• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

moral argument

Extracts from this document...


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.


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.


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.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Philosophy section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Philosophy essays

  1. Assess the view that conscience is given to us by God.

    This then progresses to a belief that right behaviour means acting for your own best interests. The second level is the conventional level as it is commonly found within society. It consists of an attitude of doing things which seek to gain the approval of others.

  2. Plato and Nietzsche on Authority

    However, he wouldn't necessarily say that this was a bad thing, as if slaves are happy being slaves, then they have less of the Will to Power and therefore do (in a sense) know what's good for themselves personally. Of course, even if we convert Plato's theory on Authority to

  1. Nietzsche and Mill on Conventional Morality

    Yet, as has been mentioned, in order to understand Nietzsche's view of morality you must bear in mind his perspectivist views. The reason that the slave sees the master as bad is that the actions of the master have bad consequence for him, the reason that the master sees them as good is that they have good consequences for him.

  2. God is most clearly revealed to humanity through scripture. Discuss

    Roman Catholics and Protestants both believe the bible was 'written under divine inspiration and that the scripture is completely without error this is shown within an example from the Bible, Second Epistle of Peter claims that "no prophecy of Scripture ...

  1. Assess the view that conscience is not the voice of God, but is learned?

    He argued that 'There is a principle of reflection in men by which they distinguish between approval and disapproval of their own actions... this principle in man... is conscience.' So like Aquinas, Butler also believed that it is the conscience which helps us choose between right and wrong, and guides us in moral decision making.

  2. Introduction to Philosophy.

    > Common belief (pistis) > Plato is referred to as a parricide when mentioned with PARMENIDES because he robbed away his status. > Parmenides denied multiplicity so being is one. Plato in the dialogue "Sophist" he destroyed Parmenides's theory and showed that he was too extreme.

  1. What are the principles of natural law? Every adult has the right to become ...

    If the bad effect is used to obtain the good consequences, then the act is immoral. Furthermore, the bad effect may be foreseen, but not intended. Finally, (4) the Proportionality condition asserts that the good effect must be at least equivalent in importance to the bad effect.

  2. 'It pays to be moral.' Discuss. (30)

    if the agent did not offer aid to a stranger, he or she may feel guilty or may look bad in front of others. A further critique of psychological egoism made famously by Joseph Butler is that I must desire things other than my own welfare in order to get welfare.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work