The Instigator
MBill
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
PandaTime
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

Objective Moral Values and Duties Show that God Exists

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/30/2017 Category: Religion
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 591 times Debate No: 101573
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (3)
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MBill

Pro

The moral argument ties into our common experience of right and wrong. If you think that there really is such a thing as "right" and "wrong" and that there is a meaningful difference between the two, then it follows that God exists.

Let"s examine why:
"Premise One: If God does not exist, then objective moral values and duties do not exist.
"Premise Two: Objective moral values and duties do exist.
"Premise Three: Therefore, God exists.

Premise One: If God does not exist, then objective moral values and duties do not exist. This ties into what philosophers call the "grounding" problem. If God does not exist, then there is nothing "out there" that can ground moral "right" and "wrong". Think of it this way, if a child pretends to be a construction worker as a game then he does he earn a salary? No, of course not. Why not? There is no employer outside of the child"s fantasy that can "ground" his employment. The child is only a construction worker in his own mind. If "right and wrong" only exist in our own minds, then they are no more real than the child"s construction job. We are just "pretending" that there is a right and wrong, but there is nothing in reality that these ideas correspond to.

If God exists, then he is an objective reality in which "right and wrong" can be grounded. Right and wrong correspond with God, right being those things that correspond to his nature and wrong being those things that don"t. Since God is the objective grounding for all reality, morality is objective if it is grounded in him. Keep in mind that we are not saying that "right and wrong" are objective because God exists. We are saying that "right and wrong" are only objective if God exists. We aren"t assuming God"s existence, we"re saying that God is the only candidate to ground objective moral values.

If God does not exist, there is just no viable alternative candidate to be the grounds for objective reality. All of our thoughts and feelings about "right" and "wrong" are in our own heads, no more real than the Tonka truck that little Timmy plays with.

Premise Two: Objective moral values and duties do exist. We all know this to be true. We have a real experience of right and wrong. We expect others to adhere to the same code of conduct that we do, and we"re indignant when they don"t. This belief in right and wrong is so basic for us, that we can"t really escape it in practice. Some might try to deny that right and wrong exist in order to win an argument, but in practice they can"t live that way. Think about it, are things like rape, murder, racism, hatred, exploitation, dishonesty, and the like evil or are you just pretending that they are evil? Do you think people should avoid behaviors dominated by these things or do you think they are really no different from love, compassion, and selflessness? Are you really just pretending that there is a difference between saving people and murdering them? It seems obvious that none of our experiences of right and wrong are just "made up" or pretend. There really are evils in the world, and an evil is one type of objective moral value. If it exists, then objective moral values exist.

Premise Three: Therefore, God exists. This just follows logically and inescapably from the first two premises. If objective values can only exist if God exists, and objective values exist, then it follows that God exists.

So the question for you is this, is there a real difference between right and wrong or are you just pretending that there is? If the difference is real, then God exists.
PandaTime

Con

Morality is not a black and white subject. There are so many examples of this that I don't feel are necessary to list as they are all included on this site. One person might feel it is moral to persecute other groups while another does not. One person could say that killing animals for food is moral and another says it is not. No matter what side you take on this issue, you must admit that morality is an opinion and there are many sides to each subject, and no single side is correct. Everyone believes their morals are correct and that everyone else should follow their moral code.

So I have established that morality is subjective because everyone has a different take on it. There is no right or wrong, because my right might be your wrong. Think of a utopian society. You might imagine a place where you have a family and never have to work a boring job. But you are not everyone. Another person might imagine living in a tent without material possessions dancing around a bonfire with friends. Therefore, a utopian society cannot exist because perfection is an opinion. Just like a utopian society cannot exist, a perfect "one size fits all" moral code cannot exist.

Because morality is subjective, then for the same reasons my opponent has stated, a higher power does not have to exist.

In addition to this, the morality systems put into place don't pass the test of time. By reading many sacred texts from almost all faiths, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islamic, you might find some of the rules to be quite strange. A perfect morality system would probably have rules such as "do not murder" or "do not steal", which still apply to today. But what about some of the other rules put into place? In Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, there are rules saying women are inferior and should serve men. These faiths also suggest to kill those of other faiths. These rules, if acted on today, would be illegal. If the morality system out into place by God was perfect, then shouldn't it be able to last forever?

