Just as my fitness had improved—I could run much longer distances now—I agreed with Immanuel Kant’s observation that there were two things we cannot ignore: “the starry skies above and the moral law within.” While the first cause argument (“the starry skies above”) had impeccable logic, the moral lawgiver argument (“the moral law within”) appealed to my more intuitive side. Like adding distance gradually in my running, I was growing in my understanding of the philosophical basis for a belief in God. For my purposes, I was making real progress. (from The Race Before Us)
Recently, in “Doubt, Faith and Truth – Part III,” we reviewed our discussion of the truth of the resurrection as part of a a Sunday School class I am teaching based upon my book. Because the book takes a fairly thorough approach of considering many of the traditional arguments for the existence of God and the truth of Christianity, the potential exits to extend the class for many weeks as we try to “knock off” the cosmological argument (“the starry skies above”), the teleological argument, the reliability of scripture, etc.
Just as it was audacious to try to review the proof of the resurrection in a blog post, this post will be equally ridiculous as I try to summarize the “moral argument” in a few hundred words. Those who have read The Race Before Us may recall that this “argument” probably had the single biggest impact on me. It is featured in chapter 6 and then revisited in Chapter 16 when I try to tackle head-on the arguments of today’s most prominent atheist, Richard Dawkins.
One way to consider the issues raised by the moral argument is to try to answer the question – “why are we (sometimes) good”? Recalling that Jesus said “No one is good except God alone,” perhaps this question is posed better – “what causes us to do altruistic acts”? Many are confounded by the source of “good” acts because, even as Dawkins admits, “natural selection seems ill-suited to explain such goodness as we possess, or our feelings of morality, decency, empathy and pity.” Christians would say that there are certain things that are clearly right and wrong – at all times. Further, they would say that such an objective standard must be based in something eternal because being based on man or society means it can change with opinion. In The Race Before Us I captured this idea by concluding, “Absent an unjudged judge or divine arbitrator, any determination of right and wrong results from to the assertion of power by either a majority or a despot.”
The point then is that when we look at “reasons” for God or “clues” of God, we can look to this moral sense (“the moral law within”). We can conclude that it is very real and we can conclude that there must be a source for such a standard but be outside of man, which leads us to something (someone) eternal and unchanging – God. It is one thing to understand and even embrace this rational argument. yet, that would be, like many things, understanding with the head, but perhaps not with the heart – existentially. But when we recognize – really understand – that not only is there a moral code (something C.S. Lewis calls the “Law of Human Nature”) and that we do not measure up, we begin to understand with our heart, with our soul. The idea of God – the idea of a Power beyond ourselves – leaves the abstract or purely intellectual and becomes a real part of our everyday existence. We sense it, we feel it – we know it.
As usual, few ever capture these ideas as well as C.S. Lewis, who wrote in Mere Christianity:
Christianity tells people to repent and promises them forgiveness.It therefore has nothing (as far as I know)to sayto people who do not know they havedone anything to repent of and who do not feel that they need any forgiveness. It is after you have realized that there is a Moral Law, and a Power behind the law, and that you have broken that law and put yourself wrong with that Power – it is after a lll this, and not a moment sooner, that Christianity begins to talk.
If man is simply the product of time, matter, and chance – and we evolve by natural selection – what explains Mother Teresa, CARITAS or Boaz and Ruth? Anyway, that was our Sunday School class. There is a Part V – stay tuned.