The Reason For God Study Guide Chapter 9

I am posting a study guide for Tim Keller’s The Reason for God that I created to lead my small group through. I hope it is a blessing.

The Reason for God Chapter 9

The Knowledge of God

Ice Breaker

  • What was your favorite part of this chapter?
  • What made you struggle in this chapter?

Interpretation Questions

  • What was your favorite part of this chapter?
  • What made you struggle in this chapter?
  • What did you learn about God in this chapter?
  • What did you learn about yourself in this chapter?

Free Floating Morality

People have strong moral convictions but unlike other people in other times and places they don’t have any visible basis for why they find some things to be evil and other things to be good.

Their moral intuitions are free-floating in midair- far off the ground.

Radical Thesis: People in our culture know unavoidably that there is a God, but they are repressing what they know.

  • What do you think about this? Do you have any examples?

The Concept of Moral Obligation

Common Argument: No one should impose their moral views on others, because everyone has the right to find truth inside him or herself.

This belief raises some difficult questions that must be answered:

  1. Aren’t there people in the world who are doing things that you think are wrong even though they think they are right?
  2. Doesn’t that mean you do believe that there is some sort of moral standard that people should abide by regardless of their individual convictions?
  3. Why is it impossible for anyone (in reality) to be a consistent moral relativist even when they claim that they are?

The answer: we all have a pervasive, powerful, and unavoidable belief not only in moral values but also moral obligation.

  • Basically we all think people should act right and that is something internal not external.

The Evolutionary Theory of Moral Obligation

People who are good have a better chance of surviving by taking care of each other. This trait is something that is bred into us by our ancestors as a defense mechanism.


  1. Being mean to other tribes is a better trait to survival than sacrificing for others.
  2. However being nice to others not like us feels right. Example: Why should we care about Haiti or Japan?
  3. Some say this is because it is a collective belief that is passed down by natural selection: However there is consensus that natural selection does not work for populations.

Summary: Evolution can’t account for the origin of our moral feelings, let alone the fact that we think there are external moral standards by which moral feelings are evaluated.

The Problem of Moral Obligation

The sense of moral obligation creates a problem for those with a secular understanding of the world.

Most people can’t answer it and are stuck having to stay true to there philosophical beliefs or moral convictions.

Example of lady who thought that there is no relative morality. But when she saw oppression of women had to act because she thought it was morally wrong.


Difficult Issue of Human Rights

Human rights: Every human being has inherent dignity and that it is obligatory that we order our lives in accordance with this fact.

Where do human rights come from?

  • Is it from our European Culture?
  • Is it from God?  Made in God’s image?
  • It comes from nature? Natural law.
    • Problem: Nature thrives on violence and predation, on survival of the fittest.
    • There is no way to derive the concept of the dignity of every individual from the way things really work in nature.
    • AKA: outside of our cities and suburbs the world is savage.
    • It comes from the people who write the laws?
      • That the majority of a society decides.
        • Problem: what happens if a majority think that individual dignity is not in their interests?
          • Apartheid, Slavery, Euthenasia.
          • If they are nothing but a voted on agreement then there is nothing greater to appeal to if they are voted out of existence.
          • If human rights are created by majorities what use are they? Human rights are valuable to insist that majorities value the dignity of minorities and individuals who are weaker.
          • Rights cannot be created, they must be discovered or they are of no value.

Michael J Perry:  There is a religious ground for the morality of human rights… but it is far from clear that there is a non-religious ground, a secular ground for human rights.

Neitzsche: If God is dead, any and all morality of love and human rights is baseless.

  • If there is no God there is no reason to be kind, to be loving or to work for peace.
  • If we believe there is no God, why do we still keep taking moral judgments for granted as if nothing has happened?

The Grand Sez Who?

If there is no God, then there is no way to say any one action is moral and another immoral but only “I like this.”

Who gets to determine morality?

The Argument for God from the Violence of Nature

Nature is based on violence. Humans alone seem to want peace. Why?

  • The Bible explains why.  The world is broken and needs a savior and we know this in our hearts.
  • If we believe human rights are a reality, then it makes much more sense that God exists than that he does not.


The Endless, Pointless Litigation of Existence

If there is no God, what is the point of existence?

You can do 2 things: 1. Don’t think about it. 2. Accept that you know there is no God.


Prayer Time

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