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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Euthyphro Dilemma

Put simply, the modern version of the Euthyphro Dilemma is usually presented something like this:

Are morally good acts good by virtue of their own nature, or are morally good acts good because God says they are good?


The first horn of the 'dilemma' implies that the good is external to, and thus independent of, God. The second horn implies God's commands would, therefore, be arbitrary.

There are multiple problems with this. We'll list a few.

1. The Euthyphro Dilemma assumes a very low view of God. It assumes a non-specific God who hands down to a disconnected creation laws which He is either subject to by virtue of their already existing outside of Himself, or to which He is loosely related through His arbitrarily revealing them to the creation.

It is important to point out that God's commands, or divine laws, flow from His very nature, which is essentially good. Being the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, God is beholden to no-one and nothing outside of Himself. As necessary Being, we can say, No God, no good!

2. The God of Christianity is Triune. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit relate to one another necessarily and eternally. This interrelationship provides the very foundation of morality. The Persons of the Trinity are not beholden to any external law, nor are they subject to the arbitrary commands of one or the other. Rather, they are in co-relation out of perfect and uniform love for one another. God's commands, or laws, are a reflection of His very character and nature, not the result of whimsical arbitrariness or impulsiveness, nor are they the result of laws external to God to which He is beholden.

Once we take this into account, along with some of the essential attributes of God, like the supremacy of God, the sovereignty of God, the immutability, or unchanging nature of God, the self-sufficiency of God, and the goodness of God, we begin to understand that God's character and nature is the very standard of all that is good, and the objections posed by the Euthyphro Dilemma vanish. God loves morally good acts because He is good, and therefore His commands reflect His essential goodness. God is entirely self-sufficient, and is in need of nothing outside of Himself.

3. In some sense it is true that God loves morally good acts because they are morally good, and in another sense it is true that morally good acts are that which God commands. But this is a mere tautology. A necessary truth. It does not entail that there is a standard outside of God, nor that God's standard is arbitrary, and to argue such is to offer an incomplete analysis.

We have an innate awareness of God's divine commands, or laws. (Romans 2:15), thus moral obligations are divine laws. There is a necessary relationship between God's moral law and our moral obligations. Duty-related properties depend on God's commands, but evaluative properties, such as goodness, do not.

It is true that an action is morally obligatory since God has commanded it, but the goodness of an action does not depend on God's commanding it; the goodness itself flows from God's essentially good nature.

The proponent of the Euthyphro Dilemma usually fails to take into account this distinction.

Now, a standard objection will look like this (or some variation thereof):

'So God could have commanded that rape is good?'

No. God's very character and nature would prevent Him from doing so. See the non-arbitrariness of God's commands above.

1. To repeat, this simply ignores the rational and valid explanation given by the Christian, and is a rather transparent attempt to save the dilemma. God's very character and nature would prevent Him from declaring rape a morally good act. (see above.)

2. The objection shows that the objector is aware that rape is in fact not a morally good act. The contrast is clear. The objector attempts to communicate that God 'could' have commanded something bad to be good, hence the objector, in the very objection, demonstrates that they have an innate knowledge of what is good and bad. The objection demonstrates they are acutely aware of the absurdity of declaring rape to be a morally good act. And if they are aware of this, how much more God?

Soli Deo Gloria

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

As usual with presuppositional apologist cowards like yourself, you want to begin conversations about "God" with all these assumptions about him, so that you can attack everyone from your fraudulent "safe zone".

I love watching these videos with Sye Ten (pronounced Satan) where he begins and ends debates by saying things like: "God has to be assumed in order for you to even be able to think at all (or, in your case, be moral)-- now that we have assumed that, let's have a debate about whether God exists!"

Really?

The whole point of a moral argument is to make an attempt to prove there is a god in the first place. I don't have to "assume" whether he is "triune" or anything else.

I know that my post will be deleted by a coward like yourself who is too afraid of truth being exposed, but it may be good food for thought for you.

Please get a life and jump off the hamster wheel of your circular arguments.

Puritan Lad said...

