[quote author=“waltercat”]And, as someone who understands the strength of the Euthyphro Dilemma, I think you will agree with me that the most common understanding of the relationship between God and ethics is deeply flawed.
I teach my students the Euthyphro Dilemma as well as several atheistic (and theistic) moral theories, and I think that by the end of the semester, they understand that it is an unfair criticism of Atheism to claim that it has no way to account for objective morality.
I didn’t have any philosophy courses in college, or else I might have known that the point I was trying to make in my post at 12:10 had already been made by Socrates and Plato.
Waltercat, would a solution to the dilemma simply be the contemplation of morality outside of any theistic framework?
[quote author=“dunamis7”]I’m not exactly sure what you mean by “the most common understanding of the relationship between God and ethics,” honestly. If you mean a simplistic “God commanded it therefore it is right,” then you’re dealing with a vulgar and popular notion, and not one that any apologist I know espouses. Maybe many of your students do, but, come on. We all deal with this level of ignorance in children.
To argue that lying is wrong “because we have the prima facie obligation to tell the truth to other rational agents,” is to argue that lying is wrong because lying is wrong. Perhaps you are abbreviating.
To find an example of someone defending the Divine Command Theory, just look at the thread entitled “Absurd Theologians and Atheists.” Silenus does an excellent job illustrating the absurdity of defending such a view. But he is hardly alone, nor is he a child. You can still find professional philosophers defending such a view; Paul Coppan is just one example, and atheists such as Michael Martin make a living writing articles criticizing the view that was defeated over 2000 years ago. I agree with you that the Divine Command theory is vulgar, but it is quite widespread in the realm of Christianity and many professional adults defend the view.
[quote author=“Carstonio”][quote author=“waltercat”]It is wrong because we have the prima facie obligation to tell the truth to other rational agents.
I would suggest that lying is wrong because it has the potential to cause harm to other rational agents, and to deliberately cause harm is inherently wrong. What is your stance?
All things being equal, deliberately causing harm is wrong.
But Joel wants to know why it is wrong. So do I. I submit that God has nothing to do with it.
If God does not exist, deliberately causing harm is still wrong. It is wrong if I do it or if God does it. It is wrong even if it will never be punished. God cannot change the fact that it is wrong and He did not create the fact that it is wrong.
I am sure that Joel disagrees. I look forward to hearing why.
Waltercat: Paul Copan does not believe in the Divine Command Theory. I’m pretty sure Silenus doesn’t as well. As mentioned, while you disagree and I have appreciated your interaction, they both feel Euthyphro Dilemma is a false dilemma. God has created us to project his character, boiling babies goes against his character, a character that he eternally loves. Why do we feel boiling babies is wrong? Where is the ontological basis? Is it because an eternal God who’s character had no beginning fashioned us to be more like him or is is from valueless matter creating situations that hold value? The evolution stance teaches we are hardwired to believe boiling babies is wrong much like male scorpionflies have been hardwired to rape. To discuss why there is objective morals for how humans should act is much like discussing why there is objective morals for how earthworms should act. Humans are no different in the evolution cycle, our rational, emotions, instincts all come from the same substance. You think boiling babies is wrong simply because you have been hard wired to think this. Hey Waltercat I’m sorry to bring this up, I’m laughing while typing this because I’m not sure how hard your going to hit your head against the wall, I think this is the forth time around this circle. Dunamis7, I think Waltercat is correct and proving Sam Harris lies does nothing in creating a problem for atheists. I’m sure Waltercat and everyone else would be just okay if Sam Harris was sued for plagerizing, if in fact he ever did.
If you believe Sam Harris is a plagiarist, the proper course of action is to submit your concerns with supporting evidence to his editor at his publishing house, his agent or their lawyers. It’s useless to bring up the argument in this forum as there is no one here who is legally responsible to ensure the originality and/or integrity of Harris’s work.
I suspect his work was vetted before publication but you may be right. It certainly wouldn’t be the first example of poor editing/fact checking in the history of modern publishing. On the other hand, books with such contentious arguments are usually very closely checked before they go out to be printed.
All the same, the only way to get satisfaction is to take your concerns to the proper agencies. You can’t get that here so stomping your feet about it won’t help.
[quote author=“fletch_F_Fletch”]Waltercat: Paul Copan does not believe in the Divine Command Theory. I’m pretty sure Silenus doesn’t as well.
I was only being slightly sloppy. Copan and Silenus both believe in what I have called the Divine Character Theory. But it is nothing more than the Divine Command Theory re-characterized. There really is no significant difference between Copan’s view and The DCT, at least as far as the Euthyphro Dilemma is concerned.
As mentioned, while you disagree and I have appreciated your interaction, they both feel Euthyphro Dilemma is a false dilemma.
I don’t think that they do. Silenus has accepted my analysis. His response is basically “so-what” which is a fine response, but it is not very convincing.
God has created us to project his character, boiling babies goes against his character, a character that he eternally loves.
As I’ve said countless times, this sort of view does NOT provide the basis for an objective morality.
Why do we feel boiling babies is wrong? Where is the ontological basis? Is it because an eternal God who’s character had no beginning fashioned us to be more like him or is is from valueless matter creating situations that hold value?
If it were we would have no way of knowing since there is no way to know that God exists.
Furthermore, it is time for you to stop conflating the question of why boiling babies is wrong with the question of why we believe that it is wrong. These are separate issues and must be dealt with as such.
The evolution stance teaches we are hardwired to believe boiling babies is wrong much like male scorpionflies have been hardwired to rape.
