Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Counter Apologoist's Attack on the Moral Argument part 2

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The Counter Apologist continues his assault, from last Monday,[1] upon William Lane Craig's Moral argument.[2] In this section he takes up the premise "objective more values exist." He doesn't dispute that issue He faults apologists for not being ale to produce real reasons for objective moral values. He says those can work as well for atheism because they don't have to come from God, but apologists can't prove them. Apologists will often observe that life is unlivable without such moral values but that is not proof they exist. "Plus, such an appeal can do as much work for a moral system that is compatible with atheism." [3]

In my mind this is no problem  at all. First because I would make a different moral argument, and I will make it either in part 3 or 4.What I hope to accomplish here in defending an argument I don't intend to make is to show that belief in 'god is still stronger grounding for moral axioms than not believing in God. It doesn't have to prove God exists. I don't even argue for proof I only argue for warranted belief. It's not that atheists can't be moral but that belief in God is always stronger grounding. Last time I showed that his major argument is wrong, the idea that theistic moral arguments assume an untenable nondescript notion for some magical good that can't be discussed.

At this point he's going to show that the notion of objective moral values is incompatible with belief in God and so introduces the Euthyphro  dilemma. One of the atheists greatest hits this argument comes out of the writings of Plato. “Is something good because god says it is, or does god say something is good because of some other quality it has?” I dealt with the ensuing issue in a post a few months ago discussing an article by Jeff Lowder who was defending Wes Moriston's argument. [4]  What came out of that was the same answer I'm going to give CA but I have to set it up first. At the first go round the atheist charges a dilemma, either God's will is arbitrary and capricious or God is subject to a higher authority. Of course there isn't one so most Christians take the first horn of the dilemma better a capricious God than a subordinate one. I wont follow that out because there is a better answer. It's the one I use and the Craig uses.  Go's commands are based upon his own nature, which is love, So the authority to which God heeds is his own being.

CA quotes Jeremy Koons who argues that this only pushes the problem back further bjut doesn[t answer it. That's because he's going to go through  tiresome litany of questions like a child asking "why..,," "why..,," "why?" Why  good? why  love?  why ?..."Essentially Koon’s asks 'are the properties like loving-kindness, impartiality, and generosity good because god possesses them in his nature, or does god possess them in his nature because they are good?...'" He's going to argue that in the end the apologist is forced to accept the first side of the dilemma.

Consider a situation where two humans express love for each other. This expression of love has the same basic motivations behind it, and the same effects on both parties.  According to Divine Command Theory if god exists, this can be called good. However if god does not exist, this exact same situation cannot be called good. In short, Modified Divine Command Theory says that the intentions and consequences of an action have absolutely no bearing on the goodness of that action. This conclusion is extremely counter-intuitive, and violates our deeply held pre-theoretical moral intuitions.   The very same intuitions that apologists need to appeal to in order to justify the idea that objective moral values really do exist. This puts the apologist in a dilemma.  If they want to hold that our intuitions can be good enough to justify belief in objective moral values, then they have to deal with the fact that they must also say those intuitions are wrong about what it is that makes love good. [5]

In my answer to Morriston it came down to his argumjent generocity is good only because God says its good. his answer is against modified command theory I agree with Craig that God['s character is moral is the immediate answer but Modified Command theory is not the answer. I don't argue that one. He turns the deeply held intuitions against the MDCT. The problem is I don't know if he's making a straw man argument or not. I  not Craig argues the intent of the agent doesn't ;lay a role in goodness then Craig is confused. I doubt that he says it. In any case Jesus tells us God Looks on the heart() so the intent does matter. Jesus addresses the motives when he tells us the attitude makes the sin. () That goes back to the foundation from which I draw my overall answer about the good being based upon God's character. [6] The moral ought would be derived from duty and obligation. So the statement is true in term of Meta ethical theory. Does that mean it's also true in terms of personal guilt? If guilt is notaccewssed by a sgrict ule keepimg mentality then iot'snot arbitrary.

Now Koons is still intent upon getting the apologist to be stuck with an arbitrary good, as is CA. Thus he quotes Koon's questions, why love? What makes love good? Is it because God says it or because there's a higher standard. The problem is they've used that trick already. It's neither. God is not loosing because he's obeying a higher standard. He is loving because his love. Nor is he loving because it's an arbitrary whim. He is loving because he is love and thus it is his nature to be loving. That is not arbitrary it's not as standard higher than God. CA ascribes morality to brute fact. There is no reason why morality is real or why a particular action is moral they just are. He turns against th believer on the basis that the atheist doesn't need a reason The believer can't prove why God is loving, the big metaphysical magic thing has been discorded so the believer has no basis for the good and the atheist doesn't need one.

