Ethics and morality are peculiar without God
It is not hard to find two people with differing views on what is right and wrong. Perhaps it may only be in trivial matters, such as dinnertime etiquette or why it’s immoral to support Manchester United. But what if the issues at hand are more serious, such as defining what is illegal?
Of course the common view of the atheist here is that majority wins. Democracy will provide us with the leaders who can take these tough decisions. But does it? How many in the US voiced opposition to the democratic election of Hamas, despite their majority? Our ethics and morality are on an uncertain base if all we have is the majority. Now, surely, over the passage of time they would generally improve and develop, but how do we know this? C.S. Lewis countered this well by describing such an attitude as “chronological snobbery”.
The fact is that we were created in the image of a moral God, and that as a result we do have a sense of morality. However, humanity as a whole is in rebellion against its maker, and so this sense of morality has become corrupted. This condition is universal, regardless of belief.
But do Christians see themselves as somehow morally superior? No one is born a Christian. No one becomes a Christian because of their superior moral standing. A Christian is someone who has acknowledged that their moral performance cannot set them right before God.
The Bible teaches that all of us are responsible for our failure to acknowledge God for who He is. But the scandalous news of Christianity is that God himself has taken on human form as Jesus Christ, and died a death, taking the punishment we deserve, so we can know God. A Christian can claim to know God solely because of the work of Jesus. And yet, over time, we should see a change in the desires of an individual Christian to seek a life, which affirms the Bible, and the changes in their moral views as a result. This does not mean that Christians are morally superior, since people can become Christians regardless of the sophistication of their morals.
True religion must take its morality from God alone, or it’s on shaky ground, having no basis for arguing that anything anyone does is truly wrong. We can say it doesn’t sit with our taste, or it’s not what we would have done, but we can no longer call anything wrong.
I would want to affirm the tolerant roots of our society, and the Christian morals that drove their introduction. However, for some today, toleration seems so distorted that it almost has to mean: “I tolerate you, and therefore your view is equally as good, or as right, as mine.” Some suggest that a person’s faith cannot be questioned because it’s their religion; however, toleration does not necessarily imply the inability to critique another’s viewpoint. I want you to question my faith, tell me you disagree and we can have a discussion about it.
Hitchens has challenged people to, “name me one moral or ethical action committed or carried out by a believer that could not have been performed by a non believer.” I think the most significant (although not the only) action we can consider is worship of God. If a loving, benevolent God who has demonstrated this conclusively in our history created us, it would be immoral to ignore him.
So why do I believe there is an all-loving God? There are many reasons which I would say are rational but I will mention just one – the life, death, and (crucially), resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Most scholars believe Jesus lived and taught, and was executed by the Romans, who knew how to kill a man. Yet a significant group of people became convinced that this man was alive again, and went to their deaths seeking to tell others about him.
The Christian claim is that the Bible is the Word of God, and that God still speaks through it. Why not read one of the accounts of Jesus’ life, such as the gospel of Mark and see? I invite you to investigate Christianity, come with your questions, find a Christian and ask them!