While checking my email today, I came across an email from a group that I regularly follow. I clicked on an article titled Boehner denounces Iranian pastor’s death sentence. After reading the article, which truly speaks of the horrors of Christian persecution in our world today, I quickly started to scan some of the comments.
One of those comment threads started off this way, "But apparently he's happy with American citizens being executed in Texas. Typical Christian hypocrite," which referred to Boehner condemning the execution of Christian pastor, while endorsing "American citizens being executed in Texas." I won't bother getting into the difference between these two, because hopefully such differences are glaringly obvious (if not, feel free to comment).
This comment thread had a number of replies, which spidered from there into abortion, and then into morality and whether morality is objective or subjective. One of the commentators used Naziism as an example of how law in and of itself is not a sufficient means of governing a people. When it got to that point, an atheist who was posting on the topic rebutted, "Ah yes... Godwin shows it's ugly head. Not surprised considering it's despe!" where "despe" is short for another commentator's name ("Despeville"). If you are not familiar with the "Godwin" reference, you can find plenty of information by simply Googling it, or you can check out Wikipedia's page on Godwin's law.
Such an answer in a debate is not an answer at all, which is the point of writing this blog. Following is my answer to this commentator. Hopefully it will be edifying to others who a.) find themselves up against such a red herring "argument," and/or b.) find themselves needing to vindicate objective moral values and to distinguish between them and law.
(Note: I proofread this again after posting it in the comments of the Web page cited above and found a few typos and fixed them. I also clarified a couple points slightly.)
My Rebuttal:One's use of a common argument by no means nullifies or weakens the argument itself. I could very easily write my own "law" to the effect of, "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of the topic leading to a discussion of whether God exists approaches 1." Such a law, though, speaks in no way to the validity of such an argument. Godwin's law itself even admits this. Whether you understand this or not isn't very relevant here. In this case, you are simply asserting that your statement, "Ah yes... Godwin shows it's ugly head. Not surprised considering it's despe!" necessarily defeats @Despeville's argument, which it does not. Instead of stating the humor that the "law" points out, and then dealing with the argument, you simply try to diffuse the argument by referencing the law.
The logic you put forth is faulty in that it assumes that the likelihood of an occurrence nullifies the very validity of that occurrence. The foolishness of such an argument is illustrative of the lack of a solid answer you have to the real problem at hand.
If morals are subjective than one's judgment of any law is irrelevant, as one's judgment is also subjective -- only those in power can "judge" such a law. However, this isn't judgment at all, but simply imposition of their subjective values on all of those subjected to them. Whether this is done by an individual, a small group, or a majority doesn't matter. In such a system, there is no true freedom, but only the freedom which is granted by the subjective will of the authorities. Furthermore, such authorities can change at any time, and therefore one can never even know when one's liberties that have been granted as such will endure or not -- even if those liberties are truly just.
Ultimately, your view is self-refuting. Even you cannot live by such a standard. You presuppose the very thing you deny (objective moral values). Your expectation is not just one where those around you will follow the laws of the land, but also that they will follow the morals that are written on your very heart. You can deny this all you want, but all you accomplish by doing so is suppressing the truth in your unrighteousness. In the end, you simply deceive your own heart.
It doesn't matter whether one uses the example of the Nazis, the example of Nero, the example of Pol Pot, the example of Kim Jong Il, or whatever other immoral regime throughout history. All such examples point to the fact that law alone does not dictate morality. It is morality (or the lack thereof) that dictates law. The fact that we can even judge whether laws are moral or immoral is proof that laws are subject to morality, not the other way around. Morality is the objective standard. Laws are the subjective expression of those standards. The foundation of immoral laws is man's fallen nature, which corrupts our perfect God-given moral values.
Furthermore, in the end, you will be judged by the very words that you mock and condemn, and you will be held fully to account for your denial of the One who created you -- Almighty YHWH. It is only through repentance and belief in Jesus Christ that you can hope to be saved from such an end. I pray that the Holy Spirit will remove the scales from your eyes and will replace your heart of stone with one of flesh.
Soli Deo Gloria!
For a continuation of this post, please see Part 2 of the Myth of Moral Subjectivism.