Anonymous, not only do you have a poor understanding of presuppositional apologetics, (you are a presuppositionalist yourself), but you have added nothing to this discussion, nor have you shown any circularity in Danny's argument. Name calling and making fun of Sye (who doesn't even post here) does nothing to support your position. Please reread and then try to come up with a valid argument.

Anonymous said...

Puritan Lad:

Based on reading the other posts on this blog, I can tell what's going on. You pose as the intellectual one, like Dr. Frankenstein, and then you step back, and in shambles the hunchback, Dumbbell Danny, as your Igor, drooling, to do your dirty work--for I often see him engaging in "name calling and making fun" on this blog, and yet you never chastise your lackey in this regard.

What you don't realize is that I am trying to save you both from Christianity, which is a very mawkish religion-- I see the almost physical effects it has on people-- the telltale signs, with that smiley mask, and the pasty look on their faces, which I am sure you both have.

As for Dumbbell's argument, I have successfully demolished it, but you can't see it, because like Dumbbell, you are stuck in your presup hall of mirrors. You dismissing what I said about Sye proves my point-- maybe YOU should "reread" what I actually said in my reference to Sye, and perhaps you will learn something.

It is Dumbbell who has "added nothing" to refuting the time-tested Euthyphro Dilemma. Even the fatuous C.S. Lewis, who you have on your book list, shows no awareness whatsoever of this dilemma, despite all his copious discussions of the moral argument. I could be wrong, because I have not bothered to read all his poorly written books, but if you could point the way to any reference Lewis makes to this dilemma, I would like to check it out.

But looking at your book list, I would like to ask you both-- were you both just born dumb (hence Dumbbell Danny), or did you both study hard to become so?

--JK

Danny McGuire said...

Hello Anonymous,

1. You seem to be unaware there is a difference between the ad hominem fallacy and a valid ad hominem criticism. For example, if I were to describe you as an ignorant troll (based on the pattern of behaviour you are exhibiting – repeatedly making sweeping and unhinged assertions and avoiding engaging in rational argumentation), this would not be a baseless attack upon your person but rather a valid – and immediately relevant – ad hominem criticism based on your behaviour before us. You, on the other hand, are merely attacking myself and Puritan Lad by name-calling for the sheer sake of it.

2. On atheism, why try to 'save' us from Christianity? Why 'save' us from the God who does not exist? Given that we'll all soon be long gone, and given that the universe will not blink an eye at our exit, why waste your short existence on a meaningless exercise? Your very presence here, supposedly trying to 'save' us, utterly belies your atheism.

3. Please show me where you have 'demolished' my argument. Do you understand what rational argumentation looks like, Anonymous? All you have done is make unsubstantiated assertions.

4. What you fail to realise is that you are also a presuppositionalist – an atheist presuppositionalist in denial of their presuppositionalism, in fact. You have your own presuppositions and lens through which you view the world around you.

You seem to have a problem with Sye. Sye is not here to defend himself, and your attacking him doesn't do you any favours.

5. You talk about the 'time-attested' Euthyphro Dilemma, but actually the Euthyphro Dilemma is an outdated dialogue that dealt with Euthyphro's flawed polytheistic gods who potentially were at odds with one another, with no real concept of goodness (or piety) being grounded in the very nature of a monotheistic God, hence why you have the modern, adapted version of the dilemma which tries to refocus the attack upon Christianity. In my post I explain why this attack fails.

6. Lastly and rather comically, you assert that C.S. Lewis 'shows no awareness whatsoever' of the dilemma. Then in the next breath you say you 'could be wrong' because you have 'not bothered' to read all of his 'poorly written books...' This is so absurd it is laughable. Just one question: if you have not read all of Lewis' books, how on earth do you know they are poorly written?

Now, so far you have not even attempted to address my argument. Please feel free to do so.

Anonymous said...

Dumbbell,

1.) To address your first point, I have a few times now explained the follies of presuppositionalism, but I can simplify it for you:
You know you are right because God told you so, and you know God is right because it says so in a book which tells you God is right. And you know the book is right because God told you so.

