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Monday
Jan282008

Theological Term of the Week

In this series of theological terms, we have names of some traditional arguments used to justify belief in the existence of God. There is disagreement about the validity and usefulness of these proofs. 
 
Moral Argument
An argument for the existence of God drawn from the existence of human morality, either as objective moral obligation (moral law), or subjective moral standards (conscience).
  • From C. S. Lewis, making a moral argument in Mere Christianity:
    If there was a controlling power outside the universe, it could not show itself to us as one of the facts inside the universe—no more than the architect of a house could actually be a wall or staircase of fireplace in that house. The only way in which we could expect it to show itself would be inside ourselves as an influence or a command trying to get us to behave in a certain way. And that is just what we do find inside ourselves. Surely this ought to arouse our suspicions? In the only case where you can expect to get an answer, that answer turns out to be Yes….

    Do not think I am going faster than I really am. I am not yet within a hundred miles of the God of Christian theology. All I have got to is a Something which is directing the universe, and which appears in me as a law urging me to do right and making me feel responsible and uncomfortable when I do wrong.

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Filed under Apologetics

This series of theological terms was suggested by Kim of Hiraeth

Have you come across a theological term that you don’t understand and you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.

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Reader Comments (2)

One of my difficulties with this argument (and with much of CS Lewis's material) is that I don't find it used in Scripture, which automatically makes me suspicious.

Another of my difficulties is that it fails to take account of the effects of sin upon the conscience. For this, and for other reasons, the perception of moral reality by an individual may be illusory or even demonic.

January 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGordon Cheng

I do think that scripture tells us that there is a moral code written on everyone's heart (Romans 2) and that this moral code originates with God. Granted, it would be marred by the fall, but enough remains for everyone to know that they have done some evil things. Anyway, since scripture says that everyone has a heart-inscribed moral code and that moral code comes from God, I'd think it is scripturally valid to argue from the effect (law written on hearts) back to the cause (God). However, that doesn't mean that someone who is hostile to God is going to be convinced by this argument.

I'm not sure, though, that I like the way Lewis makes the argument. I still thinking about this statement:

The only way in which we could expect it to show itself would be inside ourselves as an influence or a command trying to get us to behave in a certain way.

I'm not convinced this is right.

January 28, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterrebecca

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