Thursday, June 18, 2009

All Roads Lead to God

3) All Roads Lead to God. Romans 11:36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

Dawkins demonstrates that when one rejects the foundational truth of God existence, he is left with no answer for some of life’s important questions—such as “what is right and wrong?” and “How did life start?" By denying the One, from whom all things originate and are sustained, the individual is left with no reasonable explanations. On the contrary when the evident and obvious answers are not ruled a priori, then all evidence lead back to God. God has designed life this way for His glory—For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. The answers to significant life questions will inevitably lead to God. God has set eternity into the heart of man (Eccl. 4: 11).

Dawkins attempts to answer the question of what warrants morality in his atheistic worldview in his debate with Lennox. Dawkins acknowledges a universal acceptance of right and wrong by society. He senses it. He acknowledges it. But his a priori rejection of God, leaves him with no reasonable warrant to believe in right or wrong. He ends up giving the very unscientific and irrational warrant that our sense of morality is simply “in the air.” His statement in full is given below.

“How do I know what is moral? I don’t on the whole. But the point I want to make is that there does seem to be a kind of universal human acceptance that certain things are right and other things are not.. (after warranting our “lust to be good to be from our “Darwinian past” Dawkins goes on to say…) But it also comes from something less easy to define, but which is clearly there. I call it the shifting moral zeitgeist. It’s something that changes from decade to decade. Living as we do in 2007, there will be a broad consensus as to what is right and wrong… (Examples given) which characterize we who live in the early 21st century which would not necessarily have characterized our ancestors in this place 200 years ago. The consensus has moved on and I find this a very interesting and fascinating fact which suggests that there really is a kind of something in the air about what is regarded as moral and it clearly has nothing to do with religion because it doesn’t come from Scripture because Scripture doesn’t change over the decades in the way that our attitudes toward slavery, women, etc. do. There really does seem to be a powerful shifting zeitgeist effect which doesn’t tell you anything in itself but indicates that there is something in the air-- some other force, something which we can understand with sufficient sociological, psychological sophistication. Whatever else it is, it is not religion.” (Dawkins, BSD, emphasis added)

How is “In the air” a reasonable warrant for a universal sense of right and wrong? And why does he not give us an understanding with “sufficient sociological and psychological sophistication?” Dawkins does not have compelling reasons to believe why morality exists. He continues to manifest the dynamic I mentioned in my previous post—the suppression of the obviously evident.

While Dawkins’ God given sense of morality allows him to entertain a debate with Lennox about the origin of good and evil, in other remarks, Dawkins asserts that his worldview had no foundations for the concepts of good and evil.

“In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replications, some people are going to get hurt, and other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it nor any justice. The universe we observe is precisely the properties we should expect if there is at the bottom no design, no purpose, no evil and no good—Nothing but blind pettiless indifference. DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is. And we dance to its music” (Dawkins, A River out of Eden, emphasis added)

Dr. Greg Bahnsen dismantles this kind of irrationality in his humorous, classic response to atheist Dr. Stein in a “The Great Debate” in 1985 at Irvine, CA.

“I mean if there aren’t laws of morality, I can just take out a gun right now and say ‘Okay Dr. Stein, make my day. Is there a god or not?’ You see if he argues ‘oh no! You can’t murder me because there are laws of morality’, then of course he’s made my day because I win the debate. That shows that the atheist universe is not correct. But if he says ‘Oh no, there are no absolute standards; it’s all by convention and stipulation’ and that sort of thing, then I just pull the trigger and it’s all over and I win the debate anyway." [audience pause, then laughter and applause.] (Dr. Bahnsen, The Great Debate.)

The common universal ethic that Dawkins fumbles to explain warrants the Bible’s claim that that God has created mankind in His image as moral beings so that mankind “shows the work of the law written in their hearts” (Romans 2:15).

