The following is a question from an apologist arguing that morality is objective and that moral truths can only come from God: “Do we have a moral obligation to be fair, or to act in our best interest, or to refrain from killing, stealing, etc.?”Our moral obligation is not to a higher power, it is an obligation to our own happiness, and in some cases, our survival.
Imagine a grouping a strange humans before modern civilization. Let’s say that they start off on the wrong foot and engage in a fight to the death. The surviving alpha male has a few kids with the women he’s won. After all the pain and bloodshed, do you think he’d show his offspring to avoid the similar fights to the death in the future? Maybe, maybe not. But if he doesn’t this will repeat until some surviving family unit finally notices that more can be accomplished by teaming up with other family units--even if the only goal is to kill a larger rival tribe. Eventually other tribes unite until they have no reason to kill others. With their needs net, and considering that engaging in combat is costly to all parties involved, this pointless killing will become more and more rare.
Enough of these interactions lead to the smartest (those who know that combat should be avoided unless necessary) survive while others don’t. The genes that lend themselves to this personality trait get passed down while most of the others die out. These genes govern our empathy, instinct, intuition and other matters of thought that are not analytical. This is how we know right from wrong without sitting down and thinking about each moral choice. However, if we did sit to think about it, we can always come to a reason why the right choice is the right choice.
The apologist admits that this could explain how a "sense of morality" would emerge spontaneously within a civilization, but it doesn't explain the existence of moral values themselves. He asks, "Do moral values exist whether we believe in them or not?"I agree with the traditional view of social scientists that morality is a construct, and is thus culturally relative. Our current moral values would not exist if we didn't believe in them, but if that was the case we would believe in other moral values. Some moral values are unlikely to change, not because they are intrinsically right as set by God or some law of the universe, rather because any other value would negatively affect the group that holds the moral value--the group in question could be a certain culture, a country, humanity as a whole, a pod of dolphins, whatever. Valuing human life, or if you prefer the Biblical "thou shalt not kill," is an example of a moral value that is unlikely to ever change, making it seem objective.