Share this post on:

Dear J,

Not exactly, no. I am not giving the old “anthropological argument” or “moral argument”, though what I am saying is close to it. That argument argues that since morality exists, therefore God exists. I am saying (hopefully) something a little more compelling. I am asking, since morality exists, what sort of thing or experience is it? Is it an impersonal one, one that comfortably exists in a purely material world created by purely material causes? If morality seems to be another interesting twist of evolution, then we can dismiss the argument and move on.

If morality seems to be a phenomenon of personality, then the really interesting thing is to account for it, without recourse to some theory of animal instinct. There really doesn’t seem to be a way to do it, if we are restricted to all the humans living or all the humans who have ever lived. For, by its very nature, it seems to be a personal quality that transcends individual persons, and even individual cultures. We do not intentionally bind ourselves to what limits us, or seek out the experience of guilt. Cultures have not collaborated with each other to develop codes of conduct that nearly mirror each other on almost every point. Morality is among us, the way language is (more on that later).

If morality, justice, goodness, or fair-play is among us, and yet rules us, we seem to be in the presence of something both personal (for it always deals with how persons treat one another) and authoritative. It does more than recommend, or encourage, or gesture. Morality binds; it chastises, it punishes; it demands. It appears to rule us, yet none of us voted for it. We submit to it, and yet never swore allegiance of fealty to it. When others break it, we shake our heads at them as lawbreakers: criminals on the run from justice. When it does not seem to meet out justice fairly enough or swiftly enough, we complain, and fuss, as if it should be something very different.

Quite simply, we are acting as if there is a God who is Law. We are assuming something that random beings in a random universe have no right to assume: that relationships between persons have a governing standard, which every person must respect. We are assuming that morality exists, and prior to that, we are assuming that the nature of reality is moral and personal. There can be no absolutes (even for one interaction between two people), if reality is random. In other words, the argument is not, “Morality exists. Therefore God exists.” The argument is “The Great Person Exists. Thus, we are persons and expect others to be.”



Share this post on:

Leave a Reply