Re: basis for morality (was Re: RITB and gay-marriage)

Bill Dozier (dozier@radix.net)
Thu, 18 Jul 1996 13:27:53 -0400

Regarding basis for morality (was Re: RITB and gay-marriage), Bill Hamilton
wrote:

> Skeptics, agnostics and atheists for the most part seem to view
> morality as something theists don't have a corner on, and are frequently
> deeply offended when a theist implies that they have no basis for it.
> However, I have never heard one give a coherent explanation of _why_ he
> believes morality is relevant. I suppose this is just a manifestation of
> Francis Schaeffer's claim that no one can live consistently according to an
> atheistic philosophy, but my question is a more practical one: How can we
> utilize this belief in morality without basis in apologetics?

In fact, he argued that one must tacitly assume a complete Christian
worldview. I recently came to a idea along these lines that I would like to
throw out for comment.

All human endeavors include an elements of faith. This faith can be with or
without foundation. For instance, we as scientists operate under a faith
that the "scientific method" leads to reliable truth. The Christian has a
foundation for this faith in his belief in a rational God that has created
an orderly universe. I have yet to see any rational non-theistic foundation
for a workable epistemology. In the area of morals, all of us assume that
some standards of morality exist even if we explicitly state otherwise (I
loved Schaeffer's example of Sartre's opposition to the war in Algeria).
Again, the Christian bases his morality on the revealed nature of the
infinite personal God. I have yet to see any rational, binding,
non-theistic, basis for morality. For instance, Hayek's theory that
morality evolved as human society discovered how best to regulate its
relationships may be plausible but begs the question as to the authority of
the resulting moral law over every individual.

This does not exhaust the list of areas in which the non-theist must make a
basically irrational faith commitment in order to develop a workable
worldview. These areas are, in principle, independent so the non-theist
must base his worldview on not just one, but many commitments of faith that
have little or no basis.

On the other hand, the Christian has but one faith commitment to make:
submission to the infinite, personal, triune God as revealed in the Bible.
In His nature is found the basis for a complete and consistent worldview.
Even if we were to concede (and we don't have to) that this single faith
commitment is a blind "leap" without foundation, are we worse off than the
non-theist? Is it more rational to make one leap or several? What if it is
not a blind leap?

Bill Dozier
Scatterer at Large
dozier@radix.net