Argument from Love

I spent some time back in SkepticForum while I was waiting on this one to come back up. I floated this idea. It got confused with the idea of trying to be an accommodationalist. Hoping for better discussion here.

The argument, if you want to call it that, was made as a response to the question of morals, near the end of a radio interview. I like it because it addresses not only the question of where do morals come from, but it explains why someone might be attracted to religion. It takes understanding a little of the science to extract the draw to religion.

Here’s the show, Unbelievable? on UK Christian radio

If you haven’t heard the show, the interviewer is a Christian, but he brings in all the big atheist names and lets them tell their story. To get the full version of the argument, listen to at least the last half hour, but here is Bart’s final statement, responding to Sean’s insistence that morality has to come from a source, which must be God/Jesus and Bart has taken his values from Christianity and just given them a secular explanation.

“What you said was lovely, and my only response would be that I think that you are right my humanism borrows a great deal from my Xtian experience and Xtianity itself. Now, what I would say is, Christianity itself emerged out of something much deeper which is the human experience of life itself. So, what I would say is, that all the values that brought me into Christianity, the reason I was attracted to Christianity was because it was a great reflection of love, and love is natural.”

I forgot to add; what I like about this, is it’s supported by evidence and reason. The best arguments against religion are the same as anything, arguments supported by empirical data and probabilities determined by scholars. But when presented using technical language they may not land well on your intended audience. This almost can’t fail in any circumstance. The only counter argument is a scientific argument, one that refutes Darwin, genetics, and all the other theories about the history of humans. I don’t think there are such arguments.

I think about this a little differently. If the source of morals is anything other than within humans themselves, then it’s completely relative. For example, if it’s a god, then there’s someone a person can pray to/beg to for forgiveness and usually (surprise surprise) get it. The simple example, that actually happens in real life, is the christian who misbehaves all week, then goes to confession on Sunday, and just has to say a couple prayers and they’re off the hook. Versus having the center of morality be oneself. If you behave badly, no matter what you do, deep inside you know you’ve done wrong. And the source of what’s wrong or right, that gives you that inner feeling, is just society itself and what rules and regulations development out of the messy interactions amongst flawed people.

Here’s the solution to the source of morality problem described above. It comes in two parts as follows:

  1. If one believes in God as described in the Bible, when Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge, God said "Behold, the man has become like one of us ( plural ) in knowing good and evil." Therefore according to God himself, we humans are endowed with the same moral faculties as he is. Consequently we no longer need God to tell us what's good or evil, and therefore God is irrelevant to the question of moral behavior.
  2. If one doesn't believe in the Bible or God or is an atheist, then the question of God is also irrelevant to the question of moral behavior.
  3. Therefore either way God is irrelevant to the question of the source of moral behavior, and that leaves it up to us to decide what's good or evil, which is something that appears to based largely on social conditioning.