Sunday, October 4, 2009

Why are some things bad and some things good?

I'm enjoying a re-read of Tim Keller's excellent book, The Reason for God.
"People still have strong moral convictions, but unlike people in other times and places, they don't have any visible basis for why they find some things to be evil and other things good."
It seems I have this conversation over and over again (& btw, it's a conversation I enjoy having), but why do people who say they do not believe in God continue to make moral judgments and evaluations? It is inevitable that they do, but I want to know the basis for why they make these statements.
"If there is no God, then all moral statements are arbitrary, all moral valuations are subjective and internal, and there can be no external moral standard by which a person's feelings and values are judged."
The most anyone can say is, "To me, murder, rape, racism, bigotry, etc., is wrong, but they may be right for you. My personal opinion has nothing to do with you so please ignore me."
"If a premise ("There is no God") leads to a conclusion you know isn't true ("Napalming babies is culturally relative") then why not change the premise?"
As Dostoevsky said through a character in The Brothers Karamazov, "If God does not exist, then all things are permissible."

Problem is, even though people want to say this, they can't live that way. Even Bertrand Russell, the great existentialist who said that there is no such thing as right or wrong, couldn't live by that creed b/c he objected to the World War on moral grounds.

So again, why not change the premise?


Joshua Butcher said...

The politics of the heart:

People know that God is the only worthy candidate for supreme office, but they cannot help rather placing themselves in the office of supreme authority--even when it leads to their eternal detriment.

John said...


I couldn't have said it better myself.