In this post, I would like to compare arguments made by Louise M. Antony in her article “Good Minus God” and Paul Kurtz in his debate with William Craig on “Is Goodness without God Good Enough?”
In her article, Louise Antony argues that from an atheist perspective, morality is not imposed on the world by a divine entity. Instead, she believes that morality is present in the world and is a part of human nature, stemming from human experiences and our upbringings. In essence, her viewpoint is that morality is innate within humans and therefore what is morally good is discerned by humans themselves rather than decided by God. She goes on to distinguish between two types of theories concerned with this topic: Divine Command Theory (DCT) and Divine Independence Theory (DIT). Proponents of DCT believe that God decides what is morally good. On the other hand, proponents of DIT believe that moral goodness is independent of God. Antony, of course, is a Divine Independence Theorist and as mentioned previously, believes that morality is an innate human value that is independent of God.
In his debate with William Craig, Paul Kurtz argues that morality is independent of belief in God. His main argument is that “morality and moral behavior do not depend on divine commandments but on the development of an inner moral sense and, particularly in the young, the growth of moral character, and the capacity for moral reasoning” (Kurtz/Craig Debate Pg. 25). He believes that as evolutionarily advanced species, we humans are capable of sensing feelings among one another and are clearly able to discern morally good actions such as love and friendship towards one another. Lastly, he believes that in order to best resolve moral dilemmas, we must all find a common ground and learn to reason together based on common moral principles.
It is evident from both Antony’s and Kurtz’s arguments that they are share very similar if not identical viewpoints with respect to morality as it relates to religious beliefs. Hence, I believe it is fair to say that Kurtz himself is a proponent of DIT, just like Antony. Both philosophers believe that morality is independent of religious beliefs, that one does not have to believe in God to know what actions are morally good. To conclude, both Kurtz and Antony, as defenders of atheism, make the powerful claim that life is meaningful even if one is an atheist.