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Featured The Euthyphro Dilemma and Appeals to God as Source of Morality

Discussion in 'General Religious Debates' started by Left Coast, Nov 14, 2022.

  1. Left Coast

    Left Coast The Fabulous
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    The problem with appealing to God as the source of morality is this:

    Are things moral because God says so?

    Or does God say those things are moral because they're moral?

    If the former, then could God say rape is moral? Or murder? Or torture? If so, then the theist has abandoned any reasonable moral ground and could be convinced anything is moral, no matter how obviously atrocious, if she was convinced God said so.

    If the latter, then God is appealing to some standard outside of themselves to identify certain things as moral or not. Which means all we need to know is what that standard is and we've circumvented any need for God to tell us what's what and the standard...well, stands, on its own merits.

    Where have I gone wrong?
     
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  2. Polymath257

    Polymath257 Think & Care
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    The answer I have seen from some apologists is that your mistake is thinking that goodness is a *property* of God. In their view, God and goodness are inseparable. So, they would be closer to the first branch of your dilemma, but with the view that God *could not* say something is moral that is not, in fact, good. In the second branch, the reasoning is that there is no way to circumvent the need for God because goodness and God are inseparable, so if you can determine what is good, it is because God ultimately said so.

    (Not that I believe these positions, mind you).
     
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  3. Left Coast

    Left Coast The Fabulous
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    Yes I've heard similar replies.

    The problem I see there is that if God cannot command certain things because they are immoral, and cannot make them moral by declaring them so, then it remains the inescapable conclusion that things are moral independently of God's saying so. Some standard exists that God is using to determine what to command and what not to command. Even if God adheres to that standard to a tee.

    Well if we want to say that God is goodness, then I suppose that's just a matter of labeling. In that case, everyone is a theist? Since we are all (for the most part) aiming to do what is good? But in that case, it means we're apparently theists who believe in God without knowing it? Which really strains credulity, IMHO.
     
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  4. nPeace

    nPeace Veteran Member

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    You have gone wrong in your hypothetical that God would say wrong is right, or bad is good.
    So basically, you are saying that you are your own god, regardless, because God is like you, and decides like you.
    In other words, you are saying, God is not perfect, and subject to being immoral.
     
  5. nPeace

    nPeace Veteran Member

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    We know you don't believe them. What do you say to them?
     
  6. nPeace

    nPeace Veteran Member

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    Yes. The standard is his essence - his very being.
    How is that a problem?

    Huh? Let me take time to chew over that, and see if I get it.
    Maybe I need to go eat, so as to get my brain cells working.
    Be right back.
     
  7. Koldo

    Koldo Incredible Member

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    That's not quite what was said. It is more like: If we take the first alternative, it means God could call anything good or evil and it would be so.

    I have no idea on how you went from the first part of your post to this second part. A logical leap was taken here.

    Another leap. No idea how this third part follows from the other two.
     
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  8. Koldo

    Koldo Incredible Member

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    But, is his essence good because it is in line with specific parameters of what defines goodness or just because it is his essence?

    I think an hyphotetical is proper to explain it: Imagine for a second that God says right now that torturing children is in line with his essence.

    Would God's essence then be good?
    There are two possible answers:

    1) Yes, because goodness is defined by God's essence. And therefore if torturing children is in line with God's essence, then torturing children is good. God is good no matter what his essence is specifically.

    2) No, because goodness is defined by attributes that don't match with torturing children. And therefore if torturing children is in line with God's essence, it must be the case that God is not good.
     
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  9. osgart

    osgart Nothing my eye, Something for sure

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    If things are moral only because God said so then there's no other reasoning involved in being moral. God said so is the only justification for morality. Otherwise there must be standards for what makes things moral outside of who God is. No one can have it both ways. It's one or the other.

    I hold that people need to be moral for very good reasons. I hold that there are standards outside of one's self that a moral agent needs to consider. If being moral means that justice is a real thing then moral actions happen for a good reason, and immoral actions cannot be justified then.

    If anything is justifiable then murder would be a moral act. But everyone has reasons why murder is bad for life and life pursuits.

    If morality is just preferences then anything goes because it's only a matter of tastes.

    I think many theists agree that there is a standard of morality outside of God, and Christians would claim mankind didn't live up to it and failed. They would also agree that God cannot possibly ever do immoral things, and God knows morality better than anyone to the point of being masterfully moral.
     
  10. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    Or there's no "reasoning" of which you're capable, or ...

    It is a cardinal sin to confuse the word with the thing. It is also rank foolishness to pretend that some presumed preternatural agency is, or should be, comprehensible.

    On the other hand, it is hard to read Abraham's negotiation with God in Genesis 18 without inferring an independent standard.
     
  11. Left Coast

    Left Coast The Fabulous
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    No. I'm saying that either God can command things that are immoral or some standard exists indepedent of God saying so that God uses to determine what's good and what isn't.

    If we know what that standard is, God has put herself out of a job, morally speaking. We don't need a God to determine what's good at all, we simply need to know whatever that standard is. Then what is moral becomes clear all on its own.

    So which is it?
     
