A Modal Moral Argument for God’s existence

Modality has to do with what is possible and impossible. Modal arguments utilize modal logic to draw inferences to various conclusions, based on what is possible and impossible. Today I was thinking of modal arguments for God’s existence, and I decided to turn William Lane Craig’s moral argument into a modal argument; let’s call it a modal moral argument.

My intention here is not to argue that the modal moral argument is a sound argument. I myself am not convinced of the argument, which I’ll explain why further down.

The Argument

The modal moral argument for God’s existence runs as follows:

1. Necessarily, if there does not exist a personal morally perfect being, then God does not exist

2. Necessarily, if God does not exist, then it is not possible for objective moral duties and values to exist

3. Therefore, necessarily, if there is does not exist a personal morally perfect being, then it is not possible for objective moral duties and values to exist

4. It is possible for objective moral duties and values to exist

5. Therefore, a personal morally perfect being exists

6. Therefore, God exists

Sub-argument for premise 1:

1.1. Necessarily, if there does not exist a personal morally perfect being, then an omnibenevolent being does not exist

1.2. Necessarily, if an omnibenevolent being does not exist, then an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent being does not exist

1.3. Therefore, necessarily, if there does not exist a personal morally perfect being, then an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent being does not exist

1.4. Necessarily, if an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent being does not exist, then God does not exist

1.5  Therefore, necessarily, if there does not exist a personal morally perfect being, then God does not exist

Discussion

The reason I’m not convinced by this argument is mainly because of premise 2. I’m not convinced that, without God, it is impossible for objective moral values and duties to exist. Perhaps it is implausible for objective morality to exist without God, but that’s not the same thing as it being impossible. Notice that I am not even saying that premise 2 is false, rather, I am saying that I don’t believe that it is true.

One could attempt to demonstrate that premise 2 is false by arguing that it is logically possible to have objective moral values and duties without God’s existence. In other words, one can argue that it is not logically incoherent to claim that there is a possible world where objective moral values and duties exist but God doesn’t. So, what this means is that if one is committed to premise 2, that entails that all non-theistic accounts of objective moral values and duties are somehow logically incoherent. This is not plausible. One might argue that it is possible that objective moral values and duties are grounded in a semi-maximally great being, or that it is possible that they are grounded in a personal morally perfect being that isn’t all-powerful.

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22 thoughts on “A Modal Moral Argument for God’s existence

  1. Dear Academic,
    Academics do make it hard for themselves. I am not academic and it shows in my approach and language.
    Inspiration comes from following a niggling thread inside one’s head that leads from a paradox question to positive-proofs provided birth-beginnings, and to the here & now’s chaotic conclusions.
    The future? That may depend on Scientific Academics, who are interested in this subject, waking up to reality and completing life’s jigsaw puzzle for the masses.
    If I can do it (to my satisfaction) then so can you – after all the hard soul-searching it becomes a personal quest.

    1. I’m not quite sure what you are saying. In an important sense, what I am doing is “science”, depending on how you are defining that term.

      1. God hypothesis makes predictions (if it doesn’t make predictions, game over)
      2. Let’s observe the world to see if reality matches those predictions
      3. If it doesn’t, reject the God hypothesis

      1. In a very important sense what you are doing is ‘Science’, and the Cosmos etc, is relying on you and your generation to prove ‘The Theory of Everything’.

        You came up as having followed my blog.
        I assumed that you must have read at least one post so I thought I’d look you up.
        From ‘A Phenomenon Happened To Me, Sibyl.

  2. Interesting blog, Jonathan, and an interesting post.

    Let me posit something here, though I don’t think I can express it as clearly as you did. If there is no morally perfect, all powerful being, then we have to revert to a discussion about origins. The evolutionary model does not account for morality—left to themselves without human intervention, animals are not moral. If humans came from animals, where did morality come from?

    Food for thought. 😉

    Thanks for putting my blog on your follow list.

    Becky

  3. BANG! and the first wormhole was forged.
    I would like to expand on something Rebecca said –

    I suggest that our bio-degradable, Bio-logical Earth berth/Birthday suits are indeed computerized Robots, with computerized egos, to help helpless baby us survive – until our minds/Spirits (IDs) come back to life – after the Horrors of Ragnarok’s Germ-Warfare Nightmare caused our Deaths.

