God has revealed His moral character only to be dismissed by those who are filled with all unrighteousness. The Bible explains why. “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them” (Rom. 1:28-32).
Because God has revealed Himself in general and special revelation to mankind, individuals know that God is holy, just, and good. Individuals know about God, and they know right from wrong. But the natural man hates God. “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14).
The natural man does not want God in his mind. The natural man will suppress the truth, and invite other individuals to join the revolt against reason. But the human revolt against God is to no avail. Death and judgment still awaits those who oppose the Lord. “For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law” (Rom. 2:12).
God has given His Law to individuals through Moses, and in the heart of individuals manifested by the conscience. In this way God bears witness to Himself. The main problem with the natural man who rejects the Law of God is that it leads to anarchy and chaos. Structure is needed for social interaction if civilization is to be maintained. At the moment, American culture is becoming neo-barbaric because society has embraced the propositions that God is dead, man is derived from the animals, and there is no accountability after death. Many secular colleges produce little more than pseudo-educated barbarians.
Despite man’s attempt to dismiss God or suppress knowledge of God, there is still, what the German philosopher Immanuel Kant called, a sense of “oughtness” in the soul. This sense of moral “oughtness” to behave in a certain manner is Kant’s famous “Categorical Imperative”. The sense of “oughtness” cannot be erased illustrated in Lady Duncan trying to rub the blood off her hands saying in guilt, “Out damn’d spot, out” (Macbeth, Acts 5, Scene I). The biggest problem people face is what to do with their guilt for guilty they are. “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one” (Rom. 3:10). Because individuals are not righteous, some want to know, they need to know, if there really is a way of salvation from the pollution, and penalty, of sin.
When Kant came to the question of knowledge, he asked, “If knowledge is possible, what would it have to be?” “What are the necessary ingredients needed in order to have knowledge?” Kant decided to transcend the problem in order to answer the question. Kant began with the presupposition of the existence of a moral “oughtness”.
Other philosophers, such as Friedrich Nietzsche (October 15, 1844 – August 25, 1900), scoffed at the concept of a moral “oughtness” and said it does not exist and humanity should get rid of any guilt it may have. But that is not possible, nor is it rational. As Kant noted, without a Categorical Imperative implanted in the soul of individuals, civilization would be impossible. Without a moral “oughtness” then the law of the jungle prevails, and might makes right. Civilization is destroyed, and humans rise no higher than the animals.
Fyodor Dostoevsky (November 11, 1821 – February 9, 1881), the Russian novelist, said that if there is no God, then all things are permissible. If there is no objective ground for what is right, there is no objective ground for what is wrong. Life becomes a battle over preferences. That creates conflict and warfare between individuals. It is good that there is a Categorical Imperative in humanity, a sense of moral “oughtness”.
Kant went on to argue that for the Categorical Imperative to be meaningful there must be justice. If ultimately crime pays, then there is no practical reason to be virtuous. There is no practical reason not to be selfish. There must be justice where right behaviour is rewarded and bad behaviour punished. So Kant asked, “What is necessary in order for there to be justice?” He came to the following conclusion.
First, in order for there to be justice, there must be life after death, because it is painfully obvious that in this world there is much injustice. In this world not every wrong is made right. There are innocent people who perish at the hands of the guilty.
Second, in addition for justice to be rendered, there must be a judge in the life after death who himself is just and morally righteous lest he be corrupted in some form.
Third, in order for justice to be just the righteous judge must be omniscient so that the judgment he renders is without error, and without blemish.
Fourth, in addition to life after death, and a final judgment presided over by a just judge who is perfectly righteous, and who knows everything, the judge must be omnipotent, he must have power to enforce his judgment. If he were powerless, or restricted in any way from bringing justice to a conclusion, there is no guarantee that justice shall be served.
In summary, and to make it personal, Immanuel Kant argued that if justice is to matter, then you, the individual have to matter. That means that you have to be held accountable for your every attitude and actions by a just judge. If morality is true, then it makes the existence of God an absolute necessity. Kant insisted that we must live as if there is a God because if there is no God, there is no hope for civilization.
Most people who do not want God in their life want to live on what Dr. R. C. Sproul called “borrowed capital”. They do not want God, but they do want significance and meaning for human existence. Kant said, “You cannot have both. You cannot have a life without God and have justice and morality.” But a life with God, a life that is conscious of God and His righteousness is a life with purpose, definition, and meaning. Jesus said, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).