The new concept of Moral Relativism has become increasingly in vogue (see e.g. Jeremy Bentham), and argues that morality is simply a societal construct which varies according to culture. This philosophy argues for morality simply being subject to any given person's upbringing, and whatever is right for them is what is right. If morality, after all, does not exist as a force, but simply is the decree of a society, then nothing can be declared truly wrong. However, nothing can be declared truly right, either.
When examining nearly universally recognized examples of horrendous evil, however, such as Nazi Germany's genocides, it becomes apparent that there must be universal right and wrong. Otherwise, Hitler and the Nazis were simply doing what was right for their own culture, and there is no basis for criticizing their actions as immoral. Moral Relativism provides no lens for criticizing such obviously wrong scenarios.
Furthermore, there are largely universal norms when it comes to morality that almost all societies, both today and throughout history, have held, which point to an innate sense of right and wrong. As one example, all societies contain taboos against incest, and the study of anthropology recognizes the incest taboo as universal. While societies may vary as to how they define that, some for example restrict marriage to cross cousins, others to parallel cousins, and others to both, they all restrict incest in one form or another. Even the few examples throughout history which have some form of exception (for example ancient Egypt allowing siblings to marry) they involved royal families specifically which were considered of divine descent.
Where does good come from?
A powerful argument most moral people can accept for God's existence is made by Ravi Zacharias in 'Jesus Among Other Gods' and other of his books. Ravi points out that the critic who accuses God of allowing evil in the world is actually inferring the existence of good as well, for how can there be evil without good? After this, it is necessary to point out that for there to be good and evil in the universe, there must be a moral law by which they exist. But if there is a moral law, then there must be a powerful, moral lawgiver as well. A moral law to the universe does not just arise from nothing. As Ravi puts it,
|“||"When you say there is evil, aren't you admitting there is good? When you accept the existence of goodness, you must affirm a moral law on the basis of which to differentiate between good and evil. But when you admit to a moral law, you must posit a moral lawgiver. That, however, is who you are trying to disprove and not prove. For if there is no moral lawgiver, there is no moral law. If there is no moral law, there is no good. If there is no good, there is no evil. What then is your question?"
"You may ask, Why does assuming a moral law necessitate a moral lawgiver? Because every time the question of evil is raised, it is either by a person or about a person—and that implicitly assumes that the question is a worthy one. But it is a worthy question only if people have intrinsic worth, and the only reason people have intrinsic worth is that they are the creations of One who is of ultimate worth. That person is God. So the question self-destructs for the naturalist or the pantheist. The question of the morality of evil or pain is valid only for a theist."
Essentially Ravi in his second point is pointing out that for people to have intrinsic worth they must have been created that way by a Creator; if we are nothing more than blobs of tissue caused by random chance then human beings lack inherent value. He is making an argument that the intrinsic worth of human beings that allows us to assume they have inalienable rights is of necessity founded on the belief that God is the one who gives them those rights. That explains why the founding fathers like Jefferson and Madison when discussing inalienable rights referred frequently to a Creator, including in the Declaration of Independence, which states, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
At a deeper level, you can't ask why evil occurs to people without assuming people have inherent worth and value, inalienable rights. But that assumes they were created by God with those rights and given those rights and inherent value by God. Those raising the Problem of Evil to attack the existence of GOD are unknowingly acknowledging the inherent worth of human beings, the inalienable right to life given to them by GOD, by which harm to them is 'wrong.'
For more by Ravi on the subject see the following:
- Nonsense or New Life? Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.
As observed by Michael Horner on the question of tolerance, tolerance cannot mean never disagreeing with others or acknowledging all views as equally right. That is a ridiculous and illogical argument. Two plus two, mathematically speaking, is four, not seven, or twenty-three, or one hundred and twenty-seven. All of us hold views about right and wrong and have the God-given right, according to the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence, of expressing our beliefs through free speech. Indeed, as pointed out by Horner, one cannot "tolerate" something one already agrees with, the word implies disagreement. True tolerance means allowing others to speak and act without coercion even though we disagree with them, recognizing that God gave them the right to free will just. We can still argue for our own beliefs about right and wrong, and criticize lifestyle actions as immoral. Indeed, everyone holds opinions about right and wrong, those who claim they do not are disingenuous.
|“||Some people might question this, saying it is intolerant to think only one religion has things right. But this response shows a misunderstanding of what intolerance really is. Intolerance comes from the word 'tolerate.' To tolerate means to allow something, such as a belief, to exist even though we don’t like it or agree with it. Tolerance does not mean never disagreeing with anybody. The word implies disagreement. True tolerance means allowing differing views to coexist without necessarily agreeing with them or claiming that all views are true. Therefore, we can hold that one view is true or better than other views without being intolerant. If we were truly intolerant, we would seek to silence other points of view. But merely engaging in persuasive conversation with someone you disagree with is not intolerance. We show more respect for each other when we take our religious claims seriously than when we clothe them in a patronizing cloak of relativism.
-Michael Horner 
- Zacharias, Ravi (1994). Can Man Live Without God. Word Publishing. Retrieved from http://xwalk.ca/evil.html.
- Zacharias, Ravi (2012, February 26). Into God's Arms. Retrieved from http://www.rzim.org/a-slice-of-infinity/into-gods-arms/.
- Jefferson, Thomas (1776, July 4). Declaration of Independence. Retrieved from http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html.
- Horner, Michael. Do All Religions Lead to God? Thoughts About God.