Apologists who defend a Modified Divine Command Theory can’t really object here, because their solution to the problem suffers from exactly the same issue.  The concept that “god has a loving nature” is itself a brute fact!

Notice how there is no explanation as to why god’s nature is loving instead of say hateful.  Appeals to gods definition as the “greatest conceivable being” doesn’t help here because you can’t say god’s nature includes love because it is better than hate without already having a concept of moral value that is external to god’s nature.   Neither can an apologist appeal to god’s nature as a necessary being. This is because even if Christians conceive of god as having a loving nature in every possible world, there’s no logical reason as to why we couldn’t say god has a hateful nature in every possible world instead.

On all of these things both CA and Koons are very mixed up. Not the least of their befuddlement is the notion that God's love is a brute fact. God's love is not a brute fact, there is a reason for it. That reason is hinted at by the great Catholic mystic and theologian Hans Urs Von Balthasar. He speaks of the nature of being in terms of being for itself, consciousness. In that encounter the horizon of all unlimited opens unto him.”[8] What he means by that is it is only through being por soir, for itself, in other words, consciousness, that we are able to comprehend the infinite and that only in contrast to the finite. Before we can do that, however, we have to become aware of ourselves so we can know we are finite. I think he’s making an implication that love is a link to being itself, and that through our encounter with love, the mother, we encounter the father, so to speak—by way of encountering love. We can see this in four truths that Balthasar finds rooted in this encounter:(1) realizing that he Is other to the mother, the only way the child realizes he loves the mother; (2) love is good, therefore, being is good; (3) love is true, therefore, being is true; (4) love evokes joy therefore being is beautiful.[9] Notice the link between being and love. He is one of the rare theologians to point out this curial link.
The one, the true, the good, the Beautiful, these are what we call the transcendental attributes of being, because they surpass all the limits of essence, and are coextensive with Being. If there is an insurmountable distance between God and his creature, but if there is also an analogy between them which cannot be resolved in any form of identity, there must also exist an analogy between the transcendentals—between those of the creature and those in God.[7]

In other words There is a close link between being itself and love. Because God is being itself God's nature is to love. The loving nature of God is rooted in his perfection and that in the fact that he is being itself. In this sense he is  being for itself (as Sartre says por soir). There may be a brute fact in relation to God's being but it is to at the point of love. I call brute facts connected with God "deep structures" because none of them are total without reason or without meaning, The only one that may have no higher reason grounding it is God's existence or the fact of being itself. There could note a hi8gher purpose since that would, mean purpose higher than God's. Even though God as being itself is not the consequence of a higher purpose it is not unconnected to meaning since it is the basis of all meaning. It is at the very bottom of ontology where the only choices are something or nothing. That means noth8ing connected tov moral values is totally arbitrary if it is grounded in God.

The are further confused because their ethics are  grounded in arbitrary brute facts. He's so proud of it thinking it's on a par with Christian ethics because the big magic whoha he imagines Christin ethics is based upon has been done away now both are on a level playing field of meaninglessness. Such is not the case to any degree. God's moral values are grounded in the deep structures of being itself while atheist values are arbitary and meaningless. When he says "you can’t say god’s nature includes love because it is better than hate without already having a concept of moral value that is external to god’s nature" yes you can. Rather you can ground it in God himself for what he is, being itself and love and hate come after that. I've published before on why God is love and not hate. that is logical and based the same point, it's not arbitrary it's a consequence of being.[8]

[1] The Counter Apologiost, "A much longer Counter to the Moral Argument." The Counter Apologist Blog. (May 13, 2016) URL:
accessed 5/28/2016

[2] Craig's moral argument

(1) if God exists, there are objective moral values

(2) there are objective moral values

(3) therefore God exists.

[3] Counter Apologist, op cit.

[4] Joseph Hinman, "The Euthyphro Dilemma and the Arbitrariness Objection." Metacrock's Blog, Feb 29, 2016.
http://metacrock.blogspot.com/2016/02/the-euthyphro-dilemma-and-arbitrariness.html  accessed 6/4/16.
The arguments with Morriston are somewhat different than  CA's. zI urge the reader to read that peice.

[5] Counter Apologist op cit

[6] The foundation of my moral philosophy is Augustine's view that love is the background f the moral universe. CA claims that the statement is counter intuitive but is that because he's a consequentialist?

[7] Hans Urs Von Balthasar, “A Resume of my Thought,” in David L. Schindler, Hans Urs Von Balthasar: His Life and Work. San Francisco:Ignatious Press, 1991, 3. on like version p1-2 URL:

[8] this blog, how we knkow God is good and not evil


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