How to Debunk The Moral Argument

The Argument

If God Didn’t Exist, There Would Be No Way to Tell Good from Bad.
If god didn’t exist, what basis would we have for establishing what’s good and what’s bad? There would be no objective reference point. But since we know there is an objective difference between good and bad, we know that there must be an objective reference point, and that’s god.

How to Debunk It

  1. The argument simply assumes there’s such a thing as objective morality. But it’s enough to look at a brief history of religion to see that this is false. Are murder, rape, slavery and genocide objectively immoral? Most people would say yes, but the Bible and Quran are full of stories in which god commands people to commit these atrocities, which theologically makes them moral. If they’re moral in some cases but not in others, if it depends on the situation and on human interpretation, then this makes morality subjectively contingent rather than objectively true. Religion turns out to be the most subjective and relativistic basis for morality one can imagine. The argument has a false premise and a very false conclusion—even on its own terms.
  2. The most common religious reply to the above point is that such things as slavery and genocide can be moral if god commands them. He’s the creator of the universe so when he wants it, it’s moral by definition, and when he doesn’t want it, it’s immoral. But that simply anchors morality to power, not to any semblance of goodness, flourishing, well-being and the prevention of suffering.
  3. How can you tell if god does or doesn’t want something? According to religious accounts, people either hear god’s voice in their heads or get told by someone that they or someone else heard god’s voice in their heads. This is the opposite of an objective reference point. It’s as subjective and biased as it gets.
  4. Morality is no more supernatural than intellectualism, awkwardness, greed, genocidal aspirations or any other human idea. The difference between good and evil is no more godly than the difference between happiness and sadness, social comfort and awkwardness, strength and weakness, pleasant odor and smelliness. You can play the same kind of word game with almost anything and it will bring you no closer to establishing an objective reference point, let alone that the reference point is a supernatural creator deity.

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8 thoughts on “How to Debunk The Moral Argument

  1. If god has placed morality into our hearts, how would religion explain feral children? From every case we have seen morality is a learned behavior.

  2. Wow! The Moral argument is idiotic, but this attempt to “debunk” it is far worse. Just stating that there is no objective morality is an Ignoratio Elenchii fallacy of most every respectable philosopher in history who agree moral propositions are objectively true or false.
    To refure, rather than debunk, the argument is enough to point to themultitude of secular moral philosophies that hold morality to be objective. That’s it

    1. The article itself shows you that such issues of rape, murder and genocide are morally elastic, i.e. subjective. In some ancient periods, under some circumstances, some people consider them moral while others (including the majority of people today) consider them immoral.
      To establish that something is objectively true rather than objectively false or only subjectively true, one has to show through reason, evidence, demonstration or even just probability that their proposition is objectively true. Otherwise the default, null hypothesis is that it isn’t. I have not seen any demonstration, let alone proof, of morality being more than a subjective and ever-evolving idea.

  3. You have written: “If God Didn’t Exist, There Would Be No Way to Tell Good from Bad.” However, this is a misrepresentation of the moral argument. The Christian theist acknowledges that we all know right from wrong. If fact, these moral instincts are wired into us. Consequently, we do not need anyone to tell us that torturing babies is wrong. We all intuitively know this, and this makes us all accountable.

    Instead, the moral argument insists that moral wiring alone is not enough to base our lives upon, if it is merely the product of a meaningless and mindless process. It would be like a fire-alarm that will not shut off and needs to be disabled.

    1. It’s not a misrepresentation. It’s a pretty mainstream approach that has been written and stated countless times over the centuries. Here’s William Lane Craig giving it, for example:
      The fact that YOU don’t happen to subscribe to it, even though you self-identify as a Christian, demonstrates my point about it – that it’s all subjective and man-made.

  4. Morality is subjective!
    It is different for every culture and society (or religion)!

    Humanity had morality long before man invented his gods….

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