FAITH TO BE AN ATHEIST!
A Friend introduced me to this book that has been published since
2004, a book I did not know existed. It is a masterful work, the
answer to the atheist and the world of evolution. I ENCOURAGE YOU
TO OBTAIN THIS BOOK. YOU NEED TO HAVE IT AS PART OF YOUR LIBRARY.
YOU MAY ALSO WANT TO GIVE IT AS A GIFT TO SOME PEOPLE IN YOUR
The full title is: "I Don't Have Enough FAITH to be an ATHEIST"
by Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek, published by Crossway
I reproduce for you here chapter 7.
Keith Hunt (March 2009)
MOTHER TERESA vs. HITLER
"We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are
created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with
certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty
and the Pursuit o f Happiness." - THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
Is THERE A STANDARD?
My friend Dave and I were just finishing dinner at a
dockside restaurant in Portland, Maine, when the conversation
turned to religion. "I don't think one religion can be
exclusively true," Dave said. "But it seems like you, Frank, have
found a center. You have found something that's true for you, and
I think that's great."
Playing along with his premise that something can be true
for one person but not another, I asked, "Dave, what's true for
you? What makes life meaningful for you?"
He said, "Making money and helping people!" Now Dave is a
very successful businessman, so I pressed him a little bit more.
I said, "Dave, I know CEOs who have reached the pinnacle of
business success. They've planned and achieved great things in
their business life, but have planned nothing and achieved little
in their personal lives. They're now facing retirement, and
they're asking themselves, 'Now what?'"
Dave agreed and added, "Yeah, and I know that most of those
CEOs have experienced nasty divorces, mostly because they ignored
their families in pursuit of a buck. But I'm not like that. I
will not sacrifice my family for money, and in my business I want
to help people as well."
I commended him for his commitment to his family and his
desire to help people, but questions still remained. Why should
we be faithful to our families? Who said we should "help people?"
Is "helping people" a universal moral obligation I, or is it just
true for you but not for me? And to what end should you help
them: Financially? Emotionally? Physically? Spiritually?
I said, "Dave, if there's no objective standard, then life
is nothing but a glorified Monopoly game. You can acquire lots of
money and lots of property, but when the game is over, it's all
going back in the box. Is that what life is all about?"
Uncomfortable with the direction of the conversation, Dave
quickly changed the subject. But his sense that he ought to "help
people" was correct; he just had no way of justifying it. Why did
he think he should "help people"? Where did he get such an idea?
And why do you and I, deep down, agree with him?
Stop and marinate on that point for a minute: Aren't you
just like Dave? Don't you have this deep-seated sense of
obligation that we all ought to "help people"? We all do. Why?
And why do most human beings seem to have that same intuitive
sense that they ought to do good and shun evil?
Behind the answers to those questions is more evidence for
the theistic God. This evidence is not scientific - that's what
we've seen in previous chapters-but moral in nature. Like the
laws of logic and math ematics, this evidence is nonmaterial but
it's just as real. The reason we believe we ought to do good
rather than evil - the reason we, like Dave, believe we should
"help people" - is because there's a Moral Law that has been
written on our hearts. In other words, there is a "prescription"
to do good that has been given to all of humanity.
Some call this moral prescription "conscience"; others call
it "Natural Law"; still others (like our Founding Fathers) refer
to it as "Nature's Law." We refer to it as "The Moral Law." But
whatever you call it, the fact that a moral standard has been
prescribed on the minds of all human beings points to a Moral Law
Prescriber. Every prescription has a prescriber. The Moral Law is
no different. Someone must have given us these moral obligations.
This Moral Law is our third argument for the existence of a
theistic God (after the Cosmological and Teleological Arguments).
It goes like this:
1. Every law has a law giver.
2. There is a Moral Law.
3. Therefore, there is a Moral Law Giver.
If the first and second premises are true, then the
conclusion necessarily follows. Of course, every law has a law
giver. There can be no legislation unless there's a legislature.
Moreover, if there are moral obligations, there must be someone
to be obligated to.
But is it really true that there is a Moral Law? Our
Founding Fathers thought so. As Thomas Jefferson wrote in the
Declaration of Independence, "Nature's Law" is "self-evident."
You don't use reason to discover it, you just know it. Perhaps
that's why my friend Dave hit a roadblock in his thinking. He
knew "helping people" was the right thing to do, but he couldn't
explain why without appealing to a standard outside himself.
Without an objective standard of meaning and morality, then life
is meaningless and there's nothing absolutely right or wrong.
Everything is merely a matter of opinion.
When we say the Moral Law exists, we mean that all people
are impressed with a fundamental sense of right and wrong.
Everyone knows, for example, that love is superior to hate and
that courage is better than cowardice. University of Texas at
Austin professor J. Budziszewski writes, "Everyone knows certain
principles. There is no land where murder is virtue and gratitude
vice." C.S.Lewis, who has written profoundly on this topic in his
classic work Mere Christianity, put it this way: "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."
In other words, everyone knows there are absolute moral
obligations. An absolute moral obligation is something that is
binding on all people, at all times, in all places. And an
absolute Moral Law implies an absolute Moral Law Giver.
Now this does not mean that every moral issue has easily
recognizable answers or that some people don't deny that absolute
morality exists. There are difficult problems in morality, and
people suppress and deny the Moral Law every day. It simply means
that there are basic principles of right and wrong that everyone
knows, whether they will admit them or not. Budziszewski calls
this basic knowledge of right and wrong "what we can't not know,"
in his book by that title.
We can't not know, for example, that it is wrong to kill
innocent human beings for no reason. Some people may deny it and
commit murder anyway, but deep in their hearts they know murder
is wrong. Even serial killers know murder is wrong-they just may
not feel remorse. And like all absolute moral laws, murder is
wrong for everyone, everywhere: in America, India, Zimbabwe, and
in every other country, now and forever. That's what the Moral
Law tells every human heart.
HOW DO WE KNOW THE MORAL LAW EXISTS?
