knowtruth logo
This article is located at

>> God >> existence

Argument by Morality - Axiological Argument

Moral Law in Mankind

In his book, Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis reminds us that one of the greatest proofs of an almighty God is the common thread of consistent morality running through all mankind. The God responsible for creating us, for making us in His own image, is responsible for the moral character which permeates all mankind.

Mankind is Indwelt with a Basic Moral Law

Some call this a conscience. Whatever we call it, it is evident that something causes us to know the difference between right and wrong. While it is true that some differences exist in the details, there is certainly a commonality of moral principles in all cultures. For example, in some cultures it is appropriate for men to have more than one wife and in some only monogamy is appropriate. But all agree that a man doesn't just take any woman he pleases any time he pleases. Some cultures have put people to death for certain beliefs or behaviors that today we might tolerate. But no culture puts people to death randomly. C. S. Lewis says it this way,

"Think of a country where people were admired from running away in battle, or where a man felt proud for double-crossing all the people who had been kindest to him. You might as well try to imagine a country where two and two made five." 1

This particular morning I am writing from a hotel room in Houston, my morning newspaper has just arrived. The top headline of USA Today reads Seven Killed in Shooting at Church Rally. A group of teens was holding a youth rally at their church in Texas. A man entered the building and opened fire, killing seven of the young people before sitting down and putting the gun to his own head. Who among us in their right mind would not consider this a horrible and tragic event? What about the senseless shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado back in 1999? Everyone agrees that these are dreadful incidents, but why? Because we all share a common sense of moral judgment that the indiscriminate taking of a human life is wrong. There is no place for discussion about relative truth or circumstance, it's just wrong and we know it from the core of our being.

That this common morality exists is unarguable, but whether it is of God, or a product of evolutionary emotions, is a question posed by many. Skeptics and opponents of theism have espoused the science of evolutionary psychology, wherein concepts like marital fidelity, love for children, and other morals are reduced to simple genetic connections that have been coaxed into place through natural selection.

Never mind that there is no empirical evidence for such an understanding. Robert Wright, author of The Moral Animal - Why We Are the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology, made an interesting statement while promoting his book,

"Human beings are a species splendid in their array of moral equipment, tragic in their propensity to misuse it, and pathetic in their constitutional ignorance of the misuse." 2

Isn't it curious that he would use words like tragic, misuse, and pathetic to describe our moral makeup if our emotions are merely a collection of randomly selected genes? Darwinists have reduced morals into a set of pre-programmed responses. The problem is that morals are not just responses, they are motives and intentions as well. Moral rules don't have the physical properties that are required to define a programmed response. In other words, the ability to reason, practice introspection, make good judgements, and reflect is very real, yet can't be explained by a chemical process.

A Moral Lawgiver

Morality is Common

There are certain emotions and concepts that science simply can't explain. Our fundamental moral nature is one of them. How then are these rules explained? Are they the products of random gene selection or of a divine God? That moral rules are accidental is an argument that falls flat on the evidence of a common design. In other words, the basic moral laws that exist (against murder, stealing, lying, etc.) are common among all men.

Conclusion: A Moral Lawgiver

Common moral laws indicate a moral Lawgiver with the power to implant these laws in mankind. And this fact - that we have a moral conscience, or the sense of morality - may be the most persuasive of all the arguments for God's existence. The very values that are woven through the human fabric, driving us to a better world and pricking our conscience when violated, validate the great moral Designer who created us.

An interesting corollary to the argument by morality is the Argument by Universal Consent. Stated simply, mankind as a whole has at all times and everywhere believed, and continues to believe, in the existence of some superior being or beings on whom the material world and man himself are dependent. This fact cannot be accounted for except by admitting that this belief is true, or at least contains a germ of truth. Admittedly Polytheism, Dualism, Pantheism, and other understandings of this being have mingled with and disfigured this universal belief of mankind, but this does not destroy the force of the argument about existence. It only begs for a better definition of the nature of the being we are considering.

Lewis, C. S. (Clive Staples), The Case for Christianity, New York: Touchstone Books, 1996. p. 5
Wright, Robert, The Moral Animal - Why We Are the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology, Vintage Books, 1994.

Copyright © 2000-2002,