On using morality against God

I wrote yesterday about a preacher who became an atheist, in part, on moral grounds. Now that I’m back with my library of books, I thought I would post these relevant words from Alister McGrath about using morality to argue against God’s existence. He said it better than I did.

Some atheists argue that he existence of suffering is evil and therefore is in itself adequate to disprove the existence of God. This is a curious argument, since closer examination shows that it is self-defeating. An argument from the existence of evil to the nonexistence of God depends on establishing that suffering is indeed evil. But this is not an empirical observation—it is a moral judgment. Suffering is natural; for it to be evil, a moral framework has to be presupposed. But where does this framework come from? The argument requires the existence of an absolute moral framework if it is to work. Yet the existence of such an absolute framework is itself widely seen as pointing to God’s existence. In the end, the nonexistence of God seems to end up depending on God’s existence. It’s not the best argument.[†]

Alister McGrath, Mere Apologetics (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2012), 163-4.

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