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  12. TagliatelliMonster

    TagliatelliMonster Veteran Member

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    If God ultimately decides what is wrong and what is right, then how does it have any meaning to say something like "would not say wrong is right or bad is good"?

    If what God says is the standard of morality, then how could you determine if what god says is good or bad?

    The very statement that "god would not say bad is good" implies that god appeals to some standard that exists independently of himself.

    If not, the statement has no meaning it seems to me.
     
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  13. nPeace

    nPeace Veteran Member

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    Um. That's the same thing as saying God is not perfect in all his ways... including morals.
    It's the same as saying God is imperfect, like me, and subject to making immoral decisions... like me.
    Therefore God is no different to me, and has to do the same thing I do... which is, decide on what is moral, and what isn't.
    So basically, God is no different to me. I can be... in fact, I am my own god... like God. :shrug:

    Hope I cleared it up, above.

    You just didn't get it.
    I understand. Grasping a concept that's not in one's mind, may take time.

    God is holy.
    Is that too hard for you to grasp?
    Think of what holiness is, from the most basic understanding you have.
    Now try to grasp holiness to the superlative degree.
    (Revelation 4:8) . . .Holy, holy, holy is Jehovah God, the Almighty. . . (Three is for emphasis)
    Got it?
     
  14. mikkel_the_dane

    mikkel_the_dane My own religion

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    What if God is a limited case of cognitive, moral and cultural relativism? I.e. the underlying assumption is that God is monistic as the most perfect.
     
  15. nPeace

    nPeace Veteran Member

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    @Left Coast and @TagliatelliMonster please explain why this standard has to be independent of God.

    Meanwhile, I'll explain why it doesn't.
    There is nothing before God.
    (Revelation 1:8) “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says Jehovah God, “the One who is and who was and who is coming, the Almighty.”
    (Revelation 21:6) . . .I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.. . .
    (Revelation 22:13) I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.

    The beginning has no beginning.
    There is nothing beyond in the past.
    The end has nothing beyond it, in the future.

    So where would the standard of righteousness be?
    God's very essence - his being, is righteousness, justice, goodness, love, peace... amd the list goes on.

    That's why the scriptures say, God is light, and there is no darkness at all in him. . . (1 John 1:5)
    Scripture says, God does not vary or change like the shifting shadows. (James 1:16)

    Notice, that God does not change, but we do. In fact, everything else is subject to change, That's why, one that is connected to God, and remains connected, will continue in the light. They will be fueled in righteousness, peace - the qualities mentioned above.
    One who disconnects from God, on the other hand, will change in the direction that opposite to light - contrary to God's righteous standards.

    That's why the issue of universal sovereignty is so important.
    God's right to rule, and set the standard of right and wrong is fundamentally more important than you realize.

    You can still go ahead and explain your reasoning, and of course, any objections you have, on what i said, as I am sure you do have objections.
     
  16. PureX

    PureX Veteran Member

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    Where you went wrong was in assuming that God could be trapped by your human logic. That God must "obey" your reasoning. That God can be defined by your reasoning.

    If God exists at all, how that would be possible is already beyond our comprehension. Exist how? ...Prior to and apart from existence? What does that even mean? We can't reason our way around this.
     
  17. TagliatelliMonster

    TagliatelliMonster Veteran Member

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    I didn't say that it "has to be".
    I was just pointing out an obvious self contradiction in your post.


    Although to me, it is obvious that it has to be independent of anyone. Including god.
    Because morality ultimately has to do with well-being in the broadest sense.

    And it seems to me that actions ultimately either positively or negatively affect well-being (or not at all, those would be amoral / morally neutral). Regardless of anyone's opinions - including god's opinions, if a god exists.

    But that's another point.

    I was just pointing out that if "whatever god says" is the standard, then it is meaningless to say something like "god wouldn't say a bad thing is actually good". Because such a statement implies that the standard for good and bad is independent of that god's opinion.

    So if that's the case, then if god says rape is good, then it follows that rape is good. Period.
    One has no argument then to say that god is saying that a bad thing is good. Because good is whatever god says is good. And if he says rape is good, then rape is good. Period.


    I don't see how any of this addresses the point I made.
    It seems that the point I actually made, flew right over your head.


    Bottom line: you seem to want to have it both ways....

    You want to say that whatever god says is "the standard", but at the same time you wish to also say that "god wouldn't say a bad thing is actually a good thing".

    But you can't have it both ways. It's one or the other.
     
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  18. Koldo

    Koldo Incredible Member

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    No. That's not saying that God is not perfect in all his ways. A theist could come along and say that perfection entails having sovereignty over morality and that you are denying God's sovereignty and therefore his perfection. Another could simply disagree.

    You need to remember that not everyone uses words in the exact same way you do.

    I am afraid that's not the case. The problem is the logical leap taken.

    'Holy' could mean anything in practice.
    You need to elaborate if you want to be understood.
     
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  19. Left Coast

    Left Coast The Fabulous
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  20. nPeace

    nPeace Veteran Member

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    I think you are just repeating the OP, in other words.
    So, it's like going in circles... and going nowhere.
    We probably can't understand each other.
     
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