Wednesday, April 01, 2009The Moral Argument for God’s Existence MP3 Audio by William Lane CraigWilliam Lane Craig discusses the Moral Argument for the existence of God in this four-part lecture series from his Defenders podcast. Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 Enjoy. Apologetics315 is a non-profit ministry. You can support this work here. Do you do your shopping at Amazon? If so, using this Amazon link supports Apologetics315. In the UK? Use this UK Amazon link. By Brian Auten on April 1, 2009 at 6:30 am Topics: apologetics, audio, existence of God, morality, mp3, William Lane Craig 26 comments 0 Related Does the God of Christianity Exist and Does it Matter? MP3 Audio Featured Website: Biblical Training 26 Comments Lee April 1, 2009 This should be fun… though I think I have heard it before. Thanks Lee GoodNewsAtheism April 2, 2009 Moral argument for the existence of God? Isn’t this a guy whose religion says that your moral choices don’t matter because the only important thing in the universe is your mental submission to a flying Jewish zombie? Brian April 2, 2009 GoodNewsAtheism, Welcome to the site, and thanks for stopping by. Did you have a chance to listen to the audio, then? Yossman April 2, 2009 @ GoodNewsAtheism, This guy you’re talking about doesn’t make use of his religion, nor any Jewish zombie, nor Jesus Christ for that matter, to argue that there is a God. Now that’s good news (or not depending on where you stand)! Listen for once and stop the deriding one-liners. They don’t make any impression. Lee April 2, 2009 Still not had chance to listen to these talks, but I have just finish listening to a different WLC debate where he used the ‘moral argument’ It failed the moment WLC used special pleading for his argument – ‘deep down inside we all know they exist’ What rubbish – sorry. Nothing that follows that means anything as a logical argument. So, unless WLC provides evidence or a logical proof for objective morals, he cannot use them for an argument for God. It is circular… Objective morals exist because God exists. God exists because objective morals exist. Lee Brian April 2, 2009 Lee, I suggest you listen to these audios if you want to hear his position in full. You are not being fair to isolate one statement and say that is his basis. If there are objective moral values, then it would likely follow that deep inside we would know that they exist. This is simply a supporting inductive evidence. It is not deductive proof that they exist. You are taking cheap shots here. Objective morals exist because God exists. God exists because objective morals exist. Stop using straw men. Lee April 2, 2009 Hi Brian, I’m downloading it now… As for the strawman – it is what I remembered from this morning debate from WLC, but it was 6:45am and I was tired. 🙂 I really could do with a transcript sometimes… Lee Lee April 2, 2009 More straw for the fire… Isn’t the argument from WLC… 1. If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist. 2. Objective moral values do exist. 3. Therefore, God exists. Doesn’t this sound a little circular to you? As for special pleading, I quote “So in answer to your question, the best way to convince anyone of the objective reality of moral values is to appeal to his moral experience. Give some illustrations of moral outrages and ask people if they think such things are really evil or wrong. I think you’ll find 98% of people will agree on the basis of their experience that we do apprehend at least some objective moral values and duties. With such persons your argument does not beg the question.” http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=6613 Or is it just me? Take care Lee Brian April 2, 2009 The argument is logically valid modus tollens.It is an argument for the existence of God, not the existence of morals! The quote you refer to is to demonstrate that objective moral values exist (the second premise). Giving examples is sufficient proof for most, according to Craig, to demonstrate the truth of objective moral values. The quote you pulled is Craig responding to someone who believes it is circular based upon a wrong understanding of what the argument is claiming: “Rather your pastor’s complaint is best understood as the allegation that we can’t use the moral argument, not because it is formally invalid or has a false premise, but because it is question-begging, that is to say, the only reason we have for believing (2) is that we already believe (3). So anyone who uses this argument is reasoning in a circle. So understood, I think that he is clearly mistaken. People don’t believe in (2) because they believe in God. They believe in (2) because of their moral experience, in which they apprehend certain values that impose themselves upon us and certain duties that lay claim upon us. That goes for atheists and agnostics as well as theists. Non-theists who accept (2) obviously do not do so in a question-begging way, and neither do theists, I should say.