C. S. Lewis' Moral Argument

Lewis’s Premise (1): Everyone knows, and so believes, that there are objective moral truths.

Lewis: People blame, praise, and try influence things on the basis of the belief that certain things are really right and wrong – in some objective sense.  And it really is obvious that, e.g., cruelty is wrong.

Objection 1: Many people deny that there is any objective right or wrong.

Lewis: They are always inconsistent in that they go on believing and asserting such that, e.g. some actions are unfair and that there is sometimes such a thing as the “objectively right side” in a war.

Objection 2:  Our sense of morality is just a “herd instinct” that has developed (perhaps by evolution).

Lewis: Morality sometimes commands that we act in accordance with the weaker instinct (e.g. to save a drowning man).  Morality sometimes requires that certain instincts be suppressed or encouraged in a way contrary to our natural impulses.  So it is implausible that morality itself is an “instinct”.

[Note that Lewis is assuming that we are sometimes aware of a conflict between instinct and the Moral Law – and so that the latter is perceived as objective.]

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A Powerful Apologetic Method: ABDUCTIVE Reasoning!

"What in the world is 'Abductive Reasoing'?" Well, abductive reasoning is employed by crime scene detectives, car mechanics, and your medical doctor.  Abductive reasoning is when you look at all the known facts, and seek to form the best explanation to explain the data.  Abductive reasoning seeks to find the "inference to the best explanation" for the known facts.   

This is a vital way of thinking and investigating that all serious Christians should be engaged in....

 - Pastor J. 

Once More: The Slaughter of the Canaanites

Dear Dr. Craig,

First allow me to add my voice to the chorus of praise for your work and ministry. In my own case, I had recently been drifting in a decidedly liberal direction, willing to merely accept skeptical criticisms of the bible and Christian theology rather than seeking to formulate a genuinely robust defense for beliefs which I had held to be true. I was conquered by their arguments simply because I was ignorant to the reasoned alternative.

I have since joined a Reasonable Faith Chapter in Melbourne and have become a avid listener of your podcasts. You have helped to propel me toward a more orthodox and sound approach to issues such as the reliability of the Gospels and the historicity of the Resurrection. It is very exciting and rewarding, and I thank you for that.

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Warrant for the Moral Argument’s Second Premise, Question of the week by Dr. Craig

Lots of discussions have been going on in the past few weeks on the RF.org forums regarding the Moral Argument's premise #2 - specifically, on what basis can we affirm the existence of objective moral values and duties?
As I understand your argument for affirming this premise you say that, through your own moral experiences, you have a properly basic belief that objective morality exists. While some psychopath may claim to think its OK to torture a baby for fun, that does nothing to defeat the warrant you have based on your own moral experiences that it is wrong (always has been wrong and always will be wrong) to torture a baby for fun.
The detracters to premise #2 say this answer is an emotional response not an intellectual one and that an appeal to one's own sense of morality is no more objective than the person who thinks differently than you (and hence is subjective).
In your talk "What Happens When We Die" ( http://www.reasonablefaith.org/transcript/what-happens-when-we-die ) you say of those who had near-death-experiences, "One person's experience is just as real as the next person's, so how do you judge whose experience of heaven is really authentic?" By the same token, if my moral experiences tell me that something is wrong, but someone else senses otherwise - both experiences are just as real but are in conflict so we have the same conundrum in trying to decide which is really authentic.
Perhaps I am misunderstanding what you mean by "moral experiences" and sliding into applied ethics as a result. So my first question is:
1) Does "moral experience" mean what I sense is right or wrong in a given situation or does "moral experience" simply mean that "given any moral situation, there will be a right thing to do and a wrong thing to do, even though I may not know what they are". In other words, simply by virtue of thinking SOMETHING is wrong confirms premise #2 regardless of the difference of opinion on what that wrong thing to do actually is?
I can't help but think I am still missing something and it surrounds this concept of moral ontology vs. applied ethics. It seems when discussing the objectivity of morality, it often diverts to discussions around applied ethics (e.g. "some people think it is wrong to lie, even to save a life; others don't - therefore, morality is subjective"). You often claim premise #2 does not appeal to any situational or applied ethics but rather appeals to your own properly basic belief. But then my second question becomes:
2) What exactly IS this properly basic belief in that allows you to affirm premise #2? The examples given almost always involve a situation ("it is wrong to torture a baby for fun", "it is wrong to kidnap Africans and use them as slaves", "the Spanish Inquisition was wrong to torture people"). These examples appear to slide into appealing to applied ethics. Obviously, people at one time (even today perhaps) thought those were not wrong - but again, the appeal for warrant in believing premise #2 is that "those people that thought otherwise do nothing to undermine my own properly basic belief that they were wrong." But I go back to your quote on the near-death-experiences - every person's experiences are just as real as the next - whose "properly basic belief" is right and whose is false? What is this properly basic belief in, if not the truth of certain applied ethics ("it is wrong to murder a baby to stop it from crying").
I just can't put my finger on this concept of moral ontology and how it is separated from applied ethics; perhaps you can help clarify this in a different way than you have in the past.
Thanks,
John
United States
Click HERE to read Dr. Craig's answer

Justification of the Moral Argument’s Second Premiss

Dear Dr. Craig,
I have recently been working through your book, "On Guard," and had a question concerning the Moral Argument (which I have also heard you use in several of your debates). I have seen it most commonly setup as:
1. If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.
2. Objective moral values and duties do exist.
3. Therefore, God exists.
Essentially, I find that although the moral argument has a role in our discussions with atheist and other worldviews, it does not seem to be actual evidence for God's existence, but rather an implication of his existence. An atheist can say that morality (although subjective) has developed from biological and sociological influences evolving into what we now consider to be "right and wrong." Although discussing how we come to know morality says nothing about the ontology of morality, it would seem that the only way a theist can show that an objective moral stand exists is by proving (or providing a greater probability through evidence) that God exists. This is due to the fact that the conversation almost always moves from the ontology of morality to the epistemology of morality. It would seem the only way to clear the air is to determine which worldview is true. My concern may be founded on my own ignorance, but the moral argument would seem to be a one way street in that by showing God to exist, objective morality exists. However, following this line of thought in its reverse proves increasingly difficult without pointing to God, since either side can offer an explanation of how we come to an understanding of morality--which again, says nothing about the subjective or objective nature of morality.
I do find that the moral argument helps to count the cost of either ideology or as you said in your book, "what is at stake." But I do not find that the "cost" should be a reason to accept something as true, since our like or dislike of a truth has no effect on that truth. I guess my point is using objective values to show that God exists and then using God to show that objective values exist would seem to be circular reasoning to me. Can we use the moral argument, as given above, as actual evidence for God's existence and if so, how do we 'prove' or give evidence for objective morality apart from pointing to God?
Corey
United States

Click HERE to read Dr. Craig's answer