There are many reasons we know the Moral Law exists, and we
will present and discuss eight of them. Some of these reasons
overlap one another, but we will discuss them in this order:
1. The Moral Law is undeniable.
2. We know it by our reactions.
3. It is the basis of human rights.
4. It is the unchanging standard of justice.
5. It defines a real difference between moral positions (e.g.,
Mother Teresa vs. Hitler).
6. Since we know what's absolutely wrong, there must be an
absolute standard of rightness.
7. The Moral Law is the grounds for political and social dissent.
8. If there were no Moral Law, then we wouldn't make excuses for
1. The Moral Law Is Undeniable
Relativists usually make two primary truth claims: 1) there
is no absolute truth; and 2) there are no absolute moral values.
The Road Runner tactic will help you defuse their first claim: if
there really is no absolute truth, then their absolute claim that
"there is no absolute truth" can't be true. You can see that the
relativist's statement is irrational because it affirms exactly
what he's trying to deny.
Even Joseph Fletcher, the father of modern situation ethics,
fell into this trap. In his book "Situation Ethics," Fletcher
insisted that "the situationist avoids words like 'never' and
'perfect' and 'always' . . . as he avoids the plague, as he
Of course, this is tantamount to claiming that "One should
never say 'never,'" or "We should always avoid using the word
'always.'" But those very statements do not avoid what they say
we must avoid. Relativists are absolutely sure that there are no
Like absolute truth, absolute values are also undeniable.
While the claim "There are no absolute values" is not
self-defeating, the existence of absolute values is practically
undeniable. For the person who denies all values, values his
right to deny them. Further, he wants everyone to value him as a
person, even while he denies that there are values for all
persons. This was illustrated clearly a number of years ago when
I (Norm) was speaking to a group of affluent, well-educated
Chicago suburbanites. After I suggested there are such things as
objective moral values to which we all have an obligation, one
lady stood and protested loudly, "There are no real values. It's
all a matter of taste or opinion!" I resisted the temptation to
make my point by shouting, "Sit down and shut up, you egghead.
Who wants to hear your opinion?!" Of course, if I had been so
rude and discourteous, she would have rightly complained that I
had violated her right to her opinion and her right to express
it. To which I could have replied, "You have no such right - you
just told me such rights don't exist!"
Her complaint would have proved that she actually did
believe in a real absolute value - she valued her right to say
that there are no absolute values. In other words, even those who
deny all values nevertheless value their right to make that
denial. And therein lies the inconsistency. Moral values are
2. Our Reactions Help Us Discover the Moral Law (Right from
In the above scenario, the lady's reaction would have
reminded her that there are absolute moral values. A professor at
a major university in Indiana gave one of his relativistic
students the same experience not long ago. The professor, who was
teaching a class in ethics, assigned a term paper to his
students. He told the students to write on any ethical topic of
their choice, requiring each student only to properly back up his
or her thesis with reasons and documentation.
One student, an atheist, wrote eloquently on the topic of
moral relativism. He argued, "All morals are relative; there is
no absolute standard of justice or rightness; it's all a matter
of opinion; you like chocolate, I like vanilla," and so on. His
paper provided both his reasons and his documentation. It was the
right length, on time, and stylishly presented in a handsome blue
After the professor read the entire paper, he wrote on the
front cover, "F, I don't like blue folders!" When the student got
the paper back he was enraged. He stormed into the professor's
office and protested, "'F' I don't like blue folders!' That's not
fair! That's not right! That's not just! You didn't grade the
paper on its merits!"
Raising his hand to quiet the bombastic student, the
professor calmly retorted, "Wait a minute. Hold on. I read a lot
of papers. Let me see ... wasn't your paper the one that said
there is no such thing as fairness, rightness, and justice?"
"Yes," the student answered.
"Then what's this you say about me not being fair, right,
and just?" the professor asked. "Didn't your paper argue that
it's all a matter of taste? You like chocolate, I like vanilla?"
The student replied, "Yes, that's my view."
"Fine, then," the professor responded. "I don't like blue.
You get an F!"
Suddenly the lightbulb went on in the student's head. He
realized he really did believe in moral absolutes. He at least
believed in justice. After all, he was charging his professor
with injustice for giving him an F simply because of the color of
the folder. That simple fact defeated his entire case for
The moral of the story is that there are absolute morals.
And if you really want to get relativists to admit it, all you
need to do is treat them unfairly. Their reactions will reveal
the Moral Law written on their hearts and minds. Here, the
student realized there is an objective standard of rightness by
how he reacted to the professor's treatment of him. In the same
way, I may not think stealing is wrong when I steal from you. But
watch how morally outraged I get when you steal from me.
Our reactions also indicate that relativism is ultimately
unlivable. People may claim they are relativists, but they don't
want their spouses, for example, to live like sexual relativists.
They don't want their spouses to be only relatively faithful.
Nearly every male relativist expects his wife to live as if
adultery were absolutely wrong, and would react quite neg-
atively if she lived out relativism by committing adultery. And
even if there are a few relativists who wouldn't object to
adultery, do you think they would accept the morality of murder
or rape if someone wanted to kill or rape them? Of course not.
Relativism contradicts our reactions and our common sense.
Reactions even help us identify right and wrong as a nation. When
Muslim terrorists flew our planes into our buildings with our
innocent loved ones in them, our emotional reaction fit the
immensity of the crime. Our reaction reinforced the truth that
the act was absolutely wrong. Some may say, "But Bin Laden and
his fellow criminals thought the act was morally right." That's
partially because they were not on the receiving end of the
crime. How do you think Bin Laden would have reacted if we had
flown his planes into his buildings with his innocent loved ones
in them? He would have known immediately that such an act was
So the Moral Law is not always apparent from our actions, as
evidenced by the terrible things human beings do to one another.
But it is brightly revealed in our reactions-what we do when we
personally are treated unfairly. In other words, the Moral Law is
not always the standard by which we treat others, but it is
nearly always the standard by which we expect others to treat us.
It does not describe how we actually behave, but rather it
prescribes how we ought to behave.
