Argument for God From the Existence of a Moral Reality
By Atheist Answers (Facebook page)
This article is going to be a deductive argument for the existence of God from a moral reality. But before I get into the deductive argument I first want to cover some introductory points.
POINT 1: What is a deductive argument?
A deductive argument is one that if the form of the argument is correct and the premises are true the conclusion logically and necessarily follows.
Here is an example argument:
(Example deductive argument)
P1: All men are mortal.
P2: Socrates is a man.
Conclusion: Therefore Socrates is mortal.
There are two things to check in regards to this argument being correct.
The first thing we must check is that the form of the argument is correct. That is to say that if we presuppose the premises were true in what they claim, would the conclusion logically follow from those premises (and it is clear in this case yes it would).
The second thing we must check is; are the premises true in what they claim (thus making the conclusion true), or are the premises at least more likely true than not, thus making the conclusion more likely true than not
For a person to disagree with the conclusion they must either show the argument does not have a correct form or that the premises are not more likely true than false.
And for a person to disagree with a premise (that is to say that the premise is more likely false than true), they must first defeat any arguments for why that premise is more likely true than not (which if completed only gets to a 50/50 probability on the premise being true VS its opposite) and then secondly make arguments for the opposite of the premise being true: so i.e.
P1: All men are not mortal,
P2: Socrates was not a man.
POINT 2: Philosophical distinctions and points which must be known when assessing morality
The first point which should be known is that morality in philosophy is what is known as "oughtness", the way a person 'ought' to think, talk or act.
The first distinction which should be known is the difference between moral ontology and moral epistemology...
(1) Moral Ontology: This is basically looking at whether a moral reality actually exists. It is looking at whether there is truly a distinction in reality between moral and immoral actions or whether that distinction that we experience is a delusion (moral ontology is not looking at which actions fit into the category of being moral or immoral or how we can know which actions are moral or immoral; it is only looking at whether such a distinction truly exists in reality).
(2) Moral Epistemology: This presupposes that an ontological morality exists, it then asks how can we know which actions are moral and which actions are immoral.
The second distinction which should be known is that morality (like anything else) is either:
(1) Discovered from a reality outside the mind by some means;
(2) Or morality is a an experience of the mind and which exists only in the mind as an hallucination (in a sense like a mirage in a desert).
POINT 3: Atheism and Theism from a philosophical content position
Based on the logical law of excluded middle there are only two options as to what reality could be; that being reality is either Personal or Impersonal.
So the two options in more detail are:
(1) Reality in it's metaphysics (fundamental forces and processes) is impersonal: that is to say it is intentionless, purposeless, meaningless, unguided, unaware and lacks teleology.
(2) Reality in its metaphysics (fundamental forces and processes) is personal: that is to say it is intentional, purposeful, meaningful, guided, aware and has teleology.
Now position (2) would normally be classed under Theism and thus atheism being the absence of Theism (that is what the "A" means in Atheism, just like Asymmetrical means the absence of symmetry on a specific aspect of reality) would fall under position (1).
Now if a person says either position is more likely than the other to be true, they have a burden of proof.
Now that is where the deductive argument I am about move onto comes into play, this is one of many arguments which show (2) is true over (1).
>>>The Deductive Argument For God From a moral Reality<<<
P1: A (ontic) moral reality exists.
P2: A moral reality can only exist if God exists.
Conclusion: God exists (and atheism is false).
>>>REVIEW OF THE PREMISES<<<
I am going to give six reasons why this premise is more likely true than not.
Reason 1: This is based on how knowledge works (an epistemic model), and from this model we can see that we are rationally obliged to believe in a moral reality.
Lets start at the basics...
We know about the existence of a moral reality based on our experience of a moral reality. This experience of a moral reality is what philosophers call a 'properly basic' belief.
A 'properly basic' belief is a belief rooted in an experience (it is an immediate belief, not an inferred belief which we develop from other immediate beliefs).
Examples of 'properly basic' beliefs are beliefs like the belief I am conscious, the belief of an external world of objects outside myself, the belief I am self aware, the belief I have thoughts and the belief of a moral reality (which is the point in question) etc...
So we have two options either we reject all our properly basic beliefs (but then we can not know anything, as we start with our experiences to know anything), or we accept them all and only reject certain ones when we have a rational reason to reject them (but what we can not do is reject them whimsically with no rational reason).