You are wrong about this. Anybody who thinks that we are hard-wired to believe most of the things that we believe is mistaken and confused.
To discuss why there is objective morals for how humans should act is much like discussing why there is objective morals for how earthworms should act. Humans are no different in the evolution cycle,
Of course you don’t really believe this, fletch. Humans are vastly different from earthworms. Most importantly, as far as this discussion is concerned, humans have the capacity for rational decision making.
You think boiling babies is wrong simply because you have been hard wired to think this.
This is an absurd thing to say. Why would you think this? Are all of my beliefs hard-wired? Is my belief that George Bush is president hard-wired?
Hey Waltercat I’m sorry to bring this up,
Oh, come on. You enjoy this. “How will waltercat react this time?” you’re thinking.
[quote author=“Jason”]The DCT says:
An action is right iff God commands that we do it.
An action is wrong iff God commnads that we not do it.
The question is: ARE THERE ANY MORAL CONSTRAINTS ON WHAT GOD CAN COMMAND?
And, on the the DCT, the answer is a big fat NO. Why is that? Two reasons:
First, God has free will. All of his actions are free, he is not forced to do anything.
Second, God is omnipotent. He can do anything that it is logically possible to do.
Therefore, God CAN command that we boil babies. Nothing prevents Him from doing so, since His will is free, and He is able to do it since He is able to do everything. [And note that it is not logically impossible for God to command that we boil babies.]
If God CAN command that we boil babies, then God could have commanded it. And, if he did command it, then, by DCT, boiling babies would have been right. But obviously this is absurd (boiling babies could not have been made right just because God commanded it). Furthermore, since God’s commands are not constrained, which commands he actually makes are completely arbitrary from a moral perspective. Why did he command that we not boil babies? There is no moral explanation of this command. He did not make it, for example, because boiling babies is wrong. On the DCT, God’s commands are logically prior to moral properties. What that means is that, prior to God’s command that we not boil babies, the act of boiling babies has no moral properties. Thus God’s decision to command that we not boil babies was NOT based upon the moral properties of the action. Thus is was morally arbitrary.
Now, you want to say that because God won’t command that we boil babies, that proves that morality is not arbitrary. But this entirely misses the point. Why won’t God command it? The answer cannot be that boiling babies is wrong. Why? Again, because prior to God’s commands, the act has no moral properties (prior to the command, boiling babies is neither right nor wrong). If God won’t command that we boil babies, that is the result of an arbitrary decision on God’s part. He could just as well have decided otherwise. The decision that he makes is NOT morally constrained and thus it is 100% arbitrary from a moral perspective.
And, lest you think that the Divine Character version of the theory overcomes these problems:
[quote author=“Jason”]That God has the particular character that He has is a totally morally arbitrary fact. From a moral perspective, He could have had a different character. That is, nothing prevents it; nothing prevented God’s character from being other than it actually is. Certainly nothing moral prevented His character from being other than it is. That is what it means to say that His character is not morally constrained. Thus, that He has the character that He does is a morally arbitrary fact.
On the DCT, God’s character is prior to moral properties, thus it does not make sense to judge God’s character from a moral perspective. You can’t say that His character is the way it is because that is the best character to have. His character is not as it is because it is a morally strong character. There is no moral reason that explains why God’s character is the way it is because nothing constrains God’s character.
[quote author=“fletch_F_Fletch”]I’m not trying to prove this through science, I’m trying to give a logical account for objective morality through a theistic view.
I don’t see what a theistic view has to do with morality. It seems to me that moral decisions relate to the world that we can perceive, not to beings that we cannot perceive.
Theology as a field of study makes no sense to me - anyone can come up with any sort of idea about deities. That seems to me like debating such questions as “What if Bob Dyan were a tree,” except that religious doctrines make claims on people.
[quote author=“Jefe”]IF plagiarism is seen as a debunking of the validity of the questions and debate posed by Sam HArris in Letter and End of Faith….
Hmmm…It seemed to me that the goal was not just to discredit Harris as a spokesperson, but also to suggest that atheism inevitably leads to immorality such as plagiarism. A lower-level version of the despicable “Hitler and Stalin were atheists” argument.
[quote author=“Jefe”]The vast number of messianic figures preceding christ that have been born of virgins…
I dislike that argument, because it sounds like the Limbaugh/Coulter tactic of accusing liberals of hypocrisy to avoid rebutting the liberals’ criticism. Also, if the early Christians did indeed lift the mythologies of other religions, is that really all that important? From my knowledge of Greek myths, I suggest that most if not all mythologies borrow from their predecessors, and that often this is an unconscious process by the mythologies’ adherents.
[quote author=“Jefe”] I do think, however, that christian scholars should be aware of the bevy of parallels between their chosen faith and preceding literature and mythology. Especially those that adhere to the theory that the bible (or other holy text) is the inerrant word of god.
[quote author=“Jefe”]It seems (to me) that many of the critics the propose arguments centered around morality being a divine ‘gift’
“The God Delusion” suggests an evolutionary origin for morality. Was it C.S. Lewis who asserted that the conscience was “proof” of God’s existence? (I’ve never read Lewis, not even the Narnia series.) Perhaps we evolved with a sense of conscience.
[quote author=“Jefe”] (Like we’re hard-wired to enjoy altruism…)
I would agree. It does feel good to help other people. I find it bothersome when someone claims to be selfless or to be motivated solely by concern for others. It suggests arrogance, or “helping” others on the person’s terms alone instead of what might truly help others. I include religious evangelism in that category, the notion that people have to be converted “for their own good.”