There is no external standard by which we could measure the legitimacy of the command and no recourse to appeal to if we broke it. : Making Sense of the Old Testament God - Kindle edition by Copan, Paul. Either morality is outside God’s control, in which case God is not omnipotent, or God’s commands are morally arbitrary, in which case God is not omnibenevolent. (3) Therefore, God exists. Subscribe to follow this blog and receive email notifications of new posts. The only mention of anything civil related in these family laws is the bride price or execution for a man who violates another man’s wife or his betrothed. Kindle Edition. So how does this relate to the moral argument? In other words we have a built-in conscience. In Is God a Moral Monster?, Paul Copan describes how wonderful and loving God is while fighting off the accusations of God being a monster by the New Atheists using the Old Testament. God makes these commands because murder and stealing are wrong. While there may be theists willing to concede the divine perfections, I suggest that in doing so we likewise concede attraction to grounding morality theistically. Read 3 reviews from the world's largest community for readers. Even if this theory were true it could not account for why God would be moral. b) The Covenants with Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and the new covenant. As a background commitment, the Divine Command Theorist is likely motivating the theory in the context of a religious tradition that accepts the divine perfections, or attributes of God. God, Morality, and Religion by Kristin Whaley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted. (And what are we? If God would not command something that is wrong, then this is possible only if God looks to the moral facts in order to determine what to command. Identifying the nature of the relationship between religion and morality may therefore seem straightforward: the right thing to do is whatever is right according to religious tradition. You can find more information about Dr. Seemuth Whaley’s work at, Next: Letter from the Birmingham City Jail, Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Paul Copan: Making Sense of the Old Testament God. A5. Why or why not. Like rejecting God’s omnipotence, rejecting God’s omnibenevolence is likely to be considered unacceptable. God is love, and God loves every person and every creature. He says, ^The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a … I am also denying that God is his own standard of goodness in the moral sense. [members_logged_in] Moral definition: Morals are principles and beliefs concerning right and wrong behaviour. : Making Sense of the Old Testament God. If whatever God says goes, then if God decreed that adultery was permissible, then adultery would be permissible. So, although God will command things that are morally right, the moral facts cannot be determined by God. [/members_not_logged_in]. Is the God of the Old Testament nothing but a bully, a murderer, and an oppressor? 2 The New Atheists and the Old Testament God 20. 13 Michael Shermer, The Science of Good and Evil (New York: Holt, 2004), 149. In the Old Testament, the Lord wrote His moral law on tables of stone (Deut. Is God a Moral Monster? God is good, in fact, he’s perfect. Both claims are contrary to reason and evidence, as well as the biblical understanding of God’s nature. Any complaints that this is wrong would fall on deaf ears, for, according to the second horn, if God commanded it, it is not wrong. The perfections include. B2. It is unlikely that an atheist, for instance, would endorse DCT. What is the point of the Euthyphro dilemma and how can this create problems for DCT? The dilemma is therefore forceful because it is contingent on a theological understanding that attributes the divine perfections to God. He does not become more virtuous. But, given the divine perfections, we can construct the dilemma for the Divine Command Theorist: The argument begins in premise A1 by citing the definition of Divine Command Theory: the morally right is what God commands. Ideally, God’s moral character and His activity in Israel’s history give the nation a necessary ethical framework to shape its way of life. 2:1). Lewis (1898 - 1963). So, when God issues the commandment, ‘Thou shalt not murder’, a class of actions, particular kinds of killing, became morally wrong. Premise A3 can be established by appealing to an auxiliary argument: B1, the first premise of the auxiliary argument highlights the relationship between morality and God’s commands in taking the first horn of the dilemma. We are not moral because we are somehow tethered to God’s morality. It is natural for religious practitioners to see religion as authoritative in matters of morality. If God commands things because they are morally right, then God is not omnipotent. 27. 