The source of morality

By Tom Quiner


Pontius Pilate was in the hot seat. What was he going to do about this guy, Jesus?

The San Hedrin were afraid of Jesus. They wanted the Romans to execute him in a desperate attempt to regain the moral authority of their people.

Pilate was trying to understand if Jesus was truly a bad guy or not. He asked Jesus,

“What have you done?’

Jesus did not answer directly:

“My kingdom does not belong to the this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not here.”

Pilate pounced:

“Then you ARE a king?”

Jesus again refused to give him a satisfying and clear answer:

“YOU say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

Pilate responded with the question that has echoed throughout history ever since:

“What is the truth?”

To this day, people debate whether absolute Truth exists, that is, Truth with a capital T.

Philosopher Peter Kreeft says, yes, absolute Truth exists; even more, that moral good and evil exist, and that their existence proves the existence of God.

Dr. Kreeft is the distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Boston College. Whether you agree with him or not, you will appreciate the clarity of his response in the video above.

Dr. Kreeft poses the question, “where do good and evil come from?” He says there are five possibilities, according to atheists:

1. Evolution.

2. Reason.

3. Conscience.

4. Human nature.

5. Utilitarianism.

However, each of these potential sources of morality has a flaw in them, as Dr. Kreeft points out. If this is the case, that morality can’t possibility come from one of these five sources, then morality must exist outside of man and nature.

As Dr. Kreeft suggests,

“The very existence of morality proves the existence of something beyond nature and beyond man.

Moral commands suggest a moral commander.

Moral laws must come from a moral law giver.”

This sounds a lot like God.

So, back to Pilate’s question, “what is the Truth?”

God is the Truth. He sent His Son to reveal it to each of us, just as Jesus said:

“For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.”



  1. saneromeo on March 29, 2013 at 8:58 am

    If it is true to state “There is no absolute Truth”, then one has stated an absolute Truth, which could not exist if the statement were in fact correct…It is as simple as that.

    • quinersdiner on March 29, 2013 at 9:02 am

      Your logic is impeccable.

    • Bob Vance on March 29, 2013 at 4:07 pm

      This proof applies only to logic and does not tell us whether any particular statement other than itself is true. This is one of many reasons why philosophy is considered a “soft science.”

  2. kqduane on March 29, 2013 at 9:36 am

    I’ve heard Dr. Kreeft speak and he is a wise and wonderful man. He travels quite a bit giving lectures. Anyone who has the opportunity to attend his talks will be rewarded tenfold.

    • quinersdiner on March 29, 2013 at 9:45 am

      I hope the opportunity arises. I have read several of his books and listened to him speak on YouTube. He is a gifted apologist. Thanks for writing. Come again.

  3. Bob Vance on March 29, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    “According to atheists”?? Who are these atheists? You seem to have left out a lot between your hypothesis and your conclusion.

    • theguywiththeeye on March 29, 2013 at 4:27 pm

      “Atheist” is merely an adjective for someone who does not believe in god. While there may be “trends” towards certain ideas, there is no established doctrine whatsoever.

      • quinersdiner on March 29, 2013 at 5:30 pm

        So you’re saying there is no absolute truth?

        • theguywiththeeye on March 29, 2013 at 6:23 pm

          You’d have to define what you mean by absolute truth specifically for the purpose of this isolated discussion. Words aren’t the language of truth. Numbers are. Which human beings do not excel at. We are all poets in a sense. Our minds work in metaphors. Which is why “god” makes sense to most of us.

      • Bob Vance on March 29, 2013 at 5:41 pm

        Atheist just means a non-theist. I am a non-Biblical theist. I am a non-Koran theist. I am also a non-medical doctor, a non-fireman, a non-olympic athlete, … You get the idea 🙂

      • Bob Vance on March 29, 2013 at 5:51 pm

        I am a follower of Jesus. I believe in what he taught. I admire what he did. I just don’t believe in the virgin birth or the resurrection. If it were discovered tomorrow I am right, would that diminish his message? Would theists go out and rape and pillage? I doubt it.

