Share This Episode
Renewing Your Mind R.C. Sproul Logo

Kant’s Moral Argument

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
July 9, 2022 12:01 am

Kant’s Moral Argument

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 988 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.


July 9, 2022 12:01 am

The universal human sense of moral obligation requires a morally perfect Judge who sets the standard for right and wrong. Today, R.C. Sproul teaches on the moral argument for the existence of God.

Get R.C. Sproul's 'Defending Your Faith' 32-Part DVD Series for Your Gift of Any Amount: https://gift.renewingyourmind.org/2114/defending-your-faith

Don't forget to make RenewingYourMind.org your home for daily in-depth Bible study and Christian resources.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Today on Renewing Your Mind without some objective standard of behavior in the final analysis, society and civilization is impossible. A law by sheer preference is simply might makes right and you end up with the law of the jungle, which inevitably and ultimately destroys civilization.

Imagine that a tornado ripped up a stop sign implanted right in the middle rear yard when you open your front door.

Would you stop and look both ways before continuing the course not. There is no purpose for the sign being there in order to be a wall on the sign must have a purpose and enforcement behind in the same way if there are objective moral standards, then there must be a moral standard giver today on Renewing Your Mind. Dr. RC scroll explains how one 18th-century philosopher came to the conclusion that God must exist because morality exists earlier on in our course on apologetics. I mentioned the revolutionary impact of Immanuel Kant's critique of the traditional arguments for the existence of God and that watershed workforce in his publication called the critique of pure reason. But even though Kant was agnostic with respect to the ability of proving the existence of God through theoretical thought he himself was a theist he believed in God, he just didn't think you could prove the existence of God, and he wrote another book called the critique of practical reason where he came at the question of God, not from a theoretical perspective so much, but rather from practical considerations.

I like to look at caught this way and say that on the one hand, he impolitely ushered God outside the front door of the house and then ran around the kitchen door and let them in the back door is kind of the way he progressed, because in his practical reason he gave his famous moral argument for the existence of God, which were going to look at in a few moments. But before I do that I want to take a few moments to look at some of the considerations that we find in the New Testament with respect to the moral argument.

When Paul writes to the Romans. In the first chapter which we've already looked at in terms of his statement early in the chapter that the invisible things of God are known through the things that are made, but later on in chapter 1 and verse 28 when he's going through an indictment against the whole human race in their fallen and corrupt state.

He says about human beings. Verse 28 and even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil mindedness, they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, bolsters inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful. This list is not exhaustive, but it may seem like it as we go through it as he catalogs all of the ways in which human beings violate each other with immoral behavior. But here's the kicker. In verse 32 who that is these people who were doing these things, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. What the apostle is saying here clearly is that God has revealed his holy character to all creatures and that every human being knows that God is righteous and basically what that righteousness commands from us with respect to our behavior. In other words, what Paul is saying this is that every one of us knows the difference between right and wrong. We know how we ought to behave sexually.

We know that we ought not to rob from other people or murder. Other people were being malicious or covetous or unloving in all of the things that he lists here. We know that these things are evil and that they are wrong and he said yet, despite our knowing that clearly because we don't want God in our minds. We don't want God in our thinking. Not only do we behave in this manner, and not only do we approve of them, knowing that God is going to judge us, and that these things are worthy of his judgment.

We enlist the support of other people and encourage other people to participate in these same actions pick up soon and he said and you will find some group about their but militantly argues for its acceptance and tolerance in a civil and right and just society now over. In chapter 2, the apostle goes on to say this in verse 12 for as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law minimally goes on in verse 14 for when Gentiles, who do not have the law that on of the Old Testament law, by nature do the things that are contained in the law even though they don't have the law, they show that the work of the law is written in their hearts and their conscience also bearing witness what Paul is saying is that not only does God give the law to Israel and the 10 Commandments and so but he writes his law in the heart of every creature and the proof that there is that law written on the hearts of men is this apparatus that we call the conscience that conscience is part of the constituent makeup of every human being and we know consciences can be corrupted. They can be seen or they can be calloused and all the rest. But if somebody is completely devoid of conscience we call them a psychopath or sociopath. A person who can do pernicious wickedness without feeling any sense of guilt whatsoever that we see is a perversion of natural humanity itself and again what the apostle was saying both in chapter 1 and chapter 2 is that God bears witness to himself by planting his moral law in the minds of every human being not realize that the antidote of the response of that from the atheistic community is that our conscience is simply the result of the taboos of the society in which we live. The influence of Queen Victoria. Were the Puritans who lived in New England and so want that they put these taboos into our culture. And as Freud tried to argue in his writings in the future of an illusion.

