Let's get complicated! Insert the Euthyphro Dilemma

@sataness (321)
January 16, 2009 4:50pm CST
So i have a question for eeveryone out there with a mind for philosophical and religious thinking. An age old question originally written by Plato but concerned dialogue between Socrates and Euthyphro: 'Is what is moral commanded by God because it is moral, or is it moral because it is commanded by God?' When reading into it, it seems to be one of the trickiest questions the religious try to answer.. it's also one (like everything else) That truely exposes this idea of a morally perfect God. I'm going to make this more interesting to get some personal responces: You cannot use the bible to support this belief in a moral God... i'm curious as to the human thoughts not led by the bible - the only thing allowed to be quoted is the 10 commandments. If you cant find an answer to this question without using the bible as a support, then tell me why you can't. I'll reply as the arguement goes along - curious as to what everyone thinks without having a leading argument to follow.
2 people like this
4 responses
• Australia
17 Jan 09
I'm not sure that there ever can be an answer to this question. For one thing, it is an extension of the age-old split between absolute and relative truth. For morals to direct God's commands, or more accurately the commands of the humans who claim to represent God, suggests that morals, like truth, can be absolute, and it's hard, much as I wish it were so, to prove this. As to why this absolutism is hard to prove, we must look at human psychology and social belief systems. Even if the underlying motivations can be argued to be identical in all societies, the forms in which those motivations are demonstrated and achieved vary enormously depending on the actual historical, religious, political, economic, and purely social development of the differing systems. It is this inarguable variance from which Boas developed his cultural relativism as an heuristic tool for anthropologists to study differing cultures, the understanding that we can only judge a society's actions in the light of their own cultural belief systems. I would argue that this may absolve them from charges of evil for ripping the hearts out of sacrificial victims with an obsidian knife, but it doesn't preclude me from seeing the act itself as evil. But that view is from my own cultural belief system. I am fond of claiming that there are only two kinds of people, those who .... and those who .... In this case, those who believe in absolute truths, and those who believe that there can only be relative truths. If you are the former, you will argue the first of your alternatives, if the latter, the second. I am of the latter, not from any desire to be so but simply because I cannot find any logic that supports a belief in absolutes. The Ten Commandments and its analogues in other religious systems is an attempt to delineate absolute moral truths, but whether they come from their own intrinsic morality or from some religious philosopher's idea of what is moral is moot. Lash
1 person likes this
• United States
17 Jan 09
"I am fond of claiming that there are only two kinds of people, those who .... and those who .... In this case, those who believe in absolute truths, and those who believe that there can only be relative truths. If you are the former, you will argue the first of your alternatives, if the latter, the second. I am of the latter, not from any desire to be so but simply because I cannot find any logic that supports a belief in absolutes." I was giggling when I read this (in a friendly way), you laid out two absolute definitions of people, and then claimed to believe there are only relative truths... Where are your shades of gray? lol I actually read the statement opposite from you, that the first half reflected moral relativism, and the second half reflected adherence to an absolute set of rules. I can see where you are coming from though, it just wasn't my immediate response!
• Australia
17 Jan 09
My statement is an heuristic tool, a sort of Weberian "ideal type" statement. I can hardly be accused of absolutism lol, I have one of these dichotomies available for every possible question. Of course nobody is purely one or the other, but for the sake of an abstract argument it helps to use absolutes like these. Nice to see you back, haven't seen anything from you for a couple of weeks. Lash
1 person likes this
• Australia
17 Jan 09
It's late and I'm very tired, and this post needs thinking about. I will return to it tomorrow. Lash
@soooobored (1187)
• United States
17 Jan 09
I think an offense to God is to act in a way that would displease him, so I would agree with the first half of the question "is what is moral commanded by god because it is moral". My god wouldn't just reward someone for blindly following rules, and wouldn't punish someone for breaking an unjust rule. But I believe morality is relative, so of course I would have this view. The second half of the question "is it moral because it is commanded by God" still has value, in a lot of religions participants follow the same moral code because it reflects the values they hold, and further participation in the church reinforces them. So rather than constantly questioning morality, religious people can work off a set of guidelines and can have comfort that they will be rewarded in the end. I imagine the people who live by strict moral rules (i.e. ten commandments) are more productive, I would imagine they spend less time thinking about things like this!
@sataness (321)
17 Jan 09
So there's this belief that everything that God commands everything that is moral.. Ok, if God only commands moral beliefs then there would be a higher source that proclaimed morality of actions; what i mean is, if God believed that these actions were moral and so he commanded them the judgement wouldn't be his own, would it? Therefore this idea of being supreme creator should, logically, be in doubt. But now begs the question, is morality created by God or by humanity? Because, like you've mentioned morality is relative to personal belief and faith and so therefore morals change over time. So in terms of punishment and praise for moral decisions where do you stand? If you believe that God wouldn''t reward someone for blindly following or punish for breaking an unjust rule... then what does God do in terms of moral deicisions, what is his purpose?
