Most arguments for and against God’s existence have been around, in one form or another, for centuries. They are formulated, critiqued, reformulated, and continually changed, which means that philosophical arguments about God’s existence are actually some of the most evolved of philosophical arguments. The Moral Argument is one of the oldest such arguments and, while controversial, it is especially popular with some conservative Christian groups as an argument for God’s existence. If you’d like to learn more about other arguments for and against God’s existence, I’ve written a series of articles outlining some well-known and frequently studied arguments both for and against the existence of God, and you can find my other articles on the topic by clicking this link.
What Is The Moral Argument for God’s Existence?
The moral argument for God’s existence, in its simplest form, claims either that morality would not exist without God, that complex morality is enabled by God, or that we would have no way of knowing what the moral thing to do is without God. The argument can be formulated as a simple syllogism:
Some form of objective morality can be observed.
The existence of God makes better sense (applying Occam’s razor) as an explanation for the existence of this morality.
Therefore, God exists.
One of the most popular forms of this argument was developed by the philosopher Immanuel Kant. Kant argued that moral behavior is rational, but that people often profit from immoral behavior. Therefore, if people are walking around profiting from immoral behavior, we must believe that there will be some benefit in the next life to behaving rationally and morally.
Critiques of the Moral Argument
Perhaps the simplest critique of the moral argument for God’s existence is the claim that atheists can behave morally too. However, a theist would answer that, even though these people do not believe in God, their awareness of moral behavior is still caused by God’s existence.
A stronger critique of the moral argument is that God is not the simplest, or most logical, explanation for moral behavior. Perhaps moral behavior generally benefits the individual or species. Social contractarian philosophers might argue that it pays to be moral because the behavior makes it more likely that other people will behave ethically as well. Still others might argue that there is no reason to think that morality is rational or is in our best interest, thus undermining Kant’s theory.
Matthew Stewart-The Truth About Everything
Bertrand Russell- The History of Western Philosophy