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moral argument

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Introduction

Discuss the moral argument for the existence of God and assess the claim that the argument can be used to prove God's existence Morality, from the Latin "moralitas" meaning "proper behaviour", refers to a code of conduct held to be authoritative in matters of right and wrong. We as human beings are aware of actions as being right and wrong, obligatory and forbidden. In addition, such awareness carries with it the though that they are bound to do some things and bound to avoid doing others, i.e. if I make a promise, this creates an obligation to deliver whatever is promised. So where does this concept of morality come from? According to Dostoyevsky, "If there is no God, then everything is permissible." The moral arguments claim that God is the source of our morality, and they appeal to the existence of moral laws as evidence of His existence (from some observations about morality in the world). All moral arguments for the existence of God begin with the fact that all people recognise some form of moral code (that things or right or wrong), and work off this principle of a shared sense morality. ...read more.

Middle

Even the most remote tribes, cut off from the rest of civilisation, observe a moral code comparable to everyone else's. It is argued that, although differences certainly exist in civil matters, virtues such as bravery and loyalty, and vices such as greed and cowardice, are universal. This is said to point towards God's hand as the source of this moral code as, if the code were created by men, we would expect there to be vast differences - the uncanny resemblance between societies all over the world indicates a creator separate from the creation. To further develop this point of a creator, many moralists are fond of the argument that, since all laws require lawgivers, moral laws imply the existence of a moral lawgiver. H.P. Owen defended this argument, "...it is impossible to think of a command without also thinking of a commander." This is known as the formal moral argument. Critics have, however, responded readily to this argument. They claim that there are all sorts of normative principles that seemingly have no need of a lawgiver to make them true, e.g. mathematical laws. For example, nobody decided that 2 + 2 = 4; it is just this way as a brute fact. ...read more.

Conclusion

Imagine, for example, you walked past a burning building and heard a child crying inside. You would feel a natural urge to save that child. Trethowan argues that this value must come from somewhere - it is instilled by God. We therefore have an obligation to God to observe this value. As far as the argument from conscience is concerned modern critics argue that Freud's explanation of the phenomenon of conscience is more plausible than either Newman's or Kant's. If the moral argument can be defended against the various objections that have been raised against it, then it proves the existence of an author of morality, of a being that has authority over and that actively rules over all creation. Together with other arguments, e.g. the ontological argument, this would give us proof that there is an perfect, necessary and eternal being that created the universe with life in mind and has the authority to tell us how we are to run it. The correct response to this would be to seek God's will and to practise it. In conclusion, I believe that someone who already believes in God might find their faith strengthened by the moral argument; however I do not think that it is persuasive enough to convince sceptics of God's existence. ...read more.

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