The Morality of the Jewish-Christian God

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According to William Lane Craig, the Jewish Christian god is not required to follow “objective” moral laws.  At the same time this god is defined as perfectly good.

If it is perfectly good for a perfectly good god not to follow objective moral laws then there is no reason why humans should do so, either.  Shouldn’t we follow the example given by someone who is perfectly good?

Craig argues thus:

1. If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist.

2. Objective moral values do exist.

3. Therefore, God exists.

The first premise (1) is problematic.

If some objective moral laws do exist in some societies then evolutionary socialization could account for their development.  Animals have been observed to behave in ways that indicate a primitive moral code that fosters cohesion of the group and the protection of young and helpless members of that group.

If there are objective moral laws that have given by a god, then which of the various gods worshiped by humans is primarily responsible for them?  There does not seem to be a good reason why these rules need to have been issued by any one god or by the god or gods that are favored by the proposer of the argument.

If there was a god (or several gods) that provided “objective” moral laws then what evidence is there that this god is consistent or follows its own rules?  There appears to be nothing but hypothetical conjecture and bald assertion provided to “prove” that any particular god must be consistently perfectly good.

The second premise (2) is also problematic.

There does not seem to be much agreement among anyone about which laws are “objective” across time, place and culture.  So what do we define as “moral laws” and why choose these particular ones?  If it is a purely subjective choice then what right do we have to call them “objective”?

Since the premise is problematic the argument that follows is invalid.  It amounts to saying that objective moral laws exist if and only if my version of god exists and since they do exist therefore my version of god also exists.  The truth of the premise is based on the truth of the conclusion.

If we reverse this triad we get this:

1. My version of god exists.

2. There are objective moral laws.

3. My version of god invented objective moral laws therefore he exists.

The fallacy is a little more obvious this way around. You cannot prove the existence of something which is conjectured to have certain properties by merely pointing to the existence of these properties.  You must first prove that your entity exists and then you must prove that your entity has these properties.

Let’s try it without using the emotionally laden God of the West as an example

1a. My version of Ra makes the sun move across the sky in his chariot.

1b. If Ra does not exist then the sun does not move across the sky.

2. The sun moves across the sky.

3. Therefore my version of Ra exists.

What is illogical is the assertion made in 1b.  It is not self-evident.    In Craig’s version the assumption of the existence of properties of his version of god are implied in the first assertion, but hidden by not being explicitly stated.

Perhaps Craig’s philosophical objectivity is disturbed by the necessity to support the claim of biblical in-errancy or lose his job.  His appointment to the academic position he currently holds was dependent on his signing a paper that states that he agrees with the theological position of the university.  This necessarily restricts academic freedom to areas which support the institution’s faith claims.

If that is the case then this man is following an expedient rather than an objective approach to the application of morality to intellectual rigor and integrity.   That makes him subjectively moral in the service of his version of god.  This fact creates a looping conundrum over the meaning of moral truth that cannot be solved without copious use of sophistry and semantic somersaults.

If Craig is dishonest in the service of his god then does he view this dishonesty as equivalent to the “objective” law of honesty?  If he and his version of god condone relative dishonesty than can either of them be trusted to tell the objective truth?   Of course, the question of how one defines what is meant by “honesty” and “dishonesty” is a mine-field all on its own. If a person has convinced themselves that what they are saying is true when the statements they make are false, then can they be said to be lying?  If they are capable of telling untruths while not lying then how can we define objective truth without recourse to the scientific method?  If something cannot be clearly defined and measured then can it ever be treated as “truth”?

We cannot be certain that he and his like-minded theists are utilizing “objective” moral values when these values are subjectively dependent on what Craig and his fellow theists consider are the wishes of their particular version of “god”.

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