See my video on this subject here.
What kind of a universe would you have without a creator? (given that you can have a universe without a creator in the first place) One thing is certain; you couldn’t have moral standards or values existing outside of man. In fact, the best that you could have would be an evolutionary basis for ethics playing out in social contracts where each society would be under no objective moral obligation to live under the moral standards of a different society. If there is no God, then blind, unguided, purposeless evolution is the only source for moral ethics. Each society must be tolerant and allow other evolving societies to live out their own moral development. (Putting aside for now that no proponent of evolutionary ethics has explained how an impersonal, amoral first-cause, through a non-moral process, has provided a moral basis for life in the first place).
Moreover, what may be morally wrong to you or your society may be perfectly legal to a society across the ocean. What the Nazis did to the Jews was perfectly legal and acceptable to them. What’s more, if you rewind the tape of evolution and start it again, you may end up with a very different set of moral values emerging. Without God, our morality is grounded in MAN, but here’s where the problem arises. Which man do we choose? Which society? Which morality?
For example, in the future, one particular society may decide to make it law that its citizens must be euthanized on their 30th birthday in order to keep their society strong and youthful. I know it sounds ludicrous but in 1936, the Supreme Court in Germany ruled that the Jews were no longer persons and on that basis, over six million of them were conveniently exterminated. Furthermore, another law was enacted: the sterilisation law. Specifically implemented to weed out genetic defects in the German gene pool, the forced sterilisations began in 1934. Four hundred thousand were ‘taken care of’. Moreover, if you fitted into their definition of feeblemindedness, then you were also included in this lucky draw. Here we see an evolutionary basis for ethics being carried out as the legal system of the German Supreme Court took Charles Darwin’s principle of natural selection and applied it to their particular evolving society.
One of the beautiful things that I like about the American Declaration of Independence is that it implicitly rejects a humanistic-centred basis for ethics. It protects us against the “might equals right” rule of law – a principle that was the basis for the Nazi system of ethics. The famous and immemorial words, ‘we are endowed by our creator with inalienable rights’ appeals to a transcendent basis for moral values that protects society from slipping into the quicksand of ever-shifting moral relativism. It should be plain to see that if our rights and standards have been endowed upon us by our Creator then nobody can take them away, including the state.
In a godless, amoral universe where nature with a capital ‘N’ reigns supreme, there can be nothing ultimately, objectively wrong or evil. It might be merely subjectively unpalatable to the particular individual who happens not to like it. But here’s the rub; people who only believe in nature with a capital ‘N’ do not actually live in accordance with this philosophy when it comes to things that they happen to find morally reprehensible and repugnant. In fact, you will see these very same people jumping up and down in protest against things that they deem to be objectively wrong or evil. Now what strikes me as suspiciously questionable in this regard is that it gives the whole game away. Contrary to their philosophical position of moral relativism, they seem to be acting like there is in fact a very real, overarching, objective moral standard that everyone should know about and act in accordance with. What’s more, such reactionary behaviour reconfirms to me that this mysterious phenomena of an objective moral standard that works upon everyday people even when these everyday people philosophically discard belief in an objective moral standard and simply refer to it as a useful fiction.
Moreover, in their worldview, justice and fairness make no sense for these words suggest that people deserve equal treatment based on an external standard of what is right. In their godless interpretation of reality, there is no external standard outside of the individual’s own head. Many atheists whom I have met appeal to some kind of moral principle of equality, concerning getting along in society. However, this same principle of equality will tell us that sheep are equal too – but this does not stop them from eating lamb chops.
Now, either there is a very real objective standard at work in the world – one has been put there by our creator, similar to any other governing law at work in the universe (i.e. the law of gravity) or we are all acting like there is one (i.e. useful fiction). Then again, if there is NO universal objective standard, then it was culturally intolerant to set up the Nuremberg war crimes tribunal to sit in judgment over what the Nazi party did because the Nazis were operating according to the laws of their own country and society. However, nobody actually lives like that.