    What has a Perfect, Ethical, Moral, Loving etc. Role-model of a GOD have to do with it?
    I suggest it’s to do with life before The Big Bang and the Jealous, Bitter, Prodigal Son.
    (EVERY LITTLE THING IS RELEVANT on this planet of the (DNA) Apes.)

  4. Someone must have Survived to see
    Myths’ Nightmares, Olympian Memories.
    It’s time for the Truth Sod’s Law, Germ-thwarting Ganymede’s Loki –
    Meaning, a hair of the GERM-Riddled Mad-Dog that drove us insane and Killed us, Inoculation.

  5. What if I told you that Moral decline comes in generation waves?
    10th generation Astro-Beings are Sensible, Mature, Sane Adults.
    It doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s how many times they’ve been reborn.

    You, for instance, have been here twice before.
    I am told that eventually DNA will be able to prove it.
    20th generation warriors, of both sexes, are usually Kind, Sociable, Promiscuous Beings.
    100 times here becomes another Psychotic war-zone.

    You do realize that I am talking about Astro-Beings Vs INSANITY, in all it’s forms.

  6. I apologize for my intrusion on your discussion post.
    Even though my post ‘A Modern-day Sibyl on Life-Sciences Revelations:’ is full of undeniable Facts and Proofs, it probably offends the Ethereal senses’ beliefs. So, I’ll leave you with the Apologetics, Christian Era’s 15th Generation.
    Good-Will hunting – Sibyl. X

  7. Why not just challenge Dr. Craig’s actual moral argument instead of turning it into what you have here to argue against it? Which premise would you take issue with in his actual argument, and would you have a more plausible negation to it, or no? If not, seems as if you have erected a straw man here. This doesn’t make sense to me. Would you agree that the conclusion follows logically and necessarily in his actual argument if the premises are more plausibly true than their negations? Do you have any negations to his premises? I’m just curious.

    1. ? I’m not saying this argument I’ve formed is Craig’s original argument…? Are you just looking to start a fight or have an argument?

      “If not, seems as if you have erected a straw man here”

      That’s a non-sequitur.

      And what do you mean do I have negations? Do you mean do I have any objections that undermine or rebut Craig’s premises?
      By the way, Craig has stated that his moral argument, if sound, does make it impossible for objective moral values to exist without God.

      I think you mean the conjunction of the premises need to be more plausible than not. Even then, that isn’t enough for outright belief. In addition, we would have to look at other arguments for and against God’s existence.

      My main objection to Craig’s argument is premise 1. I don’t see any reason to think it is true. Craig has to show why we should think it is true. And since there are other accounts of morality without God, and since Craig is the one running the argument, he has to explain to the skeptic what is wrong with these accounts.

      1. I thought I was clear in stating that it wasn’t Craig’s argument. What I was asking is why not object to his actual argument instead of erecting this one?

        Sorry for commenting. Definitely not trying to start a fight.

      2. I was just having fun, and I trying to look at different formulations of the argument.

        If anything, I think the formulation here is somewhat better (in some sense) because it only states the possibility of moral realism being true. That’s a premise that is constantly called into question in Craig’s formulation.

  8. Dear Academic
    Do you mind me asking what answers to questions you are really waiting or hoping for but don’t dare ask, because of the Philosophy of Religion?

    I KNOW that GOD Exists! And to save having to ask those Taboo questions, I am asking you to read my post ‘A MODERN-DAY SIBYL on LIFE-SCIENCES’ REVELATIONS’:

    I would just like to add – I am Ethical and Moral, GOD or no GOD, and temptation can take a running jump into The Abyss!

    Yours in all sincerity
    Sibyl X

  9. Great article, I am agnostic (although some might debate this term) certainly the biblical God was not a good influence on morality. evilbible.com has a list of horrific biblical events.

    Without a god one still has the basic neurological reward system. “You do good acts and you feel good” by helping others you are being rewarded with positive neuro chemicals. “You do bad acts and you feel bad” by doing things you know to be evil it weights heavy on your conscious and you get bad neuro chemicals.
    Your moral choices are wired into you and can effect your health greatly.

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