So there is no epistemic reason to doubt our experience of a moral reality as being true unless we can produce a defeater for it (otherwise we should take it as properly basic to believe it like we do all other properly basic beliefs).
An example of defeater is like when I see a straw bend in water, I have a properly basic experience that the straw bends but I can infer from other properly basic beliefs that this is not the case and thus I have a defeater for the initial properly basic belief (that the straw bends).
Philosopher Louise Antony put it this way:
"Any argument for moral skepticism is going to based on premises which are less obvious than the reality of objective moral values themselves."
Therefore you would never be justified in accepting moral skepticism.
Now before I move on to my other reasons for why premise 1 is more likely true than not, I will first look at two possible defeaters people may bring up against a moral reality (reason 1).
Defeater 1: The epistemic issue...
Some reading this article are going to think because people may hold different moral values to each other, that means there is no moral reality to be discovered.
This would be to miss the first distinction I made in the introduction, the distinction between moral epistemology and moral ontology.
But lets look at this further. If we applied this reasoning to other properly basic beliefs we would find out that you can't use any properly basic beliefs. For example not everyone sees the same things (some people have visual experiences we call hallucinations. We assume we are seeing correctly [the majority who do not see the "hallucination"] and they are not, this is the same for people who don't see colour), not every one hears the same things (i.e. schizophrenic), not everyone feels the same things; Are we to therefore believe that there is no external world of objects outside of ourselves because not everyone has the same experiences of it?
Or are we to believe rather it is just that some people have false experiences which do not reflect reality and some other people have correct experiences which do reflect a reality outside of themselves (or some people might be closer to the truth than others)?
Or for example not everyone who uses math ends up with the same conclusion, rather than this meaning math is a hallucination of the mind and not something discovered from a reality outside of ourselves; is it not better to just think maybe either the person is bad at math and has wrong experiences mentally when adding numbers together, or they are adding different number in an equation that their friend is not and this is why they are both coming up with a different conclusion?
I think it is clear the epistemic issue against morality is no issue at all, thus you this defeater fails and you are still rationally obliged to believe in a moral reality based on it being properly basic.
Defeater 2: The Darwinian objection...
This goes something like
"We evolved our experience of a moral reality through Darwinistic processes, therefore they can not be relied upon."
This is a silly argument, remember from the introduction that our experience of a moral reality is either discovered or an hallucination of the mind.
Whether we evolved via a Darwinistic method from a common descent theory or not it would have no bearing on whether a moral reality exists.
The question rather is this:
Is our experience of a moral reality discovered or a hallucinated experience rooted only in our mind (i.e. did we evolve to discover a moral reality or did we evolve to hallucinate a moral reality).
If the conclusion here is morality came via adaptation, therefore morality does not exist. You could run a parody reductio ad absurdum argument saying:
"Our tendency to do physics, chemistry, biology and even evolutionary theory itself is rooted in adaptation; so on that same premise they would equally be undermined."
The same goes for our reasoning and our senses.
So I have covered the two main defeaters this premise tends to get, and both fail. So we are rationally obliged to to believe in a moral reality and thus premise 1 holds true.
Now lets look at some other reasons we should believe premise 1 is true...
Reason 2: In society we call people who do not have an experience of a moral reality things like "Psychopath", society believes these people are broken, dysfunctional and missing a sense about reality (moral experience) and that they need fixing.
If you think premise 1 is false you are saying that the psychopath is the one who has a true experience of reality, they are not experiencing some hallucinatory moral reality which they base their lives and actions around. Rather if this was true the people who are not psychopathic are delusional and basing their lives and actions on an aspect of reality that is not there, they are like people who see a mirage in a desert and act as if their really was water there.
If you are really willing to say the psychopath has a true experience of reality, is that not because you yourself are probably a psychopath lacking an experience of a moral reality (or a strong experience enough to be obvious to you that such a reality is real)?
But if you are not willing to grant the psychopath as having a true experience of reality and as actually being broken and lacking a faculty, then you must conclude premise 1 is true.
Reason 3: If you think there is at least one thing that is immoral, ought not to be done and morally worse than its opposite action, then you should conclude premise 1 is true.
