Is There an Objective Moral Law? Part 2

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Is There An Objective Moral Law?

A lot of people today like the concept of moral relativism, the idea that there’s no objective standard of right and wrong.  Last week I began laying out the case for why I think that there must be an objective moral law.  This week I continue presenting, for your consideration, the reasons why I believe this to be the case.


Without an objective moral law there would be no way to measure moral differences

Frank Turek and Norman Geisler present the two different maps of Scotland below and ask us which is the better map, Map A or Map B?

maps of scotland

How can we tell which is the better map? The only way is to compare them to what the real Scotland looks like.  You have to compare both maps to the real, unchanging place called Scotland.  If Scotland doesn’t exist then both maps are meaningless, but since it does exist we can see that Map A is better because it’s closer to the unchanging standard, the real Scotland.

This is the same thing we do when we compare the behavior of Adolf Hitler to the behavior of Mother Teresa.  We appeal to an objective standard that is beyond both of them.  C.S. Lewis put it this way, “The moment you say that one set of moral ideas can be better than another, you are, in fact, measuring them both by a standard, saying that one of them conforms to that standard more nearly than the other.  But the standard that measures two things is something different than either. You are, in fact, comparing them both with some Real Morality, admitting that there is such a thing as a real Right, independent of what people think, and that some people’s ideas get nearer to the real Right than others. Or put it this way.  If your moral ideas can be truer, and those of the Naziz less true, there must be something- some real morality – for them to be true about.”

If there is no objective moral law, then there’s no moral difference between the actions of Mother Teresa and Hitler.  If everything is just a matter of personal opinion and preference, and there’s no objective standard, then how can we say that Hitler’s preference for murdering people is worse than Mother Teresa’s preference for helping people?  If moral relativism is true then there’s no moral difference between slavery and freedom, love and hate, abuse and care.  But we know this isn’t the case.  We no that what Hitler did was wrong and that Mother Teresa did was right, regardless of what either of them thought of the rightness of their actions.

The fact that we sense we fall short is evidence that there is an objective moral law

Most all of us have a clear sense that we fall short of how we should live our lives.  I know I do. I know that I’ve blown it and have failed to treat others as I should countless times. I experience guilt when I fall short.  This is another evidence that there is an objective moral law that I’m aware of that I violate.  Maybe I feel guilty because I am.  The other reasons I’ve presented lead me to believe that this is indeed the case.

So if there is an objective moral standard, what are the implications of this?

An Objective Moral Law points to the existence of an Moral Law Giver

gavelEvery law has a law giver.  Laws don’t just come into existence on their own.  They are considered and given by law makers/givers. Therefore if there is an objective moral law, there is an objective, transcendent, moral law giver.  This law giver would be above and beyond humanity. So who would this moral law giver be?  God is the most reasonable explanation for such a transcendent moral law giver.  As J. Warner Wallace says, “If God exists, He would certainly transcend all species, cultures, locations and moments in time. For this reason, the existence of transcendent moral truth is best explained by the existence of God as the transcendent source of such truth.”

The existence of a God who created us and is above us explains why we would have an undeniable sense of right and wrong.  The Bible presents such a God who cares about right and wrong.  He wants what’s right to be done and not what’s wrong.  This is because he is good and loving and just and he doesn’t want what’s evil and wrong to go on.  None of us want to be victims of what’s wrong and God doesn’t want us to be either.

Good News

We may not like the idea of there being an objective moral law because, if there is, we know we violate it.  We might like to think it’s all relative and so we’re not guilty, but when someone wrongs us, we know that’s not right.  The good news is that God, the moral law giver, knows that we all fall short of his law and he came up with a way that we can be forgiven and not have to pay the penalty for our law breaking.  The Bible says that Jesus is God and he came here to give his life for us on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins.

A just law giver and judge can’t just let it go when the laws are broken, when wrong is done. If Hitler had lived, none of us would have been ok with it if a judge who tried him just let all the wrongs things he did go unpunished. The problem is that we’ve all done wrong things.  The good news is that Jesus paid the penalty for the wrong things that I’ve done and that you’ve done.  The Bible says that because of Jesus’ loving sacrifice for us, and his rising from the dead, if we place our faith in him and ask him to forgive us and make us right with God, he will. (John 3:16; Romans 3:23; 6:23; 10:13)  And then as we seek to live in his ways out of love and gratitude for what he’s done for us, he helps us.

I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be An Atheist by Frank Turek and Norman Geisler
Cold Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace


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Posted on by Reasons for Hope 315 in Objective Morality, Questions

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