“ I would encourage others to read the full article carefully and in its entirety. GoodNewsAtheism April 3, 2009 I didn’t say that his argument involved it. I’m saying that his beliefs are that there is no objective morality because there is no morality, period. On his beliefs, the supreme architect of the universe specifically told every living human being, via the Bible, that “good works” are totally irrelevant, that they are a mistake, a misnomer, a heresy, and that the only thing that matters is the aforementioned flying Jewish zombie. So I wonder where he gets this notion of “objective” morality from if he worships a God who has told us that choices do not matter where they do not involve flying zombies. Brian April 4, 2009 GoodNewsAtheism,There you go with your flying zombies again. These creative mockeries are old after the first hearing. Please don’t be so insulting to the theists and atheists here who care about intelligent discussion and proper representation of others’ views. “I’m saying that his beliefs are that there is no objective morality because there is no morality, period.” Those aren’t his beliefs. The three points of the syllogism used by Craig are outlined by Lee above. Premise (2) affirms that objective moral values exist. Lee April 5, 2009 Hi GoodNewsAtheism, I agree with Brian on the cheap jokes – there is a time and place for them. They work for some, and don’t for others. If you wish to have a discussion, insulting the other person (and/or their beliefs) isn’t the way to go. It doesn’t win any friends. I rather just point out where their reasoning is wrong (or find out where mine is) Now, I’m all for silly insults – I personally think it can be good for the soul, but let’s do that at your blog or mine. Take care. Lee Lee April 5, 2009 Hi Brian, “Premise (2) affirms that objective moral values exist.” Still hasn’t been shown. This is an assertion. “All unicorns have horns – therefore unicorns exist.” You cannot have unicorn horns without unicorns now can you 🙂 So this is logical – right? Lee Mark D. Linville April 13, 2009 This comment has been removed by the author. Mark D. Linville April 13, 2009 I just happened by and cannot help but comment for the first time here. I’m replying chiefly to Lee’s critique of the actual argument. (GNA, on the other hand, may be safely ignored.) There is nothing circular about the moral argument as Craig presents it, nor is it a matter of “special pleading.” Mus Craig offer support for the premise affirming the objectivity of morality? A few comments: * Any argument for anything must begin with premises that are accepted non-inferentially. To suggest that Craig’s argument is somehow illogical because he does so is to betray a misunderstanding of the nature of logical argumentation. * One wonders what sort of argument the objector wishes to hear. Consider the scene in The Brothers Karamazov in which soldiers snatch babies from the arms of their mothers, toss them in the air, and catch them on the points of their bayonets–just for fun. And consider the proposition, “Recreational baby-bayoneting is wrong.” Is there a proposition more self-evidently true and axiomatic from which this follows? It would certainly follow from a more general moral principle, such as that of respect-for-persons, but that principle itself gains whatever justification it has in virtue of its implications regarding things like baby-bayoneting. I suggest that such moral judgments are as basic as can reasonably be expected of any belief. * Any position that rejects Recreational baby-bayoneting is wrong will itself assume certain epistemological views regarding the nature of warranted belief. But I’ll toss down the gauntlet here and challenge the critic to demonstrate that the principles presupposed by that epistemological view are (a) internally consistent (and thus not self-referentially incoherent), and (b) more certainly known than Recreational baby-bayoneting is wrong. * The objector fails to realize that many of the most prominent critics of Craig’s argument (and those like it) share Craig’s acceptance of the second premise. What they deny is that moral realism calls for theistic underpinnings. And so, even if Craig says nothing whatsoever in defense of that second premise, his argument is significant if he can offer a compelling defense of the first premise. *Even Hitchens accepts that second premise. He must, else, he undercuts his assertions to the effect that religion is evil. But in his debate with Craig, he misconstrued the moral argument as suggesting that theists can be moral whereas atheists cannot. * Moral realism has experienced a resurgence in academic philosophy (e.g., Cornell Realism), largely because advances in philosophy of language, epistemology and metaphysics have exposed the old arguments against it as either fallacious or as assuming self-refuting principles. *Good work has been done in metaethics in defense of moral realism. Consider, for instance, Russ Shafer-Landau’s pair of Oxford books, A Defence of Moral Realism and Whatever Happened to Good and Evil?. Shafer-Landau argues that there is a presumption in favor of moral realism over nihilism and constructivism, due, in part, to the implausible implications of those skeptical views. Lee April 14, 2009 Hi Mark, You will have to forgive my ignorance on philosophical talk – not my training, but I am always happy to learn. I didn’t understand some of your points, so I hope you do not mind if I just focus on one that I did.