4:13). This viewpoint is even making inroads into the church. Søren Kierkegaard – On Encountering Faith, 23. Moral definition, of, relating to, or concerned with the principles or rules of right conduct or the distinction between right and wrong; ethical: moral attitudes. It is the exact opposite of morality; it's arguing why you don't need to use your own moral compass if God tells you not to, even to the point of murder. Is the God of the Old Testament barbaric and bloodthirsty? : Making Sense of the Old Testament God But if DCT is true, and morality is whatever God commands, then a dilemma arises. Arguments that depend on some reasoning that we are moral because we share in God’s moral goodness are on the wrong track. A Law Engraved on Man's Heart (1954) Man participates in the wisdom of God and in the goodness of God. But, if God does so, then morality is outside God’s control. “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases” (Psalms 115:3). My last resistance to the idea of God’s wrath was a casualty of the war in the former Yugoslavia, the region from which I come. The Moral Attributes of God. When Job wants to take God to court the obvious question is raised, “Who would be the judge?” God’s answer to Job as to why God allowed such evil to befall Job is basically, “I’m God and you are not.”. Part 2 God: Gracious Master or Moral Monster? The connection between God and morality seems attractive because of the divine perfections, and conceding the divine perfections weakens the case to think that God and morality are inextricably linked. Premise A4 represents the second horn of the dilemma for the Divine Command Theorist: If things are morally right because God commands them, then God is not omnibenevolent. So, suppose God is about to issue the Ten Commandments. 2:15), so that they have some sense of what God requires of them. Paul Copan takes on Neo-Atheists' claims of a petty, malicious Old Testament God. Divine command theory is one popular approach in Christian circles to argue for an objective basis for morality. Further, all other perfections that are found in creatures as effects pre-exist in a way in him as the cause. Use features like bookmarks, note taking and highlighting while reading Is God a Moral Monster? Other ethical systems that in my opinion are more rationally acceptable and biblical are virtue theory and natural law ethics. —Davies, Brian. It would also not demonstrate any real basis for an action being moral or immoral other than God just stating it as so. Divine Command Theory, or ‘DCT’, is attractive to religious practitioners for a couple reasons. Premise A2 sketches options for the relationship between morality and God’s commands: either God’s commands are grounded by moral facts or moral facts are grounded by God’s commands. God cannot, for instance, make a round square, but this may not seem to be much of a threat to God’s power. Moral definition is - of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior : ethical. He is also a professor in Palm Beach Atlantic University. This law existed before Moses wrote it down as part of God’s law for Israel as a theocracy and this law is still in effect for Christians under the New Covenant.” The New Testament makes it clear that the ceremonial and civil laws of Israel are rescinded in the New Covenant. We arrive at A4: If things are morally right because God commands them, then God is not omnibenevolent. October 4, 2011. Learn more. Morality argument for God’s existence. The moral argument is an important one to many theists who wish to rationally justify belief in God to unbelievers or those questioning whether or not God exists. Another is that DCT seems to provide a moral theory according to which there are objective moral facts; morality isn’t susceptible to subjective preferences or impermanent social consciousness. Do you think they are right? We have a law written on our hearts that reflects this moral aspect of our being that God gave us. Good moral character is a primary requirement for admission to the United States as a citizen. If things are morally right because God commands them, then God is not omnibenevolent. In the first case, God looks to the moral facts to determine what should be commanded, ensuring that God is commanding what is indeed right. book. We can instantiate the same kind of dilemma for Divine Command Theory, inquiring about the nature of morality. If something did something that supposedly “went against its nature,” then it obviously wasn’t against its nature or the action couldn’t have been done.) Even among primitive tribes that appear amoral, missionaries have found traces of moral absolutes reflected in their laws (Rom. He is not even his own standard—whatever that even means. To be one’s own standard would be equivalent to being arbitrary since whatever he did would be in accordance with his standard. Since God is omnibenevolent, God will only issue commands that fit with the moral facts, and God defers to the moral facts in order to make moral commands. 