Finally, in one other demonstration that all paths lead back to God, Dawkins regularly admits in the discussion with Lennox that science has no answers for the origin of the cosmos/life. He regularly claims that science is “working on it” (BSD, OD). As I have mentioned before, when pressed Dawkins may be persuaded to postulate intelligent causation (alien origins or a deist type of god). But my point is that when an individual denies God, he leaves himself with no explanation for the origin of what he sees around him. Romans 1:19 states “that which is known about God is evident within them; for God has made it evident to them.” Thus, when an individual denies the obvious conclusions toward which the evidence leads, he leaves himself with no answers. This is demonstrated clearly with Dawkins.

The universal sense of morality and the fact that without God there is no explanation for the origin of the universal are two consistent warrants for primo fide in the existence of the God of Scripture.

Because God is the creator and sustainer of all things it is inevitable that all roads lead back to Him. For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.


  1. Dawkins musings sound much like the thoughts expressed by the author of Ecclesiastes, showing the futility of life without God at the center--one can't really make sense of it.

  2. I think Dr. Bahnsen's humorous argument is just plain silly. The response to his challenge would not be "There is a moral law, so you can't shoot me," but rather something like "Do you really want to deal with the consequences of shooting me?", or maybe "I would greatly appreciate it if you did not shoot me." If Bahnsen was willing to accept the consequences of shooting the atheist and had no compassion on the atheist, then the atheist would probably just kill Bahnsen in self defense. By Bahnsen's own "logic," the atheist could win the debate by killing Bahnsen first.

  3. Brett,

    Of course it is silly :). The interchange would never happen in the "real word." Because in the real world, murder is universally wrong. This is precisely the point of Dr. Bahnsen for which Dr. Stein, or Dr. Dawkins can give no foundation. Dr. Bahnsen's comments seem to have been meant as a poignant illustration/parody of the lack of foundations for Dr. Stein's position. Dr. Stein and Dawkins will make universal pronouncements that say "murder is wrong" but in the same breath then they will say "morality is only a conventional or a construct of society." Which is it? Conventional? or Universal? So Dr. Bahnsen presses him on that point "if it is conventional then I can make my own convention that murder is okay." But Dr. Stein, Dr. Dawkins, or an athiest would never accept the stipulation that murder is ok. Why? Because deep within them God has written His universal laws on their hearts. But outwardly they are supressing the truth in unrighteousness. Dr Stein and Dawkins may profess that morality is conventional and to some extent live that way, but they will never fully be able to live as if morality is relative. This simply demonstrates that they can not consistently live as if their materialistic, naturalistic, godless worldview is true.

    The full Bahnsen quote is given below in context:

    "Therefore, from a transcendental standpoint the atheistic view cannot account for this debate tonight; because this debate has assumed that we're going to use the laws of logic as standards of reasoning, or else we're irrational; that we're going to use laws of science; that we're going to be intelligent men; that we're going to assume induction and causation and all those things that scientists do. It's assumed in a moral sense that we're not going to be dishonest and try to lie or just try to deceive you."

    "If there are no laws of morality, I'd just take out a gun right now and say, " OK, Dr. Stein, make my day: is there a God or not". You see, if he says, "Oh no, you can't murder me because there are laws of morality," of course he has made my day, because I've won the debate. That shows that the atheist's universe is not correct. But if he says "Oh no, there are no absolute standards; it's all by convention and stipulation," then I just pull the trigger and I win the debate anyway. Except you wouldn't expect me to win the debate in that fashion. Absolutely not. You came here expecting rational interchange. I don't think we've heard much from Dr. Stein."

    "I've asked him repeatedly - it's very simple, I don't want a lot of details, just begin to scratch the surface, - how, in a material, naturalistic outlook on life and man his place in the world, can you account for the laws of logic, science, and morality?"

    The farily astounding answer Dawkins gives to similar probing is "its in the air" as I showed in my post. This is not an answer. This is blind speculation from futile thinking (Romans 1). Dawkins or Stein do not have reasonable explanations for the reality of the broad universal laws of morality. When one removes God from the foundation, then yes, an individual is left without a worldview that can account for what he sees and experiences in reality. However, when one allows the evidence to speak for itself without supressing the obvious then all roads lead back to God. God has made it evident in them and to them.

