This is the written transcript for Lesson 8 in this series of presentations on evidence for the existence of God — (it is likely that transcripts will vary somewhat from the actual video recordings).
We’ve been looking at some scientific evidences for the existence of God; now, we’re going to get just a little more theological in our approach. We’re going to discuss, on a very simple level, the field of Axiology, and how it bears upon the fact of God’s existence. Admittedly, we have to be very careful with this one because the whole axiological argument is somewhat vulnerable to subjective reasoning. But the point of this lesson, and this whole series of lessons really, is not to convict you of the fact of God’s existence, or to provide a forum for arguing with the atheists, but simply to help those of you who are disciples of Christ to be aware of some of the evidences that point to the existence of God; so that you will be a little more prepared to, as the Bible says, “make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you” (I Peter 3:15). And so, you need to at least be made aware of, what we sometimes refer to as, the “Axiological Argument,” for the existence of God — or argument by morality.
It all begins with this little story from the book of Genesis:
Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’” The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.
(Genesis 3:1-7, NASB)
Do you believe this story? I do! I don’t fully comprehend it—it’s full of wonder and mystery—but I believe it. One reason I believe it is because my Lord Jesus, Himself, referenced the account of creation portrayed in Genesis and God being the architect of the marriage covenant – (Matthew 19:3-9); and also because the Apostle Paul—the most prolific New Testament writer—firmly believed and referenced this story in particular – (I Timothy 2:13-14).
So what is with this whole thing regarding “good and evil,” anyway? And what, exactly is “axiology” and what does it have to do with evidencing a higher power?
Well, according to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, a simple definition of an “axiom” is, “an established rule or principle or a self-evident truth” (“Axiom,” 2012). “Axiology” is described as: “the study of value, or goodness, in its widest sense” (“Axiology,” 2012).
One of the biggest differences between a human being—one who is created in the image of God—and every other species on the planet is the recognition of morality and the general acquiescence to an ultimate source, or authority, in determining what is right and what is wrong. My friend and colleague, Bill Smith (2012), points out that:
In his book, Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis reminds us that one of the greatest proofs of an almighty God is the common thread of consistent morality running through all mankind. The God responsible for creating us, for making us in His own image, is responsible for the moral character which permeates all mankind. (p. 1)
Smith, then, goes on to relate how that “mankind is indwelt with a basic moral law,” saying:
Some call this a conscience. Whatever we call it, it is evident that something causes us to know the difference between right and wrong. While it is true that some differences exist in the details, there is certainly a commonality of moral principles in all cultures. For example, in some cultures it is appropriate for men to have more than one wife and in some only monogamy is appropriate. But all agree that a man doesn’t just take any woman he pleases any time he pleases. Some cultures have put people to death for certain beliefs or behaviors that today we might tolerate. But no culture puts people to death randomly… we all share a common sense of moral judgment that the indiscriminate taking of a human life is wrong. There is no place for discussion about relative truth or circumstance, it’s just wrong and we know it from the core of our being. (p. 1)
So, from whence comes this common morality binding all humanity, in every age and in every culture, to at least a basic, almost instinctual, understanding of right and wrong? Smith points out that:
Skeptics and opponents of theism have espoused the science of evolutionary psychology, wherein concepts like marital fidelity, love for children, and other morals are reduced to simple genetic connections that have been coaxed into place through natural selection… To which we might ask the question, “where is the empirical evidence for such an understanding?” (p. 1).
And, of course, there is none!
But, back to the tree! One thing that stands out to me in the Garden of Eden story, and that I’m glad the prophet saw fit to include, is the fact that when Eve, and then Adam, tasted of the forbidden fruit and “the eyes of both of them were opened,” the very first thing that dawned on them was that “they were naked” (Genesis 3:7, NASB). In other words, the very definition of an axiom—“a self-evident truth” (“Axiom,” 2012)—was suddenly thrust upon them. Something happened in that very moment; something that was not natural, but supernatural, something that came from God. And their sudden ability to discern good and evil was revealed in their instant sense of need for privacy and for protecting their own, personal, anatomic integrity. This same phenomenon continues today as children in every culture around the globe grow beyond the age of innocence and begin to develop their own need for privacy and for the preservation of their own anatomic integrity. And this is what makes the sexual abuse of a child, or anyone really, so harmful to the psyche, and so insidious and deplorable in the eyes of society at large.
The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Romans, points to the source of this knowledge as it is cultivated in the hearts and minds of people the world over, saying:
For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law WRITTEN IN THEIR HEARTS , their CONSCIENCE bearing witness and their THOUGHTS alternately accusing or else defending them, on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.
(Romans 2:14-16, NASB)
Smith (2012), goes on to point out some of the inconsistencies we sometimes encounter in confronting the atheist mindset with regard to the whole issue of morality. Referencing Robert Wright (1994), author of The Moral Animal – Why We Are the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology, Smith addresses a statement Wright ade in promoting his book—“Human beings are a species splendid in their array of moral equipment, tragic in their propensity to misuse it, and pathetic in their constitutional ignorance of the misuse” (cited in Smith, 2012, p. 1)—to which Smith responds:
Isn’t it curious that he would use words like tragic, misuse, and pathetic to describe our moral makeup if our emotions are merely a collection of randomly selected genes? Darwinists have reduced morals into a set of pre-programmed responses. The problem is that morals are not just responses, they are motives and intentions as well. Moral rules don’t have the physical properties that are required to define a programmed response. In other words, the ability to reason, practice introspection, make good judgments, and reflect is very real, yet can’t be explained by a chemical process. (p. 1)
Resources and References
Axiology. (2012). In Merriam-Webster online dictionary. Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/axiology
Axiom. (2012). In Merriam-Webster online dictionary. Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/axiom?show=0&t=1350596042
Smith, B. (2012). Argument by morality – The axiological argument. Retrieved from the knowtruth.com website at: http://www.knowtruth.com/god/existence/morality_argument_1.php
Scripture taken from:
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