Often Atheists use morality to argue that God cannot exist. Their argument is that there is evil that exists in the world and if God existed he would stop evil from happening. A more thorough explanation of the argument can be laid out like this,
- God is all powerful (omnipotent).
- God is all good.
- If God exists he would stop evil in the world because of one and two.
- there is evil the world.
- Therefore, God does not exist.
Despite the fact that there are ways a theist can work around this argument, for instance though God hasn’t done premise three it does not mean he will not in the future, the argument itself cannot be postulated from an atheist perspective in the first place.
The reason is that an atheist cannot claim a standard for morality under his worldview. C.S. Lewis explained his realization of this fact before he became a Christian this way:
My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I gotten this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? – C. S. Lewis
Lewis here is explaining that his argument against God, that he is unjust, is grounded in an idea of there being such a thing as unjust. Lewis realized that his problem was that he needed God I order to say something is unjust.
Frank Tureck likes to say that the atheist must steal this argument from God. The reason being that the atheist must steal morality from God to prove God does not exist.
This does not mean that the atheist is inherently an immoral person, that atheists are going to naturally be evil compared to those who believe in God, or even that they don’t know right and wrong. This simply points out that atheists have no place to ground their morality.
He may argue that morality evolved, much like he believes we evolved into the beings we are now. But if this was the case morality could have evolved some other way in which a son killing his mother was moral or someone torturing babies is morally right. If morality is a result of random chance then it could have ended up other ways.
He may argue that morality follows what is better for society. But this only says what morality is not where it came from or what it is founded on. Furthermore, if one disagrees with such a ‘standard’ the atheist has no reply. Why should one look after society rather than themselves and their offspring? What defines society? Should I follow my friends morality or my parents? If a Hitler type character arrises somehow proving scientifically that their race is superior to other races what reason can the atheist have for stoping them?
Again, I am not arguing that the atheist isn’t moral or doesn’t know right and wrong only that they have no ground for it. The Christian can ground morality in the fact that we are made in Gods image and that God is the standard of morality, so in one sense the problem of evil is more of a problem for the atheist than the theist.
This doesn’t completely dispel the problem the atheist brings up. It is still a question that a theist must answer. But the question cannot be used by atheists to prove God does not exist because the atheist needs God to use the argument.