    Love you Brett and I appreciate the interchange.

  4. I see where you're coming from. I remember coming to a very similar conclusion when I took an ethics course at Purdue. We talked about a number of ethical systems like utilitarian ethics, deontological ethics, and nicomachean ethics. Each of these systems offered a couple of things: (1) a basic principle of ethics, and (2) a method of making specific ethical judgments based on the basic principle of ethics. For instance, utilitarianism suggests (1) that happiness is the ultimate good and (2) that an action is ethical if and only if it maximizes happiness.

    These systems seemed like they could be practically useful if you wanted to make tough ethical judgments, but they all left one big question: Why should anyone be obligated to follow any proposed basic principle of ethics? Why should anyone care about being ethical according to the definition of ethics proposed in any particular system? It's the famous old question: How do you derive an "ought" from an "is"? How can any statement about the way things "are" lead us to firm statements about the way things "ought" to be?

    This is why I do not currently hold to the view that there is any objective morality. Though I feel strongly that certain choices are "better" than others, I recognize that this is just an internal filter by which I perceive the world. Other people perceive the world differently, with different ideas about which choices are "best." Some values are nearly universally shared by all people, but this may just have more to say about common human brain structure or the influence of human culture than about any "moral law" existing external to the human mind.

    I agree that it would be illogical for a naturalist to propose that there could be an absolute ethical mandate which humans were obliged to follow. Dawkins says that morality is "in the air." If by this he means that an absolute ethical mandate exists external to mankind, he has made a statement that is inconsistent with his worldview. It would be much more reasonable to say that morality is "in our heads."

  5. Brett thanks for your openness. As you have insightfully acknowledged, the naturalist’s concept of an “ought” simply cannot be warranted. You indeed are trying to be consistent with your own beliefs when you say you do not hold to any moral objectivity.

    But it would seem to me, Brett, that your noble attempt at consistency now creates a different problem. Let me explain. Correct me if I am wrong. If a naturalist attempts to live consistently with his worldview then he will have to live inconsistent with moral reality. By that I mean he will have to deny the presence of objective evil in our society. Here is an illustration—because there is no moral objectivity, the naturalist will have to say, “Hitler was not wrong.” He will have to say, “A criminal that rapes my wife is not wrong.” Regardless of whether or not there are societal imposed consequences to any of these actions, the consistent naturalist cannot say these actions are wrong or evil. Correct?

    In “The Great Debate” that I have been referencing, Dr. Stein and Dr. Bahnsen have an interesting exchange concerning Hitler’s Germany. Notice that Dr. Stein attempts to make a moral judgement in a very convoluted way while still trying to maintain morals are conventional.

    **Debate Quotes
    Moderator: The next question will be directed to you, Dr. Stein. And the question reads as follows: According to your definition and basis for evil, why was Hitler's Germany wrong or was it? Note: Jews and others were defined as non-persons, so their happiness doesn't really count. Once again, according to you definition and basis for evil, why was Hitler's Germany wrong, or was it?

    Stein: Well, Germany is part of the Western European tradition, its not deepest Africa,or some place or Mars. They have the same Judeo-Christian background and basically the same connection with the rest of the developed world, so therefore the standards of morality that have been worked our as consensuses of that society apply to them, too. They can't arbitrarily, Hitler can't arbitrarily, say "Well, I'm not going by the consensuses that genocide is evil or wrong. I'm just going to change it and make it right." He has not the prerogative to do that; neither does the German society as a whole because it is still apart of a larger society, which you might call a western society. So, even though morality is a consensus of an entire civilization, he cannot just arbitrarily do that, so what he did is evil and wrong.