3. Without the Moral Law, There Would Be No Human Rights
The United States of America was established by the belief
in the Moral Law and God-given human rights. Thomas Jefferson
wrote, in the Declaration of Independence:
We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are
created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with
certain UNALIENABLE RIGHTS, that among these are Life,
Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure THESE
RIGHTS, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their
JUST POWERS from the consent of the governed (emphasis
Notice the phrase, "they are endowed by their Creator with
certain unalienable Rights." In other words, the Founding Fathers
believed that human rights are God-given, and, as such, they are
universal and absolute - they are the rights of all people, in
all places, at all times, regardless of their nationality or
Jefferson and the other Founding Fathers recognized that
there was a higher authority-the "Creator" - to whom they could
appeal to establish objective moral grounds for their
independence. Had they begun the Declaration with, "We hold these
opinions as our own . . ." (rather than "self-evident" "truths"),
they wouldn't have expressed an objective moral justification for
their Declaration of Independence. It simply would have been
their opinion against that of King George. So the Founders
appealed to the "Creator" because they believed his Moral Law was
the ultimate standard of right and wrong that would justify their
cause. And their cause was to end the rule of King George in the
American colonies. They were convinced that George's rule needed
to be ended because he was violating the basic human rights of
In a sense, the Founding Fathers were in the same position
as were the Allied countries after World War II. When the Nazi
war criminals were brought to trial in Nuremburg, they were
convicted of violating basic human rights as defined by the Moral
Law (which is manifested in international law). This is the law
that all people inherently understand and to which all nations
are subject. If there were no such international morality that
transcended the laws of the secular German government, then the
Allies would have had no grounds to condemn the Nazis. In other
words, we couldn't have said that the Nazis were absolutely wrong
unless we knew what was absolutely right. But we do know they
were absolutely wrong, so the Moral Law must exist.
4. Without the Moral Law, We Couldn't Know justice or Injustice
Perhaps the most popular argument against the existence of
God is the presence and persistence of evil in the world. If
there really is a good and just God, then why does he allow bad
things to happen to good people? Atheists have long asserted that
it would be more logical to believe that this God doesn't exist
than to try and explain how evil and God can coexist.
C.S.Lewis was one such atheist. He believed that all of the
injustice in the world confirmed his atheism. That is, until he
thought about how he knew the world was unjust: He wrote, "[As an
atheist] my argu ment 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 1
called it unjust?" This realization led Lewis out of atheism and
ultimately to Christianity.
Lewis, like you and me, can only detect injustice because
there's an unchanging standard of justice written on our hearts.
Indeed, you can't know what is evil unless you know what is good.
And you can't know what is good unless there is an unchanging
standard of good outside yourself. Without that objective
standard, any objection to evil is nothing but your personal
I (Norm) love debating Jewish atheists. Why? Because I've
never met a Jewish person who believes that the Holocaust was
just a matter of opinion. They all believe it was really wrong,
regardless of what any one thinks about it. During one such
debate with a Jewish atheist, I asked my opponent, "On what
grounds do you say the Holocaust was wrong?" He said, "By my own
benign moral feeling."
What else could he say? Unless he was going to admit that
there was an objective Moral Law - but that would mean admitting
God - he had no objective grounds to oppose the Holocaust. His
opposition carried no more weight than his own personal opinion.
But we all know the moral status of the Holocaust is not just a
matter of opinion. Your reaction to a comment on the Holocaust
should give you a hint that there is something really wrong with
murdering inno cent people. After all, you don't have the same
reaction to someone who says "that meal was wonderful!" when he
also says "the Holocaust was wonderful!" You intuitively know
that someone's taste for food is not the same as his taste for
evil. There is a real moral difference between a meal and
murder-one is a mere preference and the other is a true
injustice. Your reactions to those comments help you realize
We'll discuss more about the coexistence of evil and God in
appendix 1. For now the main point is this: if there were no
Moral Law, then we wouldn't be able to detect evil or injustice
of any kind. Without justice, injustice is meaningless. Likewise,
unless there's an unchanging standard of good, there is no such
thing as objective evil. But since we all know that evil exists,
then so does the Moral Law.
5. Without the Moral Law, There Would Be No Way to Measure Moral
Consider the two maps of Scotland in figure 7.1.
Which is the better map? How could you tell which is the
better map? The only way to tell is to see what the real Scotland
looks like. In other words, you would have to compare both maps
to a real unchanging place called Scotland. If Scotland does not
exist, then the maps are meaningless. But since it does, then we
can see that Map A is the better map because it's closer to the
unchanging standard-the real Scotland.
This is exactly what we do when we evaluate the behavior of
Mother Teresa against that of Hitler. We appeal to an absolute
unchanging standard beyond both of them. That standard is the
Moral Law. C.S.Lewis put it this way:
The moment you say that one set of moral ideas can be better
than another, you are, in fact, measuring them both by a
standard, saying that one of them conforms to that standard
more nearly than the other. But the standard that measures
two things is something different from either. You are, in
fact, comparing them both with some Real Morality, admitting
that there is such a thing as a real Right, independent of
what people think, and that some people's ideas get nearer
to that real Right than others. Or put it this way. If your
moral ideas can be truer, and those of the Nazis less true,
there must be something-some Real Morality-for them to be
If the Moral Law doesn't exist, then there's no moral
difference between the behavior of Mother Teresa and that of
Hitler. Likewise, statements like "Murder is evil," "Racism is
wrong," or "You shouldn't abuse children" have no objective
meaning. They're just someone's opinion, on a par with "chocolate
tastes better than vanilla." In fact, without the Moral Law,
simple value - laden terms such as "good," "bad," "better," and
"worse" would have no objective meaning when used in a moral
sense. But we know they do have meaning. For example, when we say
"society is getting better" or "society is getting worse," we are
comparing society to some moral standard beyond ourselves. That
standard is the Moral Law that's written on our hearts.
In short, to believe in moral relativism is to argue that
there are no real moral differences between Mother Teresa and
Hitler, freedom and slavery, equality and racism, care and abuse,
love and hate, or life and murder. We all know that such
conclusions are absurd. So moral relativism must be false. If
moral relativism is false, then an objective Moral Law exists.
