I can’t understand why some people argue that morality is proof that God exists. In fact, morality is evidence that God does NOT exist.
It is easy to see why humans like to have rules of conduct. Rules, such as “do not kill or harm your neighbour”, “do not take your neighbour’s property” and, even, “help your neighbours when they are in need”, make life more tolerable for most people. Communities that adopted such rules may have been better able to survive since they would have wasted less time squabbling among themselves. This would have given them more time and focus to defend the community against existential threats. A form of natural selection would arise that would favour communities with effective rules.
Making and enforcing such rules is as natural as building shelters to provide warmth and protection from predators. No god is required for such things to happen. Furthermore, as children are instructed in these rules, we can see how, over time, the rules would become established as part of the community’s shared value system.
We should expect that humans would make mistakes and change their moral rules as they learn, but a perfectly moral god should get everything right first time. This is a useful distinction as it allows us to make predictions and seek evidence: if humans make the rules, we expect to see rules change over time; if God makes the rules, we expect to see no change.
Of course, morality has changed dramatically over the past three thousand years or so. It has changed in every society that we know of, although faster in some and slower in others. Specifically, the world has moved sharply away from Biblical morality. Apart from the fundamental prohibitions against murder, theft and perjury (which long predated the Bible), much of the morality said to be handed down by God in the Bible has been abandoned.
For example, we no longer consider capturing, buying, selling or holding people as slaves as moral. We do not accept that women are the property of men or that it is acceptable for a man to sell his daughter as a concubine. We do not consider it moral to kill people who worship other gods and destroy their towns and their children. Nor do we consider genocide moral and we do not think it is right for a man to kill a son who is rebellious and stubborn. The list of moral laws that we now regard as immoral is long but these few examples illustrate the point.
What conclusions can be drawn from this evidence? I see three possibilities:
1. The abandoned moral laws are right and we are wrong to have abandoned them.
2. God handed down these laws and mistakenly thought they were moral.
3. The Biblical moral laws were created by men who passed them off as God’s laws.
Only option (3) makes sense. This does not prove God does not exist but it fundamentally undermines the Bible as a book derived from God and shows, at least parts of the Bible, to be fiction created by men.
Bill writes from the United Kingdom.