Moral Argument (Part 3): Do Objective Morals Exist On Their Own Without Any Need For God?

ATHEISTIC MORAL PLATONISM

In the last blog we gave reasons to believe that objective moral values and duties actually do exist and are not an illusion.

Now let’s address the second group of atheists who believe that objective moral values exist independently of any God. Is it possible for abstract moral values to “exist” independently of a moral lawgiver?

“Atheistic moral platonism” is a type of atheism that says:

“Objective moral values and duties actually do exist, but independently of any God.”

According to surveys, most philosophy professors are atheistic moral platonists. This view also contradicts premise 1 of the moral argument, which says, “If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.”

OUR RESPONSE TO ATHEISTIC MORAL PLATONISM

First, we can understand if you say that “a person exists” or that a “person is just” because a person is a concrete object with physical dimensions. It’s easy to understand “existence” in that context. However, we can’t understand how you could say that an abstract moral value like love or justice or honesty could possibly “exist” as a separate, independent entity, entirely apart from any person or being. For example, if “justice” exists on its own, where is it? Is it under a desk? Can we see it? Where do these abstract moral values reside?

Don’t get us wrong. We believe in objective moral values, but such a concept makes no sense unless it’s in the context of “a person who is just,” “a being who is loving,” “a person who is honest,” etc. As a characteristic or property of a person or being, moral values make perfect sense. But to say that abstract values like honesty just exist independently makes no sense.

Second, how does the mere existence of moral values place any duty or obligation on us to act in accordance with those values? Without a moral lawgiver, there is no duty or obligation. For example, let’s just assume that abstract values like justice, mercy and love do independently exist on their own as you suggest. If that’s true, then abstract vices like hatred, selfishness, and injustice also exist independently.

Third, it seems incredible to suggest that blind evolutionary forces simply created an abstract moral realm by chance that perfectly matched the survival needs of the physical realm it also created by chance. Normally, our atheist friends will go to any extent possible to deny the existence of miracles and proclaim naturalism. In this case, they are holding on with all the faith they can muster to the idea that blind evolutionary forces worked a miracle in establishing an abstract moral realm. In one case, miracles are not allowed. In another, they are.

CONCLUSION

It seems a lot more simple and plausible to say that both the physical realm and abstract moral realm are under the sovereignty of a divine being who is the creator of natural laws and whose commands govern both realms.

Therefore premise 1 of the moral argument seems like a more plausible explanation than suggesting that abstract moral values just exist on their own. Premise 1 says, “If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.”

Yes, there are objective moral values and duties, but surely there must also be a moral lawgiver!

THE MORAL ARGUMENT

1. If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.
2. Objective moral values and duties exist.
Conclusion: Therefore, God exists.

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