I just love Greg Koukl!  In his most recent issue of Solid Ground he provides a wonderful response to a challenge atheist Michael Shermer likes to lodge against theistic moral objectivists: “If there was no God, would you still be good?”   

Shermer expects an affirmative answer from his theist detractors.  If theists would be good even without God, he reasons, then God is not necessary for morality as the theist claims.  While this is a clever rhetorical device, it misses the point entirely.  The theist’s argument is not that one must believe in God to behave in ways people generally consider “good.”  Our argument is that if God does not exist, there is no such thing as “goodness” at all.  As an individual or as a culture we might prefer to help a grandmother cross the street as opposed to running her over with our car, but neither behavior is morally superior to the other.  All human acts are just molecules in motion, and the last I checked, neither molecules nor motion come in “good” and “bad” varieties.  Morality is not a quality of matter, but of mind.  

Greg Koukl offers a nice response to Shermer’s question that makes this point in a concise, tactical manner.  Koukl writes, “I’ll answer your question if you answer mine: Would you still have to be faithful to your wife if you weren’t married and never had been? Clearly, the question doesn’t even apply. The same is true for your question. If there is no transcendent standard for morality, then ‘good’ means either following my own individual or cultural morality, or responding to my evolutionary impulses.”

Just like it makes no sense to speak of being faithful to one’s spouse if they are unmarried, it makes no sense to speak of “good” if there is no transcendent source of moral goodness we are exemplifying.  If there is no God, behaviors we consider “good” and “evil” are, in reality, no such thing.  Objective goodness, if it exists, must be grounded in something that transcends human opinion/preference/belief, and physics.

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