4 Monumental Rage and Kinglike Jealousy? On this option, the class of actions that God commands is identical to the class of actions that are morally right, but there is no dependence in either direction. Accordingly, morality is independent of God, and God’s commands are restricted to only what is right. For instance, God could command ‘Thou shalt torture thy children’, and it would be morally right to torture your children. But the Israelites were content to regard it simply as an external code and their observance a matter of surface obedience. It wouldn’t matter what he did, he would be completely “in the right.” We only say things like, “God would never do so and so” because we have a notion of what a morally good action looks like on the human level. God determines what is moral. Having deferred to the moral facts, God’s commands are therefore somewhat restricted, and we arrive at B2. Since the Divine Command Theorist likely views unlimited power and unlimited goodness to be essential divine features, neither of these options is acceptable. We call certain attributes ‘moral,’ because they pertain to character … However, it is not morally wrong for a human, or other animal, to kill a deer in order to eat it. These two concepts are inter-related as we will see. C2. How to use moral in a sentence. The prevalent modern concept of God as an all-powerful, yet perfectly moral being, can be traced back over 3,000 years to the Torah. William Paley – On The Teleological Argument, 19. But before we do so, note that even if you don’t agree with premise A5, the Divine Command Theorist almost certainly does. There is also a defense for God's creating of a world in which death is inevitable: The Soul! A2. Anyone familiar with the scriptures will note that Yahweh has no reservations about ordering the … Since omnipotence and omnibenevolence are divine perfections that cannot be simply subtracted from God’s nature, both horns of the dilemma are unacceptable. He has no moral law written on his heart. 12 Loftin, 60. By the natural law, man has the moral sense to discern good and evil. In taking the second horn, that things are right because God commands them, the Divine Command Theorist will be required to concede that God is not truly good. John Rawls and the “Veil of Ignorance”, 57. According to the Bible, God defines what is right and good (moral), and what is evil and bad (immoral). A3. One is that it captures the sense that religion provides guidance for living an ethical life; God provides this guidance through giving commands and shaping religious moral codes. A similar dilemma is found in Plato’s Euthyphro, a dialogue in which Socrates inquires about the nature of piety, or holiness. Copan, Paul Is God a Moral Monster? What I mean by the former is that God does not abide by moral commands, nor does he fulfill obligations or virtues in the way that humans do. No one and nothing else needs to be given moral regard. Immanuel Kant – On the Aesthetic Taste. Why or why not? 2. If there is an explanatory relationship between God and morality, then it has to be one or the other. Negatively, God wills us not to lie, cheat, steal, hate, murder. Such a command is totally unprincipled, and we should feel no moral pull toward either shoe. Making Sense of the Old Testament God. God cannot decide to command just anything; God will command only what is right. As we will see, taking either option requires serious theological concessions. book. Video: Is God A Moral Monster? God is simply not morally good in the sense of possessing virtues like humans. Let’s take the divinely directed slaughter of the Canaanites. This is an unfortunate result for the Divine Command Theorist, who will consider rejecting God’s omnipotence to be unacceptable. God is not a moral being and often the way the moral argument is used is just wrong. As Brian Davies says. Access your previous orders and downloads by registering a Store account with us today! If God is perfect, does DCT still make sense? Slaves could be … An amoral (non-moral) God would be non-rational and therefore non-personal, non-relational, non-thinking, non-living, non-real! Thus, since God has made us in such a way, he gives us what is required to fulfill this goal. But, in taking this horn of the dilemma, the moral facts instead have power over God. So, we arrive at A3: If God commands things because they are morally right, then God is not omnipotent. Premise A5 affirms a background commitment that the Divine Command Theorist likely accepts: God has the divine perfections. 21. [/members_logged_in], [members_not_logged_in] Negatively, God wills us not to lie, cheat, steal, hate, murder. However, if … is one of the best theological books I have read. Is God A Moral Compromiser? The fact that the second horn allows that God could command things like the torture of children negates any lingering plausibility concerning God’s omnibenevolence. If DCT is true, then either God commands things because they are morally right, or they are morally right because God commands them. Understanding the Covenant-Making God. But the Bible does say that God is good, praiseworthy, loving, etc. The gods, then, love the pious for this reason, whatever the reason ends up being. If there were a standard that was not part of him, then he would not be God. In fact the Bible more often than not uses physical terms to describe God. It is very tempting at this point to think, “Well, God would never command the torture of children, because torturing children is wrong, and God would not command something that is wrong.” But note that in making this move, we find ourselves again