“Again, in a world in which no eternal God – and thus no eternal embodiment of morality – exists, it is not so absurd that therefore no universal basis for moral conduct exists.”
I don’t think at any point Eric’s denying it. That is the honest conclusion of the atheist/agnostic in terms of morality. You must descend into relativism.
He is not far-fetched to call it absurd. The conclusion of a world without an eternal personal good God mentioned in your above quote is the honest conclusion: Moral Relativism.
However Moral Relativism is in fact absurd. To even insert the world ‘moral’ seems fallacious. Let me explain:
(1) For starters, when morality becomes relative, we can no longer have any meaningful exchange on what is in fact ‘moral’. We really simply speak of feelings, experience, and opinion, and thus the whole ‘morality’ portion simply becomes a mask for those terms. We really simply render an opinion or perspective on an issue, not some moral value.
(2) In addition, it’s self refuting. Say we are both relativists. We are discussing the morality of C. You believe C is wrong (opinion A), I believe it is right (opinion B). We come and share opinions which are staunchly different. There is no method to draw a conclusion, and thus we never really know anything about C. A and B contradict, and thus we never really arrive anywhere, contradict each other, and simply conclude with ‘tolerance’.
(3) As seen above, it is then useless. Seeing that it is (1) meaningless, and (2) self-refuting, we come to a conclusion it is then useless. As seen in (2), we can never really say anything about C! This is the central problem about ‘moral relativism’. With it, we can make no OUGHT statements. This is incredibly important. You cannot say someone ought to do something, as they can simply respond that they feel as if they shouldn’t. Being meaningless, self-refuting, and useless, you can no longer say what we OUGHT and NOT OUGHT to do, which is the core of MORALITY. This leads to the final point…
(4) Given (1)-(3), we approach specific situations where we can no longer make OUGHT statements. (a) Is killing a baby for fun wrong? Evil? (b) Was Hitler wrong? Evil? (c) Was Slavery wrong? Evil? You cannot say you ought not to torture babies for fun, Hitler ought not to have killed Jews, and Slavery ought not to have happened. To even say a ‘should’ statement is quite inadequate and useless as well, and it is hardly binding.
Even worse, you cannot say you (A) ought to treat babies with love, (B) you ought to oppose Nazi aggression, and (C) you ought to respect human dignity (see the former premises)!
This is where the absurd nature of ‘moral relativism’ (whatever that is) really reveals its face. It contradicts entirely common sense! If I were to ask you (a) (b) and (c), you would naturally respond that those are all wrong, and that you should instead do (A) (B) and (C). However, a ‘moral relativist’ cannot explain why we ought to do any of this, and thus goes against their common sense. They cannot justify it on the grounds of relativity, because someone could simply ‘feel’ or ‘believe’ the opposite. But we see the significant problem with someone stating “I cannot say whether torturing a baby for fun is absolutely wrong at all times, with all persons, in any place.” That’s absurd! We call that person a monster! I see such a morality as dangerous (you cannot even say you OUGHT to follow laws, etc).
This then truly removes the ‘moral’ out of ‘moral relativity’, as the inability to truly respond to (A)-(C) and (a)-(c) really make it meaningless, self-refuting, useless, and thus, absurd. It’s not morality at all. It’s feelings.
Christians on the other hand, can very well make OUGHT and OUGHT NOT statements [(A)-(C), (a)-(c)].
We can even easily explain why being sensitive to OUGHT and OUGHT NOT questions are found within our common sense: “From the Creation of the world His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what He has made.” (Romans 1:20)
- We are made in the image of God, thus attracting special value. (Gen 1:27).
- We are given objective moral absolutes from an All-Knowing Personal Creator (10 Commandments, Exo 20)
- God Himself makes perfect OUGHT and OUGHT NOT statements, given his perfection.
- We are provided the ultimate OUGHT statement: Love God and Love neighbors (Matt 22:37-40)
- God displays the ultimate Moral Good: Grace and the Cross. This spurs a superior morality, as it calls the Christian to sacrifice himself in Loving God and Loving People. How superior to simply talking of feelings and opinions! Praise God!