If It Isn’t Physical, It Must Be Spiritual
I found this gem on my Facebook feed the other day. A video by Peter Kreeft, a philosophy professor at Boston College and a Christian apologist. Check out the video below.
There are many directions I could take to respond to Kreeft’s video, in fact this this is the first of three blog posts I have planned on this topic.
Somewhat unconventionally though, let’s start at the end and fast forward to Kreeft’s conclusion.
“Just like designs suggest a designer, Moral commands suggest a Moral Commander.” Kreeft believes that absolute morality exists. Of course Kreeft couldn’t be bothered to supply any evidence or examples or even any reason as to why he believes absolute morality exists we are just supposed to take it for granted that it does. But, Kreeft argues, because morality doesn’t exist physically, that is, there are no morality cells, morality atoms, or morality DNA, morality’s cause must (my emphasis) exist apart from nature and therefore be above nature or otherwise be supernatural. He continues the very existence of morality proves the existence of something beyond nature and beyond man.
My question is, does Kreeft’s conclusion make any sense logically? If something does not exist physically either encoded into DNA, cells, or atoms, does it therefore then must exist “above nature” as Kreeft states? And does it prove something “beyond nature and beyond man?”
The answer is a big fat no and to believe otherwise is to exhibit some pretty elementary thinking. Gravity—the force that makes the Universe go round, immediately jumps to mind. Gravity does not exist physically. You can’t draw a depiction of a gravity molecule and yet gravity does not exist above nature. In fact gravity is a law of nature, we can quantify it. If something has X mass it will exhibit Y gravitational pull every time. Draw me a picture of a wind molecule. We know wind exists, we can feel wind, and see wind’s effect on the physical world. The nonphysical existence of gravity and wind don’t prove anything beyond nature, they only prove nature.
Somewhat smaller in the grand scheme of things, government, in all its forms, is a man-made social construction that does not exist physically. Of course we see the effects of government all around us, roads, buildings, ink on paper. But those are just the trappings of government, not what a government is. Governments only exist because people say they do. My young cousin, flying over the farmlands of the Midwest looked down and exclaimed, “look at all the states!” Being so young I can understand his confusion, how should he know that political borders are arbitrary lines drawn on a map, and not into the land itself. Just like political boundaries do not exist physically but only because governments say they do. Governments only exist because people agree they do. Governments do not point to some sort of higher power beyond man (sorry divine right monarchies) they point to people working together to create something intangible.
To go even smaller, individual thoughts do not exist physically (as a good friend pointed out to me). We can manifest our thoughts into real things or actions. A sculptor realizing his vision in clay, an athlete scoring the game winning goal. But how many atoms are needed to build a thought? Because thoughts are not physical things does that mean some supernatural entity is beaming them into our heads? Of course not. Thoughts are the results of electrical impulses firing between synapses in a brain. If you believe in free will then by necessity you believe that each thought and its non physical existence is not indicative of some sort of deity, but rather indicative of the individual person who had that particular thought. There is a vast difference between a deity who knows your thoughts before you think them, and a deity who is thinking your thoughts for you.
Of course some people will look at these three examples and see God behind each one of them (of course they see God behind everything). And that is fine. By no means do any of these three examples disprove the existence of a Moral Commander. But they do demonstrate that just because something isn’t physical, it does not necessarily follow that it has to be spiritual. In this case, Kreeft’s logic is severely lacking and his argument just doesn’t make any sense.
So I’m sorry Mr. Kreeft, the existence of morality, even with its non physical status, does not prove the existence of God.