when you look at what Jesus had actually said, not to mention the implications of many other references to Jesus describing himself as God. Both videos pose serious questions. One, I believe is trying to reiterate the world view and the kingdom culture Jesus intends. Where the other tries to skew the kingdom culture world view, by claiming Jesus intended something entirely different. It is true, Jesus was always pointing to God. Thereby pointing to himself, just as he described.

Couple Questions, Couple Answers, Cliché Nature Photo

     According to some estimates there are around 4,200 religions, with such a large number of religions, it comes as no surprise that there is an equally varying amount of opinions on God.
     I asked a friend of mine a few questions, knowing full well he did not associate with Christianity necessarily, or any other religion. But what I did know was that he has a good sense of logic and reason when given facts. So, what I got was a perspective likely shared by many today, a valid perspective and a glimpse into another person’s worldview.
     I posed the question, “do you believe in God or creator and could this God/creator be reached?” In return my friend gave me a response that I am not quite sure I saw coming, he said, “yes I do (believe in a creator). I am a strong believer in science. I have read a lot of scientific theories published by Hawking, Einstein, and others.” Immediately I notice that, though Christianity is not the basis of his decision, what he has read and seen has given him enough reason to come to the logical conclusion of a coexistence of religion and science. He goes on to say, “The old division of either believing in religion or science is a thing of the past. Currently, they support each other.” It seems there is a strong belief, which seems to be bred by science, that in order to reach God we will see enough scientific advancement to do so. My friend supports that by saying, “the idea of another existence, which we may choose to call Heaven is entirely possible and entirely reachable with the right science.” I would think a new age religious person might substitute ‘the right science’ and put ‘the right god’ in its place.
     This way of thinking seems to be how people can be religious, by having the same values, beliefs, and a sense of an intelligent creator, but yet remain religiously detached. This detachment is not all that surprising, even as my friend put,“I usually raise my eyebrows at people who use god to get out of a sticky situation, or use his name to justify questionable behavior. I don’t believe merely asking for forgiveness should be an effective get out of jail free card. That being said, those actions are not Gods fault, but rather the person.” It would seem that religions are not necessarily self defeating in themselves, though the people who practice them often make the decisions for people quite easy.
     Christianity itself has varying opinions on God. Many Christians have been taught one thing as children but then realize it is another when they get older. Based on their own experiences they develop their own worldview and perspectives. With one God, we don’t need simply one perspective, because some things are just simply left to be the mystery of God. As a Christian, commonality is found through Jesus. It is important that we look at how our lives are effecting the opinions of others in an anti-religious way, simply because of our own actions. If we are followers of Jesus then our actions ought to reflect positively towards the existence of God.

Check out this spoken word by Jefferson Bethke on Jesus and Religion. His book is also a good read.