Creationism and Morality, Part 3

For more than three years we have chronicled the Niagara of lies, misquotes, deception, mendacity, and idiocy that routinely flows from creationist sources. Yet such people constantly lecture us on morality. We’ve discussed this subject before (see Part 1 and then see Part 2). After that we attempted to describe our own Secular Source of Morality, but we weren’t terribly persuasive.

The first of our earlier posts was based on an essay we found at the website of Answers in Genesis (AIG), one of the major sources of young-earth creationist wisdom. AIG is the online ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the creationist Australian entrepreneur who has become the ayatollah of Appalachia. He also brought you the infamous, mind-boggling Creation Museum.

Today, dear reader, we’ll discuss another morality lesson from AIG. Their latest is titled The Source of Moral Absolutes. It’s AIG’s attempt to answer a clumsily-worded question (allegedly asked by an atheist) to the effect that either scriptural morality is God’s personal, subjective preferences or else it’s based on an objective moral absolute; and if it’s the latter, what would that objective moral absolute be?

That question is a primitive groping toward a better-expressed question from 24 centuries ago. It’s Socrates’ Euthyphro dilemma — “Is what is moral commanded by the gods because it is moral, or is it moral because it is commanded by the gods?” That is, are the gods free to make it up as they go along, or are they bound by a morality which is external to them?

AIG didn’t attempt to answer Socrates’ question. Here are some excerpts from AIG’s answer to what they were asked, with footnotes and scripture references omitted, and bold font added by us:

This atheist’s argument seems formidable until we remember the basis for our worldview — the Bible. When we read God’s revelation of Himself in the Bible, we realize the atheist has committed the straw-man logical fallacy. He has misrepresented God — suggesting God is like man in that His moral standards are merely personal, subjective preferences — and then refuted that false idea of God.

Huh? The question was a straw-man argument? Let’s read on:

You must expose his fallacy, showing him the true God who reveals Himself in the Bible. Share the following biblical principles that display how God’s moral standard is objective and absolute. When he faces up to God, he will have no argument. Who can contend with the Almighty?

Okay, AIG. We’re waiting for your explanation. Their essay continues:

From its first verse, the Bible asserts, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”. Because God created us and made us in His image, we belong to Him and are obligated to live according to His standard or face His judgment.

If a fellow human were to arbitrarily decide what morality involves and impose his standard on us, we could say his morality is subjective, according to his personal preferences and beliefs. But because God created us, He has authority over us and has the right to hold us to His standard. We inherently know this ultimate standard of right and wrong because God has written His law on our hearts.

We’ve been waiting for an explanation of an objective standard of absolute morality, and so far all we’re getting is a description of absolute power as the source of divine authority. But let’s not give up. Here’s more:

The atheist argued that God’s moral standards are merely personal preferences that have changed. For example, he may bring up Old Testament passages where God commanded the Israelites to slaughter the Canaanites, even the women and children. He may wrongly think God was a bloodthirsty Hitler in the Old Testament only to change in the New Testament to a cheery Santa who winks at sin.

Let’s see AIG’s response to that one:

You may briefly explain why these common charges do not prove that God has changed. Although God’s rules to man may change because His truth is progressively revealed (e.g., God’s laws to the Israelites about animal sacrifices do not apply today because God sent His Son as the fulfillment of those sacrifices), God’s character and moral standards do not change. The atheist confuses God’s rules to man at various stages of the past to His moral character. This is apples to oranges.

Okay, the rules change. Yes becomes no, and vice versa, but the moral character of the rule-giver doesn’t change. What? We’re trying to keep our eye on the walnut shell with the pea under it, but the shells keep moving around and it’s getting difficult. Let’s continue:

God Himself testified, “For I am the Lord, I do not change”. He didn’t ever think up a moral standard to decide right from wrong. Rather, His moral standard flows from His perfectly pure and holy nature. Since His nature is unchanging, His standard is absolute.

