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.
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