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Atheists Who Scold Us on Morality Unwittingly Acknowledge God’s Existence

Michael Egnor
Photo credit: Tingey Injury Law Firm, via Unsplash.

Biologist P. Z. Myers detests challenges to his atheism based on the reality of Objective Moral Law:

There is a common line of attack Christians use in debates with atheists, and I genuinely detest it. It’s to ask the question, “where do your morals come from?” I detest it because it is not a sincere question at all — they don’t care about your answer, they’re just trying to get you to say that you do not accept the authority of a deity, so that they can then declare that you are an evil person because you do not derive your morals from the same source they do, and therefore you are amoral. It is, of course, false to declare that someone with a different morality than yours is amoral, but that doesn’t stop those sleazebags.

P. Z. MYERS, “THE “OBJECTIVE MORALITY” GOTCHA” AT PHARYNGULA/FREE THOUGHT BLOGS (SEPTEMBER 22, 2012)

Actually, Christians don’t ask, “Where do your morals come from?” in order to call atheists evil. We do it to point out that objective morality is powerful evidence for God’s existence.

Subjective and Objective

How so? From our human perspective, moral law can have two origins — subjective and objective.

Subjective moral law is based on human opinion. It may just be one man’s opinion, or it may be the collective opinion of a group of people. If our standards are wholly subjective, dislike of strawberry ice cream and dislike of genocide are not qualitatively different. The dislike is just human opinion.

Objective moral law, by contrast, is outside of human opinion. It is something that we humans discover. We do not create it. Thus, objective moral law exists beyond mere human opinion.

Now a distinction emerges. Personal preferences (e.g., about ice cream) are qualitatively different from personal opinions about genocide — we oppose genocide because it is objectively wrong, not just because it is not quite to our taste.

Of course, if a value judgement prevails over other human value judgements, there must be Someone whose opinion is Objective Moral Law. There must be a Law-Giver.

Please note that this argument is ontological, not epistemological. It is not an argument about how well we can know what the Moral Law is. It is an argument that Objective Moral Law exists, regardless of how well we can or do know it.

Read the rest at Mind Matters News, published by Discovery Institute’s Bradley Center for Natural and Artificial Intelligence.

Michael Egnor

Senior Fellow, Center for Natural & Artificial Intelligence
Michael R. Egnor, MD, is a Professor of Neurosurgery and Pediatrics at State University of New York, Stony Brook, has served as the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery, and award-winning brain surgeon. He was named one of New York’s best doctors by the New York Magazine in 2005. He received his medical education at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and completed his residency at Jackson Memorial Hospital. His research on hydrocephalus has been published in journals including Journal of Neurosurgery, Pediatrics, and Cerebrospinal Fluid Research. He is on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Hydrocephalus Association in the United States and has lectured extensively throughout the United States and Europe.

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