1.7.1 The Formal Moral Argument

Nearly everything you read signed "God" is just somebody putting their words in My mouth.
~ God


Moral arguments take the existence or nature of morality to imply the existence of God. The formal moral argument specifically takes the form of morality—its normativity and authority—as grounds for holding that it has a divine origin.

Morality is Prescriptive

Morality consists of a set of commands; it does not describe the way that the world is, but rather prescribes the way that the world ought to be; it tells us what to do. Morality is prescriptive.

Just as carried things cannot exist without a carrier, and popular things cannot exist without admirers, so prescriptions cannot exist without a prescriber. If one has a set of commands, then there must be some commander that issued them. There must therefore be a commander of morality, a being that issued the commands that constitute morality.

Morality is Authoritative

This being, however, cannot have been a human being. For a command only carries as much authority as does its commander, but the authority of morality exceeds the authority of any human being.

In fact, the commands that constitute morality carry ultimate authority; if morality prescribes that I perform one act, but prudence, or any other non-moral consideration, prescribes that I perform another, then all things considered I ought to perform the act prescribed by morality. Moral considerations, then, outweigh all other considerations.

The authority that issued the commands that constitute morality must therefore be an ultimate authority. The only ultimate authority, however, is God. The existence of morality therefore depends on, and so demonstrates, the existence of God.

The Formal Moral Argument
(1) Morality consists of a set of commands.
(2) For every command there is a commander.
Therefore:
(3) There is a commander that commanded morality.
(4) Commands only carry as much authority as does their commander.
(5) Morality carries ultimate authority.
Therefore:
(6) The commander that commanded morality carries ultimate authority.
(7) Only God carries ultimate authority.
Therefore:
(8) The commander that commanded morality is God.
Therefore:
(9) God exists.


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