1. If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.
2. Objective moral values do exist.
3. Therefore, God exists.
The first response Hallquist (aka ‘The Uncredible Hallq’) makes is the claim that Craig’s definition of “objective” needs work. Craig defines “objective moral values” to mean the idea that something is good or evil regardless of whether or not any human happens to think so. Here, I’m somewhat inclined to agree with Hallquist. He rightly points out that this wouldn’t exclude alien-opinion (or any other kind) as the basis of ‘objective’ morality.
Where I diverge from Hallquist is in his suggestion that we replace “human” with “anyone”, then (given that God is included in “anyone”) dismiss God as a source of morality. He claims that Craig has simply rigged his definition to avoid this response, but I think it is much more likely that Craig simplified his definition for a lay audience. Really, it seems to be Hallquist’s treatment of the matter that is ‘rigged’.
Craig’s divine morality isn’t based on what God happens to think, but on God’s moral nature. Beyond that, his argument only requires that morality not be based on the subjective view of finite beings (like humans and aliens). I think it is fairly clear that Craig is simply trying to avoid confusing the reader by sticking to humans in his lay-level definition. But Hallquist, keen as he is to accuse Craig of dishonesty, doesn’t even consider this possibility.
And it strikes me as more than a little suspicious to throw out accusations of dishonesty while ignoring the perfectly innocent possibilities as to why Craig might do something.
But, refreshingly, Hallquist agrees with Craig that morality should be objective. As one who’s always believed that morality based simply on what people think is not morality (and, yes, I believed this before I was a Christian), I’m glad to see some common ground here.
That being the case, it is disappointing that Hallquist doesn’t actually offer a theory of morality, but simply attacks Craig’s. The key point isn’t to discredit Craig; it is (or, at least, should be) to show that there is a view superior to the best of the Divine Command theories of morality.
Many, if not most, Divine Command theorists claim that God’s morality is based on his good nature: that morals are neither arbitrary nor based on an external standard. This is significant because Hallquist asserts that this theory is insane because it asserts that “our moral duties are whatever God says they are”.
Whether Hallquist is spinning, or has simply misunderstood, this is a horrible distortion of Craig’s position. More importantly, it isn’t a valid refutation of Divine Command moral theory. And this is a problem for a writer who can’t seem to get through a page without asserting that “Craig is either dishonest or incompetent”.
But we need an alternative moral theory that Hallquist actually supports. Without this, we are left with an extremely common situation: a passionate atheist quick to dismiss arguments from a theist, but completely unwilling to present an alternative view for equal consideration. If that is one’s modus operandi, one need not have anything like a reasonable position in order to ‘win’ the argument.
Which is why this tactic has always struck me as highly suspicious.