This post differs from many others on this blog in that I am going to base it on my settled belief in the God of the Bible, and not try to make an argument this time in favor of that belief. In other words, you will agree with this or not based on your existing beliefs regarding God and the Bible. Or maybe, just maybe, by seeing how one atheist treats morality, some skeptics, agnostics, or atheists will come to recognize that to deny the God of the Bible is to take up a seriously untenable view of life.
In comments following my post on The Basis for Moral Realism, doctor(logic) has persistently stuck with his opinion that morality must be evaluated and regarding strictly in terms of one’s feelings. You can pick up that line of his starting about here.
As Thomas Reid wisely pointed out,
A feeling is a temporary state of sensory, subjective experience. It has different properties than a belief. It is not possible for a feeling to be true or false (my “happiness” is not false).
So we see that a feeling is not a belief, and therefore it is impossible for one to have a feeling of a moral proposition. This is not to say that feelings cannot have beliefs as their causual antecedents, of course.
Nevertheless, we cannot deny that there are propositions that can be attached to feelings. “I feel good,” or “Seeing people hurt makes me sad” are both propositions about feelings. But these are statements about self. So when doctor(logic) insists that all moral opinions and evaluations are feelings statements, he is saying that all moral opinions and evaluations are made with reference to self. Moral opinions are not about acts, he would say; they are about my reactions to acts.
doctor(logic) confirmed this by saying,
What do I mean when I say morality is subjective? I mean that if I draw a line around the mugger and his victim, morality is nowhere to be found there. But if I draw the line around you (as observer), the mugger and his victim, then morality is objectively in your preferences. It will be an objective fact that you will disapprove or feel bad about the mugging you are observing. However, the immorality will not be in the mugging itself.
Is mugging good? No, it’s not good. Is mugging bad? No, it’s not bad either. It’s neither, in itself. But you may disapprove or feel bad about it. That’s what morality is, to doctor(logic).
Even from a simply ethical perspective, this has a nasty, putrid, awful smell to it. It literally makes morality all about one’s preferences. It makes me my own king of morality. It is idol-worship of the worst kind, for it is self-worship, putting self in the place where all good and evil is decided, the place that is rightfully God’s.
On this view I can—or must, for I cannot avoid it—set up my own moral system over and against God’s. Quoting from doctor(logic) again:
Look, let’s suppose Horace is a rapist. He likes raping for lots of reasons, including the feeling of power he gets. He thinks that girls who dress in revealing clothes deserve it. He’s integrated his rape behavior into his personal identity. Jesus comes along and says that rape is objectively evil. If Horace believes Jesus is real, tells the truth, and is an authority on morality, wouldn’t Horace then be in some sort of conflict?
Which is followed by,
To Horace, God is subjectively evil, even if he believed God was objectively good.
doctor(logic) thinks Horace’s view is to be taken as equivalent to God’s. The next paragraph says,
If my space ship approaches yours, and relatively, our ships are inverted, I could say you were subjectively upside down. If the universe had an objective “up” direction, we might agree that you were right-side-up, but you would still be subjectively upside down to me.
Space ship 1 or space ship 2, neither has authority over the other. Horace or God, neither (says dl) has authority over the other.
Idolatry always leads to corruption. The form of corruption that comes from this particular idolatry, making oneself king over one’s own morality, is not just that one might decide to do anything, and call it right. It is not just that every person can be right in his or her own eyes. It is both of these. But it also entails the plainly unethical view that morality is whatever suits me best. What could be more obviously wrong than that?
This is the characteristic idolatry of our generation. It is the idolatry that at this point is likely astonished that I would state the matter so bluntly and negatively, and would fault me for doing so. But if I am wrong and these idolaters are right, then there is no fault in my act, just as there is no fault in mugging. The only charge they can bring against me is, “That made me feel bad! If you make me feel bad, then you’re an awful person!” My answer to that is, I do not glory in making others feel bad. I do not like to do it. But I do not accept feelings as ruling sovereignly over what is actually true, and sometimes idolatry must be confronted for what it is.
Moral relativism is idolatry. Those who do not know that God is the only God may not recognize the malodorous nature of this idolatry, but those who do know God in this way must realize that it is a stench in his nostrils.