facing the first horn. The Divine Command Theorist is forced to make a choice: if the moral is whatever God commands, then either God commands things because they are right, or they are right because God commands them. SES provides a challenging academic curriculum from world class scholars utilizing an integrated approach to theology, philosophy, and apologetics. We shouldn’t attribute characteristics to God because we have them and are said to be in his image. But there is a sense in which that God can be said to have virtues, but in a very analogous kind of way. 1. Blog / Is God a Moral Monster? Morality is not affected or changed by God’s will. The Divine Command Theorist will accept this premise, since it provides an accurate statement of what DCT is. The moral law that we talk about for humans is part of our nature. God is also restricted, plausibly, by logical facts. In Summa Theologiae I. This is in contrast to the prologue/epilogue to Hammurabi’s Code, which, rather than offering historical narrative, contains lofty language about Hammurabi’s being endowed by the gods as a benevolent earthly sovereign to be a just ruler on earth. Chris. Is God a Moral Monster? They exist because God exists (not because God created them or recognized them later). Divine Command Theory seems to be an attempt to ground morality theistically; the morally right is whatever God commands. God is not a human and is thus not bound by human morality. (1) If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist. If the morally right is what God commands, there is a true measure of our actions and a genuine responsibility for our behavior. Case in point? We need to recognize that God is not in the image of man. A Divine Command Theorist might prioritize the connection between God and morality over the divine perfections, and they may consider this to be necessary, albeit unpalatable, concession. God's moral law presupposes a rational order of nature by which creatures can gain their final goal. Objective moral truths are simply a reflection of God’s eternal being. Religion and morality seem to go hand-in-hand, and specific moral codes are often grounded in specific religious traditions. He planned that His law should also be written on the hearts of the people. In short, humans are moral beings because we have a certain nature. A median of 45% across 34 surveyed countries say it is necessary to believe in God to be moral and have good values. In taking the second horn, the Divine Command Theorist fares just as poorly as in taking the first. Is God a Moral Monster? Nevertheless, I believe a few simple arguments demonstrate that morality requires a god. That’s exactly why God is wrathful against some of them. David Hume– On the Irrationality of Believing in Miracles, 21. The Divine Command Theorist can make this move, but then they must give up on God’s omnipotence. If things are morally right because God commands them, then God’s commands are morally arbitrary. Another option is to deny the explanatory relationship between morality and God’s commands. So, saying that God is omnibenevolent is merely another way of saying that God meets the moral standard that God establishes. 2- God's Moral Will God's Moral Will as expressed in the Bible tells us the moral choices that God desires us to make. Some argue that being restricted by moral facts does not threaten God’s omnipotence. In what follows, we will address each option, or horn of the dilemma, in turn. God will look to the moral facts and then make commands on their basis. (By the way, this is an excellent book that deals with God not being a moral being.). Since God is (according to the divine perfections) both omnipotent and omnibenevolent, then we must conclude that DCT is false. John Stuart Mill – On The Equality of Women, 58. Perhaps what God commands is morally right but not because it is morally right, and whatever is morally right is morally right but not because God commands it. God is usually conceived of as being omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing), omnipresent (all-present) and omnibenevolent (all-good) as well as having an eternal and necessary existence.God is most often held to be incorporeal (immaterial). He cannot be moral or immoral since there is no standard that he measures up to or virtues to fulfill. If it is good for him/herself, it is morally right. It is the exact opposite of morality; it's arguing why you don't need to use your own moral compass if God tells you not to, even to the point of murder. So, a human killing another human to eat him for dinner is evil because of the nature of being a human (he is made in God’s image). This is not praise-worthy; it is trivial. God could command, ‘Thou shalt put on thy right shoe before thy left shoe except on every third Thursday of the month, in which case thou shalt put on thy left shoe before thy right.’, and it would become immoral to put on your left shoe before your right on a Monday. In reply, I grant that these options are possible. Laws are rules of conduct given by competent authority for the common good. 15 Ibid., 64. This argument can be found in a number of writings, including those of the author and theogian, C.S. The ethical egoist would argue that if everyone was an ethical egoist, every thing would be fine. What I mean by the former is that God does not abide by moral commands, nor does he fulfill obligations or virtues in the way that humans do. So, while the penalties and reparations in these laws related to the family – the violations of these laws were part of God’s moral law. The first horn may then prod the Divine Command Theorist to consider the other option. They are not, however, desirable. However, if divine command theory were true, it would not demonstrate that God is moral since he does not follow commands from another being. 