No subject of any magnitude can be intelligently addressed that first does not, at some level, acknowledge that God exists. The world we live in has to be explained for us to understand it and anything else in it. But that explanation cannot be advanced until the primary question of origins is answered. If one proceeds in any endeavor based upon faulty assumptions, the end result will be skewed and could, in fact, be very harmful. For instance, if a doctor assumes your dizzines is the result of an inner ear infection instead of a stroke, the results could be disastrous for you. Basic, underlying assumptions, then, are obviously very important.
Fortunately, the answer to the question about ultimate origins is actually very simple in that it can only have one of two answers. Either God does exist or He does not. But setting aside for the moment the actual arguments for His existence, it is important to understand the implications of either of those propositions. Both propositions imply very different, alternative worldviews.
If God does not exist, then certain things follow. First, if God does not exist, then all questions of morality are subjective. By “subjective” I mean that there would be no objective truth–that is, realities external to the mind–to be discovered only personal positions to be advocated. When Israel did not acknowledge the law of God during the period of the Judges, it is said that “every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6; 21:25). This is so basic a truth, a first-truth, if you will, that it hardly demands any defense.
Yet some have attempted to deny the force of this truth by saying that even if there were no external, objective moral standard given by God, that we could all agree on what we consider to be right and wrong and that that agreed upon view would then constitute the “objective” standard by which we are to decide all moral issues. However, even if everyone in the world were to agree on a particular view, that view has the potential of changing over time through the changing of the individual opinions of the people who make up the deciding group, in this case the world.
But clearly, no standard could be considered objective in any real sense of that term–i.e., existing in reality, external to the mind of the thinker–that is liable to change based upon the mere whims of fancy or opinions of vast multitudes of disparate peoples.
In addition to this point, it would also have to be true that whatever view was decided upon as the standard for morality for all people would have to stand the test of broad practical application across a broad spectrum of people. These alleged accepted “moral” principles would have to be quite distinct from the kinds of laws we find in the legal codes of the many coutries of the world. These laws are all localized and fitted to the particular population to which they apply and without notable acception, all of them continue to grow in size and volume.
But moral principles would have to necessarily transcend these local statutes. But man has not shown the slightest indication that he is capable of fashioning a principle that is both universal in nature and also comprehensive in scope. That makes the word of God so much more incredibly wondrous when you consider that within the pages of God’s word, the little book we call the Bible which we can hold in one hand, we find principles that have guided all mankind all over the globe throughout the centuries since it’s creation. These principles have never been improved upon. What is more, it is not a mere coincidence that whenever man tries to develop principles to govern man’s moral decisions they very often resemble what we already know to be true from the Bible. That is because it is not in man to direct his own steps and he must plagerise God’s word to have a semblence of credibility.
It is clear that if God does not exist then there is no objective standard of right and wrong and anything that we might call immoral or evil would only be so in name, not in reality. If God does not exist, then everything that we would call vile could also be called good. Child molestation? Only a preference. Rape? Only a choice. Torture? Just someone’s idea of a fun.
No one in complete or even partial possession of their faculties believes these previous, final, few statements are true. We know that morality lies not in the uncertain and unstable opinions of man but in the immutable counsel and omniscient mind of God. That part of the mind of God that we need to know for our life in this world and for our salvation is revealed to us in His inerrant, plenary, word revelation to us in what we call THE BOOK, the Bible. If God does exist and He has communicated to us through not only the created world but also His Word, then that fact underlies and is the true foundation of all knowledge.
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7).
Eric L. Padgett