For example, and civilization in his discontents. Freud argued that these taboos are culturally inflicted and opposed by psychological dwarves and so on, and that the real free expression of our humanity comes out in our sexual behavior that is without restraint, but everybody knows better than the conscience simply will not go away and we can argue that within the various societies different things are elevated as law and taboos. Some cultures put a taboo against drinking other cultures drink without guilt, and so on. We know that there those differences from time to time but you can't find a culture anywhere in the world.

Margaret made notwithstanding that doesn't have some sense of an ethical structure because an ethical structure is necessary for social interaction and for society and civilization in order to be preserved and with our culture today is been called post-Christian it's been called neopagan. I think a more fitting description of the American culture today is Neo barbarian that with the relativism the prevails in our culture is leased with 50% of those who profess what they do. It's all moral. It is barbarian.

We have educated barbarians in our culture today. That's the moral revolution that we've gone through in this country, but with all that you cannot extinguish conscience altogether, and this is where con's practical argument in the moral argument came in, con said that it is a universal phenomenon that every single person in the world has a sense of rottenness. What we would call in simpler terms and internal native sense inherent sense of right and wrong and this sense of rottenness can't describe it by his phrase. The categorical imperative in the categorical imperative represents an absolute command. It is not moral relativism but caught is saying that everybody in this world has a sense of duty that requires them and obligates them to behave in a certain manner and we can do everything we try to erase it to deny it to flee from it, but you can't get rid of it. There is this sense you know like Lady Macbeth after she committed her murder and her bloodstained hands. She scrubbed with soap and she couldn't get rid of the blood and she cried out, dammit.

Did spot, but her exercise was an exercise in futility. The biggest problem that people have that they cannot solve his guilt. I often say this to people when I'm discussing religion.

Theology apologetics after were done with the philosophical arguments somebody stands her and tells me there and if you sell stop in midsentence and I say tell me this. What you do with your guilt of yet to have somebody look me in the eye and say I don't have any because they know that I know that that would not be true, but all of a sudden the whole ambience of the discussion moves to a different point because everybody understands that they have a problem with guilt that is not been resolved now, is saying that guilt comes from failing to do our duty from failing to do what we are morally obligated to do now.

At that point in his reasoning caught proceeds in a manner that he defines as transcendental, which is basic to his whole approach to philosophy his critique.

Even his critique of pure reason and his epistemology was based on his transcendental approach. In other words, when he came to the question of knowledge. He didn't say here's how knowledge takes place and he didn't start off by saying knowledge is possible, but rather he started off with this question. If knowledge is possible. What would have to be what are the necessary ingredients to make knowledge possible and then he constructed his philosophy from that basis. In other words, he transcends the problem he rises above the problem and say I don't know whether knowledge is possible. But if it is possible, what would have to be and that's the way proceeds which was an innovation in the approach the philosophical problem so but in any case, when he comes to the moral argument from God. He's asking this question. It's a given that we have this universal sense of oddness. Now that universal sense of oddness may be a glitch in the composition of human beings and in the final analysis as the nihilist would argues people like Nietzsche and so on, that that sense that moral sense is meaningless and really we ought to get rid of it because it doesn't have any significance, but that's not the way caught approaches that he says for it to be meaningful settlement that is meaningful.

I can't prove that it's meaningful but it is meaningful.

What would have to be in other words, what would be necessary for true ethics and morality that imposes obligations for that to be meaningful, and he's also asking this question for a practical reason because he understood that without some objective standard of behavior in the final analysis, society and civilization is impossible law by sheer preference is simply might makes right and you end up with the law of the jungle, which inevitably and ultimately destroys civilization. And that's where I'm afraid we are to certain degree to know that's what Dostoyevsky said if there is no God. If there is no ultimate ground for white mass than all things are permissible because if there's no objective ground for what is right. Ultimately, then it just becomes a battle over preferences. My preference over your preference. Everybody does what is right in their own mind and that creates conflict and warfare between classes of people between individuals between husbands and wives concerning rules that have any foundation to do so.

Con is acutely aware of this and that what is at stake here is nothing less than Western civilization and so he asked the question what is necessary for the categorical imperative to be meaningful and he said the first thing that is necessary for any ethic to be meaningful in the final analysis is justice because if ultimately crime pays.

