The final deathblow to the godless worldview is that without God, there is no ultimate justification for morality. In a godless universe, we descended from fish through unguided, unintelligent, purposeless biochemical reactions. In that worldview, morality is meaningless because morality doesn’t come from chemistry. You can’t get concepts like right, wrong, ought, and should from cells bumping into each other.
To be fair, many atheists are kind, generous, and do good deeds. The issue is, without God, concepts like kindness, generosity, and goodness are meaningless. Without God, there is no good or bad, wrong or right, better or best. Atheists watch a news report of mass murder and ball up their fists in anger, but in their worldview there’s no ultimate reason to be angry. Why get angry when one bag of chemicals puts holes in other bags of chemicals? Where does the sense that the shooter “shouldn’t” do that come from in a godless universe? Consider some feeble attempts to explain.
1) Survival instinct. Some argue our sense of moral “ought” comes from our evolutionary instinct to survive. But our sense of “ought” often goes against our instinct to survive. If I see someone getting beat up on the street, my survival instinct tells me to stay put and call the police. My sense of moral ought, however, works against my survival instinct and tells me to go intervene.
Someone might respond, “Yes, but you’re trying to help another human survive.” Maybe so, but in a godless universe, why would I value someone else’s survival over my own? Why am I driven to sacrifice myself for someone else? To take this further, in a godless universe, why is survival “good”? Why is it “good” to be alive and “bad” to die? It’s arbitrary. Some people believe humans are destroying the planet, so to save the earth humans should be destroyed. Without God, how could we call that view “wrong”?
2) The greater good of society. Some argue morality is about doing the greatest amount of good for society. But without God, who gets to define “good”? Atheists use words like “good, better, and best,” but without an objective moral standard, those words are meaningless. For instance, if I asked people the answer to 5+5 and one person said “9,” another said “100,” and another said, “1,000,” I know they’re wrong because there is an objective standard of right, “10.”
Now, who gave the best answer? The best is 9, and 100 is better than 1,000. But again, the only way to determine the difference between good, better, and best is to know the standard is “10.” In a godless universe, there is no moral “10.” There is no objective standard for morality, so there’s no way to distinguish between what’s morally right, wrong, better, or best. Therefore, the “greater good” argument is meaningless.
3) Personal preference. Some argue morality is completely relative based on personal preference. To be fair, this is consistent with the godless worldview since without God, morality is subjective. Trouble is, we couldn’t live that way. If morality is based on personal preference, we shouldn’t have police. Since criminals personally prefer to commit crimes, we have no business punishing them for it.
Neither could we get angry at mass shootings because the shooter was just living out his personal preference. Someone might respond, “But the shooter violated the victims’ personal preference to live.” True, but how do we decide who’s personal preference is better without any objective standard of morality against which to measure those preferences?
4) Whatever does no harm to others. Without God, what is the ultimate justification for saying it’s “wrong” to harm others? Also, how do we define “harm”? If we disagree about what’s harmful, how could we settle that dispute objectively in a godless universe?
5) Whatever culture decides. So if a culture decides it’s okay to make people slaves based on the color of their skin, that makes it right? And were the people who fought to end slavery in America morally wrong because they went against the grain of their culture?
Do you see? The atheistic godless worldview is self-defeating because it removes any ultimate justification for morality. Without an objective standard, morality is arbitrary, subjective, and ultimately meaningless. Even Richard Dawkins, in his book “River out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life” lamented the suffering in this world and said this: “In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”
The Christian worldview, however, has an objective moral standard. Morally, there is an answer to 5+5. The answer is God. “You are good and do good. Teach me Your statutes.” (Psalm 119:68). God is the very definition of good. Goodness is defined by the nature and character of God, and has been revealed to us in His Word. The Bible reveals the clear, objective difference between right and wrong, good and evil, better and best.
What’s more, He created us in His image with built-in consciences that instinctively know the difference between right and wrong. We have an innate sense of a moral law hardwired into us. Atheists do too! “For when Gentiles who do not have the Law [the written Law of Moses], do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written on their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternatively accusing or else defending them.” (Romans 2:14-15).
Atheists argue a lot of moral issues are just “common sense.” True, but that’s because they’re created in God’s image with a common sense of right and wrong. They’re rightly outraged by mass shootings and child abduction, but in their worldview their outrage isn’t common sense it all. It’s random and meaningless.
The Christian worldview gives meaning to that outrage because those are precious human beings made in God’s image who deserve to be treated with respect. In a godless universe, there is no ultimate justification for why we should respect people, not murder them, and not abduct children. Praise God we don’t live in that world!