Morality Apart from God Essay

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Pages: 13

Cotton  1  

Morality  Apart  From  God:  Is  It  Possible?  
Ray  Cotton    
Ray   Cotton   is   the   former   finance   director   and   treasurer   of   Probe   Ministries.   He   received   a   B.S.   in   business  
administration/management   science   from   the   University   of   Northern   Colorado,   a   certificate   in   Christian   studies  
from  the  Center  for  Advanced  Biblical  Studies,  and  an  M.A.  in  interdisciplinary  studies  at  the  University  of  Texas  at  
Dallas.  He  now  serves  in  a  ministry  to  international  students.  

Recently,  I  became  aware  of  a  professor  at  one  of  the  local  colleges  whose  goal  is  to  convince  his  students  that  
you  can  have  a  system  of  ethics  without  a  belief  in  God.  Now  I  agree  with  him  that  holding  his  position  is  
theoretically  possible,  but  I  said  to  him  that  such  an  ethical  system  is  one  built  on  sand.  It  would  not  stand  the  
test  of  time  nor  the  waves  of  adversity.    
The  U.S.S.R.  tried  to  build  an  empire  on  godless  atheism,  and  it  failed  miserably.  Today  in  Russia  we  still  see  
the  results  of  the  ethics  of  atheism.  You  would  think  that  the  Russians,  having  suffered  so  much  under  a  
totalitarian  regime,  would  strive  to  do  the  right  thing  in  appreciation  for  their  new  freedoms.  Many  have,  but  
Russia  today  is  torn  apart  by  crime,  greed,  lawlessness,  and  immorality.  Why?  Was  it  merely  too  much  
freedom  too  soon,  or  are  they  still  reaping  the  rewards  of  the  ethics  of  atheism?  
Many  people  today  believe  that  God  is,  at  best,  unnecessary,  and  at  worst,  an  intolerant  task  master.  They  say  
they  don't  need  God  to  live  right,  and  they  can  set  their  own  rules  for  life.  We  live  in  a  world  obsessed  with  
personal  values.  What  people  do  depends  on  their  personal  values,  but  since  everyone's  values  are  different,  
there  seems  to  be  no  standard  by  which  we  must  all  live.  The  very  idea  of  basing  our  morality  upon  our  values  
means  that  we  have  bought  into  the  idea  of  a  system  of  relativistic  ethics.  Personal  values  have  replaced  
values  of  virtue  as  the  foundation  for  ethical  thought.  Virtues  speak  of  some  objective  realities,  but  personal  
values  speak  only  about  subjective  decisions  of  our  will.  
Basing  ethical  decisions  on  personal  values  is  problematic.  For  example,  is  something  good  because  we  love  it,  
or  do  we  love  it  because  it  is  good?  German  philosopher  Friedrich  Nietzsche  would  tell  us  that  something  is  
good  because  we  love  it.  According  to  Nietzsche,  man  himself  is  the  universal  and  absolute  reference  point  for  
all  of  life.  "God  is  dead,"  he  declared,  believing  this  release  from  the  demands  of  any  metaphysical  reality  was  
an  opportunity  to  develop  his  own  system  of  ethics  based  on  self  cultivation.  
Today  the  world  is  continuing  to  build  an  ethical  system  based  on  tolerance  and  enlightenment  apart  from  
God.  Men  have  tried  many  ways  to  teach  this  new  godless  form  of  morality.  A  decade  ago  we  constantly  heard  
the  term,  "values  clarification."  It  was  a  national  effort  to  allow  even  children  to  set  their  own  standards  of  
behavior.  It  was  a  disaster  as  it  justified  almost  any  kind  of  behavior.  Educators  may  not  loosely  throw  around  
the  term,  "values  clarification,"  as  they  once  did,  but  many  still  try  to  teach  a  system  of  ethics  based  on  man's  
own  values.  These  are  values  which  are  rooted  in  the  idea  of  desirable  goods,  i.e.,  that  which  we  decide  is  
important  to  us.  
The  use  of  the  term  "values"  can  have  objective  content,  but