(Time is short tonight for me) “Recreational baby-bayoneting is wrong.” I agree 🙂 Why do you think your statement is true? My position is it is wrong because it creates unnecessary suffering. Still, I think my original question was that it is for WLC to prove that absolute morals exist rather than just assert them Am I wrong? Many thanks Lee Mark D. Linville April 14, 2009 Lee, Just a quick reply. I am easily drawn in to these online debates with bad consequences for my time management (i.e., it is addictive). If I do not follow up, it is not from lack of interest or respect, but the outworking of something like a 12 step program. 😉 I guess I wonder why Creating unnecessary suffering is wrong is on any more sure a footing than Recreational baby-bayoneting is wrong. It seems to me that our pre-theoretical moral beliefs inevitably come into play at some point or other. The question, then, is whether we’ve any reason to trust them. (There is a nice discussion of “Refective Equilbrium” by Norman Daniels at one of the online philosophy encyclopedias. I think this is relevant here.) A part of my own argument (see, for instance, http://adventuresinelfland.wordpress.com) is that theism provides the metaphysical and epistemological underpinnings for such an assumption in a way that naturalism does not. Lee April 15, 2009 Hi Mark, I am also drawn easily into discussions online – I find them fun and educational, but I really don’t have the time like yourself. ” I guess I wonder why Creating unnecessary suffering is wrong is on any more sure a footing than Recreational baby-bayoneting is wrong.”Baby-bayoneting is wrong because ‘Creating unnecessary suffering’ is wrong. I thought I stated that? My foundations for this are evolutional and from personal experience. I don’t like pain, so I assume no one else likes pain either. Following this rule seems to make for a better society – evolution has ensured that 🙂 Of course – there is a balance. Bayoneting babies is wrong, however sticking a needle into baby to provide protection from deadly diseases is right. Both involve a metal ‘stick’ to enter a baby drawing blood(maybe), but one is for the greater good, the other just causes pain without benefit to the baby. Hence unnecessary suffering. However I asked you why you felt it was wrong – what is your reasoning? ” It seems to me that our pre-theoretical moral beliefs inevitably come into play at some point or other”Can you expand on ‘pre-theoretical’ – my reasoning was based on personal experience, is this what you mean by pre-theoretical? Take care (and take your time – the road to recovery from internet blogger is a long one) Lee Matthew April 18, 2009 1. If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist. 2. Objective moral values do exist. 3. Therefore, God exists. Doesn’t this sound a little circular to you?http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modus_tollens Matt April 20, 2009 Lee When Craig stated that ” the best way to convince anyone of the objective reality of moral values is to appeal to his moral experience.” you suggested it was circular. Now when Mark asks you on what basis you believe uneccessary suffering is wrong you state “My foundations for this are evolutional and from personal experience.” and then go on to state. “Can you expand on ‘pre-theoretical’ – my reasoning was based on personal experience, is this what you mean by pre-theoretical?” Your position seems incoherent. If your criticism of Craig is valid then it invalidates your own position. I am interested, and I am sure Mark would be as well why you think that evolution unguided by God gives you reliable moral experiences? Couldn’t evolution have just as well created an illusion of morality. After all, all that is needed to produce adaptive behavour is that you *believe* certain actions are wrong, nothing requires that these beliefs are actually accurate. Lee April 20, 2009 Hi Matt When Craig stated that ” the best way to convince anyone of the objective reality of moral values is to appeal to his moral experience.” you suggested it was circular.Did I? What you have just quoted from WLC is just special pleading which is, I