Erik Wielenberg

My Response to William Lane Craig’s Critique of My Divine Love Theory

By Adam Lloyd Johnson, Ph.D.

First, I’ll provide key quotes from Craig’s podcast. Craig said he has reservations about my Divine Love Theory because “it proposes that the love between the members of the Trinity is the source and foundation of morality, and I think that is a distorted and lopsided view because, as important as divine love is, it also equally belongs to God’s moral perfection to be just and to be holy.”

Debate: What Is the Best Account of Objective Morality?

In September 2020, Adam Lloyd Johnson debated Dr. Erik Wielenberg, an atheist philosopher and Professor of Philosophy at DePauw University. They discussed the foundations of morality and whether or not God is necessary to explain the existence of objective moral values and duties.

What Makes Something Morally Good or Bad?

Everyone seems to have an idea of right and wrong. We know that being loving and forgiving are good things to do. We know that it is wrong to murder or to rape. We all know about the existence of moral rules, such as "Thou shalt not steal" and "Love your neighbor as yourself." In philosophy, the study of these moral rules, of right and wrong, good and bad, is called ethics. So, what makes something good or bad? We might know what things are good and bad, but why is something good or bad? Who's to say that loving someone is good but hating them is bad? Where do right and wrong come from? In philosophy, this area of study is known as "metaethics," and in this series, Adam explores both theistic and atheistic theories of what makes something morally good or bad. Is God the foundation of morality, or is God not needed to explain the source of moral values and duties? What does it even mean to say that God is the "foundation" of morality?

Why Johnson’s Trinitarian Moral Theory is a Better Explanation Than Wielenberg’s

Adam believes that his Trinitarian Moral Theory is a better explanation for the existence of objective morality than Erik Wielenberg’s theory of Godless Normative Realism. Why does Adam think his theory is better? The Trinitarian Moral Theory contains five elements that are important for moral truth to be objectively real that Wielenberg’s theory lacks. First, the Trinitarian Moral Theory posits the existence of an ultimate moral standard, God, to which humans can be compared. Second, it offers an objective purpose for human beings that contextualizes morality. Third, it provides a social context for moral obligation, since moral obligations arise out of social relationships. Fourth, it recognizes a personal authority at the head of the chain of moral obligation to whom human beings are obligated. Finally, it grounds all moral truth in an ultimate foundation. Taken together, these features of the Trinitarian Moral Theory make it a more plausible explanation for objective morality than Wielenberg’s theory.

Erik Wielenberg’s Theory

Erik Wielenberg has proposed an atheistic theory of where morality comes from. He claims that God is not necessary in order to have objective morality by which humans are required to live. Wielenberg's theory has three main components: First, it is not a materialistic theory, meaning that it does not assume that the physical world is all there is. Second, Wielenberg's theory proposes the existence of "brute ethical facts" that exist outside of nature which ground moral values and obligations. Third, Wielenberg says that these facts become applicable to human beings by something he calls the "making relationship," whereby facts about circumstances in the world cause moral facts to become applicable to certain situations (to be instantiated). This lecture explains the main concepts of Wielenberg's theory and also examines some objections to his theory.

Is God Necessary for Morality?

By Adam Lloyd Johnson, Ph.D.

Mark D. Linville and Louise Antony recently participated in a written debate on the question of whether or not God is necessary for morality. Linville argued that God is necessary for morality whereas Antony argued that God is not. Adam interacts with the arguments made by these two authors and also puts forth his case that God is the best explanation for objective morality.

Critiquing Erik Wielenberg’s Metaethical Model

Atheist Erik Wielenberg has proposed a theory of morality (also known as a “metaethical model”) which claims that objective moral values and obligations can exist without God. In this interview with Crash Course Apologetics, Adam critiques Wielenberg’s theory of morality by explaining how Wielenberg’s model is susceptible to what is called the “Lucky Coincidence Objection,” the idea that, without God, it is just a lucky coincidence that humans are able to know what is objectively morally right. (This interview is based on a paper Adam published in Philosophia Christi, which you can find here.)

God and Morality Debate: Craig vs. Wielenberg

In 2018, William Lane Craig and Erik J. Wielenberg participated in a debate moderated by Adam Lloyd Johnson at North Carolina State University, addressing the question: “God and Morality: What is the Best Account of Objective Moral Values and Duties?” Craig argued that theism provides a sound foundation for objective morality whereas atheism does not. Wielenberg countered that morality can be objective even if there is no God. The transcript of this debate was subsequently made into a book called A Debate on God and Morality which was edited by Adam Lloyd Johnson. The book provides crucial resources for better understanding moral realism and its dependence on, or independence from, theistic foundations.

Sweeping Contingency Under the Rug

How Erik Wielenberg’s Third Factor Model Fails to Rebut the Lucky Coincidence Objection

By Adam Lloyd Johnson, Ph.D.

Erik Wielenberg describes his view as “godless robust normative realism,” a combination of holding that “robust normative realism is true and there is no God.”1 Enoch describes robust normative realism as the view that “there are response-independent, non-natural, irreducibly normative truths… objective ones, that when successful in our normative inquiries we discover rather than create or construct.”2 Adding ‘godless’ to this, Wielenberg’s position then is that objective moral values and obligations exist, even though God does not.

In his non-theistic model Wielenberg claims that moral facts and properties are objectively real and that we as human beings can have accurate moral knowledge of these facts and properties.

Objective Morality and the Moral Argument

In this interview with Ratio Christi’s Truth Matters, Adam discusses the objectivity of morality and the moral argument for God. He gives an overview of Robert M. Adams’ metaethical model which posits that God is the best explanation for morality. What are some common objections to this model? Could evolution have produced morality? What is natural law and how does it relate to objective morality? Does morality come from God’s commands? Did morality change from the Old Testament to the New Testament? Why do some of God’s commandments in the Old Testament seem so odd? Watch the interview to discover the answers to these questions and more.