"We NEED absolute morals and someone to give them to us."
I'm sure you're all familiar with this theist argument:
"But we NEED absolute morals! Otherwise, morals would be relative, and people would just make up their own morals! The world would descend into chaos! Moreover, we NEED an absolute moral law giver, and that is the God of the Bible."
I have heard VERY intelligent people make this argument. The valedectictorian of my college class, who was my roommate for a time, formulated this argument to me, and he's one of the smartest people I've ever known personally.
Unfortunately, I do not think that A) this argument is logically valid & B) that the premises behind this argument follow to the conclusion that is made.
I wrote an extremely long refutation of the argument that was more of a mental exercise for me, but is realistic to assume that most will not spend the time reading it.
For this reason, I'm going to use 2 and only 2 of what I consider to be my BEST refutations.
1. ALL morals must have REASONS that they are moral. Morals cannot be arbitrary. God does NOT arbitrarily decide one day, "Killing is bad," and overturn it the next day. Killing is bad because in snuffs out a human life and causes suffering of friends and family. The REASON we do not kill is for those reasons I listed, NOT because God says, "Don't Kill." God's reasons are the same reasons as OUR reasons. That is total moral equivalency. We need God for NOTHING when it comes to morals, because we can use our own reasoning skills to deduce them. Granted, the theist will then argue that human conscience is derived from God, the absolute moral law giver. If they do this, they concede that the Bible is not the authority, it is our conscience. Get them to concede that point clearly before refuting conscience. Then, explain how the conscience can be explained through evolutionary means. Simply put (drawing from Dawkins & others), moral behavior and altruism results in a selective advantage of individuals in a group or tribe. It does not pay to be selfish and evil in the animal kingdom, and it is CERTAIN and factual that animals exhibit behavior that corresponds to human moral behavior. If our conscience can be explained by evolution, God is unnecessary as an explanation as the origin. Occam's razor, that is choosing simplicity over unneccessary complexity, gives us strong probability that evolution, not God, is the origin of human conscience.
2. The greatest problem for the theist argument about NEEDING absolute morals or an absolute moral law giver is that the premises and reasoning establishing logical necessity are either completely non-existent, or I have never heard them. I certainly cannot derive them playing my best theistic Devil's advocate. Perhaps for that, I am a failure. WHY is it logically necessary?
Correct me if I am intentionally or wrongly stating the premise behind the "necessity" argument, but it would appear that we NEED absolute morals because it makes us nauseous and gives us a angt if we do not have a simple solution to the problem of ethics. Getting a tummy-ache is does not prove logical necessity for something. Nothing is NECESSARILY true because it prevents a tummy-ache. It makes me uneasy and sad that I don't have a diamond as big as a truck in my backyard, but that doesn't make the existence of a huge diamond in my backyard either likely or NECESSARILY true.
P1: It makes me uneasy and gives me angst that I do not have a large diamond as big as a truck in my backyard.
Conclusion: It is LOGICALLY NECESSARY for a huge diamond to exist in my backyard.
Result: I am not uneasy and I have no angst. I don't have to plan for my financial future or think about how to make any money.
P1: As a theist, it makes me uneasy and gives me angst to think that morals are not absolute. It also makes me uneasy to determine WHERE those absolute morals come from.
Conclusion: It is LOGICALLY NECESSARY for there to be absolute morals and an absolute moral giver that I can either communicate with myself or read the directly communicated morals in a holy book.
Result: I am not uneasy and I have no angst. I don't have to read any more books on ethics or think about it any more. The problem has been solved and I can dogmatically sit on my holy book without any more thought about ethics.
Theists, how can you make your argument stronger and show me WHY it is logically necessary for absolute morals and an absolute moral giver?
Atheists, if no theists respond, do you think I have interpreted this argument fairly, and would you add any of your own refutations? Do you think there are any stronger arguments?
REDUCTIO AD ABSURDUM.