A Primer in Religion and Morality

My recent interview for the Atheistically Speaking podcast inspired me to compile this quick primer in religion and morality, in order to help clarify the many different concepts at play when we talk about morality with and without God. I consider this a work-in-progress so any constructive criticism would be appreciated.Update (5 May 2015): I have revised and massively expanded the document. I am treating this as version 1.0 of the document and the previous version as a 'beta release' of th … [Read more...]

Not this Again!

John Mark Reynolds, Provost of Houston Baptist University, has posted an essay reasserting the old canard that atheism is the cause of mass murder. Reynolds commits all the usual fallacies of those who make this claim. For instance, though he notes that correlation is not the same thing as cause, here is what he says in his opening paragraph: Atheistic regimes killed millions in the last century. Nobody denies this fact, though some deny atheism had much to do with the murder…Yet there is d … [Read more...]

A Very Rough Sketch of an Objection to Quentin Smith’s Argument for Moral Realism

In his book, Ethical and Religious Thought in Analytic Philosophy of Language, Quentin Smith defends an argument for moral realism which he calls the argument from veridical seeming. (1)  Ordinary ethical sentences and commonsense first-level moral beliefs imply moral realism (or “Moral realism tacitly seems to be true in ordinary commonsense moral attitudes”). (2)  There are no empirical or a priori reasons to believe that first-level moral beliefs are all false.(3)  Therefore, it is m … [Read more...]

Naturalism, Theism, and Moral Ontology: A Reply to William Lane Craig

Abstract: This paper considers William Lane Craig’s metaethical argument for God’s existence. Roughly, the argument is that the existence of objective moral values provides strong evidence for God’s existence. I consider one by one Craig’s various reasons in support of the argument’s major premise, namely, that objective moral values and the nonexistence of God are at odds with each other. I show that Craig’s supporting arguments play fast and loose with the meaning of objectivity, and that they … [Read more...]

G&T Rebuttal, Part 6: Chapter 7


Chapter 7. Mother Theresa vs. Hitler  In this chapter, G&T present a version of the moral argument for God's existence which I call the "Moral Laws Require a Moral Lawgiver Argument," which they formulate as follows. 1. Every law has a law giver. 2. There is a Moral Law.3. Therefore, there is a Moral Law Giver. Like the earlier arguments, this argument is deductively valid. Like the earlier chapters about this argument, I plan to briefly summarize G&T's defense of … [Read more...]

Paul Copan’s Noseeum Argument Against Ethics Without God

Over the last fifteen or so years, Paul Copan has written a variety of articles, chapters, and books which argue against ethics without God. (To be precise, Copan argues against atheistic or naturalistic metaethics.) As I interpret him, Copan offers several independent arguments against ethics without God. I call one of those arguments "Copan's Noseeum Moral Argument" and that is the argument I want to discuss here.The basic idea of the argument is this. since we see no ontological … [Read more...]

Quentin Smith on Bertrand Russell on “Unyielding Despair” and the Meaning of Life

In his essay, "A Free Man's Worship," Bertrand Russell writes: Such, in outline, but even more purposeless, more void of meaning, is the world which Science presents for our belief. Amid such a world, if anywhere, our ideals henceforward must find a home. That man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no … [Read more...]

Important New (Advanced but) Must-Read Book on Ethics without God by Erik Wielenberg


Oxford University Press has just published the latest book by Erik Wielenberg, entitled Robust Ethics: The Metaphysics and Epistemology of Godless Normative Realism. Those of you who are regular readers of this blog know that I am a big fan of Wielenberg's work; his previous books include Value and Virtue in a Godless Universe (Cambridge University Press, 2005) and God and the Reach of Reason: C.S. Lewis, David Hume, and Bertrand Russell (Cambridge University Press, 2007).As you would expect … [Read more...]