How do Christians justify morality?

Photo: Victory of Joshua by Poussin

David Quinn has published a blog post on the Iona Institute website titled Atheists can’t have their moral cake and eat it too.

It is a response to my post titled How do atheists and Christians justify morality, which was a response to his earlier post titled The naïve morality of many atheists.

I agree with David that the nature of morality is relevant to the question of whether gods exist.

Theism is as much a claim about the nature of morality as it is about the nature of reality, and atheism is therefore also a claim about the nature (but not the specifics) of morality.

I also believe that atheists should try to justify our claims about reality and morality, rather than merely dismissing the claims of theists.

So I am happy to engage in this debate with David, but I would like us to conduct it with some sense of reciprocity and completeness.

David’s comments on Christian morality

In the last out of 25 paragraphs in his current post, David says:

Finally, Michael challenges me with some of the undoubtedly challenging and hard-to-explain passages from the Bible, especially the Old Testament. But even if we dismiss the Bible in its entirety, an atheist is still left having to explain why we possess intrinsic moral worth. It remains a question a theist can easily answer whatever we do with the Bible.

There seems to be a bit of sleight of hand here. We have been discussing, from David’s first post, how a Christian, not a theist, can justify morality. A non-Christian theist can of course ignore the Bible, but I’m not sure how a Christian theist can do that and remain a Christian.

But more importantly, that was only one of seven questions that I asked David that are relevant to how a Christian can justify morality.

My questions for David about Christian morality

David, I will respond soon to your latest arguments in about atheist morality, with the same level of thoroughness as I addressed the arguments in your first post.

Meanwhile, in the interests of reciprocity and completeness of our debate, can you please address these questions from my last post?

1. How do you, in the first instance, justify your belief in the existence of the Christian God?

2. Why is God’s nature good? Is it good for arbitrary reasons, or is it good because it corresponds to independent standards of goodness?

3. Is it logically possible for the Christian God to have created a universe without suffering or evil? If so, why did he not do so?

4. How do you justify, as objectively moral, the Christian God repeatedly ordering the Israelites to slaughter children and infants of other tribes without mercy?

5. How do you determine which parts of the Bible are obviously objectively morally good, and which parts are on the face of it morally bad, so that you have to evaluate or reinterpret them to make them consistent in your mind with being morally good?

6. Is doing good for the purpose of eternal cosmic salvation not utilitarian?

7. If the point of moral duties, on the cosmic scale, is that the good are rewarded and the bad are punished for eternity, then how is it just that people who lead morally evil lives can escape their eternal punishment by simply repenting on their deathbed?

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

  1. I believe that morality is the default human condition and that immorality is a perversion. Whether you believe in god or not is irrelevant. Theists try to convince us that, without god we’d all be vile and that we all were vile until we were baptised. Absolute nonsense.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *