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The nature of morality has long been a subject of debate, particularly between people who believe in the existence

of God, and those who do not. Believers have traditionally held that God is necessary for there to be any sort of non-relative morality, while atheists have asserted that human beings are capable of moral reasoning without interference from religion, a fact that informs the popular atheist credo that one can be "good without God." It should be noted that I use the term "atheist" as a blanket term to refer to the group inhabiting various points along the continuum which includes agnosticism, skepticism, pure unbelief, etc. I acknowledge that it is actually a minority of this group who state with firm belief that there is no God, as there is no proof for such a statement, and believing it requires just as much faith as saying that there is a God . Most atheists simply say that, in the absence of compelling evidence of His existence, they default to the assumption that He is not, while reserving the right to change their minds, should new evidence emerge. Atheists typically eschew any form of "absolute morality", which is a set of behavioral guidelines applicable to all peoples across all time, with no exceptions, and no opportunities for what they consider progress. Contrarily, absolute morality is the moral system typically espoused by believers, because it is has God as its source. Because God is perfect, the rules he gives us are perfect, and have no need of change. To progress from that which is already perfect would be logically impossible. In lieu of absolute morality, atheists either argue in favor of moral relativism, which is the notion that individual morals are derived from the shared values of a reference group with which the individual identifies, or they attempt to devise a way that morality can be objective without involving God. Moral relativism fails as a viable ethical framework for a variety of reasons. For one, an individual's reference group is virtually impossible to adequately define. Not only that, but none of us is affiliated with just one reference group. We are all members of multiple groups and sub-groups, many of which have conflicting moral views. In fact, even if one could adequately define the reference group, it's highly unlikely that consensus about moral truth exists among the group's members. This means that in any situation where moral judgment is required, the relativist must not only decide which reference group's views to apply, but must make assumptions about what that group's views actually are. Any action he takes might be right relative to one reference group's moral views, and wrong relative to another's. So nothing anyone does can be considered right or wrong in any meaningful sense. The most one can logically say is, "that was wrong according to what I believe to be the general moral viewpoint of the particular reference group with whom I choose to align on this specific occasion." Deciding which group's views to adopt in any given situation is arbitrary. Because there are no firm moral rules, no clearly defined wrong or right, there is no compelling reason to favor one reference group over another other than personal preference. You could select the group which best agrees with the views you already hold, or the one which would best serve your interests, or none of them at all. No one could logically say that anything you do is wrong, because none of us would be playing by the same set of rules. The only firm rules would be the ones we create for ourselves, and even those are malleable. Ultimately, moral relativism breaks down to "do as thou wilt", which is the same as no morality at all! We can see then, that if morality exists, it must be of a non-relative nature. Atheists who recognize the inherent flaws in relativism must decide between moral nihilism, the view that there really is no such thing as right or wrong; or they must somehow come up with a way that morality can be objective

without God's input. For the purposes of this discussion, I'm not going to cover the catastrophic implications of the former, and instead focus on why the latter is an exercise in futility. To start, when we say that morality is non-relative, or that it is objective, or absolute, or any other semantic variant, what we mean is that its truths are independent of any individual or collective human opinion. Further, it's important that we understand that morality, while objective, is not tangible. You can't touch it, examine it, or turn it over in your hands. It is a concept, which means it exists only in the minds of beings capable of conceptualization. It cannot be just some property of the universe, because unlike phenomena like gravity or physical properties like length and mass, it would cease to exist if there was no sentient life. It requires for its existence an advanced enough mind to comprehend it. If you postulate that there is no God, that just leaves us. Thus, if God doesn't exist, then morality is purely a human mental construction, which would make objectivity impossible. Again, objectivity requires transcendence over human opinion and reasoning, no matter how sound it appears or how intelligent of a mind produces it. For morality to exist, its truths must be generated by a consciousness outside of humanity. To the atheist, there is no consciousness outside of humanity that we know of. To say there is would either be to admit God's existence, or to suggest that we get our moral truths from some other source, like space aliens. Since the atheist won't admit to either without concrete proof, the only position they can logically adopt is nihilism. "But", the atheist might protest, "why must you make the leap from an outside consciousness to God? How do you know it's Him?" The response lies in the fact that truly objective morality must not only come from an outside source, but that source must be qualified to generate moral truth and possess the authority to bind us by it. God is the only one who could fit that description. His authority comes not from the fact that He is infinitely more powerful than us, even though He is, but from the fact that he is our creator. Just as we have authority over the things we create or build on Earth, so God has authority over us because he made us. He is qualified to generate moral truth not because He is a sovereign singularity, even though He is, but because He is perfectly loving and perfectly truthful. That gives him the exclusive ability to say what is right and what is wrong. Believers say that because God is the source of all moral truth, one cannot act morally in the absence of His existence. This is not to say that one must subscribe to an organized religion, or even acknowledge God's existence, in order to accurately determine how one ought to act in a given situation, though atheists often misconstrue the argument in this way. In doing so, they can reason that if even one example can be shown of an atheist behaving in a "good" way, then the believer's attempt to insert God into the world is thwarted, and the default assumption of His non-existence is unthreatened. That's not the argument, though. To say that God is the source of all moral truth is to say that, whether you believe he exists or not, every action you take is measured in terms of God's moral law. If God didn't exist, neither would morality, therefore "acting morally" would make no sense. Human behavior would be neither right nor wrong. So the notion that one can, in fact, be "good without God" is a fallacy, since without Him, good and evil, right and wrong, lose their meaning. The beauty of it all is that each one of us has a conscience. We have an innate sense that certain things are wrong. We perceive that morality does exist. And therefore, we have compelling evidence that God is real, despite those who refuse to believe it.