6. Without the Moral Law, You Couldn't Know What Was Right or
When Alan Dershowitz, a self-described agnostic, debated
Alan Keyes, who is Roman Catholic, in September 2000 on the
subject of religion in the public square, Dershowitz was asked by
an audience member, "What makes something right?"
Dershowitz praised the question and then said, "We know what
evil is. We have seen it," as he cited obvious examples of evil,
such as the Holocaust and the Crusades. Then Dershowitz peered at
the audience, raised his voice, and emphatically declared, "I
DON'T KNOW WHAT'S RIGHT! I know what's WRONG!"
He then began to almost scold the audience: "But I have
something else to tell you, folks. YOU don't know what's right!
The minute you think you know what's right, the minute you think
you have the answer to what's right, you have lost a very
precious aspect of growing and developing. I don't expect ever to
know precisely what's right, but I expect to devote the rest of
my life trying to find it out." With that, some in the audience
Keyes was not given the opportunity to respond to
Dershowitz's answer. If he had, he could have unleashed the Road
Runner tactic to expose the self-defeating nature of Dershowitz's
argument-namely, by asking Dershowitz, "How do you know what's
wrong unless you know what's right?" Indeed, you cannot know that
5 is the wrong answer to 2+2, unless you have some idea of what
the right answer is! In the same way, Dershowitz can't know
what's morally wrong unless he has some idea of what's morally
During the debate, Dershowitz had no problem railing against
things he thought were morally wrong (i.e., anti-sodomy laws,
antiabortion laws, racism, slavery, the moral code of the Boy
Scouts, mixing church and state, etc.). But in claiming certain
things are wrong, he was, by default, affirming that certain
things are right. Every negation implies an affirmation. To say
that restricting abortion is wrong (the negation), Dershowitz
must know that women have a moral right to abortion (the
affirmation). But without the Moral Law, Dershowitz can't justify
that or any other moral position. It's all just his own opinion.
It is also the height of error and arrogance to claim that
no one in the audience knows what's right. Christians are often
criticized for stating that they "have the truth," but here was
Dershowitz stating that he has the truth that no one has the
truth. In order to know that no one has the truth, Dershowitz
would have to know the truth himself. Some relativists are famous
for this kind self-defeating arrogance. They claim there is no
truth, but then make truth claims of their own. They claim they
don't know what is right, but then claim their own political
causes are right. They deny the Moral Law in one sentence and
then assume it in the next.
7. Without the Moral Law, There Are No Moral Grounds for
Political or Social Dissent
Political liberals like Alan Dershowitz and many in
Hollywood are famous for their moral opposition to war, anti
abortion laws, anti-sodomy laws, tax cuts, and just about
anything the "religious right" might support. The problem for
them is that many of them are atheists who thereby have no
objective moral grounds for the positions they vocally support.
For if there is no Moral Law, then no position on any moral issue
is objectively right or wrong - including the positions taken by
Without a Moral Law, there would be nothing objectively
wrong with Christians or Muslims forcibly imposing their religion
on atheists. There would be nothing wrong with outlawing atheism,
confiscating the property of atheists, and giving it to Pat
Robertson and Jerry Falwell. There would be nothing wrong with
gay-bashing, racism, or imperialistic wars. Nor would there be
anything wrong with prohibiting abortion, birth control, and even
sex between consenting adults! In other words, without the Moral
Law, atheists have no moral grounds to argue for their pet
political causes. There is no right to an abortion, homosexual
sex, or any of their other political sacraments because in a
nontheistic world there are no rights. Unless atheists claim that
there is a God and that his Moral Law condones or commands these
activities, then their positions are nothing more than their own
subjective preferences. And no one is under any moral obligation
to agree with mere preferences or to allow atheists to
legislatively impose them on the rest of us.
So by rebelling against the Moral Law, atheists have,
ironically, undermined their grounds for rebelling against
anything. In fact, without the Moral Law, no one has any
objective grounds for being for or against anything! But since we
all know that issues involving life and liberty are more than
mere preferences-that they involve real moral rights-then the
Moral Law exists.
8. If There Were No Moral Law, Then We Wouldn't Make Excuses for
Did you ever notice that people make excuses for immoral
behavior? Making excuses is a tacit admission that the Moral Law
exists. Why make excuses if no behavior is actually immoral?
Even the number one virtue of our largely immoral culture -
tolerance - reveals the Moral Law, because tolerance itself is a
moral principle. If there is no Moral Law, then why should anyone
be tolerant? Actually, the Moral Law calls us to go beyond
tolerance to love. Tolerance is too weak-tolerance says, hold
your nose and put up with them. Love says, reach out and help
them. Tolerating evil is unloving, but that's what many in our
culture want us to do.
Moreover, the plea to be tolerant is a tacit admission that
the behavior to be tolerated is wrong. Why? Because you don't
need to plead with people to tolerate good behavior, only bad. No
one needs to be talked into tolerating the behavior of Mother
Teresa, only the behavior of some relativists. Likewise, no one
makes excuses for acting like Mother Teresa. We only make excuses
when we act against the Moral Law. We wouldn't do so if it didn't
ABSOLUTE VS. RELATIVE: WHY THE CONFUSION?
If there really is an absolute Moral Law as we have argued,
then why do so many believe that morality is relative? And why do
so many people appear to have different values? Rationally, the
reason lies with the failure to make proper distinctions. Let's
take a look at those distinctions to clear up the areas of
Confusion #1 Absolute Morals vs. Changing Behavior
A common mistake of relativists is to confuse behavior with
value. That is, they confuse what is with what ought to be. What
people do is subject to change, but what they ought to do is not.
This is the difference between sociology and morality. Sociology
is descriptive; morality is prescriptive.
In other words, relativists often confuse the changing
behavioral situation with the unchanging moral duty. For example,
when discussing a moral topic like premarital sex or
cohabitation, you often hear people in support of it say
something like, "Get with it, this is the twenty-first century!"
as if current behaviors dictate what's right and wrong. To
illustrate the absurdity of the relativist's reasoning, you need
only to turn the discussion to a more serious moral issue like
murder, which also occurs much more frequently in America today
than it did fifty years ago. How many relativists would speak in
support of murder by asking us to "Get with it, this is the
twenty-first century!"? That's where their reasoning takes them
when they confuse what people do with what they ought to do.
