How Do We Explain Morality?


If there is no God, then there can be no objective standards of right and wrong. All we are confronted with is, in Jean-Paul Sartre’s words, the bare, valueless fact of existence. Moral values are either just expressions of personal taste or the by-products of socio-biological evolution and conditioning. In a world without God, who is to say which values are right and which are wrong? Who is to judge that the values of Adolf Hitler are inferior to those of a saint? The concept of morality loses all meaning in a universe without God.

As one contemporary atheistic ethicist points out, “to say that something is wrong because . . . it is forbidden by God, is . . . perfectly understandable to anyone who believes in a law-giving God. But to say that something is wrong . . . even though no God exists to forbid it, is not understandable. . . .” “The concept of moral obligation [is] unintelligible apart from the idea of God. The words remain but their meaning is gone.” (Richard Taylor)

In a world without God, there can be no objective right and wrong, only our culturally and personally relative, subjective judgments. This means that it is impossible to condemn war, oppression, or crime as evil. Nor can one praise brotherhood, equality, and love as good. For in a universe without God, good and evil do not exist—there is only the bare valueless fact of existence, and there is no one to say you are right and I am wrong.

–William Lane Craig,
The Absurdity of Life without God

Why Is The World So Fair?

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If it be all for naught, for nothingness
At last, why does God make the world so fair?
Why spill this golden splendor out across
The western hills, and light the silver lamp
Of eve? Why give me eyes to see, and soul
To love so strong and deep? Then, with a pang
This brightness stabs me through, and wakes within
Rebellious voice to cry against all death?
Why set this hunger for eternity
To gnaw my heartstrings through, if death ends all?
If death ends all, then evil must be good,
Wrong must be right, and beauty ugliness.
God is a Judas who betrays His Son,
And with a kiss, damns all the world to hell,–
If Christ rose not again.

–Anonymous soldier killed in World War I,
from: Masterpieces of Religious Verse

The fearful consequence of suppressing the Truth


God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. 19 They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. 20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

21 Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. 22 Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. 23 And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles.

24 So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. 25 They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. 26 That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. 27 And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.

arrow_down_stickman_falling_400_clr_273728 Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. 29 Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. 30 They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. 31 They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. 32 They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.

–Apostle Paul,
Romans 1:18-35
J.B. Phillips New Testament


The Problem is on the Inside

depositphotos_35420335-stock-illustration-vector-cartoon-heart-with-devilOn a trip to Russia just after the collapse of communism in 1991, I had a conversation with a Marxist scholar who was devastated by revelations about the horrors just then coming to light in his country. “I had no idea things like this were taking place,” he said. “I became a communist with the best of ideals, to fight racism and poverty, to bring about a just society. Now I learn that we created a monster. We saw evil in others—the capitalists, the rich, the exploisters—but not in ourselves. I have learned to distrust any utopian philosophy, especially one that sets ‘us’ against ‘them.’ The danger of evil is inside of all of us, rich or poor, socialist or capitalist.”

–Philip Yancey,
Rumors of Another World

Einstein’s Warning

huge-102-513317The true problem lies in the hearts and thoughts of men. It is not a physical problem, but an ethical one . . . What terrifies us is not the explosive force of the atomic bomb, but the power of the wickedness of the human heart, its explosive power for evil. In the Name of God, if you believe in Him, take Him seriously, and control and restrain scientific discoveries; if not, we are lost.

–Dr. Albert Einstein

Getting to the heart of evil

1624Christianity argues that every human heart is capable of good and evil. Every human being is capable of better and worse, right and wrong, true and false. That is a hallmark of Christian thinking (it is a hallmark of classical thinking as well)… Since we’ve jettisoned that, notice what’s happened here. Some people are pure hearted and others not. We no longer believe that everyone is capable of evil. If you’re African-American, for instance, in a university setting you cannot be racist because of the power structure is against you. If you’re poor, the 99%, you can’t be greedy—it’s only that 1%. What’s happened now that we’ve jettisoned Christianity, not only are you jettisoning the soul, not only are you jettisoning transcendence, not only are you jettisoning free will, you are also jettisoning this idea that we are all morally capable in our hearts of choosing one way or another. So we have entire demographics now who are innocent, no matter what they do, and other demographics . . . no matter what you do, if you are Caucasian, you are guilty of all this litany of sins. This is regressive. This is not progressive. This is anti-rational, it is not rational. This is racism and bigotry masquerading as progressivism.

-Duke Pesta,

Things Are Not What They Seem


Things are never what they seem. If you would see things clearly you must see with the eyes of the heart. That is the secret of every fairy tale, because it is the secret to the Gospel, because it is the secret to life.

Scripture tells us that we might at any time entertain an angel simply by welcoming a stranger. The serpent in the garden is really the Prince of Darkness. The carpenter from Nazareth—there is more to him than meets the eye as well. Things are not what they seem, and so if we would understand our lives—and especially our marriages—we must listen again to the Gospel and the fairy tales based upon it. There are larger events unfolding around us, events of enormous consequence. A lamp is lit and love is lost. A box is opened and evil swarms into the world. An apple is taken and mankind is plunged into darkness. Moments of immense consequence are taking place all around us.

–John Eldredge,
Love and War

Navigating Without God

stock-vector-a-vector-illustratioof-cartoon-manToday’s western world is familiar enough with extreme Epicureanism. If the world is a random cosmic accident, why should anything be thought ‘evil’ or ‘wrong’ in the first place? Would not all such categories collapse into the projection of our emotions (‘theft is wrong’ would simply mean ‘I don’t like theft’)? And is not that reduction to emotivism, in fact, what has happened in the post-Epicurean world of modern western morality? Get rid of ‘god’, and you no longer have a ‘problem of evil’. All you have is unwelcome ‘attitudes’ or ‘prejudices’. Not that people can easily live like that. They quickly invent new ‘moralities’ around the one or two fixed points that appear to transcend that subjective, emotive analysis: the badness of Adolf Hitler, the goodness of ecological activism, the importance of ‘embracing the Other’, and so on. Better than nothing, perhaps; but people who try to sail the moral seas with that equipment look suspiciously like a handful of survivors clinging to a broken spar as the ship goes down and the sharks close in.

–N.T. Wright,
The Faithfulness of God

Where do they get their idea of evil?

GoodAndEvilWhere do atheists and agnostics acquire their often acute sensitivity to injustice, evil, suffering, and death if not from an even deeper experience of ultimate life, fulfillment, and meaning? In short, what provides the grounding for a radical experience of ‘what ought not to be’ for those who deny ultimate meaning a priori?   –Harvey D. Egan