        Most people took days to die on the cross. Jesus was up there a few hours. There was no modern medical doctor to pronounce Jesus dead. The guards could have easily thought him dead. It is not that uncommon for people in ERs to technically die but are then resuscitated. If he did not actually die, he could have left his tomb and met up with his disciples. It’s not like they would rat him out.

        I admit it’s a work in progress. 

  4. Bob Vance on March 29, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    If morality is an absolute truth, then slavery and genocide have always been immoral, but the Biblical God promoted both in the Old Testament, so that would imply that He is immoral. What reason would we have to follow an immoral God?

    Before you say – “Sometimes we just can’t understand God”, I would point out that for morality to be an absolute truth, it would have to be an absolute truth for even God otherwise it would just be a relative truth which God could decide to change at any moment.

    • Bob Vance on March 29, 2013 at 5:33 pm

      Philosophy hurts my brain.

      • Karen Quiner on March 29, 2013 at 10:01 pm


        You said: “I am a follower of Jesus. I believe in what he taught. I admire what he did.”

        Jesus said He was the Son of God. He said he would be crucified, die, and rise again. Was he lying? Either Jesus was who He said He was or he was seriously deluded or evil.

        You said: “Most people took days to die on the cross. Jesus was up there a few hours. There was no modern medical doctor to pronounce Jesus dead. The guards could have easily thought him dead. It is not that uncommon for people in ERs to technically die but are then resuscitated. If he did not actually die, he could have left his tomb and met up with his disciples. It’s not like they would rat him out.”

        He had been scourged first, which leaves a person just this side of death. Plus, at the very end, they thrust a lance in His side. Then his body was prepared (embalmed) and He spent 3 days in the tomb.

        After that, many people saw him alive over the next 40 days.
        What followed was thousands of people who had seen all this, who were willing to go to their own hideous deaths because they knew what they had seen but wouldn’t back down. For the last 2000 years, people have been willing to go to their death rather than deny Him.

        What Jesus decidedly was NOT was a really good man with great teaching. I repeat, He was who He said He was, or He was deluded or a liar or worse..

        I think it is highly unlikely that all of His followers would have been willing to be martyred themselves, in horrible ways, just because they didn’t want to rat him out.

        God Bless you,

        • theguywiththeeye on March 29, 2013 at 10:37 pm

          Karen, no one knows what Jesus said or did. We only know what people said that he said or did. History was not being recorded in any reliable way in the remote locations where Jesus was said to have existed.

          • quinersdiner on March 30, 2013 at 9:48 am

            I respectfully demur. The historical record for Jesus is compelling, multi-sourced, and multi-faceted. It comes from both believers and non-believers. It was written in close proximity to actual events, within a single generation when there were still living eye witnesses. Contrast that with, let’s say, the history of Alexander the Great where his history was written some 600 years later. In particular, the Gospel of Luke and The Acts of the Apostles are a historical account of the life of Jesus. Then there are the epistles of Paul, an enemy of Christianity who converted. I would suggest that the historical record is rich. I may post on it more fully.

          • theguywiththeeye on March 30, 2013 at 10:16 am

            I respectfully say, bawlagna (bologne).
            Surely you know how unreliable the human memory is and what happens with word-of-mouth accounts, Tom? If we approach this like we do all other claims, we would go at it as false-until-proven true & “a single generation” would not be enough to satisfy us. However, most of us approach god/Jesus as true-until-proven false. I did for most of my life, and it was exceedingly easy to make excuses for my imaginary heroes.

            It seems odd to apply the same logic to this claim that we do to innocence in a courtroom. If you haven’t tried to convince yourself that god/jesus DOESN’T exist, then you haven’t done your homework — in my opinion.

          • quinersdiner on March 30, 2013 at 10:46 am

            I have looked at the evidence that Jesus either didn’t exist, didn’t die, or didn’t rise, and historic and physical evidence, in my estimation, is compelling. Christianity goes beyond this compelling record. I guess we’ll have to respectfully disagree. I know nothing I say will budge your faith, just as nothing you say shall budge mine. Christianity is a lifelong love affair with the Divine. I guess that’s all I can say about it.

