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"Our Sense Of Goodness Presupposes The Existence Of God". Analyse And Evaluate This Claim With Reference To The Moral Argument For The Existence Of God.

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All moral arguments for the existence of God work on the principle that we all have a shared sense of morality. Despite cultural differences, broadly speaking, humans worldwide have a vague idea of what is right and what is wrong; a moral argument for the existence of God would say that this mutual understanding is proof of God's existence.

Immanuel Kant put forward this argument (although, not a moral argument); God as the source of objective morality. Firstly, he addressed the categorical imperative; our own sense of duty, and that being moral was case of following this principle, for example, paying your debts. He said that it was our duty to promote the highest good (summum bonum), however virtue and happiness are independent of one another, in that it is often the case that the virtuous are unhappy and the wicked are happy. Kant then went on to say that it is only in the next life, after death that the union of virtue and happiness must occur (here solving the problem of evil). And therefore, it is logical to presume that there is an afterlife, and consequently a God for morality to exist.

Kant believed it impossible to argue from the world to God (hence why he rejected moral arguments for the existence of God) as he regarded such an exercise to be impossible. However, he did think that God was a postulate of practical reason. The word postulate meaning an assumption of truth as the basis of an argument or theory, although Kant used the term in a stronger sense, to denote the idea of something which is required to be the case. The postulates of morality, for example, denote the assumptions that must be made by anyone who accepts an objective morality. Kant had great trust in the universe being fair, and that if summum bonum is to be achieved then life after death and God are necessary postulates. Here, there is the difficulty that the universe may not be fair, this being the case the postulates are not needed. Kant's other assumption is that everybody's aim is achieve summum bonum, but it would be wrong to assume that everybody has the same goals in life.

We can summarise Kant's argument into three different stages, firstly; morality demands us to aim for the highest good, secondly; we cannot attain this unless there is a God to assist us, and lastly; God must exist to ensure that we achieve that which we are duty bound to do. If you were to share Kant's assumptions, it would become necessary to assume that there is a God.

Although Kant's argument is indeed notable, there are a number of criticisms. Firstly, it does not prove the God of classical theism, for if summum bonum can be achieved by humans, then it means that not only God can, and he is not omnipotent. Secondly, Kant makes the enormous assumption that virtue must be rewarded by happiness, but gives nothing to back up why this has to be the case. It is like saying that salt and vinegar must go together on chips, but as they can't in this life, there must be an afterlife where this can happen, such an assumption seems absurd. Another weakness, as previously mentioned above, is that it seems wrong to assume that everyone feels that the same sense of duty to strive for summum bonum.

HP Owen and Cardinal Newman put forward another moral argument, morality as derived from God (via conscience and objective laws or rules). For Owen and Newman, God is the source of morality; they are slightly different to Kant in their approach.

Owen argued that the existence of objective moral laws (law that always holds true, independently of humans) suggest that there is a divine law-giver who wrote these laws and that only a divine law-giver can write these objective laws. He says that it is impossible to conceive a command without a commander. Since the laws need explanation they must have been put there by God, if they did not need explanation they would be brute facts.

Newman argued more from the point of conscience. He said that morality derived from objective law of conscience (conscience being the inner voice that tells us to behave; it produces feelings of guilt and shame). He said that our conscience is the inner voice of God, there must be one we feel responsible to. This produces feelings of guilt and shame, this then guides our behaviour.

Having looked at what is meant by "our sense of goodness", there are a number of reasons why we could say that the above statement is true. There seems to be a universal experience that there is right and wrong. Though cultures may vary over what they think is right and wrong. They all appeal to some moral authority that is more than just pragmatism. Next, rightness and wrongness seem to stand independent of how we feel about them. For example, Andrew might think that lying is wrong even if he may sometimes lie himself. Thus, moral values seem to be objective. Also, people may act against their self-interest out of conscience, implying that they feel there is a standard which they feel responsible to measure up to (as Newman said). The moral argument is helpful to the believer as it fits well with the idea of God put forward in the Bible, e.g. giving the Then Commandments etc, God is a law-giver. Also, the criticisms of relativism strengthen the objective view of morality. The existence of God gives inherently selfish people a reason to act in a virtuous manner, and acts as the ultimate deterrent. John Hick argues that without God, heroic acts of self-sacrifice are difficult to justify as, even in humanist reasoning, it is unreasonable; "It

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