ATHEISM, MORALITY AND REASON

PMW 2017-059 by Keaton Halley (Creation Ministries, Intl.)

C.O. from the US wrote to Creation Ministries, International:

[Gentry note: Postmillennialism entails a holistic worldview, in that all areas of life are to be overwhelmed by Christ’s kingdom as it grows to dominance in the world. Humanistic naturalism is contrary to Christian supernaturalism at every point. We need to understand the implications of our worldview in the debate over morality. The postmillennial hope will prevail over all opposition (2 Cor. 10:4-5). But God uses our labors to accomplish his end (cp. Gen. 50:20). This is an important and helpful article in the debate.]

Hello CMI team,

Thank you so much for your ministry. I have a quick question — is it *possible* in an atheistic worldview for morality, reliability of our mind, etc to exist, thus making our argument (as a Christian) on which makes the more sense? Because as I’ve researched, I often hear them saying that evolution could account for morality, reliability of our minds, etc. And though I think that Christianity provides a more plausible answer, I’m confused as to whether or not the naturalistic worldview can offer any explanation.
Can you help me understand this? Thank you!

In Christ,

C.O.

CMI’s Keaton Halley responds:

Hi C.O.,

I do not think it is possible to account for true (objective) morality or reliable minds apart from God, but that doesn’t stop atheists from trying. In other words, atheists do sometimes offer explanations; it’s just that those ‘explanations’ aren’t any good.

Regarding morality, some atheists have argued that natural selection has hard wired us to act in certain ways that are conducive to human flourishing. Okay, but even if we grant that claim, it would only explain what is, not what ought to be. Indeed, evolutionists admit that some of the predispositions natural selection has supposedly ingrained in us would be immoral to act upon, and we are free to resist those impulses. See Rape and evolution. This shows that evolution would not provide a transcendent standard by which to judge our behavior; at best it would only give us subjective morality—which is really no morality at all. What real morality requires, by contrast, is a proper eternal and immutable authority. See What is ‘good’?


Standard Bearer: Festschrift for Greg Bahnsen (ed. by Steve Schlissel)

Includes two chapters by Gentry on Revelation and theonomy.

See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com


Now, sometimes atheists beg the question by taking human flourishing to be the highest good and then working out a moral system based on that premise. But then the question remains—on atheism, what makes human flourishing good? There’s no reason to single out humans as special, and no reason to treat flourishing as an objective good, unless you’ve already smuggled in a moral standard. But that is the very thing we asked the atheist to explain.

Often, atheists misunderstand the challenge, so they respond by saying that they clearly can recognize what is moral without belief in God. This is irrelevant. Yes, atheists can correctly identify many things that are right and wrong. But our argument is not that you need belief in God to acknowledge morality, or even to act morally. It is that God must exist in order for morality to exist. This is a question of ontology (being), not epistemology (knowing). Atheists can know what is moral, but only because atheism is wrong. See Can we be good without God?

Other atheists claim that objective morality is a brute fact, or something that exists necessarily but does not need to be grounded in God—a Platonic ideal. But this seems incoherent, since such things as love and mercy are properties of persons, not things that can exist independently as abstract objects. Also, even if goodness were a Platonic ideal, it’s still hard to see why human beings would have any obligation toward it. On this view, evil would also exist as a Platonic ideal, so why would we have a duty to be good, but no corresponding duty to be evil? It seems arbitrary without the personal authority of the biblical Creator, whose nature is the standard for goodness, and who deserves our allegiance in virtue of who He is.


Pushing the Antithesis (by Ken Gentry)

Sub-title: The Apologetic Methodology of Greg L. Bahnsen

See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com


Furthermore, since atheists deny that there is genuine teleology (goals or purposes) in the world, this should logically lead them to deny free will. But without free will, how could humans even make the choice to be moral or immoral? If we are just ‘moist robots’, as some evolutionists claim, and free will is an illusion, then real morality is impossible. . . .

To read whole article: click

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