Five common objections to the moral argument

Apologetics 315 posted a list of five objections to the moral argument from philosopher Paul Rezkalla.

Here are the 5 points:

  1. “But I’m a moral person and I don’t believe in God. Are you saying that atheists can’t be moral?”
  2. “But what if you needed to lie in order to save someone’s life? It seems that morality is not absolute as you say it is.”
  3. ‘Where’s your evidence for objective morality? I won’t believe in anything unless I have evidence for it.’
  4. ‘If morality is objective, then why do some cultures practice female genital mutilation, cannibalism, infanticide, and other atrocities which we, in the West, deem unacceptable?’
  5.  ‘But God carried out many atrocities in the Old Testament. He ordered the genocide of the Canaanites.’

That last one seems to be popular, so let’s double-check the details:

For starters, this isn’t really an objection to the moral argument. It does not attack either premise of the argument. It is irrelevant, but let’s entertain this objection for a second. By making a judgement on God’s actions and deeming them immoral, the objector is appealing to a standard of morality that holds true outside of him/herself and transcends barriers of culture, context, time period, and social norms. By doing this, he/she affirms the existence of objective morality! But if the skeptic wants to affirm objective morality after throwing God out the window, then there needs to be an alternate explanation for its basis. If not God, then what is it? The burden is now on the skeptic to provide a naturalistic explanation for the objective moral framework.

If you have heard any of these objections before when discussing the moral argument, click through and take a look.


7 thoughts on “Five common objections to the moral argument”

    1. Well, the point of this post is that if you are not a theist, then there are no moral facts. Do you sign off on that? If so, then there are moral facts, and we distinguish them from opinions by making arguments. For example, we can derive moral facts from revelation and reason about revelatory literature means. Or we can make natural law arguments and appeal to shared moral intuitions.


    2. This isn’t taking away from what WK wrote, only another answer to your question. “You can be mistaken about what the good and right is. Certainly this is not an argument that our moral perceptions are infallible. We make mistakes all the time, but the very fact of moral error points to the objectivity of these values. If they are not objective, you can’t err or fail to do the right or good thing because it is all subjective anyway. So the very fact of moral error and moral disagreement and moral failure actually presuppose the objectivity of moral values and duties”

      -William Lane Craig, Defenders Class Transcript
      Read more:


  1. Thank you for reposting this from Apologetics 315. I personally find it in my own experience objection #1 seems to be more poular, but I can see your point about the fifth objection being used regularly.


  2. In my experience dialoging with atheist, most of them focused on an extension of #1. They actually sought to affirm a non-transcendent foundation for morality by which they could be considered good. I found very few atheists who embraced moral relativism, to my surprise. Most of the time was spent arguing over the merits of their own (elusive) moral theories. This post is the result of the three major theories I encountered:


  3. Then there are those Atheists that say we have made progress … which is hilarious … progress toward what exactly? they confused between change and progress, just because we changed, it doesn’t mean we made progress.


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