So for example (I hate to use this example), if you think there is at least one context/scenario in which torturing and murdering a baby for fun is a morally worse action than looking after and loving that baby, that the two are not morally equivalent actions (with nothing more than just a different preference to behaviour) then you should conclude premise 1 is true.
If you think in your life or the life of others that you or they have ever truly done something truly good or truly blame worthy then you should conclude premise 1 is true.
Reason 4: If our experience of a moral reality is not real but rather hallucinatory, then that means all we have is perhaps a preference to behavior with an added hallucinatory experience of something more on top of it.
Given this do you think it would be irrational for person (A) who has an arbitrary preference to football over tennis to be outraged and hate person (B)'s arbitrary preference of tennis over football? If so then you should also conclude it is irrational for person (A)'s preference of behavior -that of treating babies with care- makes him outraged at person (B)'s preference of torturing a baby for fun.
If you do not think it is the same equivalent that a person who rages against some ones different preference to coloured socks as the same as someone who rages against a persons different preference to how babies are treated, then this can only be because there is a distinction (one is a moral reason), and thus you should conclude premise 1 is true.
Reason 5: If you deny the existence of a moral reality, then you are saying the person who says something like
"Torturing a baby for fun is immoral" is as delusional as the schizophrenic (which would have to be the case as they are both experiencing things which are not part of an objective reality)?
If you are not willing to hold the belief that people who make statements on moral issues (like for example when a news anchor says ISIS are doing evil acts) and who live by a moral experience as delusional as the schizophrenic (who experiences a reality which is not there), then you should conclude premise 1 is true.
Reason 6: If you deny the existence of a moral reality, you are saying the person who says something like "Torturing a baby for fun is immoral" is saying something as meaningless as the person who says "Clouds moving through the air is an act of immorality."
As morality would not ontologically exist in reality and thus have no objectivity and no quantification; and therefore it is just as misapplied in both cases.
In this case one statement can not be more delusional than the other because morality does no exist at all, so there is no quantification for which statement was closer to the correct and rational mark.
If you think a moral statement can be more rational than a different moral statement, and/or that there are moral statements which are more correct than others, then you should conclude premise 1 is true.
Before I move onto premise 2 I will post a short video by C.S. Lewis which touches on the issues of this first premise:
Morality is what philosophers call as "oughtness", that is the way we ought to think, talk and act.
Now for creation to have oughtness it means creation must have a purpose/meaning/design in the form of teleology (end goals and purposes). But for creation to have this Theism would have to be true. Unless creation came out of God (a Personal reality as detailed in the introduction), creation can have no purpose, as 'purpose' is an existential property (which is the property of a personal Being - Purpose requires a purpos"er" so to speak).
So unless there is a purpose and meaning to life and creation (with teleological goals) then there is no right or wrong way to talk, think or act. If reality is Impersonal and thus all its forces and processes which produced creation are meaningless, purposeless, unguided and with out teleology (forethought); then there can be no disharmony and disunity in such an existence, as there is no way things ought to be or act.
So under an atheistic metaphysics (the belief reality is Impersonal) people might not like certain behavior, but that is only for the same ontic reason of why a person would not like chocolate ice cream compared to vanilla ice cream; personal preference, which based on the philosophical materialist world view is just an epiphenomenal by-product of deterministic chemical reactions.
So under the atheist metaphysics the experience of a moral reality has to be delusional and that experience is ontologically nothing more than a preference to behaviour (the same way someone might prefer chocolate ice cream to vanilla, someone prefers torturing babies to not torturing babies. They are just random desires under an atheistic metaphysics, and neither action is morally better or worse, they are just different).
So unless the atheist can show how an experience of a moral experience is actually more than a delusion based on nothing more than a preference to behaviour, it is very safe to conclude that premise 2 is true.
I have more reasons for why premise 2 is true but I feel this will suffice...
Now like the introduction pointed out, to disagree with this conclusion you will need to show a premise to be false. To do that you would have to show why the arguments for the premises fail (which only gets to a 50/50) and then also have arguments for why the opposite of the premises are true.
But it is clear the premises are true and thus the conclusion logically and necessarily follows. Please be open to the evidence and consider it. The conclusion is in regards to the most important knowledge a person could hope to know.