More From Egnor: God and Morality

Over at ENV, Michael Egnor fails logic once again.

When asked to “defend the reality of objectively real morals” he does nothing of the sort, but instead launches into a recursive appeal from consequences:
"If moral law is real, then genocide and rape are really wrong, in themselves, no matter what anyone thinks. But if 1) moral law is real, then there must be 2) a lawgiver.

That’s the problem for moral relativists. They don’t want to admit 2, so they deny 1.

It’s a simple matter. The literature may be interesting, but it’s just simple logic really."

Yes, it is simple logic. Dislike for the consequences of a proposition does not make that proposition false. So why can’t Egnor see that his own ‘argument’ has exactly the same flaw?

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That isn’t a fair characterization of the argument. It is a reducto ad absurdum, not a “I don’t like the implications it’s false.”

It’s not one, but two cases of “I don’t like the implications [sic] it’s false.”

Egnor is (falsely) characterising the position of moral relativists as being ‘I don’t like the implications of moral law being real (there is a lawgiver), so it isn’t real

Egnor’s own implied position is ‘I don’t like the implications of moral law not existing (moral law is just opinion, it reduces to ‘might is right’), so it does exist’. Certainly there is no other defence of the reality of moral law therein.

Egnor also fails to realise that dismantling an argument doesn’t necessarily render that argument’s conclusion false, or that dismantling some-one else’s position does nothing to advance his own - both of which are also simple logic. But maybe that’s because he’s an ID supporter, and the latter is their entire strategy.


Has Egnor never heard of Euthyphro? His conclusion doesn’t follow from his premise.

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Well I agree with this. I’m not saying his whole argument is sound.

I can’t find even part of it that’s sound.

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That sounds like praising with faint damns. What parts of his argument do you say are sound?


This type of divine command theory that he seems to be proposing is just moral relativism but just whatever God says…

I think the argument that God is needed to ground objective moral facts is one of the worst arguments for God’s existence.

I don’t like his strident tone, and I do not endorse it.

The questions he asks are important and valid. Even if you think atheists have good answers for them, the grounding for moral behavior in atheism is a legitimate challenge, and something that many of us wonder about (even as we appreciate most atheists are very moral).


There is no grounding for moral behaviour in atheism. None. There can’t possibly be, because atheism is a rejection of others’ worldviews, not a worldview itself.

Grounding morality in atheism would be akin to grounding sociology in solipsism, or grounding aerodynamics in not believing in Santa Claus.


That, I think, is Egnor’s main point, even if you think he fails to express it clearly.

I would say morality is grounded in empathy and compassion, which should be accessible to anyone.


How did this become about atheism anyway? He’s arguing against moral relativism (poorly, it turns out), which is not a stand-in for atheism.


In which case the whole article is one long, confused and blindingly obvious non sequitur.


Very true. Sorry about this, it was me!

And yes, I know you take the utilitarian view, and in my view you are very moral (in a positive sense).

Including the President?:sunglasses:

Egnor, as usual, makes a demanding good conclusion. if there is no lawgiver then all laws about right and wrong can only be based on human contracts. Even if we all agree murder is wrong its still just a agreement amongst us. its not a moral law aside from human beings opinions. In fact it makes Murder being wrong still just a democratic prevailing as somewhere someone disagrees with it.
Yup moral relativists are forced to say all morality is just based on opinions of people and so a majority rule or a accepted minority rule.

The grounding for moral behavior in Christianity is an equally legitimate challenge. More generally, God is not a useful ground of morality. And we don’t need Plato to tell us that. I figured that out myself before I every heard of Euthyphro, and I assume that many others have too.

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I didn’t mean to take us off topic, sorry. I’d just say that one the grand questions is: what is the good life? Simple answers are unsettled here.

That doesn’t seem to be Egnor’s question. And I would suggest that God isn’t a good ground for the good life either, for similar reasons.