The Self-Defeating Efforts Of Atheists In Denying Objective Morality

It is written:

“In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 21:25)

Atheism is a system of self-contradictory positions.

One example of this self-contradictory nature may be seen in the atheist attempt to deal with the moral argument for God’s existence, which may be stated as follows:

1. If objective moral law exists, then God exists.

2. Objective moral law does exist.

3. Therefore, God exists.

Within every culture throughout history, there are certain fundamental moral obligations which are identical. These moral laws are prescriptive, in that they describe how men ought to behave. These laws are powerful evidence of the existence of God, the moral Lawgiver Who implanted this knowledge within mankind which has been uniquely made in His image (Genesis 1:26-27). As one author has written:

“I know that some people say the idea of a Law of Nature or decent behaviour known to all men is unsound, because different civilisations and different ages have had quite different moralities. But this is not true. There have been differences between their moralities, but these have never amounted to anything like a total difference. If anyone will take the trouble to compare the moral teaching of, say, the ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Hindus, Chinese, Greeks and Romans, what will really strike him will be how very like they are to each other and to our own. Some of the evidence for this I have put together in the appendix of another book called The Abolition of Man; but for our present purpose I need only ask the reader to think what a totally different morality would mean. Think of a country where people were admired for running away in battle, or where a man felt proud of double-crossing all the people who had been kindest to him. You might just as well try to imagine a country where two and two made five. Men have differed as regards what people you ought to be unselfish to—whether it was only your own family, or your fellow countrymen, or every one. But they have always agreed that you ought not to put yourself first. Selfishness has never been admired. Men have differed as to whether you should have one wife or four. But they have always agreed that you must not simply have any woman you liked.” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 5-6 (Kindle Edition); HarperCollins E-Books)

Atheists, however, often argue that there is no objective morality; and that, indeed, morality is simply a result of human culture. The problem, of course, is that the atheist acknowledges the existence of this objective moral law, even in the process of denying it!

“But moral laws are different from the natural laws that we have dealt with before. Moral laws don’t describe what is; they prescribe what ought to be. They are not simply a description of the way men behave, and are not known by observing what men do. If they were, our idea of morality would surely be different. Instead, they tell us what men ought to do, whether they are doing it or not. Thus, any moral “ought” comes from beyond the natural universe. You can’t explain it by anything that happens in the universe and it can’t be reduced to the things men do in the universe. It transcends the natural order and requires a transcendent cause. Now some might say that this moral law is not really objective; it is nothing but a subjective judgment that comes from social conventions. However, this view fails to account for the fact that all men hold the same things to be wrong (like murder, rape, theft, and lying). Also, their criticism sounds very much like a subjective judgment, because they are saying that our value judgments are wrong. Now if there is no objective moral law, then there can be no right or wrong value judgments. If our views of morality are subjective, then so are theirs. But if they claim to be making an objective statement about moral law, then they are implying that there is a moral law in the very act of trying to deny it. They are caught both ways. Even their “nothing but” statement requires “more than” knowledge which shows that they secretly hold to some absolute standard which is beyond subjective judgments. Finally, we find that even those who say that there is no moral order expect to be treated with fairness, courtesy, and dignity. ty. If one of them raised this objection and we replied with, “Oh, shut up. Who cares what you think?” we might find that he does believe there are some moral “oughts.” Everyone expects others to follow some moral codes, even those who try to deny them. But moral law is an undeniable fact.” (Norman L. Geisler& Ronald M. Brooks, When Skeptics Ask: A Handbook on Christian Evidences, 22-24 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Books)

Like the agnostic who is caught in self-contradiction by claiming that there is no absolute truth (even though the claim that there is no absolute truth is in and of itself a claim of absolute truth), the error of the atheist who denies objective morality is readily discernible.

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