For over 15 years I have been working in the aerospace industry. In this line of work, precision is of the utmost importance. The multi-surfaces and diameters of any individual engine component must be exact or there is a chance of engine failure. If the engine fails test, the resulting physical damage will cost the company an enormous amount of money. If the engine fails in flight it could cost human lives. To make sure the engine components leave our area with the correct measurements, we utilize a number of measuring devices, some of which can give us accurate measurements down to ten thousands of an inch.
Above is a picture of myself and my co-worker, Cirilo. My left hand is resting on an engine component. In our right hands we are holding measuring devices known as micrometers. Now suppose my micrometer measures differently than Cirilo’s. Suppose my micrometer tells me the part’s dimensions are in accordance with the overhaul manuals, while Cirilo’s doesn’t. Are we allowed to trust in my measuring device and simply assume that Cirilo’s is inaccurate? The answer is no. In this business we have to be sure our measuring devices are reading accurately. To do this we have to appeal to a known standard. Notice what my left hand is resting on. This is a called a gauge block set. Each piece of metal in the set is guaranteed to be a particular size. When we bring our measuring devices to the 1” gauge block, our devices had better read 1” or we know our device needs calibration. It is easy to see why, in the aerospace industry, the known standard is an absolute essential. Without it, engines would likely fail and human lives would be lost.
Now let’s suppose that instead of an engine component being measured, we have a particular event being evaluated. Instead of micrometers or some other measuring device, we have individual human minds evaluating this event. For instance, let’s suppose the event we are evaluating is the government’s approval of abortion on demand. Cirilo may interpret this event as an instance of evil. It is wrong, he may say, to destroy innocent human life. I, on the other hand, may evaluate (“measure”) the story differently. I may look at the government’s decision as a good thing. In other words, our “measuring devices” are not in agreement. Just as in the case of measuring an aircraft engine component, disagreements about questions of right and wrong, good and evil, are extremely important and cannot be simply ignored. Failure to calibrate our moral sensibilities can destroy human lives no less than if an aircraft engine fails in flight. What is needed in both cases is a known standard.
In order to determine if something is truly right or wrong, good or evil, there must be an objective moral standard; a standard which exists wholly apart from human opinion. If God exists, He would indeed provide an appropriate ground for such a standard.1 If God does not exist, then all we are left with is human opinion and in that case, ANY human opinion would be just as “valid” as any other. The problem of course is that, deep down, none of us think this is true. We all agree that certain acts – say, rape and child abuse – are really wrong. Conversely, acts of courage, self sacrifice, generosity and love, are really good. If these values are not anchored in human opinion what are they anchored to if not God?
We may state the argument thus:
1. If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.
2. Objective moral values and duties do exist.
3. Therefore, God exists.
The question now becomes, “Will you and I live our lives in accordance with God’s objective, known standards, as revealed in the Bible and in our hearts, or will we choose to flounder in self-destructive moral relativism?”
Notes and References
1. God’s great-making properties (omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence etc) entail His being personal. This is important because, as far as we know, impersonal objects and forces are effete as far as obligating us goes. Only persons can obligate and if there stands an objective standard of morality to which we are obligated to conform, it follows logically that the locus of this standard is a personal being, qualitatively greater than human kind. The Christian God of the Bible obviously fits the bill.
By John Feakes