Internet Goosing the Antithesis

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Euthyphro's Dilemma

For those who don't know what Euthyphro's Dilemma is, it is an argument sometimes used to prove the non-existence of God. I classify it as a materialist argument because it uses specifically the contingency of morality in the theistic scenario to disprove the existence of God.

We can express it as such :

If Divine Command Theory is true, then we have two options...
1. Are things good because God says they are good, or
2. Does God says things are good because they are good ?

Either option is self-destructive. If the Good exists because of God's fiat, then morality is subjective, and thus God cannot account for moral knowledge, which it must if it is Creator. If God decide on the Good because of some intrinsic property of goodness, then the Good already existed in the material universe, which once again is incompatible with God being the Creator.

The only reply presuppositionalists have to any materialist argument is to invoke the inherent-properties objection, and they do the same here. I hope you all know why this is wrong in all sorts of ways by now - see the relevant section in my Materialist Apologetics article for all the refutations. In the specific case of the Dilemma, there is no middle ground - either God is the origin of moral principles, or it isn't. If morality is an inherent property, then it is not chosen by God, and therefore falls on the second horn of the dilemma. Good already existed, and God is not the Creator of morality. In fact, God, in this scenario, is wholly irrelevant to the existence of morality.

You can see how Euthyphro's Dilemma is inscribed within TANG and the materialist approach that I propose. They are all founded on the contingency of material facts within the theistic scenario, including morality. If God can only exist in a reality where everything is contingent, and therefore subjective, to its will, then this cannot possibly be reconciled with a necessary, objective morality.

Furthermore, the subjectivity of the relation between God's nature and God's actions is another problem with the inherent-properties objection that I have never seen examined before, and would be worth discussing. I don't push this strongly enough in my own article. The problem is this : if every principle is contingent to God, then how can the theologian assume that God's nature, which he posits as necessarily logical (whatever that means), necessarily dictates its will ? In the case of human beings, for example, the fact of possessing logic does not dictate our will. So why should a god be so vulnerable ? Indeed, we can only assume this by removing the principle from God's sovereignty, which is, once again, a denial of the Creator property.

Now, why can't the Christian return the problem to us ? Let's do the flip side :

If materialism is true, then we have two options...
1. Are things good because we say they are good, or
2. Do we say things are good because they are good ?

And we end up with the same horns : either morality is subjective, or it is intrinsic and humans have nothing to do with it. In both cases it can be argued that materialism is ultimately defeated, if you are willing to push the point hard enough.

But in the case of human beings in a materialist scenario, we do have a middle ground. We do have facts to rely on, facts that are beyond our choice. We can drop things and measure their speed enough times to realize that masses attract - and give it the label of "gravity". We know inductively that when we drop a ball in a normal earthbound scenario, it's not gonna stay suspended in the air. This is not a subjective proposition, or an intrinsic one, but rather knowledge gained by observation and reasoning based on them.

To us human beings, living in reality, knowledge and the Good are neither personal nor magical. They are rooted in the determinism of this causal universe we live in and can understand. This illustrates the gigantic difference between the cartoon nature of the Christian scenario and the grounded nature of materialist reasoning. In short : nature left alone is solid ground, but nature dreamed by a Creator is an extremely simplistic and suicidal quicksand.

Where do we end up in terms of moral responsibility in the theistic scenario ? If morality is subjective, then there can be no such thing as moral responsibility, since there is no way to judge any action. And if morality is intrinsic, then moral responsibility can also be applied to God. Either possibility is fatal. Not only can we apply the Problem of Evil to the second case, but also the act of Creation itself. The fact that God creates anything can only imply that God was not perfect. If God was infinite and perfect, then the only possible moral action would be to do nothing at all. This thought was inspired by a very similar point made in "The Non-Existence of God", by Nicholas Everitt, which I recommend.

Post a Comment


At 10/03/2005 2:10 PM, Blogger Aaron Kinney declaimed...

For a second I thought I saw "Everett True" LOL

Good post. I like how you explain Euthyphro's Dilemma. Morality is a fascinating topic.

At 12/20/2007 11:04 AM, Blogger Beloved Spear declaimed...

Unfortunately, your approach doesn't really show a grasp of the context of the argument in Platonic thought. For that, go here:

At 3/14/2008 1:45 PM, Blogger Paul declaimed...

Hello. I just thought you might like to read this article:
"A Christian Answer to the Euthyphro Dilemma" (link).

At 4/24/2008 6:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous declaimed...

I'll paste part of what I posted on Stand to Reason's blog:

God designed humankind a particular way.

Good derives its meaning from the experience of persons, and as such, is relative to the experience of the individual person.

God designed us as equals - that is, that there is a sense in which all humans are equal -, and, as such, despite the relative nature of good, we are all designed to experience all "ultimately good" things the same way.

Since "ultimate good" derives its meaning from the relative experience of persons, the standard is not arbitrary - people truly experience ultimate good in an established fashion; and the second horn is avoided.

Since the relative experience of persons is designed by god, god has both the knowledge of good and the moral authority - not just authority based on power - to make moral laws and judgements; and the first horn is avoided.

The only problem with this solution might be found in the verse that says that in god there is no darkness (basically, moral evil); Whether or not my solution survives the pre-creation era (for lack of a better term) eludes me, seeing that this verse suggests that goodness is an inherent quality of god, and, therefore, that the standard of good derives its meaning apart from god; the implication for the pre-creation era being that the standard both derives its meaning apart from god, and is not dependent on the experiences of humankind.

But maybe this verse was only meant to be helpful in the context of human history, such that morality is a moot point during the pre-creation era.

At 11/10/2009 7:39 AM, Blogger Adi declaimed...

Find Internet Marketing resource hare Online Marketing Strategy | Internet Marketing Tools | Online Marketing Campaign | Online Marketing Business | Online Marketing System | Online Business | Online Home Business | Online Business Tips | Internet Marketing Online

At 12/01/2009 7:14 AM, Blogger Adi declaimed...

Oes Tsetnoc one of the ways in which we can learn seo besides Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa. By participating in the Oes Tsetnoc or Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa we can improve our seo skills. To find more information about Oest Tsetnoc please visit my Oes Tsetnoc pages. And to find more information about Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa please visit my Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa pages. Thank you So much.
Oes Tsetnoc | Semangat Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa

At 8/16/2010 3:09 AM, Blogger ming declaimed...

MPEG Converter for Mac
MPEG to MP4 Converter for Mac
MPEG to AVI Converter for Mac
MPEG to DVD Converter for Mac
MPEG to FLV Converter for Mac
MPEG to WMV Converter for Mac
MPEG to MOV Converter for Mac
mpeg to vob Converter for mac
MPEG to DivX Converter for Mac
MPEG to 3GP Converter for Mac
MPEG to iPod Converter for Mac
MPEG to iPhone Converter for Mac
MPEG to MP3 Converter for Mac

At 11/27/2010 12:13 PM, Blogger Michael declaimed...

Free Rape Porn

Free Incest Download

At 11/27/2010 1:20 PM, Blogger Michael declaimed...



<< Home