“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you…” 1 Peter 3:15
Morality and Ethics
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 (NIV)
“If God is all-loving, why is there so much evil in the world?”
is a common enough question asked to a Christian. After all, people generally know that God is claimed to be ‘good,’ yet they do see bad things in this world (disease, hunger, war, death, and so on).
How does the Christian respond?
Because we’re learning how to do an internal critique of a person’s worldview, let’s examine the presuppositions of the non-Christian asking the question. He thinks that he can correctly judge between what is good and evil. We can then ask, “If God does not exist, how do the concepts of good and evil make sense?”
The non-Christian may respond by saying that people can pick their own morality. If this is the case, then why should I listen to someone else if the root of all morality is also based on me? We are told that we ought to respect the ‘rights’ of others, but what if my morality tells me to subjugate others into doing what I want? Would that be okay? If not, then morality cannot be based in the individual.
He may try to base morality in society. While it is true that different societies have different values and laws, which one will you pick? Aztec? French? American? And at what time period? America pre- or post-Civil War? Some societies say, “Love thy neighbor”; others say, “Eat thy neighbor.” Can one really choose moralities as one chooses which hat
If the unbeliever is non-committal about any of the above, he may retreat and say that he doesn’t need to believe in God to know the difference between good and evil. However, that’s not the question. What we are trying to figure out is why he arbitrarily puts some actions in a category called ‘good’ and another called ‘evil’. By what standard does he make moral judgments?
If there is no objective basis upon which all morality is grounded, then all you end up with is subjective human opinion where inconsistencies abound. A person will say that human sexuality is just a matter of taste while he decries the current wars as unjust. But why isn’t war as much a matter of taste as is human sexuality? True, one is about ‘love’ and the other kills people, but why is one placed above the other?
It’s so easy to take morality for granted because it is a part of who we are. That is exactly why we cannot assume neutrality when talking with the unbeliever. We cannot let the non-Christian think that his rejection of God lets him be an authority on morality. Forcing him to critically think about his presuppositions will bring inner contradictions to the surface.
The Christian worldview makes sense of the existence of good and evil. In fact, we can even make sense out of the unbeliever’s anger at evil.
Yet, if God does not exist, not only is the idea of good left to human opinion, so also is the idea of what is evil. If there is no good, then there is no evil, and the unbeliever’s original complaint is really a complaint about nothing.
The only logical way the non-Christian can even evaluate good vs. evil is to stand on the Christian worldview.
(The apologetic method and organization for these articles is taken from the book Pushing the Antithesis: The Apologetic Methodology of Greg L. Bahnsen, American Vision, Powder Springs, Georgia, 2007.)