The moral argument is one that is often proposed by theists in general and Christians in particular, and it's one I'm interested in because it has more impact on my daily life than most of the others. The so-called fine-tuning of the universe, its first cause, the appearance of design in living organisms, the status of scripture and personal revelation are all interesting facets of the God question, but none of these affects the day-to-day running of our lives as much as the moral argument for the existence of God.
Those who believe that morality is derived ultimately and solely from a supposed creator of the universe are often responsible for derailing deliberations of morality across a wide field of concerns. One need look no further than the controversies surrounding assisted dying, abortion, genetic engineering, sex education and penal reform to see how the idea of absolute objective moral laws tends to skew rational discussion in those areas, to the extent that genuine progress becomes stultified.
The responses to the recent riots in various parts of England illustrate the muddying effect outdated moral ideas have on modern life. I shall illuminate this by taking a possibly extreme example. On 13 August Creation Ministries International published on its website an article by Dominic Statham entitled "Why is England burning?" Statham is in no doubt as to the answer to that question:
What is happening in England is the inevitable consequence of a nation rejecting God and His Word.
...we can forge a better society based on secularism. Accepting this view has led to there being no final authority, no absolute basis for morality and no clarity about who or what we are.
There's much to criticize in Statham's article (he is, after all, a creationist), but here are few lowlights:
When I was at school in the 1960s and 1970s, the Christian thinking and values of previous generations were still evident. General behaviour, truthfulness and respect were still considered more important than academic or material success. This was based on the view that we were made in the image of God, and good character was necessary to preserve this.
Children who were brought up properly were understood to have better prospects of a stable, useful and fulfilling life. Back then, many parents and teachers understood that they had God-given authority and God-given responsibility to raise children rightly.
The doctrine of original sin made clear that children were not born good; they needed to be taught right from wrong, and the discipline we received instilled a sense that wrong-doing had consequences.
In contrast to all this, much of today’s educational system places little if any value on such biblical ideas. This is not surprising; if even many church leaders claim Genesis is not real history, then original sin is but a myth. In fact, it is quite likely that the ‘progressive’ educationist will take a different view simply because they think that, if the Bible teaches something, it is probably wrong. The teachers know that they themselves lie, and the head teacher lies—so why should they expect their pupils not to lie? Indeed, a recent New Scientist article actually argued, from an evolutionary standpoint, that lying in our personal, professional and social lives is a strategy for survival!
Humanists, in defiance of the true history in Genesis 3, assert the doctrine of the intrinsic goodness of humanity and see no need to teach right and wrong. The logical consequence of the ‘evolutionisation’ of society over the last century has been to undermine the truth and authority of the Bible, inevitably leading to the relentless undermining of all vestiges of the worldview based on Christianity. In many schools, it is frowned upon or even forbidden to teach morality as it is considered inappropriate for adults to impose their views on children.
For some exasperating fun read the comments on Statham's article, and then console yourself in the knowledge that these are hardcore minority creationists.