Objective Morality . . .
I was listening to a podcast the other day (link here) and they were debating whether objective morality could exist without God. They began by using a commonly agreed upon definition given by William Lane Craig. His definition is as such:
To say that there are objective values is too say that something is right or wrong independently of whether anybody believes it to be so.
So basically, it is to say that a particular moral principle such as "Thou shalt not kill", is naturally instilled in all of humanity throughout history as we know it. In reflecting upon this, I have a difficult time accepting that an objective morality exists . . . well, maybe not entirely, but i'll get there. It seems to me that all morality is subjective and that we have arrived at certain moral conclusions throughout our biological and social evolution. I'm not sure how it can be viewed otherwise actually. If we can call anything an objective moral I don't think that it has always been so, it seems that as our species evolved we developed, subjectively, better morals. Now, we have some standard sets that we may call objective morality, but it wasn't always so.
The above definition by Dr. Craig is really to suggest that there are principles that preexist our intellect and our very existence. So, by his theology, those moral principals must come from god . . . of course. Maybe I am thinking of this argument incorrectly, but every time that I come across this I have to think of the origins of our society, languages and religions. I do this for a rather simple reason, and that is that by suggesting objective morality to only exist with or from god is to suggest that from the viewpoint of that particular religion or derivative sect thereof. So, when a Christian such as Dr. Craig makes this suggestion, he is implying that this is inherent of the Christian god. Just in looking at the history of Christianity, I have a huge issue with this notion. Lets begin with the Pentateuch, or the Torah. The Torah is widely excepted to have been created around 450 BCE. So, that means that the Judaism's oldest books of the Bible were only in written circulation 450 years before the supposed savior of that religions next offspring, Christianity. Early Akkadian texts date back to 2100 -1900 BCE, respectively. One of those texts being Gilgamesh. Why do our objective morals come from that god? I mean, if we're going to believe in a god, then I feel it's only logical to believe in the one thought up by the earliest folk to possess the intellectual capacity to make up such bullshit. Why go with a later hybrid for our salvation, or our damnation? It seems highly problematic to rely on any gods "objective morality" when that god didn't even take the common courtesy to grant us with language until THOUSANDS of years after we'd been walking the earth.
So, when I say above that I have a difficult time accepting that objective morality exists, what I mean is that I have a hard time believing that they weren't gained subjectively at some point. The Bible supports slavery throughout, for example . . . yes, the New Testament too. Then, at some point, we thought better of that. How primitive it is to be able to take ownership of another individual and be able to use that ownership anyway we want. If we are to accept that the god of the Bible is the author through divine thought or intervention, then we would need to accept slavery as an objective moral; not slavery as the evil, but ownership of a person thereby engaging in slavery as a proper function. If we look to the god of any religion, then we come across the same issue. In Christianity, we have the issues of slavery, rape, incest, genocide, murder, infanticide, forced marriage, mutilation, etc. In Islam, we have all of those issues and on top of it, there prophet marries and screws an 8 year old. By subjectively viewing all of these things through a skeptical eye we are able to determine the insane proposition that these things are morally correct. If the "moral" propositions of the Bible are suggestible to you, then I highly suggest that you read it again . . . from beginning to end. It doesn't end well . . . sorry for the spoiler.
If I were to give an answer to this and sum myself up, I would say, in keeping with the above definition by Dr. Craig . . .
There are indeed objective morals, but they have not always been so. We, as a species have learned, through subjective trials, to define something as immoral based on the amount the diminishing amount of pleasure that certain actions may cause. Socially, we define the things that we continually view as right and wrong and we continually build upon those things as we evolve further. I can't accept that any definition of anything existed, with pure certainty, before we had the cognitive ability to define it as such and further that definition to better suit the reality of it.