The Principle of “Ought”

[Note: This MS is available in larger font on our Brief Articles page.]

            Believers can’t deny that some who claim to be “Christians” are odd (said oddities occurring not because of, but in spite of the Bible). Believers don’t have a patent on oddness, however. Atheists partake of an innate strangeness that stems directly from their anti-God, pro-evolution credo.

            Among the “new wave” of stellar militant, belligerent infidels is the British Oxford scholar, Richard Dawkins. His 2006 book, The God Delusion, boldly aims at converting every believer to his atheism. Obviously, either too few have read it, or he didn’t do a very effective job. Many millions (whether odd or not-odd) still believe in God.

            One of the inherent “odd” components of atheism is its espousal of certain moral and ethical tenets. For example, Dawkins denounces the Muslims for their murderous response to the Danish Mohammed cartoons awhile back (no disagreement there). He labels God as a vindictive, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, bully (and that’s just half his list). Further, he points to Abraham’s dishonesty about Sarah, the Levite’s dismemberment of his concubine, Jephthah’s vow, Lot’s incest, and other historical records in the Bible, clearly judging such as morally unacceptable (again, no argument). He holds some things to be wrong and others right.

            But why does he, and whence does his moral outrage arise? Where do men get their morals? He first suggests a “scientific” (i.e., evolutionary) ground for our “moral” behavior toward each other (which silliness a man of his intellect should be ashamed to proffer). A second hypothesis for the source of our moral sense is zeitgeist (“the spirit of the age”)—merely another stab at an evolutionary explanation.

            Grant for argument’s sake that morals arrived through the evolution pipeline and all we have is the way they got here. How does one explain the inclination to conform to them—the oughtness of moral principles? If we are mere soulless combinations of protoplasm who, against incredible odds, arrived at the “human stage” of evolution through natural selection (still occurring, mind you), how can any behavior be praised or condemned? Why is murder worse than hymn singing, lying worse than honesty, or raping worse than protecting a child? Dawkins at last has nothing to offer besides personal choice as his arbiter between good and evil.

            No behavior can be abnormal or immoral if there is no transcendental objective moral standard. Only in God and the Bible do we have that objective standard and the oughtness that tugs at us to obey it (John 12:48; 3 John 11).

[Note: I wrote this article for and it appeared in the Denton Record-Chronicle, June 19, 2009.]

Attribution: From thescripturecache.com; Dub McClish, owner and administrator.

Author: Dub McClish

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.