think, still a logical fallacy the last I checked. Yep – just checked my comment above, I did only say that this was special pleading 🙂 The circular part of the argument from WLC is when from asserting that ‘objective reality of moral values’ exist, then goes onto to say this is proof of God, because without God you cannot have objective reality of moral values. Can you see the circle being formed? (Now I know Brian has already said I am making a strawman here – but it seems to me to be the summary of 20 mins of WLC talking about this topic. Feel free to summarise it better if you can) Now when Mark asks you on what basis you believe uneccessary suffering is wrong you state “My foundations for this are evolutional and from personal experience.” and then go on to state. Sounds like something I would say 🙂 “Can you expand on ‘pre-theoretical’ – my reasoning was based on personal experience, is this what you mean by pre-theoretical?”Has this question been addressed BTW? Your position seems incoherent.Is it? OK – tell me where and I might agree with you. If your criticism of Craig is valid then it invalidates your own position. Erm… No – I don’t think so. I have not used my ‘personal experience of suffering’ as an argument for or against the existence of God. So what circular argument have I made then? Tell me Matt – Do YOU like pain? If I kick you until you bleed, would you enjoy it or hate it? That is the personal experience I am talking about – Do you deny that personal experience exist? So please – show me the circular argument you are saying I am making because in my ignorance I cannot see it, and I would like to be shown so I can correct myself so not to make a similar mistake again. I am interested, and I am sure Mark would be as well why you think that evolution unguided by God gives you reliable moral experiences? Let’s keep it to a simple example then should I. If I thought it was ‘morally right’ to kill all my children then my genes that lead me to such a conclusion would NOT spread to another generation. The moral idea that I had would be stopped in it’s track 🙂 Just a simple example – I am sure I could fine tune it further if needed. And since you raised the point – Do you believe God guided evolution? Couldn’t evolution have just as well created an illusion of morality. And an illusion of freewill perhaps? An illusion/desire for the quest for a purpose? So in answer – perhaps 🙂 After all, all that is needed to produce adaptive behavour is that you *believe* certain actions are wrong, nothing requires that these beliefs are actually accurate. I think this sounds reasonable on first inspection. I mean, people just seem to *believe* that belief in gods will make you a more moral person and give you purpose in life… it hasn’t been shown to be actually accurate now has it? 🙂 OK – I think I have at least tried to address all your points. So my questions to you. Can I assume that you believe in Absolute morals? Then can you point one out to me that I cannot come to via my ‘personal evolutionary model’ so we can discuss it further and see if I am wrong. I am also curious, if you could provide such an example, how you came to it. My question here now is not whether absolute morals exist or not – but that you cannot come to known them without using my ‘personal evolutionary model’ or some other reasonable/logical method – and as such, absolute morals (even if they existed) are in fact useless for getting our actual morals and so might as well not exist (and probably don’t exist) Make sense? Maybe I should re-read that last part – Nope, maybe tomorrow I will. I like my ideas fluid. Many thanks and take care Lee Matt April 21, 2009 Hi Lee Ok first you did not address my criticism, you criticised Craig for justifying the existence of objective moral obligations on the grounds of experience and then justified your own moral position on the grounds of your experience that is contradictory. Regarding your other points, first, telling a person that they can discern something via experience is not special pleading. Second I do not see any circularity in Craig’s argument, you suggest the following The circular part of the argument from WLC is when from asserting that ‘objective reality of moral values’ exist, then goes onto to say this is proof of God, because without God you cannot have objective reality of moral values.That would then be  Objective moral obligations exist  If God does not exist objective moral obligations do not exist. From which it follows via modus tollens  God exists. That is not circular its a modus tollens, also as you your self note above Craig does not just assert  he appeals to experience to justify it just as you when challenged by Mark to justify your moral claims appealed to your experience. This is not circular at all. One may contest the premises but thats different to claiming it is