Summit Lecture Series: Can We Be Moral Without God? with Frank Beckwith, part 5

Summit Lecture Series: Can We Be Moral Without God? with Frank Beckwith, part 5 May 26, 2015

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Moral rules have an incumbency to them. In other words, there’s a “force” that we feel prior to any behavior, which is sometimes referred to as your conscience.

Also, violating moral rules results in deep discomfort, otherwise known as guilt.

Now, the feeling of guilt is different than the reality of guilt. There are people who are literally guilty, though they may not feel it, and sometimes people feel guilt when they ought not to.

But most of the time, if we feel guilt, it’s because we are guilty; and we have the appropriate feeling for what we, in fact, did.

So the four characteristics of moral law are: If moral law exists, they are not physical; moral rules are a form of communication; they have an incumbency to them; and violating them results in deep discomfort.

Now, given all this, what is the origin of this universal moral law?

One option is to say that the moral law is an illusion – that our moral beliefs merely exist due to our natural selection process tricking us into believing them, and it’s there merely to help with our species’ survival. The problem with this is that we have other universal beliefs other than the moral law, such as there are people on the other side of the world whom I have not seen, or that science works. If it’s logical that moral law is just a trick, wouldn’t these beliefs be mere trickery as well?

Another option is that moral rules do exist, but they are merely products of chance. They simply came to be over time, but there was no mind behind them. But the problem with this is that moral law inherently is truthful, has meaning, and communicates from one person to another. In other words, the moral law has intellectual content. However, if there is no mind behind it, then there is no intellectual content behind it, and thusly there is actually no reason to obey it.

The final option is that there actually is a mind behind the moral rules, or a “Law-giver” who has placed within us His moral law.

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