Atheism, Morality, and Divine Nature Theories vs. Ideal Observer Theories

This another item I found while organizing material on my hard drive. I think I am the author, but I am not certain of that. What is the advantage of divine nature theories over ideal observer theories?  Consider, for example, a divine nature theory of moral value.  On such a view, God’s nature, not God, is the source of moral value.  But what is the distinction between God and His nature?  Presumably, God’s nature is simply the collection of God’s properties or attributes (e.g., the property of … [Read more...]

J.L. Mackie’s Argument from Queerness against Objective Values

In his highly significant book, Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong, the late Oxford philosopher J.L. Mackie rejected moral objectivism and instead defended an error theory.[1] Although Mackie admitted that ordinary moral language and first-level moral beliefs imply moral objectivism, he argued on empirical grounds that moral objectivism is false.  Mackie called one of his anti-objectivist arguments the “argument from queerness.”  Mackie viewed his argument as having “two parts, one metaphysical, t … [Read more...]

Morality Cannot Have a Foundation in God: A Summary for the General Reader by Quentin Smith

The following essay was written by Quentin Smith around 2001 or 2002, but inexplicably fell through the cracks. While organizing files on my computer, I recently rediscovered it and am happy to be able to share it with our readers. MORALITY CANNOT HAVE A FOUNDATION IN GOD: A SUMMARY FOR THE GENERAL READER                                                   BY QUENTIN SMITH                                                 WESTERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITYAs I indicated in my history of 20th ce … [Read more...]

Christian Apologists Ignore the Best Objections to the Moral Argument

To be precise, there are many kinds of moral arguments for theism. The question in the title is really talking about what we might call "ontological" or "metaphysical" moral arguments, the kind which claim that we need God in order to have an "ontological foundation" for objective or absolute morality.People who defend a version of this kind of argument include a veritable "Who's Who?" of contemporary Christian apologists: C.S. Lewis (see here and here), Alvin Plantinga (see here and here), W … [Read more...]

Can Atheism Support Ethical Absolutes? A Reply to Roger Olson

Roger Olson, a fellow Patheos blogger who can be found in the Evangelical channel on Patheos, has recently written a post entitled, "Can Atheism Support Ethical Absolutes? Is Ethics without Absolutes Enough?" In that post, he appeals to what has been called "Karamazov's Thesis," which is the claim (attributed to Dostoyevsky), that "If God does not exist, then everything is permitted."For readers who are interested in academic refutations of Karamazov's thesis, see refutations by Christian p … [Read more...]

Why I am Not Concerned about Christian Theist Philosophers of Religion

One reason I am not concerned about the prevalence of Christian theists in the field of philosophy of religion is that they do a nice job of arguing against each other.William Lane Craig's favorite argument for the existence of God is the Kalam cosmological argument. I'm happy that there are some atheist philosophers who challenge this argument, but there are good objections raised against this argument by Christian theist philosophers.For example, Richard Swinburne rejects this … [Read more...]

Hard-Hitting Critique of WLC’s Moral Argument by John Danaher “Necessary Moral Truths and Theistic Metaethics”

To be precise, this paper applies to WLC's moral argument for God's existence as follows.1. WLC argues that God exists because objective moral values and duties exist.2. Critics (theist, agnostic, and atheist) of WLC's moral argument have pointed out that, according to one version of moral realism, moral truths are necessary truths. Necessary truths neither have nor need an explanation. Therefore, God isn't needed to explain necessary moral truths and, hence, isn't needed to explain o … [Read more...]

Does Evolution “Explain” Objective Morality? A Reply to Jerry Coyne

Evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne recently wrote about Leah Libresco's conversion from atheism to Catholicism based on a moral argument for God's existence. In his article, Coyne promotes the idea, which he has done many times before, that biological evolution somehow "explains" objective morality. While there is a sense in which Coyne is correct, that has nothing whatsoever to do with the kind of moral argument which Libresco finds persuasive. So while I join Coyne in rejecting Libresco's … [Read more...]


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