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...]

Some Thoughts on Naturalism and Morality

It is supposed, by some, to be difficult for naturalism to account for moral properties (both axiological properties like goodness and badness and deontic properties like rightness and wrongness). William Lane Craig and Paul Copan, have each argued incessantly that naturalism cannot account for moral properties. Craig has offered the following argument:If God does not exist, then objective moral value does not exist. Objective moral value does  exist. God exists.This argument has … [Read more...]

What Explains God’s Moral Grounding Power? Part II

In an earlier article, I wrote about a question for divine command metaethics, a question that I called the Moral Grounding Question.Moral Grounding Question (MGQ): In virtue of what do God’s commands ground moral obligations? (or, in virtue of what does God have MG-power?)In that previous post, I explained the moral grounding question and showed that it is a question that defenders of the Divine Command Theory (DCT) need to answer. I also argued that one possible answer to MGQ, namely t … [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...]

What Explains God’s Moral Grounding Power? A Problem for Divine Command Ethics

The Divine Command Theory says that God possesses the power to ground or create moral obligations. Let’s call this power, in virtue of which God’s commands ground moral obligations, ‘moral grounding power’ (MG-power).Moral Grounding Power (MG-power): Being B has MG-power if and only if the commands of B ground moral obligationsI want to write about a question that is very natural but that I think is rather difficult for divine command theorists to answer. The question is: In virtue of wha … [Read more...]

More on the Arbitrariness Objection to the Divine Command Theory

I’ve been carrying on a conversation with Matthew Flannagan about the arbitrariness objection to the divine command theory. You can find my first post on the issue here and Matt’s response here. In this post I am going to continue my defense, against Flannagan’s objections, of the arbitrariness argument (AA):Either God’s commands are arbitrary or they are grounded in reasons. Arbitrary commands cannot ground moral obligations.  If God’s commands are grounded in reasons, then it is those … [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...]