This is the conclusion of a three-part series on the moral argument for God's existence. Part 1 presents the argument, part 2 is a discussion of common objections, and this article will be an explanation of how one might explain the argument in simpler terms (for small groups or evangelistic opportunities).
With training in view, a good moral argument is revealed to be a somewhat simple apologetic to learn, though mastering it may require more extensive effort. It is rooted in facts about the nature of reality that should seem clear to students. They need not do extravagant research or spend hours in a library to discover that some things are inherently good and others inherently bad. The existence of right and wrong, likewise, needs no defense. The connecting of dots is really all that a careful facilitator needs to accomplish in order to teach it to a church group, or discuss it with a skeptic. What follows is an explanation of the argument that should be easily adopted by learners and retains the powerful philosophical truths it reveals.
It may not seem altogether obvious to students why objective morality cannot exist in the absence of God. What is more, terms like “objective” and “subjective” may represent a foreign language to some individuals. This leads to the practical advice of just removing philosophical terminology from the discussion. Arguments like this one do not need to be stated in this way all of the time. So what does this moral argument look like in common parlance?
The argument could be set up by asking the following question: “Do you agree that some things are really right and other things are really wrong?” The word “really” is where we would place the term “objectively” in a more formal discussion. Second, one might ask, “Would you also agree that some things are really good and other things are really bad?” At this point it is simple to express the difference between moral values and moral duties. Once they agree, the facilitator can show that certain things are matters of opinion, while other things are matters of fact. It is a fact that 2 + 2= 4. It is a matter of opinion whether chocolate or vanilla ice cream is better. The point that the facilitator wants to lead students toward is the truth that moral values and duties are matters of fact in the same way 2 + 2 = 4 is a fact.
Next, the facilitator can begin discussing premise (1). He can demonstrate that if God does not exist, then real moral values and duties do not exist by pointing out that if God does not exist then there is no authority to which we can appeal when claiming that certain things are right and others are wrong. This may require some discussion, but after the listeners understand why the existence of real moral values and duties implies the existence of God, the conversation can turn to the defense of premise (2).
For beginners, it is helpful to explain what it would mean if there were no real morality. The facilitator should point out that it would mean that things like murder, rape, theft, abuse, genocide, drug use and alcoholism are not really wrong in the same way that 2 + 2 = 7 is wrong. Undoubtedly, comments like this will get an emotional reaction out of the students. Emotional reactions are not the reason we accept the existence of real morality, but they do show that we all know it exists. As many apologists have asserted, there is no moral difference between Adolf Hitler and Mother Teresa if morality is not real (objective). Before long, it will become abundantly clear to the listeners that opinion-based (subjective) morality is worthless.
A few points of clarification may need to be made by the teacher, but there is not much more necessary for learners to begin practicing the moral argument with each other. All they need to do is make these simple points clear to others. No matter what an unbeliever may say in response to premise (1), the student can simply show that any morality is just opinion-based if God does not exist. In defense of premise (2), they need only point to the skeptic’s own certain and immediate knowledge that morality is real in the objective sense. If the skeptic does not accept this, the learner can just ask questions like, “Don’t you believe that the rape and murder of little children is wrong? Is it just your opinion that it’s wrong?” Naturally, the average person will answer “yes” to the former question and “no” to the latter.
As this series of articles demonstrates, it is truly within the realm of possibility for a wide demographic to understand and use a simple version of the moral argument. Facilitators should be prepared to answer questions on the basis of what is discussed in the totality of this series, but the basic principles of the case can be digested without much trouble. Objections to the moral argument can usually be dismissed without much difficulty if the apologist has a careful eye. The majority of the objections fall into a handful of simple categories. They either misunderstand the argument, misunderstand objectivity, fail to understand that God is the only possible source of objective morality, or refuse to admit that morality is objective. The argument itself is quite simple. Without God, there is simply no way to defend the existence of real objective moral values and duties. Yet, the existence of true morality of this sort is evident to any honest, self-reflecting person. Thus, God’s existence should be accepted since there are RULES for the human race.