The Moral Argument for the Existence of God
By Ajita Krishna Dasa
An interesting and persuasive argument for the existence of God is The Moral Argument (also called The Axiological Argument. Axio means “value”). The argument can be presented as follows.
1. If God does not exist, absolute moral values do not exist.
2. Absolute moral values do exist.
3. Therefore God exist.
Defense for premise one
Absolute moral values are values that exist objectively and are true for all, even if only some or no one agrees to them, knows about their existence or can act contrary to them. Some will claim that the existence of absolute moral values doesn’t depend on the existence of God. Absolute moral values, they will claim, can exist independently of any personal being. It’s true that this is a logical possibility, but it runs contrary to our experience. Our experience constantly affirms that all moral values are contingent upon persons. It should be obvious that fallible and limited human minds can’t establish such absolute moral values. Since moral values are always contingent upon personal beings it seems likely that absolute values, if they exist, must be made by an absolute personal being with absolute power so that no other person can change or overrule this personal beings established moral values. If someone could they would not be absolute. Most atheists actually agree with this premise and therefore they have to reject the second premise in order to avoid the conclusion.
Defense for premise two
To defend this premise I will present the following points–which might overlap each other–why it doesn’t make sense to accept moral relativism. And since moral absolutism is the only alternative to moral relativism it has to be accepted instead.
1. If moral relativism is true then it’s true that all actions are morally equal. So to be a moral relativist while, at the same time, hold a certain normative moral position (like, for example, claiming it’s morally unacceptable to be a moral absolutist) is first of all self-contradictory, because if all actions are equal then it can’t be better or worse to be a moral relativist than a moral absolutist.
2. But the fact is that no one is really able to live as if all actions are really morally equal. No one can stop making moral judgments and this, as shown above, only makes sense if absolute moral values exist. This means that it’s impossible to live as a consistent moral relativist.
3. All moral relativist hold moral positions and that makes the moral relativist contradict reality as reality would look like if his philosophy were correct. The moral relativists philosophy will dictate “you ought to do X” and “you ought to refrain from doing Y” while the objective reality would be that “there’s nothing you ought to do”. So if moral relativism is true and we want to live a philosophically consistent life we have to hold no normative moral position at all.
4. To really try to live according to moral relativism (to live as if every action is equal to every other action) will make us morally crippled monsters. At least in the eyes of the average person. We will, for example, not try to further or praise good deeds and stop or condemn bad deeds.
5. Deep down we all know that something is really right and something is really wrong and therefore very few moral relativists are really moral relativists if they are pressed with questions like “do you really think it’s true that pedophilia is ok?” or “do you really think it’s true that it’s ok to torture babies for fun?” To press them with questions like this will force them to choose between accepting an absolute and objective morality or be a morally crippled monster. If after pressing the moral relativist with these questions the moral relativist still insists that nothing is really morally right and wrong then we simply have to invite him to take the time to once more really reflect very deeply about the question.
The prize one has to pay for adopting moral relativism is thus very high. One basically has to 1) think inconsistently 2) live inconsistently 3) contradict reality and 4) be a morally crippled monster. Thus any sane person will reject moral relativism. None of the above problems follows necessarily from moral absolutism, and since moral absolutism is the only possible alternative to moral relativism, we have to accept moral absolutism. And since God is the only reasonable foundation for absolute moral values we also have to accept the existence of God.