A: My answer is “there are laws.” There are the laws of nature we discussed in part one; but there are also moral laws.
Q: But scientists and philosophers have explanations for those, don’t they? So maybe moral laws are just rules that humans impose on each other to promote the survival of our species. Or maybe evolution favours animals that help one another. So, maybe we have evolved to feel sympathy for each other. Isn’t it possible that moral rules are just the rules that would best satisfy feelings like compassion?
A: At most that would tell us why there are moral feelings. But the question is: “why are there moral rules” or “why are there moral laws”.
Q: What’s the difference?
A: Suppose a scientist explains why we feel that we should be considerate and helpful; would that mean that we could stop being considerate and helpful?
Q: No. I like being helpful…
A: Yes, but why ought you help others rather than yourself? Why should you try to be selfless? Why is it wrong to neglect these rules? If our moral feelings are the outcome of a blind meaningless process like evolution, we can safely and rationally ignore them. But the moral rules seem binding and inescapable.
Q: How does God help?
A: The existence of God would explain why it isn’t safe or rational to ignore the rules. If God created us we live in a moral universe. It would be irrational and dangerous to ignore the rules laid down by the one who made us. And there’s more…
Q: Is it much more? (These are supposed to be quick answers!)
A: I’ll do my best. Word like`obligation’ describe something that constrains and binds us. We feel a kind of pressure to conform to the moral rules. We feel shame when we break the rules. But we feel shame before a person and obligations to others. It’s as if our consciences communicate the commands of a law-giver. Odd that, against all the odds, the universe should contain conscious beings with consciences.
Q: OK, but surely we don’t need to believe in God to believe in good and evil?
A: Oh, I quite agree with that! But you need to believe in God to explain why some things are good and some evil. If atheism is true humanity is the transitory, accidental outcome of a meaningless process – we’re just atoms in the void – and ultimately inconsequential. We might be of value to a few other inconsequential beings while we’re here; but that doesn’t really give each individual being very much value.
Q: Again, what difference does God make?
A: If Christianity is true, each human resembles the most important being – God – in important ways – God is personal, and we are personal. Moreover, God made us to live in a relationship with him. So each human has a deep purpose and is of eternal consequence. Each human is rare, vulnerable and precious. To destroy a human life is evil: it is to destroy something sacred. To nurture and protect human life is to do something of eternal consequence.