    Bahnsen: Dr. Stein continues to beg the most important questions that are brought up. He tells us that Hitler's Germany was wrong because Hitler or the German people didn't have the right to break out of the consensus of Western civilization. Why not? Why is there any moral obligation upon Hitler and the German people to live up to the past tradition of Western morality. In an Atheist universe there is no answer to that question.
    **End Debate Quotes

    Brett, when you say, “Some values are nearly universally shared by all people, but this may just have more to say about common human brain structure or the influence of human culture than about any ‘moral law’ existing external to the human mind.” I totally agree with you that our brain structures and our human cultures are wired this way—even internally as well. This is my point. You clearly see moral reality—a “nearly universally shared value system.” If there is not an objective external moral law that has been internally written in the heart of man, then what explains this moral reality? Naturalism can not account for it. Brett, God has not asked us to believe irrationally or irresponsibly. It seems to me, that these moral reality observations are precisely the “warrants” or “reasons to believe” that you have rejected and replaced with a system that cannot account for what you clearly see--moral reality.

    Brett it is obvious that you love your family and friends from your posts. Will you not say that an act of a criminal who murders a family member or dear friend is objectively evil?

  6. Just as you say, it seems to me that "if a naturalist attempts to live consistently with his worldview then he will have to ... deny the presence of objective evil in our society." This is exactly what I was trying to express in my previous comment. However, your comment that this is "inconsistent with moral reality" begs the question, "What is moral reality?"

    Can I confidently say that murder is objectively evil in some metaphysical sense? No. But don't get me wrong, I am not indifferent to murder. I despise murder. I would like to see murder completely eradicated. I would like to protect as many people as possible from becoming victims of murder. These feelings about murder are founded in my general "ethical" sentiment that the world would be a better place if no one ever reduced another person's quality of life (happiness) or quantity of life (longevity) without consent.

    Where does this sentiment come from? I suspect that I have such strong feelings about the issue because I do not want to be victimized myself. I very dearly want for no one to reduce my quality or quantity of life. And, since my mind is capable of generalization, I feel similarly about the victimization of others.

    However, I can't be sure about this suspicion. This is why I suggested before that the actual causation for my "ethical" feelings may simply be "common human brain structure or the influence of human culture." Perhaps my "ethical" feelings are nothing more than a personal preference shared by a portion of mankind.

    Perhaps you think this results in reductio ad absurdum, because it seems so intuitively clear to you that murder is objectively evil. To this I have no reply. Just as I rely on the intuition that the contents of my senses generally represent reality, you may rely on your intuition that your ethical judgments generally represent reality. It is not clear where to draw the line on what we accept intuitively and what we do not. If we accept nothing intuitively, then we have no axioms upon which to reason anything else, and we will believe nothing. If we accept everything intuitively, then we will not use reason to arrive at any of our beliefs, and we could believe anything. It seems we should find a middle ground, but will that middle ground include moral intuitions? I guess we each have to consider that for ourselves.

  7. You are correct and astute. Philosophically, I was “begging the question” when I assumed what was intuitively clear and obvious to me—there is moral reality. My primo fide belief (or in your word ‘intuition’) in the existence of good/evil seems to be to be warranted by world history. I cannot see how your primo fide belief in only material existence without intrinsic good and evil can be warranted in light of world history. There are very few who deny the presence of objective evil in light of world history. And if they do for the sake of a philosophical discussion like we are having here, they will not be able to practically live consistent with their profession. At the point when somebody tries to hurt them, they will proclaim with great passion and universal intent “That was wrong!”

    (Be prepared for a run on sentence now… : ) When an individual will not confess that things like discrimination or religious oppression or atheistic oppression or government oppression or gang rape or genocide or pedophilia or adultery or child pornography or theft are intrinsically and metaphysically evil AND things like sacrifice for others, kindness toward others, loyalty of friendship, faithfulness of a spouse, obedience of a child, the care of the sick, the helping of the weak, the beauty of a garden are intrinsically good, then I would believe that individual is suppressing the obvious conclusions from the evidence in them and around them. Thus, I don’t think this is a matter of evidence. The evidence, the warrants, the “reasons to believe” are abundant. What will it take to believe?

    Luke 16:31 “But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’ ”

    Thanks again for the dialog. You have made your position clear. I’m not planning to add any more comments on this particular post. I will think about my next post.