Church Education Trust

Christian Belief

ST002/3 Moral Arguement.


The Moral Argument

This is in a sense another form of the Causal Argument only in the moral realm rather than the natural. Man has a conscience, an inward sense of right and wrong an inescapable sense of accountability and responsibility to someone higher than himself. Material and unconscious forces can hardly be considered sufficient cause for such a sense in man.

A necessary postulate of any sound morality seems to be a Supreme Lawgiver and Judge who created such a sense in man and to whom man is accountable. The moral cannot be explained by the non-moral.

The following is a good passage on the subject, "Now it is these phenomena of conscience that Nature offers to us for her strongest argument for the moral character of God. Had he been an unrighteous being himself, would he have given to this,the obviously superier faculty in man, so distinct and authoritative a voice on the side of righteousness?

He would never have established a conscience in man and invested it with the authority of a monitor, and given to it those legislative and judicial functions which it obviously possesses  and then so framed it that all its decisions should be on the side of that virtue which he himself disowned, and condemnatory of that vice which he himself exemplified.

This is an evidence of the righteousness of God which keeps its ground amid all the disorders and aberrations to which humanity is liable." (Chalmers, Moral and Intellectual Constitution of man. Vol.l.pp.85,86.)

Finally it is difficult to explain the existence of this Supreme Lawgiver and this sense of duty to him apart from belief in the existence of a Personal God.

The Ontological Argument.

This term is derived from a Greek word meaning "being" or "existence". Thus it is the argument from the science of Being or Existence. This is the most difficult of the arguments to grasp. Some consider it to be the weakest of the arguments while others hold the opposite opinion.

It maintains that the very fact that man can have a conception of an infinite perfect Being, is proof that such a Being exists. The germs of the theory are found in Plato and to a greater extent in Augustine, but the first clear statement of the argument belongs to Anselm.

"All men have the idea of God, and this idea of God is the idea of an absolutely perfect  being, one whom we cannot imagine to have a superior. The idea of such a being necessarily implies existence, otherwise we might imagine a greater Being." The weakness of the argument is the taking ideal existence to be synonymous with real existence.

There is real substance in the argument thought arid the simplest statement of it in more recent days comes from Dr.Banks, "We have ideas of infinite goodness, truth and holiness, are these merely ideas? Or is there a Being to whom they belong? If they are mere ideas, how can we account for their existence?

Thus there is some measure of truth in Anselm's position, that the very idea of an absolutely perfect being involves His existence; at least, to this extent; that the existence of the idea is best explained on the supposition that it arises from the fact. Otherwise, the noblest ideas known to man are the veriest illusions." (Manual of Christian Doctrine pp,14,45). It was pointed out above that the proofs of the existence of God can never be mathematically exact. The proofs just given are not absolute, but at the same time, any other fact with the same kind of confirmatory proof would be accepted.

We can well close this section with a quotation from Erich Sauer "God is the one, eternal, absolute Spirit, Spirituality, unity and eternity are of the very essence of His being and He Himself is the sum of all highest, most perfect life. But as such He is at the same time the most real of all realities, self determining Ego, conscious Personality, indeed, eternal super personality, and all finite attempts by the human intellect to explain His infinite being are eternally vain.

Therefore "proofs" of the existence of God cannot be given. The Scripture itself never once attempts it. For the idea of God transcends all human means of thought, and the more attempt of a dust begotten creature even to wish to "demonstrate" God, is nothing else than a childish over estimate of self, yea, the boundless presumption of small mindedness and morbid delusion. God as God is the eternal and infinite, and as such can never be the thought problem of human mole like speculation." (Dawn of World Redemption p.17) .

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