A number of skeptics have put this question from Michael Shermer to Christians on the nature of morality. “What would you do if there were no God? Would you commit robbery, rape, and murder, or would you continue to be a good and moral person? Either way, the question is a debate stopper. If the answer is that you would soon turn to robbery, rape, or murder, then this is a moral indictment of your character, indicating that you are not to be trusted because if, for any reason, you were to turn from your beilef in God, your true immoral nature would emerge….if the answer is that you would continue being good and moral, then apparently you can be good without God. QED.” (Taken from Michael Shermer, “The Science of Good and Evil” pages 154-155.)
<> I fail to see how this is a debate stopper for a Christian theist. First off, Shermer has already smuggled in the categories of good, evil, moral, and immoral. Secondly, His question assumes that morality is a universal and objective absolute in that if you are not doing X, then you are being immoral.
<>What if God is the basis for morality? Well, you remove God and there is no morality. So you go out and rape and murder and such. “Wait! That’s immoral!” Really? Says who? Upon what will that be said if there is no moral basis. As soon as you remove the source of the categories, then the categories themselves go by by.
<>This also shows how built in our moral faculties are to us. I cannot imagine a world where rape is considered a good. Can you picture a world where it is honored to flee from battle? Can you imagine a culture that valued dishonesty? (And you would have to assume they were being honest in telling you that.)
<>Now let’s suppose that he says that this shows us what a depraved person we are if we want to go out and sin without God. The answer is, that’s correct! That’s in fact what the gospel teaches! Our true nature is one in rebellion against God. Remove God and we are free to live as we want. The very fact we are like that is one reason we consider the gospel good news.
<>Now how would we live if there is no God? Would we be moral? Well what is morality without God? Why should anyone care? Is there such a thing as an ought in an accidental universe? Can you really say that I am being immoral if there is no such thing as a standard of morality that I am violating?
<>Shermer’s question is hardly a debate stopper. Now will he ask if I can be good without God? My answer is, absolutely not. Apart from him, we can do nothing as the Scriptures say. We are saved not by good works but we are saved unto good works. Do I need God to be good? You bet I do! Why? Because I am a sinner trapped by my own nature that needs the love of Christ to come out.
<>Remember friends. When someone tells you you’re differing from the measure, be sure to check their yardstick.