Craig–Taylor Debate:
Is the Basis for Morality Natural or Supernatural?

Closing Statement
William Lane Craig

Before I look at those two contentions that I’ve defended tonight, let me just be very clear. I did not say that the worth of people lies in their love of Christ. I said it lies in Christ’s love for them, that God loves each one of us enough that He would send His son to die for us, even those of us who do not believe in Him and repudiate Him. That is what I said, and I think that’s important to understand.

(I) I argued that supernaturalism provides a sound foundation for morality, and I think that’s become very clear in tonight’s debate. (1) If you affirm that there is a God, a divine lawgiver, then there is objective right and wrong according to His commands, which flow from His own good, just, loving, and holy nature. Moreover, (2) moral accountability exists because God holds us accountable for what we do.

(II) Does naturalism provide a sound foundation for morality? I argue that it doesn’t.

(1) On the naturalistic view, objective right and wrong do not exist. Professor Taylor, in his last speech, tried to confuse the issue by drawing in Fletcher’s situation ethics. Fletcher’s situation ethics were neither conventionalistic, nor were they naturalistic. His ethics were guided by an objective value, the objective value of love. Now how that’s applied in different situations may vary, and will vary from situation to situation; but I agree with that. But the point is that Fletcher’s is an objectivist ethic, not a conventionalist ethic. Love is an absolute moral principle for him. Moreover, Fletcher was a theist, as far as I know. He was a clergyman, so that this is not a naturalistic ethic. What is love on a naturalistic view? It’s a chemical reaction in the brain, an electro–chemical impulse, hormones coursing through bodies. Love is denuded of any sort of moral or ethical significance on a naturalistic worldview. And so I don’t think we’ve seen any basis for affirming that things are really right or wrong, if God does not exist.

(2) I argued that there’s no moral accountability on a naturalistic worldview, and I think that that’s been demonstrated in tonight’s debate.

Then I offered a three–point critique of Taylor’s virtue ethics:

(1) His virtues are just amoral. He doesn’t deny it, but now he says, "Well, I was just trying to provoke people to think, and the quotations are taken out of context." Well, yes, they are out of context in the sense that I expected Professor Taylor to first present his view in his opening speech, so that my criticisms would apply to it. My criticisms are entirely just and entirely correct philosophically, but they appear somewhat out of context because he didn’t give his view first for me to attack. Also, with regard to stirring people to think, I think as philosophers we have to be responsible in what we say and write because we will affect what students say and do. Nietzsche also wrote a book called Beyond Good and Evil, and that book was read by people like Hitler and Stalin and caused some of the gross atrocities of the twentieth century because Nietzsche affirmed that there is no good and evil. And as I read what Professor Taylor said about the superior person, the proud man, I thought of Nietzsche’s Übermensch, the superman. The echoes of Nietzsche ran through that book and troubled me deeply.

(2) I argued that Christian ethics are better than Professor Taylor’s virtue ethics [tape unintelligible] on that point.

And finally, (3) I said Taylor’s virtue ethics are morally repugnant. Notice that he’s never really denied any of the allegations that I’ve made tonight.

So I think it’s evident that naturalism just doesn’t do the trick. We need to have a supernatural basis to provide an objective foundation for our moral lives, for the values that we all hold dear and firm and intuitively sense, and we need God to provide moral accountability for our lives, so that our moral choices become significant and acts of self–sacrifice are not robbed of meaning and become just empty gestures.

Therefore, I’d like to close just with a challenge to you. If you have been seeking for a foundation for your ethical life, for what’s right and wrong in life, I’d want to encourage you to look into the Christian world and life view. Pick up a New Testament and read the Sermon on the Mount, read the ethics of Jesus, and ask yourself if this couldn’t really be true. I found that this is a principle upon which I can order and guide my life, and I believe you can find this as well, if you look at it with an open mind.

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