As a philosopher, I spend a great deal of time thinking about what is going on around me, examining the world around me and my relationship to it. As a Christian theologian, I spend a great deal of time thinking about God, His nature, His relationship to the creation, and His work to redeem that creation through Christ Jesus. As a Christian philosopher, sometimes those two paths take me in different directions, but sometimes they travel side by side, often overlapping. Such is the case when we stop to consider such matters as the moral argument for the existence of God.
Most often the argument is framed as such:
If God does not exist, then objective moral values and duties do not exist.
Objective moral values and duties do exist.
Therefore, God exists.
Most critics will argue that subjectivity, or relativism, is the actual reality of the matter when it comes to reality, exerting strenuously that, “Human beings are the final arbiters of what is right and wrong.” That’s easy to say, but its a hard position to defend since the moral argument doesn’t really define what “right” and “wrong” are, it simply acknowledges that there are factors, external to our own existence, that have determined what the ultimate values and duties are.
Our fallen nature recoils at such an idea, often describing such a reality as “arbitrary”. So what? People assert that through defending relativism: they will often argue that reason and consensus are what establishes what is “good” and what is “right”, which is a very arbitrary thing to say, wouldn’t you agree? It is the epitome of hypocrisy to argue that for God to determine what is right or wrong for His creatures is “unfair” and “arbitrary” is, in itself, “unfair” and “arbitrary”, because the whole affair becomes question begging through its circularity. If you want to see such put on display, this debate between David Silverman, of American Atheists, and Dr. James White, really put the issue on display. Silverman asserts that there are certain things in the world that are right and wrong, good and bad, yet cannot give a good reason why those things should be given such arbitrary definitions inside of his atheistic, materialistic worldview, something that just reeks with the stench of inconsistency and, as Dr. White points out, that inconsistency is a sign of Silverman’s failed argument.
Christians, believers in Christ, need to be consistent in their worldview in order to prove its reliability. We need to carefully demonstrate the definite correlation between the object and the moral values and duties attached to it. Relativists will often confuse how a society has defined those values and duties with the fact of their existence. I believe that it is good to look across societies and how they have defined those terms, but the key to understanding them is to realize the fact that we can look at those definitions and say “this is right to define it as such” or “it is wrong to define it as such” means that we are appealing to a standard that exists outside of us. We may often confuse the categories, which is common to fallen creatures such as ourselves, but because we are image bearers of God and we have His revelation, both in word and deed, we have something to appeal to.