May 15, 2020


The Moral Order of the World Points to God: The so-called "moral argument" gives evidence of God's existence. But it also points to his goodness and grace. (INTERVIEW BY CHRISTOPHER REESE, MARCH 17, 2020, Christianity Today)

As far back as the Apostle Paul's famous speech on Mars Hill, Christian thinkers have been contending for the credibility of the faith. Among contemporary evangelicals, the so-called "moral argument" for God's existence is one of the most popular. Although the argument comes in a variety of forms, it draws on one central idea: If you're a moral realist (rather than a moral relativist) who believes in objective good and evil, then philosophically speaking, those ethical standards have to be anchored in a divine source. In other words, moral order doesn't make sense without God.

In their new book, The Moral Argument: A History (Oxford University Press), David Baggett, professor of philosophy at Liberty University, and Jerry L. Walls, professor of philosophy at Houston Baptist University, trace the history of these arguments from their ancient roots to contemporary proponents like CS Lewis, William Lane Craig, Ravi Zacharias, Tim Keller, and many others.

"The world has moral features to it that are best accounted for by theism," says Baggett. "What gives moral duties their authority? What gives human beings their essential dignity and inherent worth?" We can only answer these questions, argues Baggett, with direct reference to God's morally perfect nature and commands.

Christopher Reese spoke with Baggett about the influence of the moral argument and its relevance for both believers and nonbelievers today. [...]

As a scholar and teacher, how do you see students and others engage with the moral argument?

It's probably been most gratifying to see my doctoral students learn to think about the moral argument in both academically rigorous and eminently practical ways. Many of them are pastors, so they bring a practitioner's heart to their academic pursuits, and many of them have come to see the power of the moral argument in a number of fresh directions.

We often discuss the story of blogger Leah Libresco, who was an atheist until she eventually underwent a radical change of mind and became convinced that God exists. In her case, she came to think that it was her naturalistic assumptions that simply didn't cohere with the rest of her beliefs, including her strong convictions about virtue ethics. In other words, it was the moral argument that persuaded her.

In your opinion, how persuasive is the moral argument relative to other arguments for God's existence?

William Lane Craig has said that when he goes to colleges for debates, the moral argument is the one that tends to be the most persuasive among the audience. Similarly, when asked which argument from natural theology is the strongest, Alvin Plantinga says the moral argument.

Nothing much rides on which theistic argument is the most persuasive. The important thing is to see that the moral argument is an important apologetic resource and one that works best, I think, in tandem with other pieces of natural theology and special revelation. A number of factors likely contribute to the persuasive power of the moral argument. It has a disarming simplicity that appeals to the young, potential rigor that can appeal to the seasoned philosopher, and the resources to speak to everyone in between. Of course, no single argument in this arena reasonably can or should be expected to persuade everyone.

...while trying to arrive at the identical morality but absent any authority.  Authority being necessary or else each is entitled to his own.

Posted by at May 15, 2020 6:32 PM