I ask that even if you do believe in a higher power to consider this. Is morality objective and is it possible for it to be objective?
Debate Round No. 1
MBill

Pro

My opponent has pointed out difficulties in moral reasoning, but this by no means calls into question the objectivity of morality. It is true that it is difficult to determine what is the right or wrong thing to do in certain circumstances, but that difficulty doesn"t mean that there is no right or wrong. In truth, the fact that there is a difficulty at all shows that there really is a "right" that we are trying to achieve. If there were no difference between right and wrong, then there would be no difficulty. It would not matter what you chose.

Largely his points engage with moral *epistemology* (how we come to *know* right from wrong) rather than moral *ontology* (how right and wrong come to *be* right and wrong). For this reason it simply isn"t relevant that people in various cultures or at various times have come to different moral conclusions. That fact alone doesn"t do anything to undermine the objectivity of morality. Think of the sciences. Various people at various times throughout the centuries have come to very different conclusions about the nature of our universe. Does that count as evidence that our universe does not objectively exist? Not at all! In the same way, the mere fact that people come to different moral conclusions does nothing to say that morality is not objective.

Any attempt to direct the focus of this question to grey areas or special circumstances quite misses the point. If objective moral values and duties do not exist, then there is no difference between right and wrong in *any* circumstance. I"ve heard it said of subjective morality, "I like to eat vegetables, you like to eat meat. Hitler likes to kill people, and I like to save them. What difference does any of it make?" If there are no objective moral values, then there is simply no moral difference between murdering someone and saving them.

Consider the commendation from my opponent that, "everyone else should follow their moral code." Consider his statement that, "a perfect moral system would probably have rules such as "do not murder" or "do not steal."" These are appeals to objective morality! They underlie moral convictions of equality and the compassion for one"s neighbor, but these are just the sort of convictions that my opponent is arguing do not exist. If objective moral values and duties do not exist, then "do not murder" is morally equivalent to "do murder".

Even in my opponent"s attempt to undermine objective moral values, he finds himself appealing to those same values. This is because objective moral values are so intrinsic to our experience that they cannot be denied. We experience right and wrong every day, and their existence is obvious to us. As I have stated above, my opponent has given us no reason to doubt this every day experience.

My opponent is absolutely correct in his final point. The question comes down to whether or not there is such a thing as objective morality. Do you believe that there are some acts that are truly heinous and immoral? Is it really wrong to rape little children, or are we just pretending that it is? Is it really commendable to be tolerant and compassionate, or might someone just as well be bigoted and hateful?

If you agree with me that acts such as child abuse and rape are really wrong, then you agree with me that at least some objective moral values and duties exist. As I have shown in my opening argument, this entails that God exists.
PandaTime

Con

I start my second argument with a question. If you were to theoretically wake up tomorrow and somehow have the complete knowledge that there is no God, then would you murder your boss and steal from the bank because there are no punishments for immortality?

If you answered yes to that question, you might want to consider going to a psychiatrist. But the majority of humanity would claim that this question is ridiculous. You can't kill people or steal things, that is still wrong, God or no God. Therefore, you can attribute morality with non-spiritual reasoning.

Morals come from two main places:
1: Evolution
2: Society

Imagine there are two primitive tribes with two, completely different sets of rules. One tribe has rules that are similar to the ones we have today. Don't kill or hurt other people. Don't steal from each other. These rules help everyone get along and work together to survive for generations, passing these same sets of rules to their children. The other tribe does not have any rules. If you are hungry, you can steal food from other people. If you are mad at someone, you can assault or kill them.

Which tribe will survive the longest?

Obviously the first tribe with a set of rules will survive. These rules are an analogy for the morals we use each day. By using these, you can survive long enough to reproduce and pass your knowledge to your children. This is an example of behavioral evolution and it establishes our moral instincts.

