Title page for ETD etd-12092008-200526

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Loftin, Robert Keith
URN etd-12092008-200526
Title Michael Martin and the Moral Argument for God's Existence
Degree Master of Arts (M.A.)
Department Philosophy & Religious Studies
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Edward H.Henderson Committee Chair
EDWARD SONG Committee Member
HUSAIN SARKAR Committee Member
  • God
  • ontological foundation
  • objective moral values
Date of Defense 2008-12-03
Availability unrestricted
Theism, that is, belief in the existence of God, has, over the last forty or so years, been making a quiet comeback. Whereas for several decades the “death of God” was heralded—culminating, perhaps, with Time magazine’s April 8, 1966, title: “Is God Dead?”—philosophers are once again vigorously debating the rationality of theistic belief. Emerging from amid this renaissance is an increasing number of publications treating the various so-called “theistic proofs” or arguments for God’s existence. These arguments are part of the project of natural theology, that is, the project of establishing the rationality of theistic belief apart from appeal to authoritative divine revelation.

One such argument, called the axiological argument or the moral argument, attempts to establish the existence of God a posteriori from the existence of objective moral values. It is the aim of this thesis to defend the moral argument from atheist Michael Martin, one of its most distinguished detractors. Not surprisingly, many atheists have attempted to refute the moral argument. Many (if not most) atheists, such as the late J. L. Mackie, simply reject the objectivity of morals, embracing instead moral relativism. Contemporary atheist Richard Dawkins goes so far as to deny the reality of good and evil altogether. What makes Martin’s response particularly interesting, however, is his moral realism or his agreement that objective morals do exist.

The issue, then, is whether Martin’s worldview furnishes him with the metaphysical resources necessary to ground objective morality while denying God’s existence. It is, of course, one thing to see that morality is objective and another thing altogether to ground that fact. I will argue that Martin’s worldview does not provide him the underpinnings necessary to sustain his position, thus rebutting his attack on the moral argument.

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