Did you get that? Great, because we didn’t. Here’s another excerpt:

The atheist argued that God’s standards are not binding on God Himself. But remember that God’s moral standard flows from His unchanging nature. Because God’s nature is perfect and holy, He cannot sin, so His standard is objective. It is impossible for God to contradict Himself or act inconsistently with His own nature.

Y’know, that’s not quite what we have in mind when we think of an objective standard, but as we’ve often admitted, we’re not very good at theology. One last excerpt:

The atheist requested an example of an objective moral absolute. Here’s one: God’s moral standard prohibits lying, a standard flowing from His nature that cannot lie.

That’s a good place to end this morality lesson. It’s nice to know that true creationists will never lie us. But what would be AIG’s answer to Socrates’ Euthyphro dilemma — “Is what is moral commanded by the gods because it is moral, or is it moral because it is commanded by the gods?” We’re not sure, but it looks like their answer is “All of the above.”

See also: Creationism and Morality, Part 4.

Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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10 responses to “Creationism and Morality, Part 3

  1. How stupid. So morality changes over time because God says so, but somehow is doesn’t change over time?

    So, is murder wrong objectively or not? Does the definition of murder change over time or not? If so, then it is not objective, duh!

    Seriously, these people are buried so deep in their own bullsh*t that they are suffering from oxygen deprivation to their brains.

  2. LRA says: “How stupid.”

    What’s wrong with you? Devil got your brain? Lemme spell it out: He made you, so he makes the rules. That’s simple enough, isn’t it? If he changes the rules from time to time, so what? He’s still the boss and that’s not gonna change, so you better obey or you’ll end up in the Lake of Fire. If that’s not an objective standard, then tell me what is.

  3. If God comes down and demands his followers eat the first born child, there are three possible responses:

    1) “No way”, in this case, the follower is disobeying God’s morality for his own morality. I hope it’s obvious that eating babies is wrong.

    2) “Pass the ketchup”, in this case, run, do not walk away from the monster you are talking to.

    3) “God would never demand that”, in which case God is subject to a higher moral principle than himself, in which case, there is no argument… or god needed. (Of course, God has demanded roughly equivalent things from his followers in the past.)

  4. So, per AiG, telling someone that it is good to dash babies heads against the rocks on one day, and issuing a commandment not to kill on another, is just progressive revelation of truth.

    Yep, that makes complete sense.

    As opposed to ancient peoples’ changing morality being encoded in their religious writings.

    I’m sure atheists everywhere are shaking in their boots at the air-tight logic of AiG.

    BTW, if your position is that god is progressively revealing truth, then when is he finished? Will he reveal new moral truths tomorrow? How do we know the ones we have now are the final copy?

  5. SC writes but as we’ve often admitted, we’re not very good at theology.

    Neither are believers in theology.

  6. waldteufel

    All this unctuous blather about morality coming from the hopelessly befuddled authors of that AiG article is just toooooo precious.

  7. Gabriel Hanna

    You would at least think they would answer as well as Euthyphro did.

    It’s not limited to creationists, of course, but they don’t seem to read anything but their own literature, and not very much of that. It’s like they genuinely think no one but they ever had discussed these questions.

  8. So… commanding genocides, encouraging slavery, favoring one race over another, mauling children with bears, punishing the innocent for the crimes of others, and destroying of every living thing on the face of the planet are all manifestations of God’s “pure and holy nature”? Wow. It’s really stunning the lengths that people will go to in order to justify the barbarism and tribal mentality of an arbitrary group of war-mongering ancients.

  9. You would at least think they would answer as well as Euthyphro did.

    You mean: “that’s nice, Socrates, but I’m, uh, late for my appointment. So I guess I’ll be going…”

    That may in fact be the best answer theology has ever given to the problem. 😉

  10. It isn’t arbitrary if you capitalize enough letters. God makes His laws, so He gets to choose whatever He wants. See? As for progressive revelation of truth, let’s just argue that Darwin was the latest example of such.