The Foundation of Morality 

     “That’s wrong!”  “That’s unfair!”  “You can’t do that!”  “That’s unjust!”  We often make pronouncements about what’s right or wrong.  When we make such statements we aren’t just giving our opinion or expressing our personal preferences.  We’re appealing to some higher standard.  By what authority do we declare something to be right or wrong?  

No Room for Evolutionary Morality
    The evolutionary theory of the development of life is based on the concept of the survival of the fittest.  Those creatures who are stronger or smarter tend to survive and multiply.
      Nature is “red in tooth and claw,” as has often been said, the blood of the defeated on the teeth and claws of the victor.  Would it not stand to reason that if we humans are simply the product of an evolutionary process we should be brutal creatures, always seeking our own best interest at all costs to others?  The survival of the fittest should be the evolutionary code of ethics.
      There are, however, many instances when humans act altruistically, risking their lives, or even giving their lives, to help or save someone else when there’s no benefit to anyone other than the one who is being shown the kindness.  Everyone believes acting selfishly is wrong.  We believe in the rights of the weak and vulnerable and consider it immoral to treat them badly simply because they can’t defend themselves.  Where did this idea of protecting and helping the weak and vulnerable and the virtue of acting unselfishly come from if we’re the product of an evolutionary process that operates on the law of the survival of the fittest?

No Ultimate Law Giver, No Ultimate Law
      How can one hold to any kind of absolute standard of right or wrong unless there’s someone who gives that standard?  If there are rules by which we should live, there must be a rule maker.
      Granted, most atheists are moral people, but their moral feet are planted firmly on thin air!  They can give no good reason for being good!  If there is objective good and evil, there must be an objective point of reference.
      Sometimes it’s argued that a right or wrong has been established to help guarantee the survival of human kind, but who is to say this is an ultimate value?  If there is no God and no afterlife, why should we yield to society’s rules when a billion years from now the human race will no longer exist and there will be no memory or record of our ever existing?  Why would we want to curtail our own desires when we have only a few years to exist?  Who can tell us it’s wrong to grab all the gusto we can while we’re here? 

A Moral Law Giver
      C.S. Lewis, referring to the “Somebody” that’s behind all that exists, wrote, “We have two bits of evidence about the Somebody.  One is the universe He has made… The other bit of evidence is that Moral Law which He has put into our minds.  And this is a better bit of evidence than the other because it is inside information.  You find out more about God from the Moral Law than from the universe in general, just as you find out more about a man by listening to his conversation than by looking at a house he has built.” (Mere Christianity, C.S Lewis, p. 37)
      Scientist Francis Collins quoted the philosopher Immanuel Kant.  “Two things fill me with constantly increasing admiration and awe, the longer and more earnestly I reflect on them: The starry heavens without and the Moral Law within.” (
A Place for Truth,  Dallas Willard, editor., p.84)
      There can be only one logical source for Moral Law, an ultimate reference point for what is right and what is wrong, and that is God.  If we’re going to hold to an ultimate ethic, belief in a holy, perfect, and good God is our only logical option.  C. S. Lewis wrote, “The Being behind the universe is intensely interested in right conduct.” (
Mere Christianity, p. 37) 

God Is Good, All the Time
    The most logical explanation for the existence of objective goodness is that God is good.  When Moses wanted to experience the presence of God, asking to see His holiness, God responded, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you…” (Genesis 33:19)  It’s interesting that of all His attributes, God wanted Moses to experience His goodness.  The psalmist David declared that the generations “celebrate your abundant goodness…” (Psalm 145:7)
      Those who believe in God believe that God does not measure up to some standard of goodness,because then we’d be right back to the dilemma of the atheist, lacking any ultimate basis for good.  God does not measure up to some ultimate standard of goodness; He
is the ultimate standard of goodness!
      When the Ark of the Covenant was brought into Solomon’s temple the singers declared about God,
“He is good; his love endures forever.” (2 Chronicles 5:13)  Again, the psalmist declared, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” (Psalm 106:1)
      God can be no other way than good.  Being good is His nature; it’s one of His attributes.  Our concept of what it means to be good comes from the way God is. 

The Source of Morality
    We humans have an innate sense of right and wrong, even if we ourselves don’t always abide by that standard.  Where did this sense of morality come from?
      Scientist Francis Collins referred to C.S. Lewis in a speech.  “Lewis asked, if you were looking for evidence of a God who was not just a mathematician and a physicist but who cared about human beings and who stood for what is good and holy, and wanted his people to also stand for those things, wouldn’t it be interesting to find written in your own heart this moral law which is calling you to do just that?  That made a lot of sense to me.” (
A Place for Truth, p. 84)
      If we humans are the result of a natural evolutionary process, there is no reason for the existence of our deep and profound sense of morality.  Where does it come from?  The most logical explanation for the source of our sense of goodness is that we have been created by a creator, and our Creator is good!


by David J. Claassen
Copyright 2014 by David J. Claassen