Morality: The Great Signpost

cs-lewis_originalDeep down human beings are aware of objective morality. It’s what ultimately convinced C.S. Lewis to leave atheism behind. It was the Moral Argument for the existence of God that led this intellectual giant of the 2oth century down the path of theism, and eventually to the divinity of Jesus.

Simply put, this classical argument states that humanity’s universal awareness of morals and values come from a moral Creator, therefore our innate sense of morality proves that God exists.

This short video from Reasonable Faith is a nice summary.

Lewis would admit that there are differences in moral codes. We can’t dispute these minor nuances. However, some differences in moral codes can be explained in terms of differences about the facts. So, he concluded from three separate logical arguments that objective morality comes from God.

In his classic work, Mere Christianity, Lewis wrote the following about his pre-conversion reasoning:

“My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?”

Not only did Lewis believe that morality was convincing enough to close the case on the existence of God, he said the very ability to question God’s existence was itself a signpost to the Creator, a transcendent moral lawgiver.

Lewis said, “When you argue against Him you are arguing against the very power that makes you able to argue at all: it is like cutting off the branch you are sitting on.”

In The Case for Christianity he elaborates on this point:

“Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind. In that case, nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. It is merely that when the atoms inside my skull happen, for physical or chemical reasons, to arrange themselves in a certain way, this gives me, as a by-product, the sensation I call thought. But, if so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true? It’s like upsetting a milk jug and hoping that the way it splashes itself will give you a map of London. But if I can’t trust my own thinking, of course I can’t trust the arguments leading to Atheism, and therefore have no reason to be an Atheist, or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I cannot believe in thought: so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God.”

So when Richard Dawkins, and other skeptics today, belligerently scoff at the idea of God based on what they perceive to be “evil” deeds done by Yahweh in the OT, they actually prove God’s very existence in their condemnation.

Why does Dawkins get to decide what is good or evil? Isn’t morality simply a by-product of human evolution and the formation of culture? Notice that Dawkins uses a moral law code set forth in Scripture to make such a judgment.

Furthermore, by condemning any “evil” thing with morals and values explicitly set forth in the Scriptures as given by God, the skeptic affirms objective morality and a moral lawgiver. Without God, good and evil are only subjective—nothing more than personal opinions and cultural perspectives.

As I heard it put once, a skeptic trying to refute theism, and Christianity more specifically, by making moral judgments afforded to them via the Scriptures, is to hop in the “Christian car” in an attempt to run it into a tree.

If this proves anything, it merely points out that there is indeed such a thing as objective morality, and that it has been indelibly imprinted on our souls by our Creator. It is the signature of God on our lives.

I agree with Lewis that an atheist or an agnostic has to embrace all sorts of illogical contradictions in order to maintain their skepticism. A world without God is definitely a world without morality.

It’s no doubt a world in which none of us would want to live.

D.D. Flowers, 2015.

Check out these related posts:

Does God Exist?
Is God Good?
In Awe of the God of Science

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About David D. Flowers

David received a B.A. in Religion from East Texas Baptist University and a M.T.S. in Biblical Studies from Houston Graduate School of Theology. David has over 15 years experience as a pastor and teacher in and outside the church. He currently pastors an Anabaptist congregation in Virginia. View all posts by David D. Flowers

3 responses to “Morality: The Great Signpost

  • Marshall

    Yahweh/God is not a man (He is not constrained to being moral or mortal); His Spirit has come to dwell in human flesh.

    In “a world without God”, morality exists as an ethic: moral principles arranged for the benefit of man. Athiests, agnostics… ethics require no authoritative power, but rather function thru perceived human interest (not “indifference”, as the video indirectly suggests).

    Just because man believes he has an objective moral position, does not make it so.

    The “moral argument” for God fails on the whole (with most people, and ultimately for Lewis as well) because man is not truly bound to an objective reference point. This is demonstrated well through time, how what is widely regarded to be “moral” varies from place to place, century to century. Foreign missionaries can be taken by surprise while encountering different moral terrain on their far-flung fields. Consider how abortion of human children has gained popular nomination as the “moral choice” toward helping end would-be suffering of children. Other previously regarded “moral” choices have since been demoted.

    Men & women, without the Spirit of God directing them, at best would be working to sort out “the unseen/invisible of Him off-from construction of [the] world-system, to His achievements apprehended, and-to His unperceived ability/power and-also [His] divinity being made-visible on-to their defenselessness [infer:having nothing to say regarding]”
    [Romans 1:20]

    Humans being left with “having nothing to say regarding”… and then philosophy steps in to make an appeal. Specifically, moral philosophy: man attempting to discern & define what is ideally intended for man. However, man’s philosophical approach to God remains on par with your dog looking to find his place and please his master by sniffing around the big ranch that you’ve built for your family. If you’re to truly know your place, you will need to be face-on with your Master — and often so.

    Christ, and as Christ incarnate in His own, will ever be the only “great signpost” for all men to be becoming aware. Surrounding us, moral philosophy is held in minimal regard, and in practice amounts to shifting sands. (btw: If your English Bible translation includes “moral” whatever, know that the word “moral” is not accurately drawn from the original languages.)

    Additionally, the presentation of the Law of God as “moral” or “commands” often works to obscure the overall relationship of God with man. “Love your neighbor as yourself” would more accurately be described as His prescription for men, which, if being treasured, leaves one well-doing both on earth and in the presence of God with His messengers.

    The linear-relative presumption of moral philosophy (i.e., “the more something conforms to God’s nature, the better it is”) is rejected, knowing how “better” has no significance in the view of the One True God. Rather, word and deeds are to be quite pleasing to Him — not half-baked or as like half clear water in with half muddy.

    • David D. Flowers

      Marshall, I don’t think I disagree with your thoughts. However, it should be recognized that the Moral Argument is not an end in itself, but merely the beginning to recognizing the existence of God. Until a person accepts Christ as the incarnation of God, revealing God’s righteous character and holiness (having implications for our ethics/living), then it’s not entirely clear what the “objective” boundaries are, and yes, it does simply become a law code. Nevertheless, it’s worth acknowledging how helpful the Moral Argument is as a way of pointing (i.e. “signpost”) people to God. That was the point of my post. Thanks.

  • Barry

    When the chips fall, and one is called to Christ, he comes to the realization of his own sin and depravity. It really is a “comparison” process. This can only happen when he is first brought to the awareness of God in His perfection, sinlessness, righteousness and holiness. When He sees God in this glory – which is the glory of God – he comes to the terrifying conclusion of his extreme lack, depravity and sinfulness in this comparison.

    Rom 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

    Of this glory we terrifyingly fall short. This then is the comparison that actually draws one to a commitment to Him, and within it is also found what the the Bible says is the “fear of God”.

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