Another aspect of the is-ought fallacy manifests itself when
people suggest that there is no Moral Law because people don't
obey it. Of course everyone disobeys the Moral Law to some
degree-from telling white lies to murder. But that doesn't mean
there is no unchanging Moral Law; it simply means that we all
violate it. Everyone makes mathematical mistakes too, but that
doesn't mean there are no unchanging rules of mathematics.
Confusion #2 Absolute Morals vs. Changing Perceptions o f the
Another confusion is made between the existence of an
absolute moral value itself and the understanding of the facts
used in applying that value. For example, as C.S.Lewis has noted,
in the late 1700s witches were sentenced as murderers, but now
they are not. A relativist might argue, "See! Our moral values
have changed because we no longer seek to kill witches. Morality
is relative to time and culture."
But the relativist's claim is incorrect. What has changed is
not the moral principle that murder is wrong but the perception
or factual understanding of whether "witches" can really murder
people by their curses. People no longer believe they can. Hence,
people no longer consider them murderers. In other words, the
perception o f a moral situation is relative (whether witches are
really murderers), but the moral values involved in the situation
are not (murder has always been and always will be wrong).
Failure to make this distinction also leads people to
believe that cultural differences reflect essential differences
in core moral values. For example, some believe that since Hindus
revere cows and Americans eat them, there's an essential
difference between the moral values of Americans and Hindus. But
the reason people in India consider cows sacred has nothing to do
with a core moral value - it has to do with their religious
belief in reincarnation. Indians believe that cows may possess
the souls of deceased human beings, so they won't eat them. In
the United States, we do not believe that the souls of our
deceased relatives may be in a cow, so we freely eat cows. In the
final analysis, what appears to be a moral difference is actually
an agreement-we both believe it's wrong to eat Grandma! The core
moral value that it's wrong to eat Grandma is considered absolute
by people in both cultures. They only disagree on whether
Grandma's soul is in the cow! They have different perceptions o f
the facts pertaining to the moral value, but fundamentally agree
that the moral value must be upheld.
Confusion #3 Absolute Morals vs. Applying Them to Particular
As we have seen, people know right from wrong best by their
reactions rather than by their actions. When people are the
victims of bad behavior, they have no trouble understanding that
the behavior is absolutely wrong. Yet even if two victims wind up
disagreeing over the morality of a particular act, this does not
mean morality is relative. An absolute Moral Law can exist even
if people fail to know the right thing to do in a particular
Consider the moral dilemma often used by university
professors to get their students to believe in relativism: there
are five people trying to survive on a life raft designed for
only four. If one person isn't thrown overboard, then everyone
will die. Students labor over the dilemma, come to different
conclusions, and then conclude their disagreement proves that
morality must be relative.
But the dilemma actually proves the opposite - that morality
is absolute. How? Because there would be no dilemma IF morality
were relative! If morality were relative and there were no
absolute right to life, you'd say, "It doesn't matter what
happens! Throw everyone overboard! Who cares?" The very reason we
struggle with the dilemma is because we know how valuable life
While people may get morality wrong in complicated
situations, they don't get it wrong on the basics. For example,
everyone knows murder is wrong. Hitler knew it. That's why he had
to dehumanize the Jews in order to rationalize killing them. Even
cannibals appear to know that it is wrong to kill innocent human
beings. It may be that cannibals don't think that the people in
other tribes are human. But chances are they do. Otherwise, as J.
Budziszewski observes, why do cannibals "perform elaborate
expiatory rituals before [they] take their lives?" They wouldn't
perform these rituals unless they thought there was something
wrong with what they were about to do.
So the basics are clear, even if some difficult problems are
not. Moreover, the fact that there are difficult problems in
morality doesn't disprove the existence of objective moral laws
any more than difficult problems in science disprove the
existence of objective natural laws. Scientists don't deny that
an objective world exists when they encounter a difficult problem
in the natural world (i.e., when they have trouble knowing the
answer). And we shouldn't deny that morality exists just because
we have trouble knowing the answer in a few difficult situations.
There are easy and hard problems in morality just as there
are in science. Answering a simple scientific problem such as
"Why do objects fall to the ground?" proves that at least one
natural law or force exists (i.e., gravity). Likewise, truthfully
answering a simple moral question such as "Is murder justified?"
proves that at least one law of morality exists (i.e., don't
murder). If just one moral obligation exists (such as don't
murder, or don't rape, or don't torture babies), then the Moral
Law exists. If the Moral Law exists, then so does the Moral Law
(The difficult situation or the time we have to make a judgment
in applying moral laws is like in this example: You are hiding a
few Jews in your home, during World War 2, the Nazis come and ask
you if you have any Jews inside your home. You know the moral law
says "You shall not bear false witness" but you also know if you
admit that you do have a few Jews in your home, the Nazis will
take them, send them to the camps where in all likelyhood they
will be killed. The application of the basic moral law "You shall
not bear false witness" has to be applied within this particular
situation, and you have to understand that moral law in the
"spirit" not just the letter. The spirit of the law as given by
God was not intended to be used to have innocent people killed,
but the basic moral law is still there. It is figuring out the
application of it under certain situations that a Christian is
faced with that must be done, but the basic moral law still
exists, for in many other situations you are indeed to "not bear
false witness" - Keith Hunt)
Confusion #4--An Absolute Command (What) vs. a Relative Culture
Another important difference, often overlooked by moral
relativists, is between the absolute nature of the moral command
and the relative way in which that command is manifested in
different cultures. For example, all cultures have some form of
greeting, which is an expression of love and respect. However,
cultures differ widely on just what that greeting is. In some it
is a kiss; in others it is a hug; and in still others it is a
handshake or a bow. What should be done is common to all
cultures, but bow it should be done differs. Failure to make this
distinction misleads many to believe that because people have
different practices they have different values. The moral value
is absolute, but how it is practiced is relative.
