Saturday, December 25, 2010

RF vs AA: The Moral Argument

 William Lane Craig says that he finds the moral argument the most successful when it comes to convincing other people that God exists (194), which is one of his favorite hobbies. Le Poidevin however does not find it that convincing as one would suspect. The argument from the objectivity of morality for God’s existence goes as follows:

1. If God does not exist objective moral values and duties do not exist.
2. Objective moral values do exist.
3. Therefore, God exists.

As you can see it is an apparently simple argument, in order for it to succeed the theist must show that objective moral do exist, that they can exist with God, and that they cannot exist given atheism. I certainly could see as very psychologically convincing, if a person strongly thought that there was objective moral values and was convinced that those could not exist without God they would probably feel quite anguished. I am inclined to think that moral values exist and least that they probably exist—I do however need to think quite a bit more about morality and its implications. I do see a difficulty with many atheistic moral systems in that they are not very motivational or at least they don’t appear to have as much motivation as theism. This could actually be a good thing. Anyway Le Poidevin has 3 main critiques; if God is the basis of moral values: how do we become aware of moral values, why do moral facts supervene on natural facts, and how can the there exist a plurality of moral systems? He supports a rather subjectivist view of morality: “acts with certain natural properties tend to cause in us feelings of revulsion which, in turn, lead us to describe those acts as wrong” (Le Poidevin 86). I suppose this description of morality could be objective at least in a narrow sense since certain actions could always cause feelings of revulsion, but it would seem that most of this revulsion is the product of social conditioning. At any rate this description of morality fits with the 2nd criticism of this argument that moral facts supervene on natural facts. If this was this case this would mean that explaining the existence of moral facts with God would be superfluous. Le Poidevin uses this analogy; whenever we look at an object we see color, now this color supervenes upon the surface structure. For example when we look at two objects with similar surface structures (meaning the atoms are arranged in similar way) light reflects of both surfaces giving us similar colors. Likewise if two objects have very different structures they will be very different colors. In this way when a person does something wrong it is because it causes a feeling of pain or revulsion and this feeling leads us to describe that act as wrong. It is clear that God plays no role in this account of moral value. In response to this Craig questions the explanatory value of this account. It is not clear given atheism why moral facts would supervene on natural facts. This seems like a shift in the first premise to “if God does not exist objective moral values it is not clear why moral values exist.” Unfortunately Craig does not quite explain why theism has a much greater explanatory value then atheism. I do wish he did. I think that will conclude my blog post and I will come back to this topic at a later date. I still need to talk about the Euthyphro dilemma and atheistic accounts of moral value.
Craig, William L. Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics. 3rd ed. Vol. 1. Wheaton, IL:      Crossway Books, 2088. N. pag. 1 vols. Print.
Le Poidevin, Robin. Arguing for Atheism: An Introduction   to the Philosophy of Religion. London: Routledge, 1996. N. pag. Print.

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