"My heart I give Thee, Lord, eagerly and earnestly." - John Calvin
Saturday, April 14, 2018
Moral Accountability: What is Atheism's Standard?
Is morality objective? By that, I mean, are there certain things which are wrong by nature, not because of some normative standard, regardless of the worldview or circumstances of the person committing the act? Most people, including atheists, would say so. The Holocaust was just wrong, for example. There is even a philosophy called Objectivism, based on that idea. I don't agree.
Logically, the concept of objective morality is self-destructive. It cannot be sustained by the worldview which advocates it.
In order to hold to a morality, we must assume accountability for our actions. Without accountability, we relapse back to subjectivism, every man doing what is right in his own eyes. But is accountability to something personal? Or to something impersonal? We must say to something personal, because the impersonal substance merely continues to function according to its physical laws, without regard to how some particles within it conceive their actions. What is the nature of the universe? Impersonal. Therefore, there can be no accountability to it. Yet, the accountability must still be to a universal, personal being, lest, again, we slip into subjectivism.
Therefore, we are, indeed, accountable to a universal, personal being, who is apart from the physical universe. Can there be any more-basic definition of deity? But that cannot be just any deity. Allah is completely independent of, and disconnected from, the physical creation. So is the god of modern Judaism. It is, in contrast, only the triune God of the Bible who can meet the definition of this logic. Why? Because He alone, though distinct from the physical universe, has entered it in the incarnation. He alone has united His transcendence with a true human nature, so that He has bridged that inherent gap between Himself and us.
In spite of the claims of the Objectivists, there is no morality apart from God. He defines it, and it is to Him that we are accountable for our actions, giving both objectivity and universality. And it is Him that we have offended by our moral failures: "Your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your
sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear" (Isaiah 59:2). But He is merciful, and has provided a way to bridge that gap again, through His incarnation in Jesus Christ: "He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin
and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls" (I Peter 2:24-25).
My name is Chris Cole. I have lived in the Charlotte, NC, area for over thirty years, and have been an active Presbyterian during most of that time. I love the Westminster Confession of Faith as a beautiful expression of my own personal beliefs.
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I prefer the English Standard Version of the Bible, and all quotations are from the ESV, unless otherwise stated.
I have a number of reviews of Reformed books on Amazon. There is a link to them in the Reformed links below.
"Seeing [that] the Lord of lords, the Lord Jesus, is so ready (never was there king so ready to hear a subject as Jesus is), [even] if thou wert the vilest body that goes, a thief, a harlot, etc., yet if thou wilt say this, 'Lord, remember on me, and give me a part of thy kingdom'; - if thou prayest to him from a penitent heart, with confidence and assurance, I promise unto thee, heaven and earth shall go [fall] together ere thou wantest [lack] thine asking. Seeing [that] our Lord Jesus is so liberal [free-giving], then seek more than enough, more than a kingdom, and thou shalt get more. The only cause why we want [lack] is in us: we have no hearts to seek it." - Rev. Robert Rollock, Scottish Presbyterian minister, about 1590, in a commentary on Luke 23:42-43