But you are not circular-- honest!

I said something similar to this in my first post, but as usual, you and Puritan Lad, true to form, are stuck in your feedback loop, and accuse me of just being a troll, without addressing the infamous circularity of these arguments.

2.) I am not an "atheist" nor did I give any indication in this direction. This is Pre-Sup 101-- try to find, as soon as possible, your opponent's position, and try to poke holes in that worldview, while being blissfully ignorant of your own flaws, and the endless inconsistencies in the Bible. Regardless of my own worldview, the logic of what I said, and the logic you are avoiding, still stands, and you have not answered it. My worldview is irrelevant, and this is a misfired straw man tactic.

In any event, this whole "why waste your short life" argument is old. It is empirically true that many atheists have lead great and heroic lives-- if you don't see that, I cant help you. Besides, I was really trying to save you from all that horrible Christian music!

3.) Your argument attempts to shift the burden of proof, another tactic in the Pre-sup playbook. Go back and read your own argument, and note how many times you want the reader to "assume" things.

4.) Tu Quoque fallacy-- "You do it too!" Note that this is YET another playbook tactic, as you are now looking like the Wizard of Oz-- pull back the curtain, and Dumbbell Danny is pulling on every level of every fallacy. Really, Dumbbell. Accusing me of being a Pre-sup is pointing to a straw man, and not addressing the flaws in your own argument, which I don't blame you for trying to avoid. I know you are too scared and sheepish to address my points-- it's okay. And by the way, Sye is an idiot.

5.) The logic of the Euthyphro Dilemma is still valid regardless of whatever gods we are talking about. You claim that the Dilemma fails now, but only because the reader has to first assume your laughable assertions.

6.) I gladly admit that I haven't read much of Lewis, but I have read Mere Christianity, and I don't recall him addressing this dilemma. So I have asked the question, which you and your cohorts have not been able to answer. You should call out Lewis, therefore, for being either stupid or a liar. I know that humility is not a strong point with know-it-all Christians like yourself, and this is the best example--someone asks a question, or admits that they don't know one little thing, and the Pre-sups pounce on him-- priceless. I don't mind not having your arrogance in general-- as Russell said, "The problem with the world is that the ignorant are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt." You, my dear sir, are the "cocksure" one-- ignorant.

But looking at the rest of this blog, I noted you also called evolution a "fairy tale"-- if you do believe that, then perhaps I am dealing with a card-carrying nutter. I tried to inspire you to see a deprogrammer, but, as I just discovered that you are a member of the flat earth society, there is not much I can do for you, and perhaps we have gone as far as we can go.

--JK

Puritan Lad said...

Anonymous,

As I have stated in my previous post, you have not addrssed the presuppositional argument at all, ie.

I have a few times now explained the follies of presuppositionalism, but I can simplify it for you:
You know you are right because God told you so, and you know God is right because it says so in a book which tells you God is right. And you know the book is right because God told you so.


Can you show us where any of us have used that argument (or anything similar)? Until you do, you are fighting a strawman.

If you really want to defeat presuppositionalism, you simply need to establish some sort of valid epistemology in a non-believing worldview. I'll await your efforts.

On that note: As far as the rest of your post, it continues to be nothing more than an ad hominem. I've given you plenty of leeway here, but if you want to continue this discussion, please deal with the argument at hand. Any further childish rants and name-calling will be deleted and you may crawl off into the corner of cyberspace and complain about how "my post will be deleted by a coward like yourself who is too afraid of truth being exposed".

Danny McGuire said...

1.

a) No, this does not 'address [my] first point'! My first point showed you that there is a distinction to be made between an ad hominem fallacy and a valid ad hominem criticism, and I pointed out that you, in fact, were committing the ad hominem fallacy. I note you have no response to this.

b) As PL has mentioned, you have grossly misrepresented presuppositionalism. You are attacking a fabrication based on your own ignorance of presuppositional apologetics. It's quite remarkable when we compare how certain you think you are to how wrong you really are in attempting to evaluate presuppositionalism.