circular. Third you ask if I deny personal experience, no I don’t my point was you both (a) appealed to it and then (b) dismissed Craig’s appeal to it as circular. That is inconsistent. Fourth, you say your appeal to experience is not circular. I agree that is my point, Craig’s appeal to experience is not circular. If its not circular for you to do it, its not circular for him to do it. Finally, your correct that *if you believed* that it was ok to kill your children you would not reproduce. The point is however this all that is required for survival is that you believe this is the case, it does not require that the belief be accurate. It could be completely false, that does not matter as long as you reproduce then evolution will allow you to believe it. Moreover, I could also note that belief that you should rape the neighbouring tribes women would lead to an increase in your genetic offspring in the next generation. Similarly, believing its OK to massacre the enemy clan who are competing for resources would advance your survival. The point is that if evolution is unguided, then your moral senses are not aimed at gaining the truth about what is right and wrong. They merely are aimed at ensuring your behavour ensures you live long enough to have kids. Providing the beliefs do this it does not matter wether they are true or false. Hence, I put to you that one immediate problem you face is that you cannot assume that your moral beliefs are reliable if you assume that evolution is not guided by God. All you can say is that they are beliefs that enabled your distant ancestors in their enviroment to pass on their genes. That hardly inspires confidence. Lee April 21, 2009 Hi Matt, Thanks for your reply, but I will have to be short this evening – just got a few mins before the wife comes in and kills me 🙂 Ok first you did not address my criticismI missed again did I? Sorry 🙁 you criticised Craig for justifying the existence of objective moral obligations on the grounds of experience and then justified your own moral position on the grounds of your experience that is contradictory.Not sure me and WLC are talking about the same thing. If I said “We can all agree based on our personal experience that the Sun exists” then we could agree based on our personal experience – what is wrong with this claim? It iss NOT the same as saying “We can all agree based on our personal experience that Earth like planets exist around other stars” BIG difference – this is not to say Earth like planets don’t exist around other stars just that it is in a different league… (I am just trying to think of an analogy. Not sure if it floats) We are not comparing the same thing, so I think you are being a little unfair to me. Do you agree or not that if I was to hit you in your face, based on personal experience, if would hurt? I hope we can (because I do not want to have to prove it you understand) The point here being we both have such personal experiences and so appealing to it is not special pleading. (is it?) On the other hand, what WLC is doing is, by saying “I think deep down inside we can all agree that Objective/absolute morals exist” is using special pleading. It is the first premise of his argument, I do not agree with it, I have never seen an absolute moral, not sure what an objective moral is or what WLC means by it and do not understand what one is – so merely to state it as he has done is, I think, special pleading. If I am wrong I would really like you to spell it out to me since I am not seeing it. Second I do not see any circularity in Craig’s argument, you suggest the followingFair enough – I am not being clear enough, I will try again. That would then be  Objective moral obligations exist  If God does not exist objective moral obligations do not exist. From which it follows via modus tollens  God exists. Is ‘modus tollens’ Latin for talking rubbish? The first premise has NOT been shown (Remember, this is what I have been discussing now for a while now) The 2nd point I might agree on IF you could define ‘objective moral obligations’ for me. Maybe they do not exist – they have not been shown. So you still cannot see the circular argument? Change ‘Objective moral obligations’ to be ‘unicorn horns’ Change ‘God’ to ‘unicorn’ Then we have  Unicorn horns exist If unicorns do not exist, unicorn horns would not exist Therefore, unicorns exist I think I have just made the same argument, and therefore you now believe in unicorns 🙂 Now I just have to make you believe that unicorns are blue AND invisible. Third you ask if I deny personal experience, no I don’t my point was you both (a) appealed to it and then (b) dismissed Craig’s appeal to it as circular. That is inconsistent. No – It was not the special pleading that made it circular logic You have argued against something I have not said. Fourth, you say your appeal to experience is not circular. I