Conversations with Angie: Reading recommendations on the moral argument for God
Although there are countless arguments for the existence of God, there are two that seem especially convincing to me. One is the cosmological argument, and the other is the moral argument. Since the moral argument is so similar to what we've been talking about already, I'll go through that one first. I think I can also respond to your last email in the process.
The moral argument for God's existence can be summarized like this:
1. If God does not exist, then objective moral values do not exist.
2. Objective moral values exist.
3. Therefore, God exists.
I was thinking that maybe what I should do--maybe what I should've done throughout our whole dialogue--is give recommendations for further reading in case you're interested in this stuff. A lot of the stuff out there says the same thing, but it says it in different ways. Some of these argument aren't easy to understand on a first hearing, but when you hear the same thing articulated in different ways by different people, it begins to click. Once I started understanding these arguments, lights began to go off, and everything began falling into place. I even began to notice the interconnectedness of all these arguments, and how when you put them all together, a picture begins to emerge--an entire coherent worldview. It's like a big tapestry. It's kind of like looking at those pictures where you have to stare at them for a while, and once you focus just right, a whole picture emerges. Do you know what I mean? So I was thinking if I gave you just a few recommendations, and you read them, maybe what wasn't clear in what I said would make more sense when you read it being presented some other way.
I was very surprised when I discovered the moral argument, because once I understood it, it became very pursuasive. But unfortunately, the moral argument is not easy to explain. The above syllogism is clear enough, but for any deductive argument to work, it isn't enough that the conclusion follows logically from the premises. You need something else--both premises have to be true. And the truth of the above premises is far from obvious to a lot of people. So you have to argue for them, and I have found that to be difficult. I've spent a lot of time on this argument, though, and most of that time has been spent trying to articulate, as clearly as possible, why I think both premises are true.
But I'm going to give a few references in case you're interested, and in case I'm not being clear. I'm not going to give you an exhaustive bibliography, but I want to mention a few resources that I think are especially articulate, even if they aren't necessarily very sophisticated:
C.S. Lewis gives this argument in the first four chapters of Mere Christianity. He defends both premises.
Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-air by Gregory Koukl and Francis Beckwith. The majority of the book defends the second premise--that objective moral values exist--and only in the very last chapter do they defend the first premise.
"The Absurdity of Life Without God," which is a lecture by William Lane Craig that you can listen to on-line. He also published a written version of the lecture in his book, Reasonable Faith. The majority of it defends the first premise, but he does spend some time defending the second.
If you want, I would be glad to send you a copy of Mere Christianity and Relativism. Just let me know. It's easy reading, and not very long.
I'll elaborate on the moral argument another time--maybe tonight. If not tonight, then Friday hopefully.
Take it easy.
Conversations with Angie: The difference between subjective and objective statements