Confusion #5 Absolute Moral vs. Moral Disagreements
Relativists often point to the controversial issue of
abortion to demonstrate that morality is relative. Some think
abortion is acceptable while others think it's murder. But just
because there are different opinions about abortion doesn't mean
morality is relative.
In fact, instead of providing an example of relative moral
values, the entire abortion controversy exists because each side
defends what they think is an absolute moral value-protecting
life and allowing liberty (i.e., allowing a woman to "control her
own body"). The controversy is over which value applies (or takes
precedence) in the issue of abortion. If the unborn were not
human beings, then the pro-liberty value should be applied in
legislation. But since the unborn are human beings, the prolife
value should be applied in legislation because a person's right
to life supersedes another person's right to individual liberty.
(The baby is not just part of the woman's body; it has its own
body with its own unique genetic code, its own blood type and
gender.) Even if there were doubt as to when life begins, the
benefit of the doubt should be given to protecting life -
reasonable people don't shoot unless they're absolutely sure they
won't kill an innocent human being.
Recall that our reaction to a particular practice reveals
what we really think about its morality. Ronald Reagan once
quipped, "I've noticed all those in favor of abortion are already
born." Indeed, all pro abortionists would become pro-life
immediately if they found themselves back in the womb. Their
reaction to the possibility of being killed would remind them
that abortion really is wrong. Of course, most people deep in
their hearts know an unborn child is a human being, and therefore
know that abortion is wrong. Even some pro-abortion activists are
finally admitting as much. So in the end, this moral
disagreement is not because morality is relative or because the
Moral Law isn't clear. This moral disagreement exists because
some people are suppressing the Moral Law in order justify what
they want to do. In other words, support for abortion is more a
matter of the will than of the mind. (For a more detailed
discussion of this and other moral topics, see our book
Confusion #6 - Absolute Ends (Values) vs. Relative Means
Often moral relativists confuse the end (the value itself)
with the means to attaining that end. Several political disputes
are of this sort. On some issues (certainly not all), liberals
and conservatives want the same things-the same ends. They just
disagree on the best means to attain them.
For example, regarding the poor, liberals believe the best
way to help is through government assistance. But since
conservatives think such assistance creates dependency, they
would rather stimulate eco nomic opportunity so the poor can help
themselves. Notice that the end is the same (assist the poor),
but the means are different. Likewise, both militarists and
pacifists desire peace (the end); they simply disagree as to
whether a strong military is the best means to attain this peace.
They both agree on the absolute end; they just disagree on the
relative means to achieve it.
THE MORAL LAW: WHAT DO DARWINISTS SAY?
So the evidence for the Moral Law is sound, and objections
to it miss the mark. How then do Darwinists deal with the
question of morality? Actually, most Darwinists avoid the subject
completely. Why? Because it's not easy to explain how there can
be objective right and wrong (which even Darwinisms know in their
hearts) unless there exists a Moral Law Giver.
Darwinist Edward O. Wilson is a notable exception. He claims
that our sense of morality has evolved in the same way we
ourselves have evolved-by natural selection. While he admits that
"very little progress has been made in the biological exploration
of the moral sentiments," Wilson asserts that the biological
process of people passing their genes on to their offspring
"through thousands of generations inevitably gave rise to moral
sentiments." In other words, morality is materially and
genetically determined. It's based on inherited feelings or
instincts, not on an objective standard of right and wrong. We
have already seen the inadequacy of natural selection to explain
new life forms (chapter 6). As we're about to see, natural
selection is also inadequate to explain "moral sentiments" within
those new life forms.
First, Darwinism asserts that only materials exist, but
materials don't have morality. How much does hate weigh? Is there
an atom for love? What's the chemical composition of the murder
molecule? These questions are meaningless because physical
particles are not responsible for morality. If materials are
solely responsible for morality, then Hitler had no real moral
responsibility for what he did - he just had bad molecules. This
is nonsense, and everyone knows it. Human thoughts and
transcendent moral laws are not material things any more than the
laws of logic and mathematics are material things. They are
immaterial entities that cannot be weighed or physically
measured. As a result, they can't be explained in material terms
by natural selection or any other atheistic means.
Second, morality cannot be merely an instinct as Wilson
suggests because: 1) we have competing instincts, and 2)
something else often tells us to ignore the stronger instinct in
order to do something more noble. For example, if you hear
somebody who is being mugged calling for help, your stronger
instinct may be to stay safe and not "get involved." Your weaker
instinct (if we may call it that) might be to help. As C.S.Lewis
But you will find inside you, in addition to these two
impulses, a third thing which tells you that you ought to
follow the impulse to help, and suppress the impulse to run
away. Now this thing that judges between two instincts, that
decides which should be encouraged, cannot itself be either
of them. You might as well say the sheet of music which
tells you, at a given moment, to play one note on the piano
and not another, is itself one of the notes on the keyboard.
The Moral Law tells us the tune we have to play: our
instincts are merely the keys.
Third, Wilson says that social morals have evolved because
those "cooperative" morals helped humans survive together. But
this assumes an end-survival-for evolution, when Darwinism, by
definition, has no end because it is a nonintelligent process.
And even if survival is granted as the end, Darwinists cannot
explain why people knowingly engage in self-destructive behavior
(i.e., smoking, drinking, drugs, suicide, etc.). Nor can
Darwinists explain why people often subvert their own survival
instincts to help others, sometimes to the point of their own
deaths. We all know that there are nobler ends than mere
survival: soldiers sacrifice themselves for their country,
parents for their children, and, if Christianity is true, God
sacrificed his Son for us.
Fourth, Wilson and other Darwinists assume that survival is
a "good" thing, but there is no real good without the objective
Moral Law. In fact, this is the problem with pragmatic and
utilitarian ethical systems that say "do what works" or "do
whatever brings the greatest good." Do what works toward whose
ends - Mother Teresa's or Hitler's? Do whatever brings the
greatest good by whose definition of good-Mother Teresa's or
Hitler's? Such ethical systems must smuggle in the Moral Law to
define what ends we should work toward and what really is the
Fifth, Darwinists confuse how one comes to know the Moral
Law with the existence o f the Moral Law. Even if we come to know
some of our "moral sentiments" because of genetic and/or
environmental factors, that doesn't mean there is no objective
Moral Law outside ourselves.