1 . Premise A4 can be established by appealing to an auxiliary argument: C1, the first premise of this auxiliary argument illustrates the challenge of taking the second horn of the dilemma. But he doesn’t deny that in the absence of God there would still be moral goodness. But if morality is arbitrary, then saying that God is good becomes trivial. moral definition: 1. relating to the standards of good or bad behaviour, fairness, honesty, etc. Sermon Series: God, the Fairytale | Passage: Luke 24:13-35 A very common perspective on Jesus is that he lived his life as a good, moral teacher. She specializes in metaphysics and philosophy of religion, and she is a recipient of the AAPT Grant for Innovations in Teaching. The objective goodness that we have and are obligated to also needs accounting for. Thus, to say that God is moral is to say that God is rational. Socrates cites this difference in dependence as a reason to reject ‘whatever the gods love’ as a legitimate definition of ‘piety’. “Moral relativism” is the rule of the day. Is God Moral? Our perfections do pre-exist in him, but so do all good perfections. The moral argument This is an argument for the existence of God. If this is the case, then a whole range of facts, moral facts, are outside the scope of God’s control, and God has no power to change them. God will investigate the nature of morality, identify the moral facts, and issue the commandments accordingly: Thou shalt not murder, thou shalt not steal, etc. Natural law can imbibe Aristotle’s virtue ethics very well, with certain necessary tweaks. It is the exact opposite of morality; it's arguing why you don't need to use your own moral compass if God tells you not to, even to the point of murder. We have a horrible habit as humans of making God like us rather than recognizing that he is not like us. There are many theories that try to explain what it means for a human to be moral. If morality is whatever God commands, then either God commands things because they are morally right, or things are morally right because God commands them. In conclusion, Christians today need to be very careful how we talk about God’s morality. Euthyphro begins by proposing that whatever the gods love is pious or holy, and that which they hate is impious or unholy. We are here to help! Instead, perhaps things are morally right because God commands them. God does all things according to his will (sovereign will). He is perfect in the sense that he is complete being and lacks nothing. He transcends humanity and our morality. God is not a moral being and often the way the moral argument is used is just wrong. It can’t be accounted for by us since the cause for such a nature with objective moral obligations needs an “external” grounding. If God commands things because they are morally right, then morality is outside God’s control. Let’s take the divinely directed slaughter of the Canaanites. Natural law teaches that humans have a nature and actions that promote the good of that nature are good actions. 15009 Lancaster Highway | Charlotte, NC 28277. Machiavelli is a typcial ethical egoist. However, he does not owe us anything. Rather, he has constituted us in such a way that we require certain goods to fulfill what God wants us to be. Conversely, actions that prohibit the good of our human nature are bad. Below is how the argument as a whole operates. | Meaning, pronunciation, translations and examples Thomas Aquinas on God and Evil (Kindle Locations 1253-1255). Grand Rapids: Baker Publishing Group, 2011 Introduction Paul Copan is a Christian theologian, apologist, and an author. But whatever is beloved of the gods is beloved because the gods love it; being beloved by the gods is entirely dependent on the relationship between the beloved and the gods. An analogous way in which he is subservient to facts does not live up to or virtues to this... A horrible habit as humans of making God like us Master or moral reason Testament God shows many sides... Does it Mean for a human and is thus not bound by human morality the many resources SES and... Which is not like us rather than recognizing that he measures up to some standard of goodness God: Master. Incoherent. ) two poles in the moral argument abides forever ” ( Psalms 115:3 ) Atlantic... And an oppressor wants us to be unacceptable by which creatures can gain their final.... God in human language without really being literal arguments for these premises shortly wants us be! 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