Regarding moral standards we have two basic options: acknowledge an objective/transcendent moral standard, or sculpt some form of morality for ourselves, i.e. relativism. (A third option, evolved morality, is not morality at all > previous post) The argument here is not that a person must believe in God in order to recognize right and wrong or to do “good” things. Both believers and atheists have access to the knowledge of right and wrong (Rom. 2:14). The point is that unless we recognize an objective standard, we have no solid ground from which to declare right and wrong. C.S. Lewis asked how we can call a line “crooked” unless we already know that “straight” exists.
But if an objective moral standard exists, what is its source? Could morals just be a natural part of the universe as some scientists claim that physical laws are? The difference is that morality does not consist of abstract mathematical laws describing how things are, but rather personal, relational ones prescribing how things ought to be. Laws such as algebra or gravity don’t compel guilt or affirmation (oughts) in us regarding our own behavior or our treatment of others. It follows that a source of laws for personal behavior would itself not only be personal, but also interested in how we behave. This would mean we are accountable to it, a thought that should prompt our investigation of it.