This came up in the debate between Peter Atkins and William
Lane Craig. Atkins claimed morality evolved from genetics and
"our massive brains." Craig correctly responded, "At best that
would show how moral values are discovered, but it would not show
that those values are invented." Indeed, I may inherit a capacity
for math and learn the multiplication tables from my mother, but
the laws of mathematics exist regardless of how I come to know
them. Likewise, morality exists independently of how we come to
Finally, Darwinists cannot explain why anyone should obey
any biologically derived "moral sentiment." Why shouldn't people
murder, rape, and steal to get what they want if there is nothing
beyond this world? Why should the powerful "cooperate" with the
weaker when the powerful can survive longer by exploiting the
weaker? After all, history is replete with criminals and
dictators who have lengthened their own survival precisely
because they have disobeyed all "moral sentiments" in their
repression and elimination of their opponents.
IDEAS HAVE CONSEQUENCES
If the Darwinists are right that morality has a natural
source, then morality is not objective or absolute. For if there
is no God and humans have evolved from the slime, then we have no
higher moral status than slime because there is nothing beyond us
to instill us with objective morality or dignity.
The implications of this have not been lost on Darwinists
and their followers. In fact, Adolf Hitler used Darwin's theory
as philosophical justification for the Holocaust. In his 1924
book Mein Kampf ("My Struggle"), he wrote:
If nature does not wish that weaker individuals should mate
with the stronger, she wishes even less that a superior race
should intermingle with an inferior one; because in such
cases all her efforts, throughout hundreds of thousands of
years, to establish an evolutionary higher stage of being,
may thus be rendered futile.
But such a preservation goes hand-in-hand with the
inexorable law that it is the strongest and the best who must
triumph and that they have the right to endure. He who would live
must fight. He who does not wish to fight in this world, where
permanent struggle is the law of life, has not the right to
Hitler, like other Darwinists, illegitimately personifies
nature by attributing will to it (i.e., "nature does not wish").
But his main point is that there are superior races and inferior
races, and the Jews, being an inferior race, have no right to
exist if they don't want to fight. In other words, racism and
then genocide is the logical outworking of Darwinism. On the
other hand, love and then self-sacrifice is the logical
outworking of Christianity. Ideas have consequences.
The racism associated with evolution was exposed during the
famous 1925 Scopes Trial. The high school biology textbook that
occasioned the trial spoke of five races of man, and concluded
that the "Caucasians" are the "highest type of all." This, of
course, directly contradicts biblical teaching (Gen.1:27; Acts
17:26, 29; Gal.3:28). It also contradicts what is affirmed by the
Declaration of Independence ("all men are created equal").
In more recent times, Princeton professor and Darwinist
Peter Singer has used Darwinism to assert that "the life of a
newborn is of less value than the life of a pig, a dog, or a
chimpanzee. " Yes, you read that correctly.
What are the consequences of Singer's outrageous Darwinian
ideas? He believes that parents should be able to kill their
newborn infants until they are 28 days of age! These beliefs are
perfectly consistent with Darwinism. If we all came from slime,
then we have no grounds to say that humans are morally any better
than any other species. The only question is, why limit
infanticide at 28 days, or, for that matter, 28 months or 28
years? If there is no Moral Law Giver, then there's nothing wrong
with murder at any age! Of course, Darwinists such as Singer
might reject this conclusion, but they have no objective grounds
for disagreeing unless they can appeal to a standard beyond
themselves - a Moral Law Giver.
James Rachels, author of "Created from Animals: The Moral
Implications of Darwinism," defends the Darwinian view that the
human species has no more inherent value than any other species.
Speaking of retarded people, Rachels writes:
What are we to say about them? The natural conclusion,
according to the doctrine we are considering [Darwinism],
would be that their status is that of mere animals. And
perhaps we should go on to conclude that they may be used as
non-human animals are used - perhaps as laboratory subjects,
or as food?
As horrific as that would be - using retarded people as lab
rats or for food - Darwinists can give no moral reason why we
ought not use any human being in that fashion. Nazi-like
experiments cannot be condemned by Darwinists, because there is
no objective moral standard in a Darwinian world.
Two other Darwinists recently wrote a book asserting that
rape is a natural consequence of evolution. According to authors
Randy Thornhill and Craig Palmer, rape is "a natural, biological
phenomenon that is a product of the human evolutionary heritage,"
just like "the leopard's spots and the giraffe's elongated neck."
Shocking as they are, these Darwinian conclusions about
murder and rape should come as no surprise to anyone who
understands the moral implications of Darwinism. Why? Because
according to Darwinists, all behaviors are genetically
determined. While some Darwinists might disagree with the
implication that murder and rape are not wrong (precisely because
the Moral Law speaks to them through their consciences), those
conclusions are the inexorable result of their worldview. For if
only material things exist, then murder and rape are nothing more
than the results of chemical reactions in a criminal's brain
brought about by natural selection. Moreover, murder and rape
can't be objectively wrong (i.e., against the Moral Law) because
there are no laws if only chemicals exist. Objective moral laws
require a transcendent Law-Giver, but the Darwinian worldview has
ruled him out in advance. So consistent Darwinists can only
consider murder and rape as personal dislikes, not real moral
To understand what's behind the Darwinist's explanation of
morality, we need to distinguish between an assertion and an
argument. An assertion merely states a conclusion; an argument,
on the other hand, states the conclusion and then supports it
with evidence. Darwinists make assertions, not arguments. There
is no empirical or forensic evidence that natural selection can
account for new life forms, much less morality. Darwinists simply
assert that morals have evolved naturally because they believe
man has evolved naturally. And they believe man has evolved
naturally, not because they have evidence for such a belief, but
because they've ruled out intelligent causes in advance. So the
Darwinian explanation for morality turns out to be just another
"just-so" story based on circular reasoning and false
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION
When we conduct our seminar, "The Twelve Points That Show
Christianity Is True," the following two statements about
morality immediately capture the attention of the audience:
If there is no God, then what Hitler did was just a matter of
If at least one thing is really morally wrong-like it's wrong to
torture babies, or it's wrong to intentionally fly planes into
buildings with innocent people in them-then God exists.