          • theguywiththeeye on March 30, 2013 at 10:50 am

            Yes, precisely, and I’m rarely trying to convince the person I’m engaged in conversation with on a blog. It’s your readers/followers who concern me.

            What do we do for those we love? We forgive their flaws, right? I know I make excuses for the people I love all of the time — if I didn’t I would be incredibly lonely … well, which I am, but that’s another story. I love my fiancee, and I am lucky to have one person who can make excuses for ME 🙂

      • theguywiththeeye on March 29, 2013 at 10:26 pm

        What if god’s test is to see all the contradictions in the bible and be a good person without having to believe in it. That would at least make a modicum of sense.

      • Bob Vance on March 30, 2013 at 10:14 am

        Judas was very close to Jesus. Jesus trusted him to hold the money. Would Judas have betrayed Jesus if he truly thought he was the son of God, ie God? Either he was in on the plan from the beginning, or he saw him as just a man.

        As for the apostles, they went from being fishermen and such to today’s equivalant of rock stars. Add in that they didn’t know when they set out how it would end. They carried on. What I found interesting was that “healer” was a legitimate trade back then, like a medical doctor is today. You walk around, get free room and board, in exchange for having demons caste from your home or person. That would sure beat going back to working as a fisherman.

        Plus, consider that the whole New Testament was put together by men over three hundred years after Christ. The first gospel wasn’t even written down until at least 65 years later, and then by authors unknown. Some even claim, based on the timeline, that Mark, Mathew, and Luke are just versions of the same gospel. No one can say they are wrong with certainty. Apparently, there were many version of each gospel circulating, which is why they decided to canonize in the first place. They couldn’t have one tribe teaching one gospel of Mark while another had a different version.

        Recently (relatively speaking), we have found gospels shown to be from that time of Thomas and Mary – gospels that were left out. Unless someone had an agenda, you would think an original apostle would trump an unkown author. The council of men (men with an agenda) decided by vote what got in and what was rejected.

        The Church has had 2000 years to edit the truth. In those days, confronting the church did not end well. You ended up dead, either directly or slowly rotting in a prison cell.

        It is not a coincidence that Christian Holidays coincide with pagan holidays popular in Rome at the time. Mithra was one such God popular then. He was born a virgin on December 25th and was always portrayed with a halo. The head of the church was known as the “Popa”.

        • theguywiththeeye on March 30, 2013 at 10:46 am

          Pope Benedict admitted that last tidbit in his book before he resigned.

  5. What Is Truth? | on March 30, 2013 at 2:59 am

    […] The source of morality ( […]

  6. Bob Vance on March 30, 2013 at 11:48 am

    Are abominations sins, or are merely guidelines for a people who lived 4000 years ago? If you want to be a better Jew than try to do these things and try not to do these other things. Sort of like “You should strive to keep weight under control.” Or “smoking is bad for you”. Or “seafood is bad for you”.

    Adam was created by God directly. Eve was created from Adam. Women have always had a “second class” standing in the Bible. When it says that man should not lie with another man, maybe God doesn’t want man to be someone’s bitch? It’s beneath you as a man to lower yourself into a woman’s role?

    Feel free to correct me, but aren’t all references to homsexuality in the NT contained in other lessons such as idolatry and seem to be related to male prostitution in and near the temple?

    I am not anti-religion. But I feel I must at least point out that there is enough unknowns in the Bible to at least open up the possibility that maybe we shouldn’t judge. I invoke “How can we truly understand God’s meaning”.

    • theguywiththeeye on March 30, 2013 at 12:41 pm

      Do you think that you would be anti-religion if it were not deemed irreverent to be anti-religion?

  7. Bob Vance on March 30, 2013 at 11:54 am


    For me it doesn’t matter whether Jesus even existed hostorically. For me it’s the message. Before Jesus, Rome, the center of modern European civilization, was not a nice place to live. Because of Jesus, people started striving to be nicer to their neighbor; to show empathy towards the poor and the disabled.

  8. […] Historically, almost every culture has used the death penalty as punishment for murder. We’ve been hard-wired by our Creator to heed the message that “thou shalt not kill,” as I discussed in a previous essay (“The source of morality”). […]