agree that is my point, Craig’s appeal to experience is not circular. If its not circular for you to do it, its not circular for him to do it.I was obviously not being clear when I wrote:- ”The circular part of the argument from WLC is when from asserting that ‘objective reality of moral values’ exist, then goes onto to say this is proof of God, because without God you cannot have objective reality of moral values.”Maybe I should not have made ‘asserting’ bold… sorry Please re-read my unicorn logic above and I hope you now understand where I am coming from. I’m out of time now… I will return to tackle your other points tomorrow if I can. I think I can address your points on evolution so watch this space 🙂 Take care… and again, thanks for your time – I am enjoying this. Lee Michael July 8, 2010 I know I'm raising an old post. But I wanted to respond to lee because he is actually getting closer. He doesn't have any training in logic or philosophy which shows. Your unicorn argument is of a valid form but is not sound. It obeys modus tollens. Valid means it obeys the rules of logic. Sound means that the statements we allow as premises are true to the best of our knowledge. These premises are admitted on the basis of some criteria. Like we would say circles are round on the basis of self evidence or basically the basis of experience. I.e., have you seen a circle lee? lee says "yes they're round". Now we go ahead and use it as a premise. Lee isn't in possession of a unicorn horn and is not aware of the existence of one. Therefore, the argument isn't sound. He refuted a premise and did not via his assumed position or by his daily actions confirm the premise. However, lee does hold the view that causing unnecessary suffering is wrong. You accept it upon some personal criteria you've set. You confirm the premise with your statements. Therefore, that makes the moral argument both valid and sound. I hope that helps. Lee July 9, 2010 Hi Michael, I wanted to respond to lee because he is actually getting closer. Oh thank you – you're too kind. He doesn't have any training in logic or philosophy which shows. But I can spot an insult from miles away… just stick to attacking my arguments and not me – thank you. Your unicorn argument is of a valid form but is not sound. It obeys modus tollens. In English please – remember, I’ve no training in logic or philosophy and you said it showed 🙂 Lee isn't in possession of a unicorn horn and is not aware of the existence of one. Therefore, the argument isn't sound. The argument was being used as an analogy – an analogy to silliness if you like. I wasn’t defending the existence of unicorns or their horns. Sorry if I confused you 🙂 “If unicorns do not exist, unicorn horns do not exist”… brilliant logic right? Now how does this compare to “if God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist”? The structure of the argument/logic seems the same to me, where am I going wrong? So for WLC (or you) to use this argument you have to first show that either God exists or objective (absolute) moral values exist. You and WLC have done neither – the argument is as meaningless as my unicorn example. So far you are proving my argument – thank you again. All WLC does is appeal to our nature to say “and deep down inside we all know it” That isn’t a logical argument and deep down inside we all know it 🙂 He refuted a premise and did not via his assumed position or by his daily actions confirm the premise. Remember my lack of training again… Could you rephrase this please. However, lee does hold the view that causing unnecessary suffering is wrong. I personally do not like it… the universe could not give a toss it seems (or do you know the mind of the universe as well as your God?) What are you proving here? You have not proved absolute or universal objective morals… Isn't this the point of discussion here? You accept it upon some personal criteria you've set. Yes, well done. If I am kicked in the nuts, it hurts and I do not like it. I assume therefore that other people also do not like being kicked in the nuts. I could be wrong… but the sociality in which I like to live in seems to agree with me – do you think otherwise? You confirm the premise with your statements. What nonsense… and deep down inside you just know this as well 🙂 Therefore, that makes the moral argument both valid and sound. Nice try… but no. Unless you think I am your God and what my personal morals, beliefs and opinions on suffering is absolute? No? Then you are talking further nonsense. Sorry about that… Take care Lee Robin October 9, 2010 I am interested to hear in part 4 Dr Craig attributes a view to Quine which Quine is most famous for opposing. The view Dr Craig was put by philosophers Descartes and Berkeley, who were of course major Theist philosophers. I guess it would be inconvenient to be criticising something Descartes said.