1 person likes this
@sataness (321)
19 Jan 09
When i mentioned time i was mainly referring to the change in centuries and milleniums and how culturally moral understanding changes over time. It was something i was discussing today in philosophy as.. Who really controls the moral standing and the way it evolves. To some degree killing was the norm dating hundreds of years back, it was a way of survival and success whereas the social norm of today differs vastly through the advance in technology, science and beliefs and also in our relation to mankind. Thanks for your responce x happy mylotting
@GADHISUNU (2163)
• India
17 Jan 09
Well, I will not quote the Bible because I am not a question. Further morality, though it might be slightly different for people of different religions need not necessarily be based on Scriptural Authority. Thereby as you have rightly pointed out a religion-free, Scripture free dialectics would only be proper.Why the 10 Commandments. Is that not a Scriptural Authority - It is taking recourse to the Old Testament. I am in a hurry right now but this is definitely a very good question to exercise the gray cells. I will post soon as I reach my work place and during coffee time there.
@GADHISUNU (2163)
• India
17 Jan 09
Please read the word 'question' in the first line as 'Christian'. Sorry for the mistake. I will be more careful in my next post.
@sataness (321)
17 Jan 09
I only initiated the decalogue as it tends to be a passage that at least 3 religions follow them to some degree. It also seems to be hard for Religious folk to put forward an answer without quoting a passage, therefore i suggested the ten commandments because while they are from the religious sources of authority they directly question this idea of morality given by God. Can't wait for your answer to this post!
1 person likes this
@GADHISUNU (2163)
• India
17 Jan 09
As rightly pointed out by Grandpa_lash, reaching an answer seems difficult because of the logic getting circular. Let us assume the former is true. That is something becomes moral because it the word of God. For that to be true the whole of mankind must accept and subscribe to ONE concept of God and ONE "text" as The Word. If that can happen then yeah, the route that what is moral proceeds from God will be workable. But that is not the case. There are several different belief systems claiming several differing "ideas" as moral. The first doubt can be how is anyone certain that something is the Word of God. If that be so, why did God instruct different people differently about what is the right thing to do. Lets for the moment accept by common consent that the 10 Commandments bring out the essentials of Moral Living. Then the question arises why those very statements are not handed down in the Vedas or Upanishads for instance. "Thou shalt not steal" is a straight forward instruction. There should have been just an identical statement in Vedas/Upanishads. But there is only an equivalent statement: Do not lust for others money or riches. But this is not the same. So, one could therefore say since the same moral instructions are not there then their being the Word of ONE God is suspect. Lets take the other position that Moral Living is what is needed to reach God. I am just taking the liberty to restate/rephrase what you have said only to make it operational rather than a philosophical question. In other words the opposite position would be: It is moral therefore it is the word of God. Again if there is common agreement of what is moral, then whether it is the Word of God or not is inconsequential. Are we as humanity agreed on what is moral? No. G_L has already provided one counter-argument stating this is dependent on relative and absolute truth. Therefore as I understand this neither position can be taken. I expected to end with a circular argument- of the snake swallowing its own tail kind of argument, found that both statements take positions away from each other. Please comment on the fallacy and I would like to see, where we are getting.
@miamilady (4924)
• United States
8 Feb 09
Well, I can't really "quote" the Bible anyway. I didn't study it that closely. Although I was raised with some religious values and I've read parts of the Bible. I'm not the type that quote scripture by Chapter and Verse. You know? To some questions there really are no definitive answers. This question might be one of them. I think that the answer is different for each individual. My understanding is that most Christians believe that it is moral because God says so. The word of God is to be believed without question. I can't agree with that way of thinking though. Some parts of the Bible are very big on blaming women for everything. I'm sorry but, I can't buy into that logic even if it is supposedly the word of God. But, I do still believe in God. Why? Partly because I was taught to believe in God. Partly, because my instints tell me there is a God and perhaps (many probably won't admit this) partly because I NEED to believe there is a God.
@sataness (321)
9 Feb 09
Thanks for responding to my discussion. I admire your honesty. It's easy for me to view from a glance the christian faith and guess at why people feel that way; part of the idea of needing God was something that was debated in another discussion. It's rare people try to explain something they just ultimately can't doubt, so thankyou. Also have to agree with the blaming of women, i tend to be big on equality -especially in the sexes and it affected my judgement as well as my past as to why i don't believe in a God. I think you hit on something when you mention it being different for every individual, it's one of those thing's where a universal answer can't be found. For every argument by one side there's a counter one. Again thanks for the post and happy mylotting!