Argument from morality

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The argument from morality is one of many arguments for the existence of God. It comes in different forms, all aiming to support the claim that God exists with observations about morality. It's counterpoint is generally the Problem_of_evil.

Contents

General form

All forms of the moral argument begin with the premise of moral normativity, that is, that well-functioning human beings are typically aware of actions as being right and wrong. Furthermore, this awareness binds them to certain obligations, regardless of their personal goals and ends. In this sense, moral qualities have the appearance of objectivity: many times, when someone says "I ought to do a" they do not mean the same as "I would like to do a", or even prudentially, "I ought to do a in order to produce so-and-so". Another aspect of this is that a proposition such as "torturing babies for fun is wrong" is generally regarded as a statement of fact, a position known as moral realism.[1]

In its most general form, the moral argument is that:

Variations

What follows are some of the more common variations of the moral argument.

Moral sanctions

One may ask why the required recognition and upholding of moral norms must be carried out by divine intelligence, as opposed to human intelligence. Alfred Edward Taylor explains that the moral law holds at all times and everywhere, whereas the human mind is limited in its comprehension and scope. Only a sovereign God could properly detect infringements of the moral law and apply sanctions. In his Letter concerning Toleration, John Locke contends that one of the few religious stances that the commonwealth cannot tolerate is atheism; atheists, Locke says, have no motive to act upon their promises and oaths when doing so is against their self-interest.

Criticism

The argument is formally valid but each of (1), (2) and (3) may be disputed.

Transcendentality of morality

Here, a transcendental fact is one that cannot be stated entirely in the language of the natural sciences, and that is true irrespective of human opinion. Theism provides the most intelligible explanation for such moral facts via the notion that rightness is one and the same property as the property of being commanded by God (wrongness consists in being forbidden by God).

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