When God is Taken Out of the Picture

What happens when we deny that there are moral absolutes? What happens when we take God out of the picture and insist that morals and ethics are cultural and are, therefore, relative?

D. James Kennedy, author of Why I Believe, wrote of what happened at the Nuremberg War Trials after World War II:

During the Nuremberg War Trials after World War II, Nazi leaders were brought before that court and charged with all manner of crimes, including the slaughtering of millions of Jews and other people.

What was their defense? It was a clever one. The Supreme Court in Germany had declared that Jews were nonpersons. So these indicted Nazi leaders said, “We have done nothing wrong. We acted according to our own culture, according to our own mores, according to our own laws. We were told that they could be killed. Who are you to come from another culture, another society, and impose your morals on us?”

The Allied attorneys were thrown for a fifty-yard loss. They didn’t know what to say. If there are no absolutes, if everything is relativistic, if everything is culturally induced and we have no authority to impose our culture upon another, how dare we say that the Nazis were wrong for killing millions of people.

The lawyers were so taken aback, that after huddling for some time, they finally decided to retreat. Since they apparently were not willing to retreat to the moral law of God, they retreated to “natural law,” which has been held through many centuries. Although it is less precise, more vague, it nevertheless still has some moral content to it.

The lawyers appealed to natural laws, and it was on that basis that the Nazis were convicted.