A common rebuttal to this argument is if rape produces more children, then why isn't it moral to rape women? Humans are social creatures, and it is in our best interests to stick together with many other people. If we can't get along, then we will most likely not live long as individuals and as a species. It is also beneficial to have two parents raise the child together as oppose to the female doing all of the work and consensual relationships are the best way to achieve this.

The second place morals come from is society and social norms. If you follow any religious text exactly the way it says to, you would be in jail. This is because of societal change. Many religious texts, including the Bible, have you stone people to death for being different. These differences include homosexuality and having different beliefs. However, in most countries, this behavior is unacceptable and you will be imprisoned for it. This is because, as I said before, religion doesn't stand the test of time. Because society changes, our moral code changes.

Morals don't come from religion. They come from evolution and society. If they came from religion, they would be able to still apply hundreds of years from now. Evolution allowed us to have an instinctual moral code so our species can survive. Our morality varies based on what kind of society we live in, and is therefore subjective. Subjective morality, again, proves that God does not exist.
Debate Round No. 2
MBill

Pro

My opponent has made a fundamental mistake in understanding. She has misunderstood the argument to be saying that you must *believe* in God in order to behave morally. My argument is not that you must *believe* in God in order to behave morally, but that God must exist in order for morality to be objective. I am also not arguing that morality comes from religion, as that would merely be another subjective basis for morality. My argument shows that objective moral values and duties require an objective grounds for their existence, and that God is the only possible candidate to ground them.

My opponent seems to understand this as she denies objective moral values and duties and instead asserts that morality is subjective. She gives two candidates for moral values, society and evolution, and she rightly understands that these are subjective basis. Let"s consider the implications of her view.

She states that morality is a social construct, that it has no objective reality. First, it turns out that morally reprehensible acts are not really morally reprehensible. In fact, to say that something is morally reprehensible is only to describe our reaction to it and NOT to say anything about the act itself. If my opponent is correct then actions such as rape and child abuse are not really wrong, they are just taboo or opposed to social norms. On this view, molesting a child is morally equivalent to wearing white after labor day.

This also means that social reformers are, in fact, immoral because they oppose social norms. Consider the Valkyrie conspirators who risked, and ultimately sacrificed, their lives in an attempt to end the tyrannical and murderous reign of Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany. If my opponent is correct, then it is the conspirators who acted in a morally reprehensible way and Adolf Hitler who was the paragon of morality (because he embodied the cultural norms and expectations of his society). I"ll say that again, on my opponent"s view Adolf Hitler turns out to be the moral hero of the story because he embodied the social norms of Nazi Germany.

Moral progress is also impossible on my opponent"s view. The United States engaged in the horrible practice of slavery many years ago, and today it does not. If my opponent is correct, then this represents no moral improvement whatsoever. The difference in the practice and prohibition of slavery is no more superior morally than differences in popular fashion between the two eras.

Are we really going to say that acts like child abuse and rape are not really wrong? Are we really going to say that social reformers like Martin Luther King Jr. were actually moral villains? Are we really going to say that evil but socially consistent men like Adolf Hitler are actually moral heroes? Are we really going to say that social developments like the prohibition of slavery represent no moral progress whatsoever? If we are to adopt my opponents view, then we must answer "yes" to each of these questions.

What can we say of evolution? Is the story better there? Not at all. Charles Darwin himself has said, ""If " men were reared under precisely the same conditions as hive-bees, there can hardly be a doubt that our unmarried females would, like the worker-bees, think it a sacred duty to kill their brothers, and mothers would strive to kill their fertile daughters; and no one would think of interfering." (Darwin, Descent of Man) On this view, acts like child molestation and abuse are not really wrong, they are just going against the herd. In fact, Adolf Hitler becomes the hero again on this view because his actions were directed at the elevation of his own aryan race.

The fact is that our common sense experience of "right" and "wrong" shows us that there is a real difference between the two. This is obvious to us, and unless and until my opponent gives us some reason to doubt objective moral values that is more obvious to us than our common sense experience, we are rational to maintain our belief in them.

