MSNBC has reported that atheist blogger Leah Libresco has converted to Christianity. In the article she is quoted as saying “After a back-and-forth where her friend asked her to make an argument about where moral law comes from, she couldn’t think of any.” That is a telling quote.
The challenge for atheism isn’t so much how to prove God doesn’t exist as much as it is how to prove why morality does exist. Every society has rules but what makes one rule immoral and another one moral? Atheists claim that humans have evolved several models for determining what is moral behavior and an individual is free to choose whichever one best suits them. For example, Jeremy Bentham was a philosopher who back in the late 1700’s helped define the science of morality. He defined morality this way: “It is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong.” Christopher Hitchens states in this video that he believes morality is “…innate within us…” citing how societies enforce moral behavior meaning humans know what is right and what is wrong. The Humanist Manifesto states “Ethical values are derived from human need and interest as tested by experience.”
All these models of morality cited by atheists including those cited by Mr. Bentham and Mr. Christopher and the Humanist Manifesto have the same flaw. They are relative and not absolute. Indeed, the entire concept of atheism forces morality models to evolve over time and never be absolute. What was moral today might be immoral tomorrow. This is often cited by atheists as a benefit and not a flaw believing that changes in morality over time is considered as improvement over time. As our knowledge and understanding grows, our morality evolves and improves as well. That position of evolving morality also assumes an absence of sin. Because sin does not exist, immoral behavior must evolve over time as well a response to our environment. There is a feedback loop where our evolving morality will drive behavior modification over time towards a more moral society. In other words, as we evolve an improved morality based upon growing knowledge of our environment, we learn to apply that morality within our society through rules and laws which will reinforce the correct behavior. Based upon that, one would suspect over time, what we Christians call sin would also change as people improved their behavior to align to the growing understanding of what constitutes moral behavior.
But as Christian, I do not see that happening. I see sin the same today as it was 2000 years ago. Indeed, there has been no change in sin. I challenge any atheist to identify one single sin that has disappeared from the planet as part of this evolution of morality. Just name one. If sin stays constant over time, than how can an atheist say morality evolves?
As a Christian, my world view is different. My morality is derived from the Bible which is God’s Word to His people. God’s morality is absolute. Like God, it does not change over time. What was immoral 2000 years ago is just as immoral today. And sin does not change over time as well. We are all just as tempted by sin today as we always have been. That is why the siren song of relative morality appeals to us. We think we can be a good person by our actions. We think we can evolve ourselves to a point where we can move past our sinful nature. We think we do not need God’s grace to save us. But that is wrong. As I see things, I am a sinner. And that will not change. I cannot save myself. But I do have the hope that I can be saved through God’s grace. I have that hope today. I have that hope tomorrow. Because my hope is based upon God who does not change, it does not need to evolve or change. I just need to believe. I think that is the challenge. You can either believe in a relative morality that changes over time or in God and an absolute morality that does not. If you see sin disappearing over time, than perhaps relative morality makes sense. But if you do not see sin evolving, it might be time like Leah Libresco, to ask where moral law really comes from.