“Unfortunately for naturalism all such attempts [to base ethics on empiricism, social demands, individual goods, and all without benefit of revelation] are failures because there is no empirical knowledge sufficient to brand murder as wrong and private property as right. Any empirical calculation to foster the good life in all persons affected by one’s conduct is a vain dream. Even if it were true that murder and theft frequently result in pain to the perpetrator, it is clear that this is not universally true. Hitler may have suffered for his murders and confiscations; but Stalin lived to a ripe old age, enjoying the almost perfect fruition of his vengeful plans. Few adherents of Biblical morality can boast of such empirical success. Indeed, even in the case of Hitler, his final catastrophe included, what purely naturalistic argumen could show that his life was not better than the lives of the six million Jews he murdered? He enjoyed excitement, wealth, and power for several years, and suffered only a few moments. Is not this a better life than that of his pitiful victims? Unless there is an Almighty God to impose inescapable penalties on transgressors, why should we not praise the rich, full, stimulating, dangerous life of a dictator?
Any theory therefore which denies divine sanctions for violation of divine law not only fails to condemn murder, adultery, and theft, but in addition fails to establish any universal or common distintion between right and wrong. Naturalism therefore cannot serve as a ground for Christian morals, nor can it serve as a ground even for the inculcation of the personal preferences of its exponents. In an empirical, descriptive philosophy, one may find the verb is; but the verb ought has no logical standing.”
From an essay entitled “Can Moral Education be Grounded in Naturalism?” in Clark’s Essays on Ethics and Politics, Jefferson: Trinity Foundation, 1992. pp. 9-10. Essay originally published in the Bulletin of the Evangelical Theological Society, Fall 1958.