These statements help people realize that, without an
objective source of morality, all so-called moral issues are
nothing but personal preference. Hitler liked killing people, and
Mother Teresa liked helping them. Unless there's a standard
beyond Hitler and Mother Teresa, then no one is really right or
wrong-it's just one person's opinion against that of another.
Fortunately, as we have seen, there is a real moral standard
beyond human beings. C.S.Lewis wrote, "Human beings, all over the
earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a
certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. Secondly, that they
do not in fact behave that way. They know the Law of Nature; they
break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear
thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in."
Hopefully we've done some clear thinking in this chapter.
Here's a summary of what we've covered:
1. There is an absolute standard of right and wrong that is
written on the hearts of every human being. People may deny it;
they may suppress it; their actions may contradict it; but their
reactions reveal that they know it.
2. Relativism is false. Human beings do not determine right and
wrong; we discover right and wrong. If human beings determined
right and wrong, then anyone would be "right" in asserting that
rape, murder, the Holocaust, or any other evil is not really
wrong. But we know those acts are wrong intuitively through our
consciences, which are manifestations of the Moral Law.
3. This Moral Law must have a source higher than ourselves
because it is a prescription that is on the hearts of all people.
Since prescriptions always have prescribers-they don't arise from
nothing-the Moral Law Prescriber (God) must exist.
4. This Moral Law is God's standard of rightness, and it helps us
adjudicate between the different moral opinions people may have.
Without God's standard, we're left with just thathuman opinions.
The Moral Law is the final standard by which everything is
measured. (In Christian theology, the Moral Law is God's very
nature. In other words, morality is not arbitrary - it's not "Do
this and don't do that because I'm God and I said so." No, God
doesn't make rules up on a whim. The standard of rightness is the
very nature of God himself - infinite justice and infinite love.)
5. Although it is widely believed that all morality is relative,
core moral values are absolute, and they transcend cultures.
Confusion over this is often based on a misunderstanding or
misapplication of moral absolutes, not on a real rejection of
them. That is, moral values are absolute, even if our
understanding of them or of the circumstances in which they
should be applied are not absolute.
6. Atheists have no real basis for objective right and wrong.
This does not mean that atheists are not moral or don't
understand right from wrong. On the contrary, atheists can and do
understand right from wrong because the Moral Law is written on
their hearts just as on every other heart. But while they may
believe in an objective right and wrong, they have no way to
justify such a belief (unless they admit a Moral Law Giver, at
which point they cease being atheists).
In the end, atheism cannot justify why anything is morally
right or wrong. It cannot guarantee human rights or ultimate
justice in the universe. To be an atheist - a consistent atheist
- you have to believe that there is nothing really wrong with
murder, rape, genocide, torture, or any other heinous act. By
faith, you have to believe there is no moral difference between a
murderer and a missionary, a teacher and a terrorist, or Mother
Teresa and Hitler. Or, by faith, you have to believe that real
moral principles arose from nothing. Since such beliefs are
clearly unreasonable, we don't have enough faith to be atheists.
THE OUTLINE OF THIS BOOK:
Foreword by David Limbaugb
Preface: How Much Faith Do You Need to Believe This Book?
Introduction: Finding the Box Top to the Puzzle of Life
1 Can We Handle the Truth?
2 Why Should Anyone Believe Anything At All?
3 In the Beginning There Was a Great SURGE
4 Divine Design
5 The First Life: Natural Law or Divine Awe?
6 New Life Forms: From the Goo to You via the Zoo?
7 Mother Teresa vs. Hitler
8 Miracles: Signs of God or Gullibility?
9 Do We Have Early Testimony About Jesus?
10 Do We Have Eyewitness Testimony About Jesus?
11 The Top Ten Reasons We Know the New Testament is truth
12 Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?
13 Who Is Jesus: God? Or Just a Great Moral Teacher?
14 What Did Jesus Teach About the Bible?
15 Conclusion: The Judge, the Servant King, and Box Top
Appendix 1: If God, Why Evil?
Appendix 2: Isn't That Just Your Interpretation?
Appendix 3: Why the Jesus Seminar Doesn't Speak for Jesus
This book is 448 pages. IT WILL ANSWER THE ATHEIST AND DISPROVE
EVOLUTION. GOD DOES INDEED EXIST!
I DO NEED TO TELL YOU THAT THE AUTHORS, WHEN THEY MOVE INTO "THEOLOGY"
SUBJECTS, SOME ARE "OUT IN LEFT FIELD" - WRONG! THEY MENTION CHRIST'S
DISCIPLES MOVING AWAY FROM THE ANCIENT SABBATH TO SUNDAY OBSERVING
VERY EARLY AFTER FORMING THE NT CHURCH, NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM
THE TRUTH. THEY GET INTO THE "HELL" TEACHING WHICH IS THE BASIC ROMAN
CATHOLIC TEACHING. THEY HAVE NO IDEA OF GOD'S PLAN OF SALVATION
FOR ALL MANKIND. THE AUTHORS ARE IN THE THEOLOGY TYPICAL OF EVANGELICAL
PROTESTANTS, HENCE WRONG IN SOME PARTS. ***THE BOOK IS GOOD IN
ANSWERING THE ATHEIST AND EVOLUTIONIST AND SHOWING THE NEW TESTAMENT
AND JESUS IS HISTORICALLY ACCURATE. FROM THOSE POSITIONS I RECOMMEND
REMEMBER ALSO TO OBTAIN THE GREAT DVD SETS OF "THE UNIVERSE" BY
THE HISTORY CHANNEL. THE UNIVERSE IS SO MIGHTY, POWERFUL AND
MIND-BLOWING, AND SO VAST THE HUMAN MIND CANNOT REALY COMPREHEND
IT, BUT IT IS A FACT, AND THOSE FACTS ARE UNBELIEVABLE TO BEHOLD
Entered on this Website March 2009