If my opponent abandons her position of moral subjectivity and instead denies premise one, "If God does not exist, then objective moral values and duties do not exist", then she must give us some alternate objective grounds for moral values and duties. This objective grounds must be the same in every possible world (unchanging and independent from any external cause) and it must be capable of obligating us to conform our behavior to it (it must be capable of issuing moral duties to us).
PandaTime

Con

After a thorough analysis of my opponent's argument, I came to the conclusion that he makes two major assumptions.

1: Subjective morality is the equivalent of no morality.
2: In order for there to be objective morality, there must be a higher power.

In my opponent's argument, he repeatedly states that if there is no set basis for morality, then there is no difference between two moral decisions. I claim that this is false by repeating my previous statements, morality comes from evolution and society.

Stating that under subjective morality, there is no difference between two decisions such as to murder or not to murder is a weak claim. Think of subjective morality like a currency system. The currency you use is just a piece of paper or metal if you don't honor it with more value. If we treated currency like paper or metal, it would mean nothing. But we don't. We honor it, and that honor gives it more value than just some paper or metal. If we didn't honor our morals, they would have no meaning. But we do. The honor we give our morals by choosing to see murder as an immoral act gives it meaning. If we treated murder and not murdering the same, then they would be. But using our subjective morality, derived from evolution and society, we choose that one out of two possible decisions is moral.

Under further clarification, the main difference between objective and subjective morality is where the morals come from. Objective morality comes from a higher power (or from certain philosophical ideas, more on that later). Subjective morality comes from our society and our conscience formed via evolution. Both theoretical objective morality and subjective morality give you valid differences between right and wrong.

In my opponent's opening statement, he states in premise three that because objective morality exists, God exists. This is a major part of his argument, but I believe that it makes a huge assumption. Why does objective morality have to come from a higher power? It is just as likely, if not more so, for objective morality to come from certain philosophical ideas.

One idea is Kantism. It states that if a maxim, or rule, cannot be applied to every person, then you cannot follow it. That is, if everyone can do the same thing you do, then it is moral. These laws can apply to everyone and is objective because it does not change for one individual's want or need. The law is a bit more complicated when it gets to exceptions, but generally, if everyone cannot do something, neither can you.

Another idea is utilitarianism. Under this concept, the choice that benefits the most people, whether you are one of those people or not, is the decision that is the one that is objectively the best one. If you are faced with a moral decision, then according to utilitarianism, you should pick the decision that benefits the most people. This is objective because when faced with a decision, there is a clear answer to each question.

Both of these ideas support my claim that objective morality can exist without a God. Could a God place objective rules for us to follow? Yes. But does proving the existence of objective morality prove the existence of God? No.

In conclusion, our morals are subjective because each person thinks about morality differently. If there were objective morals, they don't necessarily have to be tied to a higher power. Thanks for reading my argument and thanks to my opponent for debating me!

Sources:
http://philosophy.stackexchange.com...
http://www.csus.edu...
Debate Round No. 3
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by missmedic 1 year ago
missmedic
We live in a continuously changing world with new kinds of moral problem being generated all the time and much harmful ignorance still to overcome. It's only through abandoning certain widespread religious ideas that progress towards a truly just and consistent morality is possible. There's an ongoing need to develop and refine our moral understanding. The problem is the false and morally corrupting idea that the lawmaker is perfect. It's corrupting because, in causing us to accept unjust laws, it leaves us defending the indefensible. We don't base morality on revelation from authority, that would render us merely obedient. Moral behaviour is doing what's right, not what we're told unless what we're told is also what's right. The worry that, without religion or gods, we've no basis on which to discuss morality, is without foundation. When classing harmless things as immoral results in persecution we've reason to condemn the misclassification. So often declared -'the territory of religion'- moral development is in fact something to which the scientific approach contributes far more and far more reliably due to its emphasis on reasoned logic and evidence, the tools that help us discern what's true and false and without which one can't even formulate a valid argument. To make informed moral choices and therefore moral progress religion needs science.
Posted by MBill 1 year ago
MBill
I'm not agenderphobic, but I will use her/she. I mean no offense to you.
Posted by PandaTime 1 year ago
PandaTime
Unrelated to my argument but my pronouns are them/they. If you are agenderphobic then you can use her/she but please use them/they. Thanks!
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