2.

a) On atheism, what does it mean to '...lead a great and heroic' life? In a meaningless universe there can be no objective meaning attached to the lives and actions of any of its inhabitants, and thus any notion of 'greatness' or 'heroism' is merely subjective and arbitrary. You see, part of presuppositionalism is to examine and evaluate the very foundations of opposing worldviews and the claims made in light of certain presuppositions about the world and the nature of reality, and see how these claims stack up against those presuppositions.

I know you think you have made 'logical' claims about presuppositionalism, but the truth is you have merely caricatured the thing and proceeded to attack the caricature. You lazily misrepresent our beliefs and then embarrassingly draw attention to your laziness.

b) So this claim,

'What you don't realize is that I am trying to save you both from Christianity, which is a very mawkish religion-- I see the almost physical effects it has on people-- the telltale signs, with that smiley mask, and the pasty look on their faces, which I am sure you both have.'

is you 'really trying to save you from all that horrible Christian music!'? seriously, if you backpedal any further you'll fall over that cliff's edge!

3. Please show a) how my argument 'attempts to shift the burden of proof' and b) the 'many times [I] want the reader to “assume” things.'

I think it is you who needs to go back and read my argument. That's assuming you read the thing in the first place; thus far have shown little indication that you have read/digested my argument. The only place I talk about assumptions is when talking of the assumptions of the Euthyphro Dilemma, in that it assumes a very low view of God, a very non-specific God. I subsequently show this by demonstrating how the dilemma fails with regards to the God of Christianity. I note you have singularly failed to interact with my argument.

Danny McGuire said...

4. Once again, you fail to understand the subtleties involved in tu quoque argumentation. I suggest you acquaint yourself with the differences between a tu quoque fallacy, a valid tu quoque argument, and a partially valid tu quoque argument. Alas, I have committed no tu quoque fallacy. You have shown no such flaws in presuppositionalism, and have not demonstrated how presuppositionalism is 'wrong,' and it is entirely relevant for me (and helpful to you, if only you'd pay attention) to point out that you have your own presuppositions about the world and the nature of reality. This is a valid and necessary tu quoque argument. It would be in your best interests to learn what is and is not a logical fallacy before you blithely accuse others of committing logical fallacies where none have been committed.

Let's take another example that is in play. You came into this discussion whining about alleged name-calling by myself towards others, then yourself engaged in name-calling, and have continued to do so ever since. I pointed out that I had merely engaged in valid ad hominem criticisms, and as an example of a valid ad hominem criticism I called you an ignorant troll, backing this up by pointing to your behaviour in this discussion. Now, since, actually, I had not engaged in baseless name-calling, I can validly turn it around and point to your utter hypocrisy in... baseless name-calling! So I am now engaging in an entirely valid ad hominem tu quoque argument.

5. Again, you offer only assertion in place of an argument. My argument demonstrates the invalidity of the Euthyphro Dilemma when applied to the God of Christianity. Once again it is worth noting that you have not even attempted to interact with the argument. You have merely made unsubstantiated assertion after unsubstantiated assertion, and committed ad hominem after ad hominem.

6.

a) So you base this claim,

'Even the fatuous C.S. Lewis, who you have on your book list, shows no awareness whatsoever of this dilemma, despite all his copious discussions of the moral argument. I could be wrong, because I have not bothered to read all his poorly written books...'

on your reading of Mere Christianity? Are you serious? You assert that Lewis 'shows no awareness whatsoever' of the dilemma, then say you 'could be wrong' because you have 'not bothered' to read all of his 'poorly written books...' and you base all of this on having read Mere Christianity?

I'll ask again: if you have not read all of Lewis' books, how on earth do you know they are poorly written? You want to talk about fallacious reasoning?

b) Why on earth should we 'call out Lewis'? By what logical reasoning ought we commit ourselves to Lewis' entire body of works based on him being on Puritan Lad's book list? You want to talk about fallacious reasoning?

7. And for the record, yes I do believe that Darwinian evolution, i.e., common descent and transformation, is a fairy tale, and no, I am not a member of the Flat Earth Society, nor do I believe in a flat earth.