How Do We Know Right from Wrong?
Have you ever considered how we know right from wrong? I ask someone recently to assume God did not exist. Then I ask would they continue doing, what they considered, nice things for others. Of course, they said yes, but why? On what do we base right, wrong, good and bad? The way we were raised? The culture? I would suggest, as with a significant number of others, without God, there would not be a right and wrong. This can be one of the strongest arguments for the existence of God called the moral argument!
1. If God does not exist, objective morals and values do not exist.
2. Objective moral values do exist.
3. Therefore, God exists.
Meaning – are right and wrong, morals, objective realities on all people at all times, in all places, or up to the individual person/culture?
If morality is based on a person or culture it leads to what is known as Moral Relativism - societies and individuals decide what is right and wrong from culture to culture or person to person.
There are 3 types of relativism:
Cultural – different cultures have different values.
Conventionalism – each society decides what is right and wrong.
Cultural says there is no right and wrong while conventional says there is, but it varies. Majority rules and morals simply become what is legal.
Subjectivism – it is up to the individual depending on the circumstances.
Allow me to provide you with a couple of examples:
Cultural - In Mexico abortion is illegal. In the United States it is legal.
Conventional - states Germany killed because it was the law.
Subjectivism – based solely upon individuals’ thoughts and experience
The question, “how do we know right from wrong” is a moral question. Do we base right and wrong on our personal preferences, or are right and wrong absolute fact?
Most often the church appears to be afraid to address such topics head on. Instead of standing up and stating right from wrong we are teaching an emotional “feel good” theology. We are given answers such as “People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care”. It is a nice church saying but does not answer our question. You see, the gospel offends! We are not out to please people.
A subject such as gay marriage – is family objective or are families something we can change the definition? The Bible states marriage is between one man and one woman. We are afraid of the ‘who are you to say what I can do, I make my own choices crowd.” This is not an objection to censorship, it is morally objective!
If right and wrong varies from person to person, place to place, or time to time then it is simply an opinion. There is no standard to base one’s morals on without God. This is known as moral relativism. All it takes is for the church to look around to witness moral relativism. Moral relativism is often presented in the same manner as truth, both are relative. Here is an example one can provide to the relativist in hopes of helping them understand:
Torturing babies for fun is wrong. It only requires one objective standard to logically conclude morals are facts...
People that believe in subjectivism must walk by a rape in progress, trespassing, stealing, or basically any type of morality. If they say no to any of these their position self-defeats!
So, do individual human beings, society and culture decide right and wrong? Think about a couple of upstanding citizens of the past, Jack the ripper, Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, to name a few.
MORALS ARE NOT OPINIONS! Right and wrong are absolute facts. And without God, neither exist!
Here in lies one of the reasons this argument is so strong for God. Many say they only believe science. Morals cannot be measured by science. Science investigates the physical world, collects facts and draws conclusions. Moral knowledge comes from intuition. It is self-evident as with the torturing baby example. A genuine form of knowledge. Where do morals come from and why are they objective? Morality consists of prescriptions for behavior and motives, not descriptions of the world. Commands, not suggestions. Do this and do not do that. Not it would be nice if you did this or didn’t do that.
Morality is Objective – right and wrong exist regardless of our beliefs!
Morality is Authoritative – we are obliged to obey.
Morals come from a transcendent person that has power and authority to impose them…we call Him God! Why do you think when we do something we know is wrong we feel guilty? Without God guilt is a passing state of mind! Not that easy but the jest of it!
As with truth, there is a wrong and right, everything else is opinion! Objectivism is the only view of morality, or the only view of morality that can be lived consistently.
It points to the existence of God! So, how do we know right from wrong? Without God…We don’t…
John Mays is the Regional Director for the state of West Virginia and the Chapter Director at Marshall University. Contact him at email@example.com
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