Then there is no practical reason to be virtuous. There is no practical reason to be anything but selfish. So there must be justice, where right behavior is rewarded and bad behavior is punished. A civil then what would be necessary for justice to take place in a civil the first thing that you would have to have that have justice is that you would have to have life after death. Because we know that this world does not dispense justice perfectly.

There are innocent people who perish at the hands of the guilty. The Old Testament saints asked the question why the wicked prosper and the righteous suffer. That can only happen in an environment where justice is not perfectly carried out, and so he said since there is no absolute justice in this world there are approximations of justice, we seek justice we have courts to dispense justice, but it doesn't always work and so he said you have to have perfect rest after life after death. So we have to survive the grave to make sure the perfect justice is experienced. But even if we survive. Maybe the next environment will have all the weaknesses that we have now.

So what you have to have in addition to life after death is that you have to have a judge who himself is morally perfect or righteous, because if the judge who judges us. Ultimately is not perfectly righteous than he himself could be and administer of injustice because he's corrupt he's drivable or selfish or whatever.

So you have to have for perfect justice.

You have to have a perfect judgment and for that perfect judgment.

You need a perfect judge, one who is above reproach. One who is beyond corruption. But suppose, for example, that this perfect judge were there, who was morally upright but he did the best job he could.

In carrying out justice, but unfortunately there is a limit to his knowledge and given the limitations to his knowledge he makes mistakes because he doesn't know all the facts are all the extenuating circumstances in the cases that come before him and so he's not out of a corrupt motive, but out of a simple accident of being limited in the snow so if were going to have perfect justice. Not only must the judge be morally perfect, but he also must be omniscient, he has to know all of the facts so that the judgment that he renders is with out error and with out blemish well. Suppose you have life after death, and you have a final judgment and that final judgment is presided over by a judge who is perfectly righteous and who knows everything. Will that now ensure justice not yet there still one more element that has to be present in order to ensure that justice prevails and that is the judge who was perfect in his knowledge, and perfect in his motives and his virtue must have the power to enforce his judgment because if he were powerless or restricted in any way by some outside agency from bringing justice to bear.

Then there is no guarantee that justice would take place. So this judge finally must be omnipotent stronger than any counterforce that could possibly hinder his judgments from being carried as so caught now is arguing transcendental way. Practically speaking, say if you are sense of oddness is going to matter. That means you have to matter and that means you have to survive the gray and that means that you have to be held accountable. Ultimately, for every single thing that you've ever done in your life. Every word that you spoken every thought this going through your head every day that you've done every virtuous day that you've left undone. You will be held accountable when you will be held accountable by a judge who has no blindfold around his eyes, who is not open to bribery or corruption but who himself is altogether holy and good and righteous, and who knows you far better than you know yourself. He knows everything you've ever done and said and did, and he strong enough to bring his judgment to bear and you see that in the final analysis, this philosopher who demolished the traditional arguments for the existence of God. Once he went to the back door in the kitchen.

He brought in the Christian God.

The Judeo-Christian God on the basis of his moral argument saying that morality if it is true, makes the affirmation of God. A practical necessity. That's what court concluded this, we must live as if there is a God because if there isn't, we have no hope for civilization and for human community. Of course the critics of Kant came after me extensions of said well just because the options to morality are grim.

Nevertheless, that's why Nietzsche would say life is meaningless. There is no hope per se, but most people who don't affirm the existence of God. Try to live on borrowed capital. They don't want God, but they still want morality, they still want some kind of significance and meaning to human existence, saying here is that you can't have inspectors see scroll. Walking is through constant moral argument for the existence of God. You're listening to Renewing Your Mind and each Saturday we present a message from Marcy's comprehensive series of apologetics.

It's called defending your faith and with a total of 32 messages. It covers a great deal of ground. Let me encourage you to request this 11 DVD set with your donation of any amount to look at your ministries. You can do that online@renewingyourmind.org or when you call us at 800-435-4343 Dr. strollers this the data study apologetics in order that our faith would be strengthened our courage stiffened and that her answers would be God's answers.

That's why hope you'll contact us today and request defending your faith or phone number.

Debt is 800-435-4343 in our online address is Renewing Your Mind.org laughter, presented his moral argument. Many of his peers chided him. They continue to claim that everything was meaningless next Saturday. Dr. Strobel shows that not only is there true meaning in life, but that we can find it and enjoy it.

Please make plans to join us again next week. Here, for Renewing Your Mind


Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime