From Where Did Morality Come?

Kara Braun


In all ages and around the globe, man has had some concept of God. However twisted that concept may have been in all its forms, men have had an inward sense of knowing that they are accountable to someone. Someone is more powerful than they are; someone controls the forces of nature; someone determines standards of right and wrong; and that Someone (often viewed as a plu­rality of deities) requires their worship.

Modern skeptics, using such philoso­phies as naturalism and Darwinian evo­lution, have felt that they could get away from God by defining Him out of exis­tence and making nature appear respon­sible for itself. Yet their philosophies fall short of answering the deeper questions that arise from time to time in the heart of an honest individual. Is there not more to man than his physical, material substance? Is there not a higher power than men who is pleased or displeased with the actions of humanity? Is there not some future state of existence, some kind of retribution coming, and someone to whom the soul will have to answer when he has departed this life?

The concept of morality itself is strong evidence for God. Why do human beings everywhere acknowledge such a thing as right and wrong? We teach our children that there are things they may do and things they ought not to do. We expect others to treat us a certain way, and we feel that we are being wronged if they hurt us. The justice system of our country forbids certain behaviors and recognizes the need of discipline when rules are not obeyed. People are locked up for a reason–because somebody feels that someone else has done wrong and cannot be allowed to get by. From where does this sense of right and wrong come?

Relativism has described morals as values or expectations determined by a culture. According to this thought, there are no absolutes of right and wrong, but people and cultures decide what is right and wrong for themselves. What is true for me may not be true for you. What is true for my culture may not be true for the people in Africa or Australia or India, and so forth. According to relativism, a Chris­tian society may not impose its beliefs on another society because that would be in­terfering with their culture.

However reasonable this theory sounds, it breaks down on the level of real life, and it is responsible for untold dam­age to society. Scholar and preacher Wal­ter Martin used the example of a Jewish philosopher teaching in Nazi Germany in 1938. The Jew is called into the office of the head of the Gestapo to be informed that as a threat to the reich, he will be taken to Dachau to die. He wants to plead for his life, but he has no relativistic basis upon which to do so. He is in the Nazis’ ballpark, at the mercy of their cultural im­peratives. The Nazis consider him a sub-culture and feel that it is right to kill him. No one can tell them killing is wrong be­cause for them, in this situation, killing is right. No one can interfere unless there is some higher authority than their culture. While the example given is fictional, over six million people faced it in reality. It was philosophers like Nietche and Marx who made possible the murder of some fifty-seven million people within forty years.

We shrink from the implications of this example because we know that the ruthless, barbaric treatment of so many in­nocent people cannot be right in any con­text. No matter how right they felt about what they were doing, those murderers deserve justice for their crimes. But from where does the imperative “Thou shalt not kill” come? It does not originate with humanity, for humanity lives in a context of kill or be killed. It comes from a God who overrules humanity and decides what is right and wrong. It comes from a God who cares about how human beings treat each other and how they approach Him.

You as an individual may choose to live life without God. You may find His moral system restrictive and ignore His dictates of right and wrong. You may enjoy freedom from a condemning conscience as you run from the responsibility of your actions. But what will happen when you are the one being wronged instead of the one wronging others? What will happen when you need protection from a merci­less person or group of people who feels it is their rightful prerogative to crush you? When it is you that becomes the victim, will you not want to acknowledge some degree of morality and to take refuge in a higher authority to defend your cause? Will the authority of your culture be enough?

The world as we know it is rapidly becoming more wicked and cruel, and will continue to worsen with the passing of time. It is only when men acknowledge God in their thinking and submit to His law in their life, that they will find the solu­tion to the problems of the human race, both individually and collectively.


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